Texting, or SMS, has gone from a neat feature on cell phones to a vital aspect of communication in just 25 years.
Businesses are quickly adopting texts as a core aspect of how they communicate with their customers.
But just texting isn’t enough. Businesses can easily alienate their customers by not using text correctly.
Texts, when used correctly, can become one of the most valuable tools for companies retaining customers.
First, let’s look at the numbers that make texting such a compelling choice for businesses.
- 54% of consumers want marketing text messages, but only 11% of businesses utilize them
- Customers are 4.5x more likely to reply to a text message than an email
- 75% of customers want a two-way conversation with businesses, which texts provide effortlessly
- 50% of respondents to this study expressed they wanted flash sales or time-sensitive promotions to be sent via text
- Over 90% of texts are read within 3 minutes of receipt
Now that we know that texts are, or should be, a significant component of business marketing and communication, let’s look at how we can do it the right way.
Tips for Using Text Right
Now that we know that the math and statistics of business SMS make sense, let’s look at how we can use it.
Customer support is one of the most important things for businesses and customers alike. We all want the same thing. Real support. Businesses want it because it keeps customers happy, sales up, and complaints down.
Customers want it because it empowers them to make good decisions, feel valuable, and feel like their time and money are well spent.
Fast, accurate, and effective. Those are three things customer support should be. And SMS is the best channel for those three qualities.
Staying Top of Mind
Customer support is excellent for when a problem needs to be addressed right away. But what about when your customer has already had all their questions answered?
Staying top of mind is a balancing act for businesses. They want to remind the customer, or would-be customers, of the business’s value and how to act to get that value.
But they need to do this in a tactful, respectful way. Suppose a business was to just hammer their customers all the time with texts about any and everything. In that case, those customers will probably block or ignore the messages first and the business second.
Using texts to engage with customers about valuable products or services or new and time-sensitive sales or discounts is a great way to stay top of mind without overwhelming the customer.
Each text should have a reason – and that reason needs to have value to the customer, not to the business.
Here is where business SMS shine.
Important updates like appointment reminders, shipping information, and changes to services are all things customers want. Customers want to know these things as simple as possible.
These texts are easy to read, can be reread any number of times, and ensures your customer is not negatively surprised.
When a company adds in easy next steps like confirmations or links to more information, the customer will view these texts as valuable and necessary.
Asking For Feedback
Customers are much more likely to give feedback when it’s easy to do, doesn’t take a lot of time, and/or has a specific benefit.
SMS is a great way to follow up with your customers after a solution to their problem has been presented.
You’re able to make sure that they are happy with that solution, get information on what you could have done better, and encourage them to share their experience with others.
Most businesses do this with email and/or surveys already, but SMS gives this practice more reach.
Using Text Wrong
Just using texts for its sake, or doing so maliciously, will not help with customer retention. This would likely make your customers leave in droves.
Here are a few things you shouldn’t do when implementing SMS into your business communication.
Not Using Permission-Based Texts
A business that texts without permission or keeps texting even after being told ‘no’ is a surefire way to lose customers and probably get fined.
Like with emails, customers aren’t likely to engage with very long messages, especially if they come out of the blue. This is especially true for SMS and sending URLs.
SMS is designed to let customers interact with a business quickly and easily. When the business doesn’t respond, or waits too long, all the good of SMS has gone out the window.
Before sending individual or automated messages, a business needs to consider the time and timing of the message.
Sending messages too early in the morning or too late runs the risk of interrupting or even waking up the customer.
And, as far as timing goes, sending ten messages right in a row, all with different meanings and CTAs, will also aggravate the customer.
Don’t Try too Hard
Some companies are trying hard to be modern or hip. Some try not to seem like they are.
Anytime a company tries too hard, everyone can see it. Let your business be itself. You don’t need to use slang, or emojis, or anything that’s out of character.
But, you do need to have some character. Completely impersonal, robotic messages will also get old fast.
SMS is probably going to become the most common way for businesses to communicate with customers. But that’s a double-edged sword.
While it means there are many potential customers out there waiting for you, it also means there are plenty of other businesses offering what you offer, in the same way, should you annoy or take advantage of the customer.
Adopting SMS right now means you’re ahead of the curve, not behind it. But soon, any business that doesn’t offer it will seem outdated and out of touch, so don’t wait too long.