What is SMS Marketing? How Can I Use It For My Auto Shop?

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No matter where you go, take a good look at the people around you. You’ll see that they are usually no more than arm’s length away from their cell phone. People have become dependent and attached to their phones, making SMS marketing one of the most effective ways of communicating with your auto shop customers. Loyal auto shop customers are priceless, and SMS Marketing gives you a way to reward them and keep them engaged in your business. We’ll explain why SMS marketing is important, what it is and how to use it for your auto shop.

Why is SMS Marketing Important?

When you hear that “ding” notification for a text message, how fast do you check your phone? Now think about the fact that 81% of the adults in the US own a cell phone, and you’ll get a good picture of how effective SMS Marketing can be at reaching your target audience. SMS Marketing is a mass communication tool because, as we’ve already mentioned, just about everyone owns a cell phone. It allows you to touch base with your customers at the click of a button. It has immediate delivery because texts are sent and received within seconds. You can control the exact time and date that customers receive your promotions and are most likely to be receptive to your offer. SMS Marketing has the best engagement rate of any marketing medium. Emails sit unread, mail goes unopened, and phone calls go unanswered. But text messages are read almost immediately after they’re sent. 90% of people read a text message within the first 3 minutes. There are few, if any, marketing channels that are as instantaneous and engaging as text messaging. Some benefits SMS Marketing can have for your auto repair shop are:
  • Increase sales and customer base. The redemption rate for mobile coupons can be as high as 25%.
  • Build your brand and increase customer retention.
  • Reward loyal customers and create new ones.
  • Establish a connection with your customers.
  • Instantly communicate with customers.
  • Keep customers in the loop with your business.
  • Customers can forward text promotions to friends and family.

What Is SMS Marketing?

In short, SMS marketing is sending promotions, reminders, or alerts to your customers via text messaging. SMS Marketing stands for short message service marketing and uses permission-based text messaging sent to mobile devices. SMS Marketing is a direct line of communication to your customers and has two primary components – the keyword and the shortcode. For example:
  • Text “AUTO” to 777777 for our weekly deals!
“AUTO” is the keyword placed into the body of the message, and “777777” is the shortcode put into the recipient box. Customers must opt into receiving text messages by texting a keyword. After the keyword is sent, that user’s phone number is stored into the software that issues the texts. The user receives a confirmation text as a receipt for opting-in to receive future messages. An opt-out code is also included to give users an option to unsubscribe at any time, so you’ll know that your messages are only being sent to people who want them. Here’s an example of the use of a keyword and shortcode in a text from an auto shop:   text message convo  

How Can I Use SMS Marketing for my Auto Shop?

Customers prefer to communicate with businesses via text message because it’s fast and convenient for them. Text messaging is a good way for you to communicate with your customers for the same reasons. Some ways Auto Shops can use text marketing is:
  • Send discount or coupon offers.
  • Appointment reminders.
  • State Inspection reminders
  • Send out maintenance tips or vehicle recall announcements
  • Notify your customers when service is complete on their vehicle

Text Marketing Providers

Sending texts to a select group of customers is not the same as composing a group text to friends and family.  You’ll need an SMS marketing provider to design, deploy, and manage your text message campaigns. An SMS marketing provider provides a platform that will include features like templates, bulk text, scheduling, and message personalization.  Platforms can range between $25 – $350 per month depending on the volume of messages to be sent, and here are some that we found to be affordable and easy to use.

Tips and Best Practices

There’s really no wrong way to text, but if you decide to give it a go, here are a few tips to follow:
  • Be sure to include your business name in your messages. Text messages are sent from a 5-6 digit shortcode instead of a full telephone number, so contacts won’t know it’s coming from you.
  • Texts are great for urgent messages, but be mindful of your timing and be considerate to your contacts by not disturbing them at odd hours of the day.
  • Send confirmation replies when users opt-in and out.
  • Make sure your content is actually valuable to your customers.
  • Give SMS Marketing a try before committing to a service. SlickText and most of the providers listed above have a version that you can test out for free.
SMS Marketing is a great tool that provides instant communication with guaranteed engagement and should be incorporated into your auto shop’s marketing strategy. You’ll be providing a service to your customers, and in return, it’ll help give you a needed boost in your auto shop business.  
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