June 8, 2021
Imagine you could craft a marketing message and be sure that nearly every person you sent it to actually saw it.
If that sounds like an impossible fantasy, then it’s time for you to consider adding text messages to your marketing strategy.
Text messages have an open rate of nearly 98 percent, compared to a dismal 20 percent for email.
Engagement rates for texts are also up to 15 percent better than email.
Studies show that consumers prefer text message communications over methods like email and phone, so read on to learn more about this powerful way to reach your patients.
With a strict length limit on your message, text marketing is a different animal than email or social media marketing.
Use these tips to tackle the new medium.
When patients sign up for text messages from your pharmacy, make it clear exactly what they’ll be receiving.
Define how many messages they will receive — like one a week, or six a month — and what kind of information they can expect to see in their notifications.
Once you’ve laid that information out, stick to it. If you say you’re going to send them up to four exclusive promotions a month, don’t start sending multiple updates about pharmacy news every week.
You only have 160 characters at your disposal, so brevity is a must. Your message should have two parts: a greeting that catches people’s attention, and a call to action.
And that’s all. There’s no room for anything else.
The call to action is especially important in text message marketing. You should always have a concrete reason for reaching out and include details about a promotion or coupon to make the message worth patients’ while.
Instead of reaching out just to say, “Happy Easter from our pharmacy,” you should include an incentive, like, “Happy Easter! Show this text for 20% off pre-made Easter baskets.”
Remember that your patients probably don’t have your number saved in their phone, so include your pharmacy’s name at the beginning of your texts.
With so few characters at your disposal, it’s probably tempting to shorten it up with some abbreviations. But it’s actually better to avoid “text speak.”
While simple abbreviations might make sense to you, they won’t necessarily be obvious to the people on the other end of the phone. When you use shortened words and other text-isms, you risk confusing and alienating your patients.
To keep everyone on the same page, use whole full words and sentences just like you would in your email or social media marketing.
Most people keep their phones close at hand all day and all night. Keep that in mind when you are scheduling messages.
Don’t send marketing messages late at night or early in the morning. If a message wakes your patients up, they’ll be annoyed, and they might even see it as unprofessional.
Stick to business hours so you don’t come off as intrusive.
Though text messages may seem like a convenient way to communicate news to your patients, the more messages you send, the more likely it is that they will opt out.
You might post on social media multiple times a day, or send multiple marketing emails per week, but for text marketing, less is more.
The text marketing company Postscript recommends you send a mere 2 to 4 marketing texts per month. Any more, and you risk becoming an irritant.
Most text message marketing platforms will allow you to attach images to your texts — don’t pass that opportunity up.
A sleek image will catch people’s attention, and it can help you increase your brand awareness if you use your logo and colors.
Images allow you to include information beyond 160 characters and add context to the initial message. You can also include images of the products you’re most eager to promote.
While messages with images may cost slightly more than a straight text, they are a great way to stand out from all the other brands texting your patients.
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If the idea of tapping out messages to everyone on your marketing list sounds tedious, never fear. Several different software options exist to help you schedule and send texts to your patients.
Typically, these programs charge a flat rate for a certain number of messages a month.
Often, businesses choose to use a “short code” for their text message marketing, which is a phone number that’s only five or six digits and is easy for your patients to remember. However, if you want to use a traditional phone number, you can do that, too.
Before you start your first text message marketing campaign, you need to get familiar with regulations from the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA). The CTIA is a trade association of wireless carriers, and they have rules to protect consumers when it comes to text marketing.
The CTIA requires that customers must opt in to receive text marketing, so you can’t just send messages to anyone whose phone number you have.
They can opt in via text message by texting you a keyword or by signing up online. After that initial opt-in, you have to send a message with the following information:
If you’re sending recurring marketing messages, you’re also required to send opt-out instructions at least once a month.
While CTIA’s guidelines aren’t law, wireless carriers can shut down your text marketing program and prevent you from contacting patients via text if you violate their rules.
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. The company is a member-owned organization that serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, distribution services, and more.
PBA Health, an HDA member, operates its own VAWD-certified warehouse with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products.
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