Today's Mobile-Focused World
The modern customer is no longer in one place at one time. This means customers can be looking around a store while browsing on their social media and interacting with ads on their phones. With multiple channels at their fingertips, consumers have become more invested in discovering new brands and shopping in various places, but while the possibilities are never-ending, some businesses have found it difficult to engage customers and establish loyal customer relationships. Luckily, there's a straightforward solution.
Research from McKinsey showed that brands with established customer loyalty programs experience major engagement advantages that other companies are missing out on. They found that customers are 64% more likely to purchase from brands that offer a beneficial customer loyalty program, and an additional 50% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand with a loyalty program than those without one.
Long story short: Customers demand benefits, and the more benefits they receive, the more likely they are to remain loyal to your brand and share their positive experiences with others.
Why Businesses Need SMS For Engagement
With roughly 6.8 billion people in the world currently owning a smartphone, per Statista, it's safe to say nearly everyone in the civilized world owns a mobile device. As one of the closest forms of universal communication, SMS functions as the perfect tool for reaching people. Since subscribers can receive personalized messages, tailored rewards and exclusive offers unavailable elsewhere, SMS marketing subscriptions can double up as a customer loyalty program — or at least a component of one.
Texts allow businesses to send high-speed and reliable messaging to consumers in an incredibly reachable and effective way. But don't just take our word for it — take a look at the statistics provided by G2 that outline the importance of SMS in customer engagement:
1. Effective sale conversion: 33% of SMS recipients interact with CTAs, and 47% of them end up making a purchase.
2. Speed to customer: SMS reaches customers fast with 60% of consumers saying they read a text within 5 minutes of receiving it, and 62% of marketers say delivery speed is SMS marketing's biggest benefit.
3. Successful open rates: Text message marketing is incredibly effective in reaching customers with SMS open rates as high as 98%.
4. The more channels, the better: Taking on more channels has proven to boost engagement. Marketers that use three or more channels see purchase rates 250% higher than marketers that only use a single channel.
5. Customers want SMS: Due to the high reachability SMS has to offer, 83% of consumers say they'd prefer to receive appointment reminders via text.
With SMS, businesses can interact with their customers in a personal way. The nature of text messaging's person-to-person (P2P) communication means customers may feel as though your brand is communicating with them directly.
However, businesses can utilize application-to-person (A2P) capabilities to send bulk SMS via desktops using a single online platform. Additionally, it's possible to assign specific text messages to certain demographics based on customer data profiles. This helps to personalize the customer experience further.
SMS Marketing Basics and Benefits
The statistics listed above make SMS marketing a silver bullet for engaging customers, but remember SMS campaigns require an Opt-In beforehand. This means businesses must have clear consent from each customer stating that they agree to receive text messages on a business' SMS text campaigns.
Make sure you get your customers' attention for the right reason and provide an Opt-Out at all times in your text campaigns. This is legally required and promotes customer satisfaction. It's a valuable way to build customer retention, as ongoing communication keeps customers engaged with your business and/or brand.
Here are some ways you can utilize SMS in your marketing initiatives:
1. Sale Alerts
You can use text messages to alert customers about current and upcoming sales promotions, discounts and exclusive offers to engage them with your products. This helps to drive sales, boost engagement and build loyalty by regaining the attention and interest of your customers.
To increase revenue and improve customer satisfaction, you can send personalized messages with specific recommendations to encourage customers to purchase additional items. A great way to make your customers feel valued in this process is by suggesting related products that would benefit them. For example, if an existing customer buys a scarf, you can recommend gloves or a matching hat to complete the outfit.
3. Drive In-Store Traffic
SMS can be used to promote in-store traffic by promoting exclusive in-store events and discounts that persuade customers to go to your local store. Using SMS marketing to drive foot traffic to your store will support your business maintain your brand's established physical presence on the main streets.
4. Partner Promotions
By using SMS to promote associated partners, you can tap into each other's customer bases for increased reach, brand exposure and brand awareness. It also allows you to build valuable relationships with other brands for shared business expansion.
For successful SMS marketing, you'll need to form an effective customer engagement strategy. It's essential to gather customer engagement metrics to assess whether your current strategy is working. Here are some key benefits that make SMS marketing campaigns a great choice for consumer interaction:
- Direct and immediate channel: With open rates that outperform the majority of communication methods, SMS is a highly reliable channel for delivering time-sensitive messages immediately. Utilizing text message services allows you to reach customers quickly, which helps to increase the likelihood of engagement and conversion.
- High deliverability: With 60% of customers opening their texts within 5 minutes, you can be confident that the texts will reach your audience, so long as they follow the relevant rules and guidelines provided by The Campaign Registry.
- Simplified with shortcode: A shortcode is a memorable six-digit number that SMS subscribers can use to communicate with your brand as it facilitates two-way messaging. Shortcode can help you increase the chances of a successful campaign by simplifying the way your brand contacts customers.
It's key your Opt-Out rate does not exceed 10%. If it does, it indicates that your messaging is an annoyance to recipients and is viewed as SPAM. This will aggravate block rates from mobile carriers.
Transactional SMS and the Benefits
Transactional SMS is an automated text message service that provides customers with valuable information related to their business activity with your company, which creates improved communication from your brand. Unlike promotional SMS, this type of texting doesn't require frequent content updates and can be sent to all registered clients — even if they haven't opted in for your promotional campaign. Transactional SMS can streamline your client communications to reduce costs, and improve your client's experience with your company through speed and simplicity.
Below is a list of the various ways you can utilize transactional text messaging:
1. Transaction Confirmation
After a consumer purchases a product or confirms a transaction, a follow-up text message can be sent to the customer's mobile device containing details of the transaction, such as order number, transaction cost, product name and estimated delivery. This SMS method means you can provide customers with immediate reassurance that the transaction is accurate and their payment has been received, which helps to build their trust and confidence in your brand.
2. Critical Alerts
In an urgent or critical situation, you can send SMS alerts to get the attention of customers within a short timeframe. This is useful in the event of a security breach where a consumer's data has been compromised or if there's been a delay in delivering their order. By alerting customers as soon as possible, you can ensure your buyers are aware of time-sensitive information, which helps to minimize the potential impact on customer experience or brand reputation.
3. Delivery Notifications
Providing customers with delivery notifications at every stage of their purchase is an excellent way to boost customer satisfaction. It's beneficial for customers to receive detailed information about the progress of their shipment throughout the delivery process, and SMS notifications can do just that. By sending SMS updates, customers will never have to wonder about the status of their package. Instead, they'll be informed about its whereabouts and expected delivery time, ensuring a more seamless and satisfactory experience.
4. One-time Passwords
To enhance security for customers, businesses can automate their SMS systems to generate one-time passwords (OTPs). OTPs (often 6-digit codes) are used to verify customer actions, such as sign-ins, purchases and personal detail amendments. Heightened levels of security will reflect positively on your brand as it shows consumers that systems are in place to ensure their data is protected.
5. Reservation Status
Transactional SMS is also an excellent tool for reservation confirmations, cancellations and updates as text messages reach the customer quickly. You can integrate SMS within a booking system to send prewritten templates to customers who book a new reservation. It's also possible to assign different triggers within the same template which allows the process to become fully automated. For example, a template could say:
"[Company name] reservation update: Hi [customer name]! Due to [selected circumstance on booking system], we've had to [inputted action on booking system]. If you'd like more information, please do not hesitate to reply LEARN MORE."
With such a diverse range of uses and features, transactional SMS provides more than just enhanced customer engagement. Here are some of the many benefits this form of text messaging has to offer:
- Economical solution: The ability to completely automate the transactional SMS process means that it requires little-to-no manpower or intervention. This minimizes costs by eliminating the need to compensate employees and leaves little room for human error. Also, when compared to other communication methods, such as phone calls or mail, text messaging is an incredibly cost-efficient solution for businesses that want to improve their services to boost satisfaction and brand engagement.
- Enables integration: Web-based SMS services mean that transactional SMS can easily integrate with your other business systems to gain access to advanced features. This involves building specific triggers that can send a specific message following a predetermined customer action which helps to personalize the customer journey.
- 24/7 customer service: Full automation means you can assist customers around the clock. Consumers are able to send and receive messages from your brand in real time, and depending on how sophisticated your customer service programming is, buyers can get the information they want exactly when they need it, in turn, improving the customer experience.
The Role of SMS in Multichannel Engagement
It's important that all of your channels support each other to strengthen your digital marketing network. With high levels of interaction and reachability, SMS marketing can be the ideal tool for reinforcing your brand's other channels. Sending a simple, encouraging text can get recipients to interact with other established platforms which work to build an engaged customer relationship. A persuasive text message could read:
"[Company name] is hosting a secret 50% off everything sale! Make sure to download our app to receive your code by midnight tonight. Quick — offer ends Monday!"
Just like that, you can improve the likelihood of app downloads and sign-ups in an instant.
Text Message and Email Channels
Email and SMS also go hand-in-hand as every customer has their individual preference. In a recent Yopto survey, they observed a fairly even split between the two channels. Out of a thousand U.S. shoppers, 34% of participants preferred to receive exclusive offers, discounts, or promotions via both text and email, 32% responded email only, and 30% said text only. It's important to understand the different purposes of each channel to make the most of customer engagement. '
It's important to note that email Opt-In consent doesn't allow you to send recipients text messaging. These are separate and unique channels.
Emails are best suited for:
- Monthly newsletters.
- Account information.
- Cross-channel subscriber collection.
- Large collection launches.
Better uses for SMS messages include:
- New product launches.
- Limited-time offers.
- Customer support.
- Product updates.
- Review requests.
Personalize the Customer Journey
Customizing the customer experience to align with their individual interests can convert a regular consumer into a repeat customer. For personalization of the experience, look into implementing ways to build consumer data and make use of SMS input information, such as [First name] or [Age].
Enhancing buyer's experiences can contribute to brand loyalty and overall customer lifetime value. Consider these ways to individually interact with your consumers:
This is a form of customer interaction that aims to regain the attention of a potential buyer and drive leads as a result. It's not uncommon for consumers to browse a website and add items to their cart as they go along — only to abandon it and never return. With remarketing automation, integrated SMS systems identify abandoned baskets and trigger automatic text messages to be delivered to inactive recipients. This resparks the interest of the potential customer and encourages them to return to follow through with their purchases.
For advanced personalization, it's possible to gain permission to access customer locations for time-sensitive persuasion. For example, if a customer is in a shopping center where one of your shops is based, you can set up a trigger to send a promotional text message to encourage foot traffic to your store.
Customer feedback is essential in assessing whether your company's services or SMS campaign is valuable to your subscribers. You can use SMS messages to build customer stories and perspectives on how they view your brand and ask if they have any suggestions for improvements for a better customer experience.
SMS Best Practices
Be Wary With Timing
For an SMS strategy to be effective, it's essential to keep an eye on your message intervals. All marketers strive for engaged customers, but if SMS subscribers start to feel overwhelmed by the number of text messages they receive from a business, they might Opt-Out without a second thought. After that, there's little opportunity for reconciliation as their experience will be enough to convince them to avoid signing up again. Refrain from sending SMS messages more than once a week.
Include a Call to Action
To drive leads and increase the effectiveness of your SMS campaign, add a call to action (CTA) to your text messages. For additional engagement, include branded links to gain credibility. Where text scams have become more prevalent in recent years, users will likely avoid a link that's not branded.
Note: Although link shorteners make your message shorter, beware that they also decrease the chances of successful delivery due to carrier interception.
Get Straight to the Point
It's easy to get carried away when forming customer-based communications, but as the term short message service indicates, it's best to save long messages for your email channel. Ensure your texts are concise and purposeful while maintaining your brand voice.
Benefit From the Holiday Season
Be sure to consider events throughout the year in your SMS marketing strategy to boost engagement and increase your subscription list. SMS rates have been shown to grow the most during the holiday shopping season with Opt-In rates averaging 41%, per G2. It may be beneficial to reward loyal customers with semi-regular exclusive, quality discounts or special offers for subscriber retention.
Ready To Optimize Your Business SMS?
To form a strong SMS customer engagement model, you'll first need to find a reliable platform for your A2P SMS initiatives. When searching for an SMS provider, it's crucial to choose a company that's well-established, mature in the field and readily available for support. Going with a quick and easy solution without conducting thorough research could lead to complications down the line, including:
- Text message delivery issues.
- Unreasonable service costs.
- Lack of support if an issue arises.
At Swift SMS Gateway, we provide affordable enterprise-level support for our customers. In the event of an emergency deemed as a priority-one critical live application failure, in Enterprise Support Swift's MTTR (Mean Time To Respond), offers 1 hour 24/7 response. Swift's support offerings are scalable from small business to large institutions and government to meet and ensure service expectations and performance.
Swift SMS Gateway also provides North American, international and global SMS coverage through 800+ carriers to ensure your messages meet the intended audience, and with our scalable platforms, we can adjust to meet your requirements, regardless of whether you have a team of in-house developers or no coding experience.
Want to find out more? Get in touch or try out our services by signing up for our free demo!