Your users aren’t on Facebook anymore. But they are on text.
Recently I was working with a client on her new website and she said “my clients aren’t on Facebook anymore, they want me to text them” and we opened up a conversation about the ways that people are connecting outside of social media. She’s right. In this blog post, I’ll cover text apps and content strategies for Michigan businesses.
To start, before you begin texting, you need a minimum of three things to succeed in business (and to be “found” – whether it’s a Google search, a friend sharing your business name):
A great website
A phone number (that people can text)
A strategy for reaching customers on multiple channels outside of social media
There are “business coaches” who will tell you that you can build your business without a website – because they don’t understand marketing tech – but you cannot and expect to succeed long term. Whether someone searches for your services or products, or whether your network of referrals passes your name along, people ARE going to look you up online. Don’t let them find just a Facebook page, because odds are, they’re exiting Facebook, or, if they’re under age 25, they’re not even ON Facebook and have no reason to be.
Being agnostic from social media (whether TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram or YouTube) and having your website available for clients to find you is crucial.
We have articles about website basics, what platforms to choose, why you want to have your own website and more. This article is about moving beyond social media connections to using text (and email) strategies.
Getting started with opt in text and text group apps
There are a number of excellent services within the reach of all business owners to send and receive texts. Those messages contain links that go to….you guessed it, your WEBSITE! And you can send email through a number of also excellent services once clients opt in that you can send even nicer messages and direct people to….your website. You can even send people from Instagram and TikTok and YouTube to your website, through your link in bio.
Your platform choice and presence on social and interactive media depends on your industry but your communication with your clients requires you to be on platforms that are not filtered and are opt in. Email and text are not filtered – there’s no algorithm that throttles the text messages your customers signed up for (just STOP to opt out) once they opt in. Same, too, with email (although it does end up in the Promotions tab of their inbox.)
Texting is a great way to stay in touch with clients, send them to your website. Most of us are familiar with outbound text broadcast services, where you sign up and a business texts you. If you’re using services like GroupMe and Remind, texting two-way and allows you to communicate with your clients in a group chat setting. You can typically set up groups within those to manage your client groups.
Let’s explore some text options for small businesses that our clients like:
And any number of industry specific ones (such as for salons, dental offices, etc.)
These text services offer broadcast (typically) and even group text functions (GroupMe and Remind) that help you create a community. One of our clients, a dog trainer, uses GroupMe to invite clients to practice sessions with their dogs following their training courses.
Other clients are beginning to use text to inform clients of sales, events and other things via their business opt-in texts.
Text versus email content strategies:
Obviously texts are, well, texts. Short, with links to content on your website. Email, always long form, is seeing success in being even LONGER form (not kidding!) But you’ve got to do more than “here’s our special of the week” – you have to thoughtfully craft interesting and useful content for your email and your blog. This involves putting your mind in the head of your customer and creating useful, thought-provoking and inspiring content. If you’re stuck on WHAT to create, hate to write, love to use photos (or hate to use photos and love to write), check out our content creation blogs here, here and here.
Texting is perfect for short notices, so, tease your customers, but don’t be SO cryptic that your texts arouse suspicion of pfishing! Be up front about what you’re asking them to read, so they know it’s legit.
We’ve covered email marketing many times before – but the change now is that businesses are including a lot longer form content in their email with links to additional info or downloads on the website from the email. It’s formatted for mobile though (everything is stacked in the email, nothing is in a column and the text is formatted larger), it’s designed to scroll a little. We used to say “short paragraphs with links to other content” – and that is still true for some content, but you should tell your readers a little about the topic in the email itself as they may not want to click over to something else. Let them go to your website for deeper information.
Don’t just produce content that is around your product or service, produce content for your customers! If you’re a dog trainer, yes, dog training tips are great, but also, loving your dog, being a dog parent, places to take your dog, share your summer dog weekend adventures. It doesn’t have to be related 100% to your business. You’re looking to connect, not just to convene commerce.
I follow a company that makes (designer) inflatable pools. Blow-up pools, y’all. Half their content or more is not about a pool purchase, but about a lifestyle. The kinds of things people do who put inflatable larger-than-kid-sized pools on their decks or in their yards. It’s as much a lifestyle as it is about selling pools. Their content includes recipes, deck décor (including pools, of course), self-care, summer inspiration, partnerships with small clothing and décor brands that align with their customer interests. When they send a text, I generally click on it.
Think about how the content you text or email is valuable to your user and match it to the right media – a long form email content is terrible on text, of course, but is perfect for email. Short links or timely notifications are perfect on text but don’t really work to engage customers on email.
Respect your customers’ time – do not send texts too often, but just often enough.
Texting can be a great next step for small businesses – and you should take advantage of reaching your customers in a way they want to be reached. Opt-in text is a way to move beyond social media for customer connection.