I recently had the chance to talk to Eugene Belenky, founder of SMS marketing tool TXTio, which launched today. Targeted toward merchants that wish to drive local foot traffic and offers, the product’s main selling point is its simplicity.
Belenky asserts that using business phone numbers, rather than short codes, achieves this end for both merchants and users. This has a lot to do with the familiarity with local phone numbers that give the service a certain trustworthiness and local relevance for users.
On the merchant end, TXTio’s dashboard navigates a series of tabs to assign a local phone number, build subscriber lists and then dynamically message users who have opted in. Texts can also be blasted out to Twitter, Facebook and Belenky’s site, ShowMeLocal.
The dashboard does appear pretty simple (shots below). From there, it’s up to merchants to take advantage of it and have the time to utilize it (always a challenge with SMBs). It’s also up to them to cross promote the service and get opt-ins on which to build a subscriber list.
The ability to send targeted promotions on the fly, using SMS prompts (vs. the online dashboard) could also be a good selling point for busy merchants. And pay as you go pricing broadens the appeal to SMBs with varying levels of inventory and frequency, asserts Belenky.
Restaurants, for example, will want to send weekly or biweekly promotions while professional services might have monthly offers. Businesses can also ramp up at their own pace and learn the system while sending offers from a pool of prepaid messages that don’t expire.
One big challenge for TXTio could be getting in front of SMBs and rising above the noise of the many services being pitched to them. But once subscriber lists start to build up, this looks to be a good tool to send local promotions to self-selected users.
Belenky will also go after local channel resellers in order to get over that hump of selling into the massive but hard to reach SMB segment. On that front, he’s in discussions with a few key partners that aren’t disclosed yet, but we’ll update as soon as we can.