With more and more businesses using email marketing, paid social and other search engine marketing to promote themselves, it’s getting harder to stand out amongst all that noise.
One way both huge companies and small businesses are managing to do just that is to take advantage of an often forgotten channel – business text messaging.
In this post, we’re going to take a quick look at some of the different ways you can use text messaging to improve efficiency, make life easier for your customers and potentially reach new audiences.
1. Sales Promotions
With an estimated open rate of 99%, business text messaging is an extremely attractive (and cost-effective) option for promoting sales. Findings from the same study indicate that 90% of those opens occur within three minutes of receiving the message.
90% of the time an SMS is read within 3 minutes of receiving the message. Click To Tweet
For promotions that are time sensitive, text messaging is an obvious choice; in an average email campaign, only 50% of total opens will have taken place after six hours. Where time isn’t such a factor, you might consider using SMS to bolster your email campaigns rather than replace them. We have a little more below on that process.
2. Marketing Campaigns
If you work/have worked in marketing, you may have heard of the “rule of seven”. It suggests that you have to reach potential customers in several different places, and in a number of different ways, before you can convert them to purchase.
Exactly how many touches this takes is still up for debate, but it’s clear that successful campaigns need to be as integrated as possible. TextMagic´s SMS Marketing campaigns aim to help customers do this effectively.
You can easily pair bulk text messaging with email marketing. By sending out both email and SMS campaigns you can see how people engage with different communication channels. Over time you will build a clearer picture of how and where members of your database prefer to be contacted.
Although most companies that allow mobile payments, Starbucks for example, use apps to facilitate the process there are those who allow customers to use text messages to place orders. Domino’s Pizza is one notable example.
Filling in seemingly endless forms is a big barrier to entry and, in cases where most orders are likely to be a straightforward repeat of your last purchase (which definitely rings true for things like pizza and coffee orders), texting is one way to simplify ordering “the usual”.
4. Discount Coupons or Vouchers
Creating discount vouchers and coupons can be a bit of a headache, especially with all of the sites on the web dedicated to sharing promo codes that can be used to get money off.
WooBox have managed to solve this problem by implementing one-time-use coupons, which are already being offered by thousands of e-commerce companies, restaurants and stores. As well as offering PassBook integration for iPhone, WooBox also allows text message coupon distribution. It’s definitely worth looking into this, since mobile coupons are 10 times more likely to be redeemed than the traditional paper variety.
This is much more valuable than forcing customers to sign up for an email newsletter to get a coupon, which can be a real barrier to purchase if people give up on trying to fill in a fiddly form on their smartphone in an area with patchy reception, and is also a nifty way to build a database for future bulk texting.
5. Virtual Gifts
KangoGift is a virtual gift card, sent via text message, that allows recipients to collect a real gift in a store. For example, you could use it to send a gift voucher to a friend to cover the cost of a meal in a particular restaurant.
If you’ve ever gone shopping or for a meal with the intention of spending a gift card, only to realise that you’ve left the card at home, you’ll know how frustrating it can be; putting the gift card right there on a smartphone is much more convenient.
6. Product Launches
In theory, using a business texting service is an excellent way to promote a new product. Using SMS for marketing offers:
- High open rates
- Easy linking to mobile sites/app store(s)
- Personalisation if the appropriate data is available
In practice, however, it’s difficult to launch a product to a mobile database unless it’s an opted-in list that you’ve gathered yourself.
Still, it’s worth approaching brands or publications that are familiar to your target market. All of the advantages of business text messaging still apply when you’re using a third-party list – the only difference is that it will cost you to get access.
7. Product Verification/Password Confirmations
CheckMobi APIs can be used to integrate mobile phone number verification using SMS, Voice Call and Missed Call on iOS, Android and online. If you’ve ever signed up for a service like WhatsApp or Tinder, you’ll be familiar with this verification process. There’s an additional benefit to companies using CheckMobi (or other comparable services) here too, as it means they can build a database of 100% legitimate, authenticated phone numbers.
Depending on your settings, you might encounter a similar process when trying to reset your password on Facebook or Twitter. Some companies are also using text messaging for double authentication by sending randomly generated codes that must be entered alongside a password every time a user logs in.
Security is increasingly a concern among consumers – with unauthorised data access and leaks, who can blame them? – and, while offering the requirement that users double-authenticate a login from a new device might not sound all that sexy, this is the sort of thing that more and more users will be looking for in years to come.
One of the biggest problems for doctors, dental practitioners and anyone else who operates their business on an appointment basis is no-shows. Manually making calls or sending out emails about appointments can help reduce this, but it’s also very time intensive.
Tools like SetMore can help to reduce this cost by sending out notifications when an appointment is booked, as well as notifying customers and/or employees about changes to the appointment.
You can also use something like Appointment Reminder to automate these reminder phone calls or, more relevant in this case, replace them with text messages instead.
These services represent a great, cost-effective way to get a handle on missed appointments without cutting into employee time, and have a measurable impact on ROI by recouping appointments that would previously have been wasted.
With just a little tweaking, you can use your mobile phone to receive email alerts as text messages. For example, Insteon makes it possible to receive their service notifications (usually sent as an email) as an SMS message.
This is particularly useful if you spend a lot of time in an area with poor mobile phone coverage, don’t have your emails set to push to your phone with regular frequency or just want to take some time off from your emails.
10. Customer Support
Do customers really want to interact with brands using their mobile phone? Currently only around 7% of businesses interact with customers using business text messaging (in the USA and in a support capacity) but, as the author of that article points out, SMS still has a certain potency because so many people use text messaging, not to mention read every message they receive.
The satisfaction level for customer support via text messaging isn’t particularly high at 41% (compared to 44% for telephone and 61% for email), but it’s worth noting that, as we’ve just seen in the paragraph above, this is based on a very small sample size.
11. Short Surveys
Using texting to gather customer feedback might sound awfully fiddly, but it’s a really good way to do some market research with a quick turnaround time. TXTImpact, Qualtrics and various other providers make “text to survey” a possibility without requiring additional admin to register and analyse responses.
Email survey response rates are typically quite low – less than 25% seems to be the average – so if you’re struggling even to hit that, you could think about implementing some micro surveys via SMS.
In 2015, recruitment generally tends to take one of two forms:
- Impersonal emails that never seem to match up with your experience
- Disruptive phone calls (that you DEFINITELY can’t take when you’re at work)
Yes, social media and LinkedIn are definitely changing the way recruitment works, but there’s still room in the space for SMS as well. SmashFly is just one piece of recruitment software that’s making a big push to add mobile recruitment into the mix.
It certainly seems to be working, since research suggests that 90% of recruitment agencies who have implemented business text messaging said it has improved their business.
90% of recruitment agencies using SMS have claimed that it has helped their business grow. Click To Tweet
Human Resources sometimes gets a bad rap for not being very…human, so it might seem like an odd idea to introduce yet another piece of technology into the mix.
Anyone who’s worked in HR will tell you that the main reason for this is that most departments are overworked and understaffed. Implementing a stable SMS gateway or using a tool like Twilio can help to lighten the load for a couple of different reasons.
- Firstly, it’s more efficient than sending an email. Brevity is expected in a text message, and that can definitely work to an HR consultant’s advantage.
- Secondly, we’ve already seen above how texting can be used to automate the process of making and adjusting appointments.
- Thirdly, SMS makes for an easier conversation than email. The latter is drawn out and considered, whereas SMS is immediate and less formal.
14. Goods Tracking
It’s now the norm for both brands like Amazon, Argos etc. and delivery providers such as Yodel and Hermes to offer delivery updates and tracking notifications. In most instances, this includes SMS.
If it means less time spent waiting around for deliveries, we’re definitely on board with that. Having an effective tracking system in place can also reduce costs due to lost/wrongly delivered items.
15. Arrivals and Check-Ins
As well as being able to check in using SMS, airlines like Lufthansa are taking text messaging even further. You can request arrival and departure information using the flight time and number, and they’ll also text you important information about your flight like delays or gate changes.
Clearly, this is useful for business travellers, but it also represents an interesting shift away from the tendency to use apps to provide this sort of information (although, in fact, many providers will probably end up using both apps and SMS). This makes sense, since many travellers will disable data entirely to prevent roaming charges.
16. Important Information
There’s a LOT of email spam out there. Provided you’re not too fast and loose with your mobile phone number, the same isn’t really true of SMS. You may get the odd unsolicited text message, but, for the most part, text messaging is still perceived as being a fairly secure option.
It’s perhaps not surprising that some banks, such as Swedbank, allow customers to request information, such as balances and transactions, using a text message. Banks in the UK are doing similar things, but largely in a more passive way. For example, text message notifications are often used to notify customers they are about to become overdrawn.
And That’s Just the Beginning…
Two thousand words later and we’ve only really scratched the surface of the different ways you can use SMS text messaging to improve relationships with your customers and help your messaging stand out.
Take a close look at all the different components of your business plan and see where there are leaks or improvements to be made. Business text messaging could just be the answer you’re looking for, and it’s staring you in the face every time you hear your phone ping.