Communicating with customers is an integral part of doing business. While the sustained growth of eCommerce sales means it’s easier than ever to try your hand at retail entrepreneurship, it also means the market is more competitive than ever. Communicating effectively with your customers ensures you’re front of mind and builds brand loyalty.
But how do you connect effectively with prospective and current customers? What should you do to set yourself above the rest? We’ve put together a handy guide to texting your customers to help you understand why and how to leverage SMS text messaging into your workflows effectively.
Outreach has seen many iterations throughout the era, constantly evolving with society. Where billboards, newspaper ads, and flyers under windshield wipers once did the trick, those methods have quickly faded into the rearview mirror.
These days, even emails aren’t enough. A recent report shows that emails have a mere 20% open rate. That may sound decent until you compare it to text messages. They have a whopping 98% open rate, making SMS texting a clear leader in marketing communication methods.
It’s no wonder texting your customers is so effective. Americans look at their phones 96 times per day, and 71% check their phones within 10 minutes of waking up. Ask virtually anyone, and they’ll say they don’t know how they’ll live without their phones. Cellphones have become another appendage.
Okay, people use their phones a lot. What does that have to do with texting your customers? Having a phone and using text is one thing, but do they want to hear from a company? The answer is a clear yes.
More than half of survey respondents said they want to use text to communicate with a business in a recent report. They expressed interest in receiving communications and promotions via text, yet only 11% of companies are sending them. There’s a significant gap in the market, and many businesses have some catching up to do if they want to keep in contact with their customers.
If you’re in the 89% of businesses not texting your customers, it’s time to reevaluate your communication strategy. If you’re not, there’s a chance your competition is, and it can cost you. Communication is only effective when you’re speaking the language (using the medium, in this case) that your recipient does.
If you’ve seen the light and are ready to get started with texting your customers, it’s essential to know where to begin. No, you don’t need to find a quick-thumbed Gen Z’er to join the marketing team and start firing off messages. SMS platforms are highly automated and easy to use, make adopting business SMS a breeze.
You’ll need your short code or 10DLC number to begin texting your customers. Essentially, these dedicated numbers are similar to a phone number you have with your mobile contract. They’re dedicated to a single business and serve as the “sender” for your texts. You have the option of a randomly-selected short code or a vanity short code of your choice (provided it’s still available). But they’re not as simple to get as visiting a mall kiosk and signing a contract.
Thankfully, your SMS platform provider can handle the paperwork for you. By selecting a platform to help you get started, you’ll save yourself the lengthy applications process and the risk of doing things incorrectly. Your provider will be adept at reading the legalese and navigating the process on your behalf.
Once you have your number, you can start crafting and sending messages from within your SMS platform. And if you partner with the right provider, you can even text directly inside of your CRM, like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. You’ll also be able to easily track campaigns and run reports so you can monitor and fine-tune your strategy.
Texting your customers should add value and open up new opportunities as you enhance the customer experience. Similar to excessive or repetitive phone calls or irrelevant sponsored posts on social media platforms, nothing will cause your customer to unsubscribe faster than trivial or too frequent texts. There are several best practices you can use business SMS to your and your customers’ advantage to keep them engaged.
Are you interested in running a contest? Texting your customers is the best way to get the word out. Send text messages to encourage participation in a competition. Decide whether you’d like to run an enter-to-win event or boost sales by attaching an entry opportunity to each confirmed order. Capture recipients’ attention with a text message, and include a link with more information.
The best way to know how you’re doing is to hear it straight from your customers’ mouths. Feedback from customers is invaluable for retention and for gaining new clientele. After someone has purchased one of your products or used your service, follow up with a text to ask for feedback.
You can provide a link with a short feedback form and decide whether or not you’d like to make it anonymous. You can tie this strategy into the contests we mentioned above – every completed feedback form could be an entry to win. Testimonials are also great additions to your website or social media platform, and you can text your customers to ask if they’d like to contribute.
The timely nature of SMS makes it perfect for promotions and limited-time offers. Where emails may get buried in inboxes or remain unopened for days, text messages are most often read within 90 seconds, according to reports.
Send a text with an announcement of a promotion, or include an exclusive discount code for recipients. Text messages feel more personal, and if you make it easy for customers to find and take advantage of your promotion, it’s more likely to be successful.
For the same reasons listed above, text messages are an excellent way to send invitations to events. Whether your event is in-store, offsite or online, send a short invitation to a relevant audience. Make it easy for customers to RSVP by including a link, and you’ll more accurately gauge the campaigns’ effectiveness.
Once you’ve gathered an RSVP list, texting your customers can help reduce no-shows. You can also use SMS to send reminders for scheduled appointments, maintenance timelines or pick-ups. Make it easy for your recipients to reschedule if they need to. You’ll be able to fill that spot with a paying customer or keep your schedule humming.
Are you discontinuing a popular product or service? Updating your catalog by expanding your offering? Closing for a holiday? Have other exciting news to share? Try texting your customers to keep them in the loop.
Supply chain issues can cause inconvenience not only for you but for your customers. Don’t wait for a frustrated customer to contact you to find out what’s happening with their order. Send an SMS to update them, and you’ll build trust in your brand.
If you’re shipping products to your end-users, you can use text to update on order and shipment statuses. Send a thank-you text once an order is complete and a follow-up to let them know when the package has shipped. Send a link with tracking details, making it easy for your customers to track their items. A quick text to let them know when it has been delivered will be appreciated by many who may not be available to receive the package when it arrives.
Without knowing the nature of your business, we can say something with a certain degree of confidence: you can’t always answer every phone call and assist every customer on demand. Whether the issue requires multiple departments or you simply don’t have enough staff to sit by the phone 24 hours a day, most companies can’t handle all customer service issues at the moment they come in.
Unfortunately, that unresponsiveness has led to some customer dissatisfaction. It’s reported that 33% feel incredibly frustrated when put on hold, and 60% say being asked to hold is the most annoying part of the customer service experience. So what should you do?
SMS is a great way to make customer service available to those who need it. You can create automated responses based on number- or keyword-related texts to lead a customer through the system and to a place where they can be helped most effectively.
When it’s time for a representative to get involved, you can use your SMS platform to make contact. Enhance your internal workflow by using API integration with your CRM. You’ll reduce human error and the time to resolve cases as all conversations are available to anyone who needs to review and respond.
Texting your friends and family has become second nature, and there isn’t a lot to keep in mind when you’re sending messages out. When it comes to texting your customers, there are a few things to remember in order to be effective and legal.
Make sure you only text people who have subscribed to your service. In the US, the FCC requires that your recipients give consent to receive your business SMS messages and that you make it easy for them to unsubscribe should they so choose.
Keep your messaging succinct. That doesn’t mean you have to be so sharp and to-the-point that you lose personality, but keep in mind that a text message is not an email. Stay within character limits. Carriers may break lengthy messages into multiple parts sent in succession, which can be annoying for recipients. Opt instead for including links or sending MMS containing images with more detail.
Remember your audience and where they’re located. Don’t risk waking people with text messages. Be mindful of when you schedule and send your messages. If it’s not a life-or-death situation, wait until business hours to send messages.
One surefire way to lose subscribers is to fly in the face of standard cellphone etiquette and professionalism. Don’t send messages in all caps, and avoid using slang or too many abbreviations. If your messages aren’t clear, customers won’t want to receive them. If you’re going to maintain a professional image, don’t use emojis when texting your customers.
Take the time to proofread your messages. Friends and family may forgive your spelling errors or missed punctuation, but the messages you send to your customers are setting a standard for your business. Along with proofreading, double-check any links to ensure they work.
If you’re using two-way text, be sure to respond promptly to messages you receive. Make sure your platform enables you to set up an auto-reply if you can’t respond outside of working hours.
When texting your customers for customer service issues, don’t simply stop responding when the issue is resolved. You don’t need to drag the conversation out, but don’t go silent. Use your connection to thank them for their message, ask if they have any questions or need additional help, or direct them to next steps before you discontinue communicating.
Now that you see how powerful texting your customers can be, we hope we’ve also shown how easy it is to get started. With only 11% of businesses using text to reach their audience, you have an opportunity to set yourself ahead of the pack. Building a connection through direct and valuable communication will improve brand loyalty.
A robust platform like TrueDialog can help you get started. We’ll take care of all of the paperwork for you, securing a short code or 10DLC (or both) for you. Our feature-rich platform has all the capabilities required for large organizations with the simplicity and accessibility that suits small businesses. Contact us today to learn more about how TrueDialog can help you take your marketing strategy to the next level.
Disclaimer: Please note that this advice is for informational purposes only and neither intended nor should be substituted for consultation with appropriate legal counsel and/or your organization’s regulatory compliance team.