When was the last time you asked yourself if your business had a good SMS strategy? In today’s digitally connected world, more and more people keep their mobile phones within close range. As a result, SMS (short message service) text messages have become a common way to communicate using mobile devices. The SMS function is included in nearly every mobile device by default. People make a habit of checking their text messages throughout the day. They’re apt to find text messages from businesses among the many text messages from friends and family members.
Text messages are a powerful form of communication because they’re immediate, concise, and informative. Overall, text messages are an efficient way for businesses to interact with customers. With best practices for text messaging, your customer-facing teams will provide better service, while your sales and marketing teams can better interact with leads on a more personalized scale to more efficiently close deals.
Why Use Text Messaging Best Practices
As new communication devices, tools, and methods emerge, none of them come with an etiquette rulebook. Phone etiquette and best practices for business phone communication have developed over time. It’s considered common courtesy to say hello when you pick up the phone, say goodbye at the end of the conversation, and refrain from talking over the other party. When we know better, we do better.
Best practices evolved as employees made mistakes and companies focused more heavily on professionalism in the workplace.
Texting is a relatively new form of communication, so it’s fair to say the rules and best practices are still emerging and developing. Texting for business purposes is even newer. What’s acceptable for personal texting isn’t necessarily appropriate for business texting.
The point of texting for business is to keep customers informed and engaged. Businesses need to consider the content in the text messages they’re sending, the frequency they’re sending them, and the time of day they’re sending messages out. If you get it wrong, instead of engaging customers, you’re likely to turn them off. Customers will start to feel like your company is spamming them. They’ll opt out of receiving your text messages. It’s a fast way to harm your brand and reputation.
Small businesses are still discovering what works and what doesn’t with text messaging. When you get it right, text messaging can be a powerful tool for your sales and support teams.
The Benefits of SMS For Your Business Communications
Your marketing, sales, and support teams all have different roles within your business. What they have in common is that they’re all customer-facing representatives of your company and as a result, an SMS strategy is necessary. Each department communicates with your customers, and text messaging can be an effective way for them to get their messages across. A benefit that all departments share is that SMS messages get sent faster than regular mobile phone numbers, and since shortcodes are 5 or 6-digit phone numbers, they’re easy for customers to remember.
Let’s break down the benefits of SMS texting for your marketers, sales teams, and support teams.
SMS Strategy for Marketing
- They’re approved by wireless carriers, and they’re optimized for text message marketing.
- Texting special offers to subscribers with a call to action like “SHOP15” with a link to a 15% off coupon.
- Texting provides ways to track and measure results.
SMS Strategy for Sales
- Text messages ensure compliance as customers can opt out anytime.
- Sales reps can send timely offers and limited-time offers.
- Sales reps can leverage global phone numbers and text outside their country of origin with a cloud number.
SMS Strategy for Support & Customer Service
- Support agents can use texting along with the phone or other communication channels at the same time.
- Customers can communicate with support reps in real time.
- Texting is immediate and doesn’t require an internet connection.
Why You Need to Improve Your SMS Strategy
We’ve established that SMS text messaging has benefits for multiple departments and that’s just one reason to work on improving your SMS marketing strategy. Adding to that, more people are using mobile phones than ever before. They are now being used more for texting as well.
Check out these impressive stats that demonstrate why you need to improve your SMS strategy:
1. Just under half of the people in the world are owners of smartphones as of 2021 (about 3.8 billion).
2. About 70% of customers stated SMS messages grab their attention.
3. Approximately 75% of customers like receiving special offers via SMS.
4. Compared with email marketing campaigns, SMS texting has a 98% open rate compared with email open rates at 20%.
5. Compared with other digital channels, the click-through rate for text messages containing offers is 9.18% higher.
6. Around 60% of customers read their texts within the first 5 minutes after receiving them and often within the first minute.
7. In 2021, projections show that about 67 million Americans will take advantage of a coupon via text on mobile phones.
As you can see, this is only the beginning of the possibilities that text messaging creates to help small businesses to achieve growth.
SMS Marketing: Text Messaging Marketing Best Practices
As with anything that’s fairly new, there’s a bit of trial and error involved in your strategy when using SMS marketing best practices. Learn as you go and you’ll become more skilled with your SMS strategy over time. Text messaging marketing best practices are starting to emerge, and we’ve got a list of them to get you started on the right foot.
- Always get your customers’ permission to text them.
- Stop sending messages immediately if they ask you to.
- Craft simple, concise messages that customers can read within seconds.
- Be clever with your strategies. It helps get their attention.
- Keep your text messages relevant. Focus on their needs.
- Set a casual, friendly tone and use simple language.
- Check your spelling and ask someone to review messages before you send them to avoid embarrassing mistakes.
- Capture responses and add them to the customer record.
- Train your staff in best practices for text messaging.
- Avoid using personal mobile phones for mobile marketing. Use a business phone number or a cloud phone number.
- Track the results of your text messaging campaigns. Make sure to know what’s working and what isn’t. The ability to refine your campaigns and improve your messages is crucial to increasing engagement.
Some of the practices for SMS marketing differ from the practices used for support and sales, so we’ll get into that next.
SMS for Sales vs SMS for Support
SMS for sales has more in common with SMS for support than any differences between them. The primary difference between them is the purpose of the communication which is obviously defined by each teams’ roles. Adjust your SMS strategy depending on how each of these departments functions.
These are the things they have in common:
- Sales and support teams may use text messaging for inbound or outbound communications.
- Text messaging gives sales and support teams opportunities to upsell, cross-sell, and forward customer responses to other departments for continued follow-up.
- SMS software programs integrate seamlessly with your CRM and cloud phone system so sales and support teams can access the same data.
- Text messages are more efficient than phone calls for certain purposes.
- Automated survey software provides customer feedback after a sales or service call.
- Both teams can set up text messages to get delivered at just the right time and in the right time zone, so customers don’t receive text messages in the middle of the night or at other odd times.
- Text messages provide an additional touchpoint for follow-up after a phone call or email.
- A unified communication system that incorporates SMS text messaging gives sales and support team members data to personalize their messaging.
Regarding that last point, you’ll get the maximum benefit from your SMS campaigns when you use a contact center as a service system, or a digital ecosystem where all your digital business tools work together seamlessly.
SMS Strategy & Creating a Winning Ecosystem
There’s a lot to coordinate and manage when your small business is humming with plenty of people, departments, processes, and tools all running at once. When it comes to communication, there are many layers of interaction. An ecosystem is a complex network where every part works together to enhance the entire operation. This is even more important when you’re thinking about incorporating SMS into your overall business strategy.
With a digital ecosystem, your business gets the benefit of versatility. As your business grows and new technologies emerge, there’s no fuss or hassle to let go of old tools and add newer, more effective software programs. Adaptability is one of the strengths of a well-planned ecosystem.
As you plan a well-functioning digital ecosystem, there are many things to think through.
Here’s a little food for thought:
1. Take stock of the problems you want to solve.
2. Consider who needs to be part of your ecosystem — sales teams, support teams, marketing teams, operations teams, shipping departments, etc.
3. Determine which processes will flow better using automation and which require the human touch.
4. Determine whether the tools you’re currently using will work seamlessly with the other tools you want to add to your ecosystem. If not, you may need to replace one or more existing tools.
5. Choose tools that use an open API technology. These tools work together seamlessly and prevent users from logging into and out of programs continually.
6. Check user reviews of software programs and ask for a trial period.
7. Plan for the long-term and be open to adapting tools and processes as your needs change.
Moving toward digital transformation makes it possible to create a successful ecosystem, which will help you improve the customer experience in the long run.
How Text Messaging Can Improve Customer Relations
Text messaging brings many benefits to your individual teams and your company as a whole. When you have a well thought out SMS strategy, there’s no greater advantage than adding text messaging to your overall communication channels. Making sure that your customers have their preferred way to reach you is important for improving relationships with your customers.
Text messaging provides multiple opportunities for your teams to be proactive. Your support teams can send out text messages to confirm orders, provide shipping notifications, send inventory alerts, or announce promotions. Sales teams can use text messaging to set appointments, set appointment reminders, generate leads, and nurture leads. Either way, your customers will know that they’re on your mind.
In the interest of learning more about customer satisfaction, a simple text message with a link to a survey will provide you with immediate feedback on your sales or support teams’ performance. Your call center’s dashboard will save you time by quickly analyzing the results. Plus, dashboard analytics tools give you the metrics and KPIs to measure efficiency, response time, time to resolution, and much more.
Text messages also provide a way to provide reactive support. For example, if your customers aren’t happy with something or need help regarding an issue, a short text message will alert your teams to act on it immediately.
All in all, these are just some of the ways to show your customers you appreciate them.
Text Messaging Best Practices to Nail Your SMS Strategy
After sending a text to a customer, the response you receive could depend on any number of things — how busy they are, where they are, their mood, etc. Text messages have a limited number of characters, requiring you to get to your point quickly and with just the right tone.
The following 5 text messaging best practices will help you get your SMS strategy right:
1. Get your customers’ permission and keep it. Inform them of the type of text messages you’ll be sending. Give them a chance to opt-in and allow them to unsubscribe by responding with the text STOP or some other method.
2. Utilize an SMS marketing stool to automate messages, segment your audiences, and collect data to learn whether your campaigns are effective.
3. Ensure value with every text message you send. A well-designed text message will bring your customer value in some form.
4. Limit messages in content and size. Stick to the point and don’t send so many texts that customers get turned off, but follow up with an email.
5. Personalize your SMS campaigns. Texting is a personal communication channel, so use their name to make them feel like you’re talking to them specifically.
Whether your teams are focused on outreach or inbound calls, SMS text messaging can play a substantial role in communicating with customers. SMS text messaging is easy to implement and it’s a cost-effective mode of communication. As for your customers, they’ll appreciate you touching base regularly, and they’ll remember your brand when they need or want something.