tive – that texts get read far more often and feel personal – are also why you need to be judicious with its use .
“ You have to be very intentional in the way you ’ re doing it . If you just spam people all the time , that ’ s the quickest way to slow that momentum . You have to make it where it ’ s very personable ,” advises Lewis . “ Perfect example is I don ’ t try to fake that an artist is actually sending the text messages out . We create a team , so when the fans engage , even though they know they ’ re talking to a representative on that artist ’ s team , they know I ’ m in communication with the artist . So , they say something like , ‘ Hey , so and so ’ s song changed my life , I ’ ll take a screenshot of that , get it to the artists , the artists will say , ‘ Oh my god , that ’ s amazing !’ and then we communicate that back to the individual . So , the fan actually feels some sense of a humanizing relationship there .”
What this looks like for businesses such as MI retailers , Lewis notes , is that there should be four or five messages of value to the customer for every sales-oriented message .
“ You just can ’ t put out there , ‘ Come in for our 20 % off sale .’ You do that every once in a while , but are you sending out maybe four or five texts of value – that link to reviews , have information like ‘ Five things that you should be doing with your guitar this winter before the weather changes ’? You know , things like that , and then you ask for a call to action . So , you ’ re giving value , giving value , giving value , and then asking for something in return ,” he explains . “ When you can successfully do that , your marketing will change overnight once that starts to go on for a long period of time .”
In terms of how much is too much when it comes to sending messages , there is a human awareness element to it . You have to know your audience , feel it out , and avoid annoying them or else they will unsubscribe . So , you certainly shouldn ’ t send out messages daily like you would on social media , or even multiple times a week like you may with email marketing .
“ Text messaging is very specific to whatever industry you ’ re in . If I ’ m working with an artist , fans maybe love more frequent engagement . Every once in a while , somebody is going to be like , ‘ I can ’ t handle these , it ’ s too much ,’ and even more so if it ’ s coming from a business . So , it might only be once a week . I think that you have to determine that ,” he says . “ One thing I love about Community is I can see the analytics and see how many people are opening it . And if I see a higher open rate in like the 70s , 80s , or 90 percent , that kind of inspires me , if the content is good , to do that a bit more frequently . Also , when we send the texts out and we see an increase in sales , whether it ’ s merchandising or ticket sales for a tour that ’ s going on , things like that might be more of a time to ramp up .
“ I would definitely say with text messaging for a business , make sure for every call to action , you ’ re at least doing two to three valuedriven posts before that and after that and keeping some kind of cycle . Now , that doesn ’ t mean you do it every day on text messaging , because that can get annoying really quick . Keep in mind , when somebody subscribes to a text messaging list , you ’ re literally getting access to the palm of their hand 24 / 7 … So , I think a good rule of thumb is try once a week , and then maybe bump it to two times a week . But stay on some type of consistent schedule . I mean , I subscribe to a ton of businesses that send me an ungodly amount of text messages , and I unsubscribe to every one of them that gets annoying with it , but I love the ones that send me something of interest and value .”
That brings up another point , which is the time of day to send out messages . If you ’ re making people ’ s phone ping while they ’ re sleeping , you ’ ll lose them . Also , it ’ s about when they ’ re most likely to be looking at their phones .
“ Depending on the demographic , if we ’ re working with an artist that has a younger fan base , sometimes we want to send it around lunchtime when they ’ re in school . In the summer , it doesn ’ t really matter as much . Sometimes we send them a little later at night , based on that demographic . If I ’ m a music retailer , I ’ m probably going to focus on those lunchtime hours and after-work hours . You test it out and see what works . Sometimes you could send it at two o ’ clock and somebody ’ s sitting at their desk and they ’ re bored , so they might want to check it out . But I typically look for those windows of opportunity that are going to be best to capture their attention and it ’ s different for every market .”
One last important thing to remember is how you build your contacts list , because both the U . S . and Canada have strict anti-spam laws . In short , the people must clearly opt in and consent to receiving text messages , and must also have the option of
unsubscribing . You can provide incentives to opt in , such as 15 % off their next purchase .
“ So , you can ’ t just go out and take cell phone numbers from your database and dump them in the app , unless they ’ re signing up at the register . I ’ ve seen where some retailers will have a button that says , ‘ Would you like to join our email list or receive text messages ? Put your phone number in ,’ and they have to physically type it in . I do believe the laws restrict from you taking your own database that you ’ ve collected from whatever CRM the company is using and putting that into that system . You ’ ll see a lot of entrepreneurs where they ’ ll wear a shirt that says ‘ text me ’ and put the number on their shirt . It ’ s not their personal phone , but it ’ s still going to their personal phone . You can also use QR codes where people can easily pull up the information to subscribe , or go to that link .”
As the list grows and you collect customers ’ preferences , you can segment it into sub lists to specialize your messages for customers of guitars , band instruments , etc .
“ From a liability standpoint , when it comes to texting , you have to be very careful too . When you ’ re dealing with that many people , you don ’ t want some hourly employee jumping on there and conversing with people because that could get you into some human resources-type issues ,” Lewis adds .
Lastly , he says , remember that text messaging is a distribution platform , so you need valuable content to distribute , whether it be YouTube videos , a blog , or something else with reviews , tutorials , etc . Otherwise , all you ’ re left with is the annoying sales-driven messages .
“ It has to be very humanizing ,” Lewis says in closing , “ and if you don ’ t abuse the technology , I think the fans will embrace that — they share it , they get other people to sign up .”
Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Music Trade .
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