Wednesday, 9 December 2015

New Years' Resolution - Build a clean database!

If you have a bit of downtime, put aside a few hours to inspect your customer database.

A customer database is gold. These are people who already know you, and they are usually receptive to receiving messages from you, and of course, more receptive to BUYING from you!

I recommend implementing a strict data policy in your business. And this starts with having a Style Guide.

Sounds a bit posh, but there's no berets or bling in site!

A Style Guide is what editors put together so their writers know what to do in the case of ambiguity in the language or text.

For example: Do we write labor or labour? Do we input phone numbers like this: "0455555555", or like this: "0455 555 555". Do we abbreviate roads info: "Drv or Hwy or St or Ave". Do we capitalise suburbs "SYDNEY instead of Sydney".

I know it seems pedantic, but in my years of helping clients with data, I have seen lists that are a dog's breakfast. And if you plan an SMS blast, a direct mail campaign, or your sales team want to call the list, that's when NOT having a Style Guide will bite you.

A stitch in time...

The SMS Express system is able to tidy imported data to a point. It will ignore spaces, remove duplicates and won't matter if the 0 is chopped off the front. The system's "style" is to reformat numbers from 0455 555 555 to 6145555555.

But what it can't do is fix wrong numbers or missing numbers.

You may use Excel, Access, Salesforce, HirePOS, Filemaker, SwiftPOS, doesn't really matter which program, as long as it's easy for you and your staff to use.

Many people use Excel because it's already there plus you can export data INTO Excel making it easy for use with SMS Express or for other direct marketing campaigns like mailing a brochure.

Put together a Style Guide that will instruct staff on how the data is to be input into your Customer Database...

For example:

If you want to make it easy for import into SMS Express, put the Mobile in Column A in your database (this is required by the SMS Express import Style Police!):

It may also help to print your Style Guide and stick it where you and your staff will see it.

So before I leave is your data actually collected? Reception, website form, cards, salespeople...? Try to make all your data collection and storage consistent so there's less double handling.

If you have a webform, then make this your "master" Style Guide format.

Don't forget our free 9-page Mobile Marketing Ebook, which covers data collection and formatting. Download's quick enough to read over a coffee break:

free sms marketing ideas ebook

Forwarding your SMS replies to your email address - extra tip

In addition to Replies coming into your Replies inbox in your SMS Express account, you can also tell the system to forward any replies to your email address. There is no charge for this.

You can set this up via your Account Settings. Scroll down the page until you get to Incoming Messages Forwarding Settings.

::: Update:: we now have a video for this:

A quick primer.. Place holder fields are "dynamic fields" or "merge fields". SMS Express has 6 "merge" fields in your Groups. Typically you'd use these fields to personalise your outgoing text messages:

E.g.: "Hi Jane, your membership expires on 30 January. Please quote your member number 5678. Thank you! Acme Insurance"

In SMS Express, the bolded bits in the above example may look like this in your spreadsheet/Group:  

"Hi @@value1@@, your membership expires on @@value2@@ @@value3@@. Please quote your member number @@value4@@. Thank you! Acme Insurance"

The placeholder tells the system to "replace the code with data" the example above we have a Firstname, Date/Month and member number for each contact in our Group that we want displayed in the text message.

You would have received letters and emails which are personalised to you..this is the same thing. In direct mail it's called a Mail Merge.

At the moment SMS Express default settings for forwarding to email includes ALL the placeholder fields and message info, and this can look confusing.

But you can customise it and remove unecessary fields.

In Account Settings, you'll see on the below screen shot that I have customised my account to only send me the basics to my email when I get a reply to my SMS messages:

1. Type the email address/es you want the Reply forwarded to. If you have more than 1 email address, separate them with a comma: E.g.,

2. Select Custom.

3 & 4. You can customise the subject line with normal text, or use a Placeholder. When you click Place holders, a box pops up and you can click on the Placeholder/dynamic fields you want..see screenshot:


Of course, you probably only need a few of these fields, but you have the choice. Also you can add your own text in so the information is nice and clear. I have more examples below.

5&6. Customise the body of the email message.
7. Save the changes in your account.

You can see in my customised reply settings, my email will show a Subject Line containing the words that I added Reply from customer and I want the system to insert their mobile number.

In the Body of the email, I want the system to include a bit more info:

You'll also notice some extra bits in the custom template: <br> <i></i>

Without going too geeky on you, these are "HTML tags". Basically, what webpages and many email messages are composed of behind the scenes, and it's a set of instructions telling browsers and emails how the page is to be displayed to us humans.

Normally you wouldn't even worry about this, but you can use really basic HTML to tweak your Reply message if you wish.

What I have done is told the email program to put a line break after each command, plus at the end, I want the original message to be in italics...and here's what it looks like in my email program (GoogleApps/Gmail):

The above is all I need, but of course I can still view all replies online in my account:

If you do want to customise it, and you get it all wrong, just Reset Default, Update defaults to restore the original default template.

I hope that all made sense. Of course if you need help or would like us to customise it for you, no problem.

Just call 1300 668 287 or .