You do it every day and you probably can’t imagine your life without it, but have you ever thought of text messaging as a marketing tool? With tactics like text alerts, discounts and newsletter sign-ups, hotels have gradually been using texts as an easy and unique way to reach their guests. This is your guide to the science behind text message marketing and how to use it to your advantage as a hospitality marketer.
What is text message marketing?
We all know what text messaging is, but what is text message or “SMS marketing?” Terry Mann from The Houston Chronicle says it’s exactly what it sounds like, it’s “a marketing campaign that uses text messages to deliver advertisements or promotions to users.”
Text message marketing can include anything from alerts, promotions, pictures and links to other sites. In the hospitality marketing industry, text marketing opens up endless opportunities for new and creative marketing content to hotel guests.
How do you use it?
One thing you must understand is that there is much more to text message marketing than just words and an emoji. As a hospitality marketer, there are a lot of extra tools and ideas that can contribute to your first campaign. Here are some of the most popular ways to use SMS marketing:
- Geofencing: This newer technology uses GPS to create a virtual boundary around a location. In a hotel setting, marketers can set boundaries around the hotel and when guests or prospective guests enter that boundary, they are then susceptible to receiving texts and promotions from the hotel (after previously giving the hotel their number of course). Geofencing ensures that texts are going to the right audience at the right place and time. For example, geofencing can help you alert guests at the pool that happy hour is starting in 10 minutes. Or it can be used to alert nearby text subscribers outside the hotel that that live entertainment is taking place at your restaurant that evening. Be sure to check out this article from Bluedot Innovation with 10 ways to use use geofencing in the hospitality industry for some inspiration!
- Newsletter Sign Ups: Texting a code is a lot easier than typing out an entire email address. Encourage guests to text a code to a specific number so they can receive your newsletter via link form in a text message. To encourage guests to participate, you can put the code on other promotional channels like printed brochures, social media accounts and even your website. A few years ago, Planet Hollywood and Casino in Las Vegas provided prizes for guests that opted-in to receive their SMS messages & upgraded to an A-List Player’s Club membership. The campaign increased membership by 13% & offered a 70% success rate.
- Coupon Distribution: Guests that sign up for text alerts could then receive text discounts. Pair this alert system with GPS geo-caching and then they can receive discounts to things they are close to (like a free drink at the bar or discounted spa treatment).
For even more creative ways to use SMS, check out this article from Adestra about innovative uses of SMS marketing.
Text message marketing vs. other forms of marketing
Consumers are used to their email inboxes being flooded with spam so they are usually less likely to open whatever marketing message you attempted to send. However, people are accustomed to opening texts and answering instantly, so even if they aren’t interested in your message, they will probably still open it either on purpose or on accident. Dynmark reported that, on average, 29% of those targeted by SMS marketing respond while less than 6% of those targeted respond to direct mail, print and email.
The biggest disadvantage with text is that the form factor means your message must be concise. You can’t send a highly visual and information-dense message like you canwith email. However, with some well written copy you can entice people to tap on links that you send them to a more detailed web-based message.
Another disadvantage is that consumers aren’t really used to being marketed to through text so they might be more likely to get annoyed. Just use common sense and focus on providing value to avoid this.
Which text message service to use
There are a number of services and companies for text message marketing, you’ll need to do some research to find out what works best for your needs and budget. This Article from Top Ten Reviews is a great place to start your search. it has a nice comparison of various services showing their list of features and pricing structure.
Even if text marketing may not be the traditional way to reach guests, it has made marketing more efficient and direct. Hopefully this article will help you get started with text message marketing!
Until next time, be well.
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