Texting has been around for a while — and it’s only getting smarter. How can you use this method of communication in your marketing efforts?
SMS, or short message services, are those unassuming little text messages that have been around for ages but never really found their footing in the glamorous world of video email and all things digital. But unlike so many others, texting never quite disappeared either.
Since GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), e-commerce and smartphones have reframed shopper behavior, brands are rediscovering SMS as a powerful way to keep customers informed, engaged and supported, right on their devices. mobiles. One of the main reasons is that customers are starting to associate text messages with important, urgent or useful messages, such as credit card usage alerts or delivery updates.
So what has changed? It is not so much the SMS itself as the landscape that surrounds it that has evolved. Conversational AI technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, integration between systems and the ability to stream data has improved, as has the ability of marketers to collect high-quality data, segment and personalize them – and all of this has unlocked exciting new use cases for SMS marketing.
To be fair, SMS already had some solid advantages in its favor, including:
- It’s short – it’s always practical. It’s so short that you can read most of the messages on the notification panel itself.
- It drops straight into your dedicated SMS inbox, which is relatively uncluttered and ad-free.
- It’s as immediate as any instant messaging that consumers expect today.
- Embedded links give customers a clear CTA (call to action), and UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes help measure and track the performance of each post.
- Various reports show that SMS has a 90% delivery and open rate – far higher than any other channel, and a relatively low unsubscribe or unsubscribe rate.
- It doesn’t need an internet or Wi-Fi connection or an app to download – it comes pre-installed on most phones.
On the other hand, it’s not glitzy or interactive like what we’re used to today, and it only works on phones, not laptops or tablets. But these negatives are by no means deal breakers, given the ubiquity of mobile devices and changing consumer perceptions that texting is useful and timely. In a world full of shiny distractions, its simplicity can even help SMS stand out.
In terms of functionality, today’s texting can enable personalized, two-way conversations that flow seamlessly to other channels such as chatbots, help desks, and landing pages. Marketers who make serious inroads there find massive returns on investment at a low cost per message. But what really sets conversational SMS marketing apart is its versatility — it offers compelling use cases at every stage of the buyer’s journey to help drive awareness, engagement, conversion, and sales. retention.
So if you’re a marketer considering SMS marketing as a way to build first-party data and stronger CX and integrate it into your conversational AI stack, what should you keep in mind? ‘spirit ?
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Know your use case
Modern SMS marketing has become more targeted, immediate and, like all other martech, smarter. Smart, machine learning-based SMS marketing tools that are part of the Conversational Marketing Toolkit can categorize and respond to a message based on a sorting of language, intent, and sentiment, says Jon Aniano, senior vice president of product at customer service software provider Zendesk. But starting with specific use cases is key to getting results.
In general, texts can be information-, transaction-, service-, or commitment-oriented.
Ideal for personalized appointment reminders, item updates, order and delivery status messages, new launches, sales previews, pre-debit notifications, etc., which may have a finite set of customer responses.
Personalized messages based on triggers that have a direct impact on sales, such as abandoned cart reminders, sale and price drop alerts, due dates, deals and offers, urgent reminders, purchases of new products, etc.
24/7 customer service availability via keyword responses, chatbots and help desks, and customer feedback recording.
Post-purchase drip campaigns like this one from Rex Specs, a dog gear company, trigger a text message right after product delivery to improve successful usage, leading to lower rates of product returns and higher reorder rates.
And while smart texting is, of course, smarter, Ian Reither, COO of communications API provider Telnyx, reminds us that it’s not always the default choice. While smart or AI-powered SMS marketing is ideal for augmenting brand services with a 24/7 presence, one-way SMS marketing is ideal for marketing campaigns and promotions. mass, and two-way SMS marketing is a quick and convenient way to address core customer concerns. which do not really need human intervention.
In all its forms, he added, SMS is a valuable addition to the marketing mix because it is convenient, fast and has one of the highest open and engagement rates among communication channels.
Invest in building and segmenting your list
Besides technology, the only aspect that has transformed SMS marketing results is the quality of the list and its segmentation. Many years ago, mass-purchased lists were the bane of SMS marketing. Today, proprietary data lists are a boon for hyper-personalization of SMS messages.
But the relevance of the message is based on the quality of the segmentation, which can, in turn, be based on various criteria – from the date of joining, the category of order, abandonments of cart, comments, etc. SMS allows for a wide range of segmentation options to try out different campaigns and optimize what works.
Plan onboarding from the start
SMS is exponentially effective when part of a one-two-hit sequence. For example, campaigns that use text and email in tandem can produce compelling results, while email alone sees lower open rates among younger audiences.
E-commerce sites often text newbies a coupon code right after they sign up. Aniano said the SMS + chatbot + agent model also offers seamless CX and substantial savings on call-handling costs if systems are integrated and agents are up-to-date on the customer’s background and history, whatever whatever the channels.
To ensure your SMS marketing is set up to work with your other channels, said Matt Ramerman, president of Sinch for Marketing, consider conversational APIs (application programming interfaces), which serve as a hub for marketing efforts. conversational, storing customer preferences, purchasing history across channels, and facilitating transfers from chatbots to live agents when needed.
Design your SMS campaigns around the customer journey
Relevance (based on segmentation and targeting) and timing (offers based on events or behavioral triggers) are critical to the success of an SMS campaign.
For example, smart texting can be a great hook or jumping off point for starting conversations, answering inquiries, facilitating orders, encouraging product usage, or driving repeat purchases. Once the customer engages via text, you can move the conversation forward with NLP (natural language processing) chatbots and rich messaging, whether it’s confirming product availability at nearby stores, to help them reschedule an appointment or even share a carousel of products that may interest them. them, said Jennifer Shambroom, CMO of chat commerce company Clickatell.
Welcome flows can take multiple paths depending on the customer’s response. Similarly, tiered escalation in customer service and drip campaigns in sales both have a very big impact with conversational texting. Currently, Shambroom added, 79% of customers prefer live chat over any other communication, including phone calls, but mixing messaging between notifications, updates, news, and coupons works better to maintain customer loyalty. customer engagement.
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SMS should also be about privacy
Of course, like all marketing channels today, SMS should also respect customer privacy, Reither reminded us.
Business texting has many rules and regulations, and brands must remain compliant to avoid legal and financial penalties, in addition to providing adequate proof of acceptance, an opt-out option in each message, and a policy and documented processes to keep lists up-to-date. .
Where will Smart SMS fit into your stack?
As SMS marketing technology gets smarter, moving from automation (automated marketing messages, auto-responses) to action, actually providing recommended content, next steps, responses for the live agent or customer self-service, Shambroom said, the entire experience of a purchase or brand relationship can now happen within mobile messaging.
And right now, smart texting offers marketers an exceptional opportunity to test and build profitable, measurable, mobile-focused personal connections.