According to the most recent figures provided by the Pew Research Foundation, in 2014 more than 90% of Americans had at least one cell phone. This majority is remarkable, and dramatically demonstrates the utility that mobile devices offer. In only a few short years the text-enabled cell phone has become a fixture of modern life, serving as an alarm clock, rolodex, diary, camera, calendar, computer, and much more in a single polished package. These devices are our eyes, ears, and our voice in an increasingly digital world.
This rapid and near universal adoption of mobile technology presents a remarkable new option for car wash owners and operators looking to better connect with customers and market their services, and the process is surprisingly simple.
Washes may choose to employ the services of a text message marketing company which then provides software necessary to manage and message a list of customers with wash offers and coupons. In this, the process is similar to that of sending out email blasts or paper mailings. The difference, however, is in their effectiveness.
According to one industry source, more than 95% of text messages are opened and 90% are opened within three minutes. More importantly, texted offers generate a 40% redemption rate, compared to a typical redemption rate of only 2% for email or direct mail. Clearly, texted offers provide far greater effectiveness and a bigger bang for your marketing buck. Additionally, responses can be nearly immediately, giving operators an effective way to stimulate traffic on otherwise slow days.
However, there are risks that should be avoided.
- Class action suits have been filed against marketers messaging private phone numbers without prior consent, making it vital that washes build their database through ‘opt-in’ systems where potential customers submit their phone number for inclusion, often at events or in exchange for a free wash as a promotion.
- Once a customer does opt-in, it is vital that there be a clearly marked ‘opt-out’ process as well (usually in the first confirmation message) in order to assure customers that they are in control and their privacy is respected.
- Additionally, over-reliance on promotions and freebies can undermine membership programs and aliening regular customers who may begin to feel that they would receive more value waiting for coupons instead of paying a monthly fee.
- Simply sending too many texts in a single month has been known to annoy smartphone users, leading to higher turnover and opt-out rates. Text promotions should always be occasional and carefully thought out ahead of time, especially as over-redemption can quickly cut into profit margins. Messages should typically be sent out no more than once per month plus holidays.
- For obvious reasons, never send messages at inappropriate times, such as early mornings, at night, or during the dinner hours.
- Ensure that the redemption process is clear and easy to follow, and that employees have been informed of the process and trained to fulfill promotions ahead of time. Failure to do so can result in frustrated employees, offended customers, and delays at the wash.
- Every text message you send must offer value to the customer. In order to engage a customer, you need to be clear about what’s in it for them. It must represent a real value. Also, depending on the type of offer, an expiration date (or expiration time) encourages customers to act quickly.
For further reading, try the policies of the Mobile Marketing Association, an organization which mandates a number of different limits and controls for responsible SMS marketing. And remember, Tommy Car Wash Systems is your #1 source for high quality car wash parts, car wash equipment, car wash detergents, and car wash site models.
Tommy Car Wash Systems.