Smart phone

People have their cell phones with them everywhere, and respond to them quickly, making them the perfect marketing delivery vehicle. Combining the power of SMS text marketing with the traditional punch card customer loyalty program is creating a whole, new paradigm in small business marketing.

Text Message Punch Cards – The Latest Trend in Customer Loyalty Programs

Text message punch cards are the latest spin on the customer loyalty program. You know, the ubiquitous punch cards used by virtually every local business, from flower shops to tanning salons, and restaurants to autocare providers, and just about everything else in between……

Well, there is a new sheriff in town! We’re talking about bringing the lowly, but effective punch card system into the modern era by combining the same basic principle with the one device that it seems everyone has at least one of, never lets out of their sight, and probably couldn’t live without; the cell phone.

Simple Messaging Service (SMS), usually referred to as text messaging has been with us for a while now, probably since the first business owner realized that they could use their customer phone list to supercharge their marketing efforts. There is a great reason for this.

Get the Message….. Well, Maybe Not!

While on the surface, text message marketing may seem more expensive compared to old fashioned (?) email marketing methods, a quick look at the overwhelming effectiveness of SMS marketing reveals that overall cost definitely isn’t everything. According to recent studies, while email marketing messages experience limited open rates, even with the best subject lines your copywriter could devise, SMS delivery experiences no such problem.

For example, restaurants, one of the heaviest SMS marketing users normally have email marketing message open rates on the order of 25% – 30%, while hitting over 95% with their SMS campaigns! There are many reasons for his. An email could get caught in a spam filter, buried in the avalanche of emails the average person gets, or simply ignored. Many people routinely ignore the vast majority of emails that don’t come from family, close friends, or business associates.

Obviously, the SMS campaigns justify their higher initial costs. Marketers and business owners don;t really care about the cost per message sent. The cost per message opened is the only figure that matters here. Well, actually there is another statistic in SMS marketing’s favor, as well.

Timing Really is Everything

In marketing, as in life, timing is everything. If you’re sending out a message about your Friday evening dinner or drink specials or coupons, you’d like it to be opened Friday. That’s when your customers are making dinner plans, not late Friday evening or Saturday morning, when they are are either sitting at another restaurant’s table, or lounging on their couch, nursing a hangover from the money they spent at a competitor’s establishment the night before.

That’s another area where SMS marketing walks all over traditional email marketing. Statistics show that your temporal targeting ability is tremendously improved with text message marketing over email. SMS messages are perfect for exactly this kind of marketing, because they tend to be opened within 15 minutes of being sent. For local business owners, it doesn’t get any better than this for being able to connect with customers for timely messages that can drive substantial business into their establishments……

The Next Big Thing in Marketing for Local Businesses – Text Message Loyalty Programs

Except that maybe it does… the newest evolution of the lowly (but highly effective) punch or stamp card loyalty program is poised to take SMS marketing campaigns by storm. The reasons are simple, they have all the advantages of normal SMS marketing, combined with the powerful components of a loyalty program, and none of the drawbacks of a physical card program.

Why Local Business Owners Love Text Message Punch Cards

Build a Large, Loyal Customer List – Obviously, that’s the goal of nearly every business, whether they use a loyalty program or not. These systems simply facilitate and accelerate the process, while simultaneously increasing their effectiveness. That’s a rare combination. Even better, in addition to the loyalty program, you can reach out and touch them with new offers at will, providing them with new reasons to spend money at your store or office.

Decrease Advertising and Marketing Costs – Most small business owners have a significant marketing budget, often divided between direct mail, Internet advertising, email marketing, newspaper advertising, event sponsorships, and the myriad of other marketing and promotion methods. Even if they are using some high ROI guerrilla marketing techniques, and are publicity masters (pub can be an extremely effective marketing tool if implemented correctly), they’ll be hard pressed to get a better ROI than with a well run SMS based loyalty program.

Increase Customer Value – One of the best ways to stay in business and expand your customer base is to over-deliver value. You’ll build a rabid fan base of loyal customers and make them love you. SMS loyalty programs enable local business owners to do just that, by giving them exclusive discounts, products, and specials they’ll find nowhere else. The customers not only stay loyal, they sing your praises to their friends, associates and family members, providing even more value to your marketing initiatives.

Bring Your Customers Back Sooner -It’s no secret to most business owners, whether they be Fortune 500 execs or mom and pop deli owners; there are only three ways to increase sales.

You can:

  • Acquire new customers
  • Sell more to your existing customers with each visit
  • Sell to your existing customers more often

Text message loyalty programs enable you to do all three, but excel at increasing visit frequency, because they give you pipeline to your customers with a powerful reason for them to to come back to your place more often than they otherwise would. It maters not whether you’re running a restaurant, auto dealer, chiropractic practice, or veterinary clinic, you will have your customers coming back sooner.

Increase Marketing Effectiveness – As noted, deliverability and temporal relevance are orders of magnitude ahead of traditional email marketing, and virtually every other marketing method in use today. That enables business owners to target their marketing very effectively, and be sure that it hits the bulls eye nearly every time.

Customers Will Happily Accept This Form of Marketing – While many people, okay, nearly al of them, despise email marketing, most will happily jump on the text message punch card bandwagon. You only need ask them. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to get customers to accept traditional punch cards, and it is much the same with this new method. In fact, it much better for the customer, as they get all the advantages of a punch card program with significant additional benefits.

For example, if you run a burrito shop with a stamp card program, your lunch customers can not only get their free burrito for every 10 burritos they order, but you can also send them a coupon for your Friday special, too. They’ll love you for saving them even more money on something they were probably going to buy anyway, just maybe not on Friday. They’ll probably bring a co-worker or two along to eat with them (who will not only pay full price, but also opt in to your program).

You can see the advantages of these new marketing systems, and why they are ready to take off. Soon, they will be in wide use, just as punch and stamp card programs are today. If you run a local business, jump on board the text message punch card bandwagon now and get ahead of the crowd, so you’re positioned to take full advantage of what these systems offer.

For more on how this can help your business prosper almost overnight, see Text Message Loyalty Program