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The best way to capture email subscribers with SMS

The best way to capture email subscribers with SMS Justin Williams

Ever since internet, email, and mobile access became the standard rather than the exception, the digital marketer has had a number of channels through which to reach consumers. Up until recently, a marketer could get by using a few channels well -- without considering the connections between channels.

Times have changed.

Consumers now expect you to intelligently use the channels available. They want the right information through the right channel at the right time. They want continuity throughout the channels -- continuity of brand on the abstract level and of promotion more specifically.

To meet this expectation, we as marketers must use cross-channel strategies. These strategies will do away with channel as a separation, and use channel instead as a preference. For example, we will no longer have SMS campaigns that are separate from social campaigns. We will simply have the "Christmas campaign," and some of our targets will receive some of the messaging within that campaign as a text message, some as an email, etc.

This article, and others to come, will address a few strategies for cross-channel marketing, starting with a strategy to capture email subscribers in remote situations (i.e., away from a computer).

Boosting email performance with SMS

Do you do business in more places than your website? Even if you're an e-tailer, the answer is probably yes. It's also likely that a portion of your target audience might only ever interact with you in these remote locations.

If your email campaigns are your primary loyalty-building tool, how do you capture those people who only touch your brand in remote locations? If you don't have an easy way for them to flow into your email list, you've lost the opportunity to build a relationship.

One way to bridge this gap is with an SMS-to-email campaign. You simply tell the consumer to text a short code (e.g., 606060) with a certain keyword and an email address (e.g., SUBSCRIBE [email protected]). You can then parse that email address and begin sending the person emails. It's that simple...sort of.

If you want to be successful, you'll need to create a good reason for someone to subscribe to your email updates. This could just be whatever you normally offer -- deals, updates, or however else you normally promote your emails.

A more strategic offer would be related to your consumer's location. For example, at the point of sale, you can have a text message offer that gives the consumer an instant 5-percent-off coupon when he or she signs up for your email alerts. (This coupon could be a text message sent once the user confirms the subscription.)

Scotts, the gardening and lawn care products company, offered to email a lawn-care guide to anyone who signed up for its emails via text. This promotion ran at baseball parks and other remote locations. The user received the guide in the email inbox after successfully opting in with a text message, and Scotts continued to build that relationship with email to continue promoting the product.

Of course, another method of capturing these people is a mobile app or a QR code. Both of these work, but they unnecessarily restrict the number of consumers who are capable of participating. An SMS-to-email campaign, however, allows you to capture a broader group, as it does not exclude those who do not have a smartphone. Also, sending an SMS is easier and requires less commitment than downloading an app or opening a specific app to scan a QR code.

Think about what consumers who see your brand in remote locations want, and try to capture them into your relationship-building channel by using the mobile-efficient SMS channel.

Justin Williams is a senior digital marketing strategist at StrongMail.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Many hands holding mobile phones" image via Shutterstock.

As senior director for Internet and new media, Williams is overseeing digital-content development, including the network’s Web site and future products such as mobile-phone downloads, broadband video and video-on-demand.

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