Mobile device adoption is at an all-time high, with more than 90% of Americans owning a cell phone. The most popular mobile activity is text messaging, and with an open-and-read rate approaching 100%, it’s no surprise that SMS text marketing has taken its place on the frontlines of small business advertising.
Few businesses stand to benefit from mobile marketing as much as nightclubs and bars. Traditionally operating on tight profit margins, nightspots need cost-effective ways of reaching lots of people on a continuous basis. Old school tactics like fliers and billboards are expensive and difficult to track in terms of ROI. Mass text messages are less costly and almost guaranteed to be read, and performance analysis is built in to the concept, so you know exactly how many recipients turned into customers.
It gets better. Data from an SMS marketing campaign can tell you how popular a promotion is before the event happens. Let’s say you’re running a Happy Hour campaign offering $5 cocktails. You simply post the shortcode and keyword on social media and – budget permitting – on local posters and fliers: Text $5COCKTAIL to 12321. You can instantly see responses as they come in, enabling you to tweak your strategy according to the level of interest. Understaffing or overstaffing are major issues for bars and nightclubs; SMS marketing minimizes the twin risks of losing money and, on the flipside, providing inadequate service.
The long-term benefits of an effective text marketing campaign are manifold. Let’s look at a few mobile marketing tactics proven to boost customer loyalty:
Bars and nightclubs are engaged in a nightly contest to grab customers before their competitors do. By announcing an event or promotion to your opted-in customers first, you can crunch attendance numbers before the big night, leaving you to focus on providing the best service possible. As an incentive, offer a drink deal to customers who RSVP.
Mobile coupons are some of the most powerful tools in the marketing toolkit. Used judiciously (ie once a month), they serve as a handy reminder of your brand wrapped in a freebie. And if there’s one thing we know consumers respond to, it’s free stuff.
If you’re new to SMS marketing, your first order of business is to build a database of mobile contacts. To turn walk-in patrons into opt-in subscribers, start in the place you know best: your venue. Post shortcodes and keywords around your bar or nightclub with a special offer. Once patrons have signed up to receive free drinks or admission, they’ve also opted in to receive future promotions. The larger your database gets, the more reliable your forecasting will be.
Referral bonus systems are standard practice in the hospitality industry, and text messaging is the most effective way to operate them. Offer discounts to existing customers for referring friends. Most people go to bars in groups anyway, so your chances of bagging more subscribers – who will perpetuate the offer by bringing more new customers – are high. It’s a win-win strategy.
Because SMS marketing strategies are quickly and affordably scaled up, you can adjust your spending based on results, rather than blind faith. As you become more comfortable with it, you can get more creative. The savings you make can be put towards other forms of advertising, or ploughed back into your mobile marketing strategy as you see fit. Whether it’s the thin end of the wedge or the sum total of your promotion efforts, SMS marketing for bars and nightclubs is a demonstrably effective catalyst for growth.