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The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How Palms Resort and Casino switched up the status quo for text message campaigns by offering a once in a lifetime experience to contact list members.

While the saying “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” might be true for some things, when it comes to Palms Resort and Casino’s take on mobile marketing, the opposite couldn’t be more true. With a creative offer and a new take on what constitutes a great text message, this leading resort and casino situated in the heart of Las Vegas, right around the corner from the city’s famous “Strip,” is the perfect example of how going big when connecting with your customers can really pay off. To learn more about how Palms hit the mobile marketing jackpot, let’s take a deeper look at all of the pieces of this winning formula.

A Different Take on Text Interactions

At this point, you’re probably wondering what makes this case study so special. After all, if you’re new to getting in touch with customers on the go, chances are you’re only familiar with the basic concept of offering great deals in a simple, easy to understand text format. While there’s nothing wrong with this line of thought, Palms Resort and Casino found out rather quickly that it’s not the only way to really make a splash with viewers via text message.

Instead of sending out messages that included coupons or discounts, this casino and resort decided to swing for the fences with a mobile marketing sweepstakes. For users that agreed to add their phone number to the contact list, a chance at winning a free one-night stay, as well as dinner for two at the hotel, was the big draw. Considering that most shoppers are happy with simple deals that save them a few bucks on their next purchase, offering this kind of value as part of a text campaign proved that Palms was definitely willing to go big to generate some buzz for its brand.

Breaking down the Campaign Particulars

As part of the campaign, interested audience members did have to follow a few particular rules. First off, signs within the resort, as well as ads on TV and the web, instructed viewers to text “PALMS” to 74642 for more information. From here, the customers received confirmation of their entry into the sweepstakes, as well as a request for permission to continue receiving offers from the hotel and casino. After reading that, you’re probably thinking that most of the people who signed up simply skipped out of the contact list agreement after entering the sweepstakes. While some did follow this route, the results garnered by Palms once the dust settled just might surprise you.

Big Results for a Big Giveaway

The final tally for this mobile campaign gave the guys in charge of Palms’ marketing initiatives plenty to smile about. Once the sweepstakes ran its course and the hotel provided the prize package to one lucky winner, over 60 percent of the content participants had stayed on as mobile subscribers. At first glance, that might not seem like much, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the mobile sweepstakes process. However, the average sweepstakes contest only holds a 37 percent retention rate, emphasizing the fact that Palms Resort and Casino hit the big time with a well-planned and executed campaign.

What Your Business Needs to Know to Hit the Mobile Marketing Jackpot

So what can your business do to follow in this casino and resort’s footsteps as it works toward a great mobile marketing campaign? To start, if you want big results, you’re going to have to go big with the prizes or offers. Once you have an established contact list, keeping this audience interested with small deals and coupons is one thing, but getting their attention in the first place requires something especially exceptional or worthwhile. Additionally, keeping things simple in the sign-up process goes a long way as well. This isn’t trying to say something negative about your targeted consumers; it’s just that most people prefer offers and opportunities that are easy to follow and complete during the course of a busy or hectic day. If you can hone in on these two key principles during your text campaign, you’ll be well on your way to hitting the mobile marketing jackpot, just like Palms Resort and Casino.

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After reading that headline, you’re probably doing a double take. With virtually every blog and Twitter talking head espousing the benefits of getting personal with your text contact list, it might not make a lot of sense. However, there’s definitely a line that’s just waiting to be crossed by unsuspecting brands that don’t know when to put the brakes on the personalization tactics. To help you navigate the tricky landscape surrounding SMS marketing and personalization, let’s take a moment to look at what constitutes going too far in terms of personalization and what you can do to make sure your audience is never turned off when they see your company name in their inboxes.

A Prime Example of Going Too Far

Recently, the organizers over at Manchester’s Parklife in the United Kingdom found out that sometimes trying to make a mark with text messages can backfire in a big way. As part of its awareness campaign for parties starting up after the main Parklife event, the organization shot off a text message from “Mum” reminding the reader to be home for breakfast after the festivities. While this sounds like a cute and creative way of promoting these parties at first glance, some of the sadder parts of real-life quickly turned the campaign sour.

Unfortunately, plenty of the partygoers reacted negatively to the messages based on the fact that losing loved ones – particularly mothers in this case – is simply part of life. For those who no longer have their mothers in their lives, this message turned into a jarring and painful reminder of what they had lost. In some cases, receiving a text from “Mum” literally brought members of the contact list to tears. For those of us that have lost mothers too soon, it’s easy to understand the raw, emotional nature of this reaction.

Understanding the Thought Process

Obviously, this is not where you want to be with your messages moving forward. However, it’s hard to blame the Parklife organizers completely. On paper, it seemed like a smart tactic for breaking the monotony that comes with using a random string of numbers to spearhead your inbox offerings. However, that doesn’t change the fact that this faux pas put a huge damper on the event, leading to a wave of backlash on Twitter and Facebook, as well as culminating in an official apology from the organization. While time will eventually help soothe the wounds caused by this mental misstep, having this shadow hover over your brand, regardless of the intentions behind the process, is not something your brand can afford.

Finding Balance with Smart SMS Tactics

So does this mean you should say goodbye to personalized text messages and go back to the boring, generic staples that flood the rest of your audiences’ inboxes? Absolutely not. If you really want to make a positive impact on your consumers with these SMS offerings, you’ll need to learn to walk the tightrope between personalization overkill and an amount that’s just right. Thankfully, a few key tactics can steer your brand in the right direction while still maintaining a level of familiarity that cuts away unwanted brand anonymity.

First up is finding a replacement for “Mum” and other identifiers that are far too personal. While it might seem a little obvious, going with your company name is the easiest way to build familiarity and make things simple for your audience. This helps break down the barrier of anonymous texting, all while avoiding overstepping certain boundaries. Additionally, cutting out the text slang and abbreviations can also work wonders. In its place, focus on wording that makes your reader feel special, like “exclusive” or “limited.” Letting them know that you’re looking to reward them personally for signing up, while still maintaining a professional tone, is a powerful combo for SMS marketing campaigns.

Protecting Your Brand Now and Into the future

After reading through all of this, it’s clear that protecting your brand via SMS, while still firing off great content, requires a little thought and effort. However, a well-planned and properly personalized campaign can provide a massive boost to your brand in the short and long-term, ensuring that your hard work is well worth the effort. The key point to take away when it comes to SMS messaging, emails, and any other form of contact with your customers is that one of the most powerful things you can do is to simply step back and look at your content from as many perspectives as possible. This way, you can cut down on the risk of accidentally alienating your audience with a message that looked like a winner on the drawing board, but turned into a catastrophe in practice.

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The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How our friends at Pizza Hut in the United Kingdom took SMS marketing to amazing technical heights with a creative campaign.

While it might seem like a crazy case of SMS déjà vu considering we’ve already covered Papa John’s campaign in England, this week’s case study takes us back across the pond to see how Pizza Hut used the mobile phone inbox to pump up sales in a big way. Naturally, you’re probably thinking that the overlap between these two studies should be pretty significant considering that both are about the connection between SMS strategies and delicious pizza, fresh out of the oven. However, if you take a few moments to read on, you’ll soon see that these two approaches to great text messages come from opposite ends of the spectrum, creating a unique take on what really gets an audience into their local pizza outlets.

Understanding the Goal

While the goal of any SMS campaign is to build up interest and excitement with customers on the go, Pizza Hut was also looking to draw some hard comparisons between texting with customers and more traditional methods of advertising – namely online and TV ad space acquisitions. At first glance, it might seem like there’s no comparison between these options considering the power behind the Internet and how much brands spend on television spots that reach millions of viewers. However, Pizza Hut decided to stick with the campaign and let the stats speak for themselves once the 15-month trial period came to a close.

Adding in the Geofence Concept

Of course, no great SMS case study hinges on just talking about the battle between text messaging and other marketing outlets. As part of a hi-tech approach to connecting with customers, Pizza Hut decided to set up a “geofence” that encompassed 340 locations in the country. If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, a geofence is essentially a virtual signal net that tracks and targets customers that come within a certain range of the indicators – in this case, the Pizza Hut locations. While this might sound like something straight out of Star Trek, it was actually just a clever way to make use of GPS technology that’s already made its way into countless devices around the world.

Unveiling the Complete Program

For any member of the brand’s SMS contact list that came within a half mile of these restaurants, Pizza Hut sent a special text promotion inviting the customer to come in and enjoy a limited-time offer. Depending on the time and location, coupons and discounts on specialty items and menu staples all served as enticing deals. Considering that these customers were already in the neighborhood after leaving work or school with the kids, building a plan entirely off of location based marketing was clearly a clever way to break the standard SMS mold with some smart technology.

Reviewing the Results

Before going any farther, it’s important to note that Pizza Hut’s findings were adjusted to make a fair comparison with the other advertising channels. Lining up raw numbers between Internet ads and television spots that air to millions around the world isn’t fair when viewed against zooming in on the population surrounding these particular restaurants. Instead, the brand decided to normalize the findings and draw comparisons that are more accurate between the methods.

By itself, this SMS campaign ended up increasing incremental sales by 142 percent when compared to not connecting with customers on the go at all. Clearly, that’s a great result on its own, but it gets even better when you expand this discussion to include television and Internet options. After adjusting the stats for a fair comparison, Pizza Hut found that this advertising channel was 4.4 times more effective than TV spots and 2.6 times more effective than Internet ads. When viewed from that angle, it’s hard to deny the power of offering deals to people on the phones they never leave home without.

Is This Right for Your Business?

After reading this, you might think the only way to get the most out of your SMS campaign is to set up a geofence of your own and follow in Pizza Hut’s footsteps. While that’s definitely a good idea if you’re a technology buff with an ample marketing budget, the truth of the matter is that you don’t have to go this route if you want to connect with your customers. Even a standard text campaign that hits on the basics – offering a great and timely deal to your contact list – can get you over the hump and ensure that your audience always takes a moment to stop by when they’re in your neighborhood.

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The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How putting an emphasis on savings helped fuel increased opt-in rates for Lifetouch Portraits.

While it might be a little overused, there’s still some credence to the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to your mobile marketing strategy, the same can definitely be said about a great case study example. For that very reason, now is a great time to look at how Lifetouch Portraits switched things up a bit to grab additional opt-ins from an audience that was still on the fence about sharing text information with a brand. Whether your mobile campaign is well underway or you’re just learning about the benefits of reaching out via this channel to your customers, there’s plenty you can learn by taking a snapshot of Lifetouch Portraits’ success.

Approaching the Problem From a Different Angle

If you’ve kept up with this series of case studies, then you know that most of the brands we’ve highlighted have approached SMS growth via a roughly outlined set of rules and methods. Generally, the process goes something like this; the brand in question starts collecting phone numbers and opt-ins with the promise of a deal at a later date, then delivers in a big way that excites the audience. While there’s definitely nothing wrong with this strategy, Lifetouch Portraits decided that it had a better way of connecting with consumers on their mobile phones.

At the core of this approach was an upfront deal for interested shoppers. In exchange for opting-in to the program, customers received an immediate $5 off of any of the numerous photography services offered by the brand – no strings attached. Instead of having to wait for the deal, shoppers could sign up and instantly save some cash in-store or on the way to a photo shoot. Clearly, it’s hard to pass up on this kind of discount, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t come with a least a few questions surrounding this upfront approach.

Concerns about Opting out

At this point, you’re probably thinking that all customers did was sign-up, save a few bucks, and then opt-out as soon as possible. While there’s no denying that some people decided to measure their time on the contact list in minutes and not months, this course of action was not nearly as prevalent as you’d think. In fact, only about 2.3 percent of customers unsubscribed after snagging a quick discount with a brand that’s willing to offer front-loaded incentives as part of its mobile campaign. Generally speaking, it’s safe to say that if you do right by customers with your initial offer they’ll be more than happy to stick around and see what’s next on the list of great text deals.

Capturing the Moment of Success

So just how successful was Lifetouch Portraits’ SMS campaign? As part of the initial $5 discount push, this photography and development service saw text message opt-in rates jump by 163 percent during the campaign. In short, what was once a trickle of interest in what the company had to offer to customers on the go turned into a veritable flood of interested shoppers looking to save a few bucks on their next visit. After enjoying this initial surge of opt-ins, Lifetouch Portraits still commands an expansive and constantly growing audience that’s always excited to read about the brand’s next great text deal.

Figuring out Your Brand’s Strategy

Even if you’re brand is in a completely different industry, there’s plenty you can take away from this case study to help build your own successful, upfront text messaging campaign. The first part of the process is offering up a deal or discount that can really wow your audience. While the $5 savings might not seem like a lot from a big picture perspective, Lifetouch Portraits knew that frugal customers wouldn’t be able to turn away from this kind of meaningful savings on an upcoming purchase. After you decide on your own deal or discount to tie into the opt-in process, giving these customers a reason to stay subscribed is the next step. Recurring offers, informational content, and limited time discounts all fill this role more than adequately. Once you have these two pieces of the puzzle in place, you can sit back and watch your opt-in rate, and brand awareness, take off to previously unimaginable levels.

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The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: A return to the quick service food industry with a look at how one Papa John’s franchise went above and beyond with great SMS messages.

When it comes to mobile marketing and the quick service food industry, it’s easy to see that these two industries are clearly a match made in heaven. While it’s true that we’ve covered plenty of food related case studies that have made a strong case for SMS messages – and probably added a distinct rumbling in your stomach – Papa John’s franchise serves as the centerpiece of this study has plenty of new ideas to add to the ongoing discussion. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how our friends across the pond set up a wildly successful text marketing plan and what it could mean for your business if you decide to follow in their footsteps.

Setting up a Smart Text Plan

For the owners of this particular Papa John’s franchise in the U.K., the foundation for a great text message initiative was already in place. Before the campaign even started, the chain had 8100 members on its contact list, all of whom were eager to hear about the latest deals and discounts. However, that didn’t stop the guys in charge from tweaking and fine tuning the promotion to ensure that these messages made the biggest splash with customers on the go. From the wording of the message to what kind of deals the franchise offered, optimizing the potency of these short messages with value and brevity proved to be the key to connecting with hungry customers.

The Text Message Particulars

As part of this marketing move, the franchise owners created a short, succinct message that got straight to the point – any pizza, any size, for two great prices. The first price, £6.99, was for takeout (or collection as it’s known across the pond), while the second, £8.99, covered customers that decided to have a hot and delicious pizza delivered straight to their doorsteps. You might have noticed that this promo didn’t come with any strings attached in the form of opt-in codes or limited time offers. Instead, Papa John’s left things open for sharing via word of mouth and social media, giving the sale even more reach beyond the 8100 members of the text message list.

Variety is the Spice of Life (and Great SMS Messages!)

It’s important to note that this simple, straightforward message had to include two different offers to accommodate the variety of customers a pizza chain in the U.K. or here, in Canada, services on a regular basis. Naturally, your business might not need to account for varying rates based on delivery expenses or other factors, but it shows a high level of foresight and transparency on the part of this Papa John’s franchise to clearly state the difference in charges. The opposite path, only providing the base rate of £6.99 in the message and then tacking on the delivery up-charge later, could have easily left a sour taste in the mouths of the customers who didn’t want to leave the comfort of their homes.

The Final Tally

After the dust settled and it was time to count the final numbers, there was no doubt that this Papa John’s franchise scored a major hit with its audience. Of the approximately 8100 customers contacted, 3.9 percent decided to take this pizza chain up on its offer. While that number isn’t too impressive on its own, learning that the store generated $8.10 for every $1.50 it spent on mobile marketing is outstanding. To wrap it up into a nice, simple stat, for each of the three weeks this campaign ran, the Papa John’s franchise generated an additional 33 percent in sales.

Writing Your Own Recipe for Success

After seeing numbers like that, it’s pretty clear that SMS marketing has a place in your brand’s overall advertising plans. If you want to reap the same rewards, there’s a few things you can do to follow this franchise’s lead. First off, keep your messages short and straight to the point, while also being as transparent with the parameters of the deal as possible. From here, make sure you make the discount worth their time and, if possible, let them share the savings with friends and family. If you can add these ingredients into your next mobile marketing campaign, you’re well on your way to writing up an award winning recipe for success of your own.

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The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How online cosmetic retailer Julep wowed its audience with a great take on the classic SMS marketing strategy.

When it comes to cosmetics, the days of stuffy department store counters and waiting in line to pick up the essentials are long gone. Like most other industries, it’s all about fast and simple online access and shopping that is big on discounts. Julep, a leading retailer of cosmetics on the Internet, understood this, leading the brand to go mobile with its advertising and blending smart SMS tactics with great selections and online access to its inventory. If you’re interested in the particulars of this campaign, let’s take a moment to get dig into all the details and see just what you can pull from this classically orchestrated text campaign to make your next SMS initiative a hit.

Who’s Julep Targeting?

To start, one of the biggest factors in Julep’s decision to go with text messages as the primary means of reaching out to customers centered on whom the brand was targeting in the first place. At the heart of the cosmetic company’s audience are young, tech-savvy consumers who never stray too far away from their phones. With this in mind, it made perfect sense to offer up some exciting texts that let these shoppers hit mobile landing pages, no matter where they happened to be when the messages from Julep hit their inboxes.

Connecting with This Audience

Fortunately for Julep, the company’s name ended up being the perfect length for an SMS keyword (JULEP), which in turn complimented an equally memorable short code (33733) nicely. By selecting these easy to remember options, the brand made it simple for customers to sign-up in stores or after seeing promos on its website or social media accounts. Additionally, the company leveraged its existing email database to snag even more members for the burgeoning text contact list.

It’s also worth mentioning that on top of a great keyword and short code combo, Julep’s selections, regardless of the country the viewer was resided in, worked just fine, allowing for the company to only make one set of opt-in materials throughout the entire campaign. Considering that some SMS systems require a multitude of these phrases and codes, being able to use the same options throughout was definitely made life a little easier for Julep.

Creating a Real Deal

What’s an SMS campaign without an eye-popping offer that sends waves through a target audience? In Julep’s case, the brand definitely didn’t disappoint when trying to nail this part of the process. After opting into the program, new contacts immediately received a 50 percent discount off of their next nail color purchase. Adding in an expiration date to this offer helped get these mobile shoppers into gear, ensuring that the deal didn’t end up languishing in inbox purgatory forever. After the initial offer, Julep kept up a steady stream of deals on a regular basis, giving the contact list members plenty of reasons to eagerly await the next message from this cosmetics retailer.

Breaking down the Results

While all of this looks great on the surface, if you’re still up in the air about the power of SMS marketing, the results from Julep’s campaign provide some stats that are pretty hard to ignore. To start, over the first 24 hours of the campaign, over 5,000 excited customers signed up to join the messaging list. After this initial surge, the company recorded an astonishing 10.7 percent redemption rate on its offers, showing that with the right deal, interested viewers can quickly turn into satisfied customers. In all, Julep maintains a 99 percent retention rate, proving that sometimes all it takes is sticking with the classic approach to create an SMS success story.

Finding the Right Look for Your Brand

Now that we’ve covered Julep’s SMS success, it’s time to talk about what this means for your brand. Unlike some of the other brands covered in this case studies series, Julep didn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel with its campaign. Instead, simply following the traditional strategy of honing in on a target demographic, offering up great deals, and giving these shoppers a gentle nudge into action was good enough to pull in big time revenue. Even if you’re company is in a completely different industry, you’ll be hard-pressed to go wrong with your SMS campaign if you keep it simple and stick to these tried and true methods as you start to connect with your mobile audience.

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The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How a freshly brewed SMS marketing plan made Dunkin Donuts a destination for the youthful, social population of Boston.

There’s nothing quite like a fresh cup of joe in the morning. While everybody likes it little different, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s hard to start the day without a nice cup of steaming hot coffee. With this in mind, you’d think that selling coffee to busy people heading to work is like selling water to fish out of the ocean, right? However, with so many top tier brands out there, companies like Dunkin Donuts have to go the extra mile with great tactics, like SMS marketing, to keep up with the competition. If you’re considering a mobile marketing plan for your business, taking a look at the success Dunkin Donuts found with this strategy can be a great way to get you on the right track to making a major impact on your audience via text messages.

Dunkin Donuts Is Still Around?

For those of you reading this here in Canada, chances are you’re wondering why in the world Dunkin Donuts would be the centerpiece of any sort of positive case study, given the recent decline of franchises across the country. Yes, when faced with the success of Tim Hortons, Dunkin Donuts has definitely fallen on hard times. In fact, there are currently only six locations left in Canada – all found in Quebec. However, once you go south of the border, it’s an entirely different story. In the United States, Dunkin Donuts is a thriving quick service chain that continues to grow and prosper, perhaps one day moving back north and challenging “Timmy’s” for superiority over where you take your morning stop for coffee.

Setting the Stage for a Great SMS Campaign

So just what exactly keeps Dunkin Donuts growing in the United States? At the heart of this company’s growth are smart marketing tactics, like reaching out to customers via mobile messages. One of the best examples of this takes place with franchises in the Boston area. As part of the text messaging initiative, the brand targeted young adults with mobile Internet ads and on-air promotions via local radio personalities to encourage this demographic to opt-in and come check out Dunkin Donuts the next time they were in the neighborhood.

The “Friendly” Approach

Aside from the standard pitches detailing the specifics of the campaign, like the SMS short code and opt-in details, Dunkin Donuts also tried to give these messages a friendlier feel by suggesting that members of the contact list share the offers and discounts with others. Additionally nudging these patrons to spread the word about opting-in by forwarding the messages to friends and family alike added a new dimension to the concept of building a text message contact list. Considering that traditional outreach only goes so far, tapping into good, old-fashioned word of mouth proved to be the tipping point for the mobile marketing campaign.

Taking Note of the Results

By connecting on this level with customers, Dunkin Donuts generated some seriously powerful results. To start, 7,500 consumers signed up to receive promos and offers from this quick service leader, serving as the basis of the outreach program. From here, 17 percent of these Bostonians forwarded or showed the text to a friend, creating an extended network of influence that normal campaigns just can’t generate. Additionally, 35 percent of the contact list noted that they would be more likely to pick up a latte at Dunkin Donuts on their way to work after reading the latest mobile message.

Of course, all of these numbers pale in comparison to the big one. Over the duration of the campaign, these Boston area Dunkin Donuts experienced a 21 percent increase in store traffic, bringing in an wellspring of new customers that quickly turned into daily regulars looking to grab a quick coffee and start the day off right.

Writing up Your Own Recipe for Success

Even if you’re not in the quick service industry, there’s plenty of juicy morsels you can pull from this case study regarding your own mobile marketing efforts. To start, sometimes going against the standard and making your offers open to everyone is a smart way to spread the word and bring groups of friends and family into your shop. Of course, making sure you give your contact list a gentle push in the right direction when it comes to a little friendly sharing can help get the message across in a pretty powerful way. From here, it’s all about making sure you keep the hits rolling with great offers and a constant stream of content that keeps your brand on the mind of every member of your targeted audience.

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Even with Canada’s housing market showing some serious signs of continued growth, making your way through the real estate industry isn’t exactly a walk in the park. With so many other agents and firms vying for the same limited number of potential new homeowners, doing everything you can to get the upper hand and get your message out to the masses is always a top priority. With this in mind, let’s look at how exactly a smart SMS marketing campaign can breathe new life into your real estate sales efforts.

It’s Never a Bad Thing to Build an Inexpensive, Reusable Database

The focus of any marketing initiative is to find a cost effective, powerful way of making connections with customers – all on a budget that can be pretty tight at times. While other forms of marketing definitely have their perks, few options are as cost effective as connecting via SMS. Aside from taking it easy on a budget, having these numbers in your contact list gives you the chance to incorporate a reusable database of potentially interested buyers into each new home sale, adding lasting value to an approach that already rewards you getting ahead of the curve in the first place.

It’s Hard to Ignore a Text Message

Think back to all the times you called a prospective buyer to talk with them about a new house and they didn’t even bother to pick up. While some agents might just tell you that it’s part of the business and not to take it personally, the reality is that people can’t help but open their messages, giving you that much needed first contact to get your message out and intrigue your audience. In fact, those who receive these messages open it 98 percent of time, proving that at the very least, you can count on your message popping up on the screen and in front of their eyes at least once; which is more than you can say about some of your other marketing options.

SMS Campaigns Fit the Real Estate Cycle Perfectly

At times, closing the deal on house feels like a whirlwind affair. In just a few days, you’re sitting across from the happy new homeowners, signing the papers and looking forward to when your commission check clears the bank. However, plenty of other sales take weeks and weeks to finally wrap up. You probably already know that the key to closing deals with shoppers on the fence is consistent, reliable communication – falling out of contact for even a few days could shut the door permanently on this sale, sending you back to the drawing board for the house in question.

By working in SMS marketing to your approach, you not only have a better chance at making initial contact with your list of interested buyers, but you can also create a steady stream of communications over the following days and weeks. This is primarily due to the fact that mobile users check their phones 150 times a day and rarely spend time away from these devices. As you continue to hammer out the particulars with your potential buyer, having a reliable and consistent channel of communication ensures you never fall off the radar once they open up that first promotional message.

Regardless of Your Business, SMS Marketing is Just Plain Powerful

Perhaps the biggest way SMS marketing can pump up your real estate sales is the same reason that this type of marketing is good for pretty much any business; it is one of the most effective strategies out there. With most campaigns holding opt-out rates that stay below 5 percent, as well as the fact that 70 percent of people like to receive promotional information via text, it is hard to look the other way when the time comes to talk about reaching out via SMS. Of course, building your list does require some legwork, but once you get the ball rolling, there’s no denying the power of going mobile with your marketing.

Beefing up Your Strategy with Smart Tactics

For agencies that already have a similar email campaign underway, getting new numbers for your contact list, and gaining momentum the next time you put a house up on the market, becomes significantly easier. However, simply knowing the how strong this process is, doesn’t mean it automatically sets itself up.  Doing simple things like adding a sign-up sheet at your next open house will have you well on your way to turning these messages into happy customers and a happier bottom line.

In fact, one of the best ways to go the extra mile with your audience is to have a mobile site that showcases all of your listings, while also making it accessible via a simple text code. This system will obviously generate you some pretty hot leads with customers who are clearly interested in your current properties, in addition to the fact that keeping track of their numbers and the keyword used to pull up your text description and mobile site, lets you know what really resonates with customers. With this info in hand, you have all the tools you need to constantly optimize your automated messages. Of course, you’ll still need to ask for permission before firing off additional texts, but considering the interest you’re generating with this tactic, chances are you’ll fair pretty well in this part of the process.

The Final Verdict

At this point, it’s pretty easy to see that SMS messages are a great addition to the marketing strategy you already have in place to help turn vacant houses into new homes for people in your area. For any realtor that’s really looking to make a mark on his or her audience, the choice is simple. With the right tools on your side, as well as the right approach, there’s nothing stopping your agency from growing an eager base of customers who can’t wait to hear from you the next time a beautiful home hits the market.

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The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How shifting away from print marketing put Ford’s sales into high gear.

With an auto industry still reeling from the market implosion of 2008, American based automotive manufacturers like the Ford Motor Company have had a pretty hard road ahead of them during the recovery and reorganization process. Adding in that plenty of people look at car dealerships with little more than open distrust doesn’t exactly help either. However, with the right approach and some great SMS tactics, Ford recently showed that it’s not all bad news for a company that’s back on the rise and looking to return to the top of the automotive world.

Building a Plan

Aside from reemphasizing quality and style with plenty of revamped lines, Ford also decided that there’s no better time than now to reconnect with customers via text. At the heart of this plan was pumping up interest for the latest models of the Taurus and Escape, instead of simply sending off generic messages that covered every car on the lot. As you’ll see later on, keeping things focused on highlighting these models made a big impact by generating qualified leads with shoppers that wanted to learn a little less about the brand in general and a little more about these particular cars.

Getting the Wheels in Motion

So now that we’ve got the foundation of the plan built, it’s time to look at the next step of the campaign – honing in on customers interested in either the Taurus or the Escape. To do this, the brand used print marketing space already paid for to provide readers with an opt-in keyword (FORD) and a short code. From here, intrigued shoppers fired off a text and instantaneously received a response asking for a little more info. Rounding out the mini-survey were questions covering the model the customer was most interested in, the person’s zip code, and his or her full name. After responding, this customer info made its way to the nearest local Ford dealership, creating the perfect opportunity for a follow-up chat about potential offers.

Overcoming the Hesitancy Roadblock

Unfortunately, no SMS campaign is perfect, so finding a way to turn this first run of messages into successful second chances became one of the goals of the guys running things at Ford. As part of this process, the concept of retargeting – basically, reaching out again if the first message falls a little short – took center stage. As with any major purchase, most people won’t rush into buying a car, so Ford figured that a little extra attention would help overcome this hesitancy and get the gears in motion for customers stopping by at the local dealership. Naturally, there is a fine line between taking another shot that seals the deal and crossing into annoying territory, but Ford’s results showed that if you can find balance with this tactic, chances are you’re going to really like where your campaign ends up.

So How Did Ford Fare?

At this point, you’re probably wondering how things panned out for the once downtrodden motor company. After just a month of connecting with shoppers, Ford recorded an astounding 15.4 percent conversion rate on offers sent via text. Considering that so many motor companies are vying for such a limited number of interested consumers, having returns like this not only put Ford ahead of competition with its latest marketing efforts, it also showed that with the right approach, there are few things that turn a disinterested audience into happy customers faster than a well planned SMS campaign.

Tips to Take for Your Own Business

Even if you’re not in the automotive industry, there’s plenty of useful tips you can pull from Ford’s campaign. The first on the list is that sometimes being narrow and focused is a powerful tool. Instead of simply talking about how great your brand is, put the emphasis on a specific product or offer to really drum up some interest. Additionally, incorporating some smart retargeting methods, all while not going overboard and turning off the customer with constant messages, can breathe new life into a lead that would otherwise go unclaimed by a customer who is still sitting on the fence. If you can build around these concepts and follow in Ford’s footsteps, there’s no doubt you’ll be in good company as far as SMS marketing goes.

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The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How a smart SMS campaign gave Texas Roadhouse a legion of hungry, loyal SMS followers.

If you’re a fan of this mobile marketing case study series, you know we’ve covered some pretty tasty success stories. From juicy hamburgers served with a side of smart SMS tactics, to fresh out of the oven pizzas topped with a little email marketing crossover, it’s obvious that great food and reaching out to customers goes hand in hand. However, the latest restaurant that’s stepping into the mobile marketing spotlight – Texas Roundhouse – has a story that proves that everything, from flame broiled steaks to great text message campaigns, really are bigger in Texas.

Setting the Stage for Major SMS Results

To start, let’s look at a little bit of background on Texas Roadhouse and how the SMS campaign began to come together. With 400 locations across the United States, this western-themed restaurant definitely had a major spot on the food industry map. However, simply resting on your laurels won’t get you far, especially when customers have so many other options for lunch and dinner that are just as accessible. With this in mind, Texas Roadhouse decided to pull out all the stops with a great SMS campaign that helped keep its brand on the minds of hungry patrons. Known as the “TextUs Loyalty Club”, this contact list started off as a pilot program at 20 Roadhouse locations, before expanding out to more territories.

A Powerful Sales Pitch

While a solid SMS campaign that gets a brand’s name out to the masses is nice, Texas Roadhouse knew that if they wanted to see customers come streaming through the front doors at its 400 locations, these texts would really need to kick it up a notch. As we’ve seen with past case studies, there’s no better way to make a bold impression on your target audience than by simply giving them something free for their time. As Texas Roundhouse found out, going this route generated enough interest for 44 percent of customers to share personal information with the company as part of the promotion. At the center of the TextUs Loyalty Club, first time members were able to snack on a free appetizer simply for signing up. After this introductory event, the deal and discounts would pop up in text messages from time to time, just like any other well run mobile marketing campaign.

Digging into the Main Course

So once dinner was over and customers could head home, what was the final verdict on this campaign? To start, over the six month period Texas Roadhouse saw a 17 percent redemption rate on the sign-up offer, making it one of the most successful SMS initiatives in recent memory. Coming as no surprise to those of us that love food, the core of this positive response was the free appetizer. At this point, you’re probably thinking that most people signed up for the free deal, chowed down, and then opted out as soon as they had a foot out the door.

While you’re not alone with that train of thought, the real response turned out to be quite different indeed. With opt outs sitting at around 2.3 percent for the campaign, most satisfied patrons kept their membership in the loyalty club so that they could be a part of the next big offer. Of everything you can take from this case study, this message might be the most important – if you make it worth their time, your customers will reward you for your hard work and effort by sticking around to see what’s next on the SMS menu.

Making an Delicious SMS Recipe of Your Own

Looking back, it’s clear to see that Texas Roadhouse pulled off a big time mobile marketing hit with its TextUs Loyalty Club. If you want to follow in this brand’s footsteps, you don’t necessarily have to be in the food service industry to make it work. What you will need is the ability to reach out to your customers with deals that convince them to make a trip to your shop and not just drive by the next time they’re nearby.  Whether it’s a free appetizer, 15 percent off the next purchase or some other great incentive, once you show your audience you’re serious about SMS marketing, you can really start to grow these deals into a lasting relationship.

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