5 Ideas To Get Started with SMS/Text Messaging To Reach Customers & Prospects
SMS is one of the most effective ways for franchise systems to communicate. Here are five ideas to help you get started. The challenge with franchise marketing is that two layers need attention:
- Franchisors must create a profitable brand and business model that is easy to replicate.
- Franchisees must help maintain a brand’s reputation for it to retain its value.
For instance, franchisors must not only develop a plan to get franchisees on board and market the overall brand, they then must help these franchises to market themselves locally.
To complicate matters further, however, 42% of franchise professionals no longer feel traditional marketing channels are worth the investment. It’s a challenge that requires careful consideration.
The good news is that one communication channel stands head and shoulders above the rest: SMS. Over the past decade, we’ve seen franchisees and franchisors successfully use texting to: 1) provide customer service, 2) communicate internally, 3) sell franchises, 4) generate online reviews, and 5) send SMS promotions on behalf of franchisees, among other activities.
1) Customer service
Many franchises are using SMS for customer service, responding to questions, reminding customers about appointments, and alerting them of changes to a service or class. A study from eWeek reported that 52% of people said they’d likely text with a customer support rep if given the option; 47% said texting could improve their overall customer satisfaction; 52% said they would be likely to text with a customer support agent; and 9 out of 10 (89%) said it is important to have different options for customer support.
A-1 Self-Storage, for example, text-enabled 50+ locations’ phone numbers and offers its customers the ability to contact them by text. Customers even call out its text-based customer service as a benefit of doing business with them. According to A-1’s Digital Marketing Manger Cori Garrod, “They appreciate being able to communicate with us using the channel they prefer. We’ve even had some reviews that specifically say, ‘Hey they’re really easy to communicate with. They can even text!’”
Recently, we launched a feature aimed at helping multi-location franchises, called multi-number, which can provide individual franchises with access to different phone numbers. The best part is that you still have insight into everything happening at the individual franchisee level as an admin.
2) Internal communications
New franchisees require a significant amount of support, yet many new franchisors neglect their internal communications strategy. A lot of that comes down to an overreliance on email. According to Gigaom, text messages have a 98% open rate; in comparison, the average open rate for email is 20%.
Text messaging is a personal and low-friction way of communicating with your franchisees. It gives you a direct line without asking them to download additional apps or remember complicated passwords. You can use these internal texts to send messages from the leadership team about new policies; send a text message newsletter; provide helpful tips and advice; and offer an SMS hotline where franchise owners can receive support.
3) Franchise sales
It’s a no-brainer that a franchise system’s success depends largely on the quality of its franchisees. The starting point is getting your business in front of prospective franchise buyers and helping them make the big decision to buy. The problem is that trying to reach anyone by email or phone calls these days is “Mission Impossible.”
So, how can you make your life easier? Communicate the way your prospects want you to.
Franchise Help, a company that helps franchisors with lead generation, found that SMS had a 40x higher conversion rate than email. They also found that when a potential franchisee is given a choice between verifying their information by text message or telephone, almost 90% of their prospects chose text messaging. The result was a response rate for SMS that was 209% higher than for phone calls, and a verification rate for SMS that was 295% higher than for phone calls.
4) Generate online reviews
For anyone in the world of franchising, there’s no doubt that having an effective local marketing strategy is critical to business success. Online reviews are perhaps the single most crucial local marketing tool available to your franchisees: 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Good reviews are a significant ranking factor. The impact of reviews on local search is even more dramatic, with online reviews representing roughly 15% of overall ranking factors and increasing in importance by 20% year-on-year. So the more reviews you have, the better.
So how does texting help you earn more online reviews? Simple. After you work with a customer, text them asking for a review, and include a link to your review page on the platform of your choice (Google, Facebook, Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.). Companies that send review requests by SMS earn up to 600% more online reviews than those who ask by email.
5) Text marketing for franchisees
One customer, Main Juice Squeeze Co., a smoothie and juice bar chain, opened 10 locations across Texas and Louisiana in 2 years. One of the secrets of their success was sending promotional offers by text. In the words of its Director of Technology Jessie Williams, texting is unparalleled at driving sales. “Text messages are the best way to drive your customer through the door. Period.”
Franchise systems typically want to control and manage the communication strategies for their franchisees. At Main Juice Squeeze, individual franchise owners let the marketing team know they want to do an event and what the offer includes. Jessie’s team then puts together a message and schedules it to go out. This process allows the franchisor to ensure that each outgoing text includes all the necessary information, like the Main Squeeze name, location address, and necessary disclaimers.
Editor’s Note: For illustrations and examples of the text messages described above, go here.
Drew Wilkinson is a copywriter at SimpleTexting, an all-in-one text messaging service. For more information about franchise texting, or to schedule a demo, text or call 866-450-4185.
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