Look around any college campus and you’ll see them everywhere: cell phones. Your students don’t leave home without them and use them constantly, making them the perfect resource for reaching your target audience.
“For every giveaway we offer, I have students text in to win,” explained Ed Hays, assistant manager. “That provides us with benefits that are two-fold: first, we’re able to collect their phone number for future promotions, while also encouraging them to participate in our current sales or contests.”
Using a third-party service called EZTexting, the store implements the text promotions 1-3 times per month.
“It’s really easy to use,” he said. “We pay a monthly fee based on how many promotions we intend to implement, choose a keyword for students to text, and they provide the rest. I can go in and download the phone numbers that have opted in at any time and create an Excel sheet with them to choose a random winner.”
For instance, the store recently held a cash giveaway during their textbook buyback, allowing students to enter through text messaging. Each day, three randomly selected students were selected to receive $50 in cash during the store’s five day buyback.
“I’ve realized that students seem to respond much better to cash incentives than they do other prizes, there’s something about having that large dollar amount in your hand that’s much more tangible,” he described. “Of course I want them to spend it in the store, but it seems that cash creates a different level of excitement and makes our promotions more enticing.”
To enter, students simply had to sell their books at one of the store’s two locations, and receive a designated keyword from the buyer there. Then, they could text that word to a specified number as entry into the contest.
“We changed the keyword at each location every day,” he explained. “That way if someone sold their books on Monday, they couldn’t continue to enter throughout the week.”
To attract even more students to enter the contest, the store then showcased the winners through their social media pages. Each of lucky recipients were asked to write how they were going to spend their buyback money on a whiteboard and pose for a picture with it!
“I’d seen another store do something similar awhile back, and it inspired me to give it a try,” he added. “It seemed like a fun way to show others all the ways buyback money could be spent!”
The store’s mobile messaging promotions go beyond just buyback, however. During football season, the store runs a secret sale on t-shirts before every home game.
“I’m able to include an image in the text messages too, so that students can see the item we have on special, and that really creates excitement,” he said. “For example, we created a special shirt for a big game we were playing, advertised the sale to our text message database and were able to completely sell out within 12 minutes! It was amazing!”
The store has found the messages are an effective way to send reminders, too.
“Over the summer, we texted everyone in our database to let them know that textbook reservations were available on our website,” he explained. “As a result, we received the highest number of online reservations we had ever had because we were able to directly communicate with them through a medium that they pay attention to.”
Feedback from the students has been just as positive, too!
“Overall, we’ve heard very good things,” Hays said. “It’s a quick, easy and non-invasive way for them to participate, and they’re always very excited when they win!”
With over 2,500 numbers in their opt-in database, the store has clearly had great success with this approach.
“I’m able to directly market to about 25% of our student population through text messaging and that number is only growing,” said Hays. “Our opt-out rate is less than 1% during any given promotion, too, so it’s been very effective. I’m looking forward to seeing how it evolves in the future.”
Has your store tried text messaging marketing? Share your experience or advice with others below by commenting!