B2B text messaging is all too often written off.
It’s barely mentioned as a viable channel for customer communication, and it’s not even included in many marketing-measuring charts and other research. From the outside, it looks like B2B SMS marketing isn’t being taken seriously.
We’re here to shake things up and, in fact, point out the opportunities B2B companies are missing everytime they don’t text their customers. Text messaging deserves to be considered as a channel to communicate with your audience. At its best, if it works as hard as we know it can, B2B text messaging can actually be a revenue driver, making fast, humanized communication actually work better.
So, why isn’t B2B text messaging already considered a popular way to communicate with customers?
This is a question with only vague answers. One misconception that continues to come up is a fixation with keeping things professional in the B2B space. But if there’s one thing B2B marketers have learned throughout the past few years, it’s that marketing to anyone, even to business customers, is still marketing to people. In fact, it’s arguably even more important to connect on a human level with a B2B customer, since the bonds of a customer relationship need to be stronger when the stakes are so high.
Marketers generally agree today that B2B marketing is not about selling to companies. It’s about selling to people. The person on the other end of your B2B communication is a human. Not only do they have feelings and emotions that deserve to be recognized, but selling actually works better when person-to-person connections are made and B2B customers trust that you have their backs.
You can (and should) use conversational, humanizing communication to reach and stay connected to the people you’re marketing to. And if your product or service has an enormous, enterprise-level price tag, then you should be laying down foundations of trust even more. Heaps and heaps of it, really. In any way you can.
People-centric B2B marketing is key to customer success. And successful customers are the best revenue drivers.
Why can’t we just rely on email to communicate with B2B customers like we always have?
No one will say that email is dead. We’re a business text messaging solution, and even we aren’t even saying there’s no place for email in business communications. Email is a great tool in certain situations.
But there are obvious limitations that marketers — smart marketers — are missing. For example, think about what you did this morning when you logged into work. You likely opened a few tabs, one of which was your email, yes. But another was probably Slack, Microsoft Teams or another internal messaging software. And after you’ve checked your emails for the day, you may come back to your email inbox to tackle important issues that come up, but throughout the day, if you need something, you’re probably sending a realtime message, not an email.
Email has changed. Now that internal messaging platforms like Slack and Zoom exist for immediate communication between teams, the purpose of email has taken on a new role. It’s no longer our main source of communication. When it comes to internal communication, it’s a peripheral, relatively formal mode of communication.
So why do we treat email differently when it comes to customers? Why do we assume they use email like we used to use email? Shouldn’t we, instead, understand that customers might see it differently now too? Maybe there are other forms of communication that might fit into today’s world of marketing better.
But B2B texting is spammy...isn’t it?
Here’s the blatant truth: 50 percent of the top 1000 retailers already use text messaging to reach their customers. But B2B businesses are more hesitant to use SMS marketing.
Many people think B2B customers don’t want to be texted. They consider B2B text messaging to be spammy and annoying.
And, yep. It can be. This is absolutely the case when text marketing is done wrong. When a text is irrelevant to the customer receiving it, or when texts aren’t personalized or when messages are sent after normal business hours — those are instances of B2B SMS marketing gone very wrong. And yes, poorly targeted, poorly timed, poorly planned customer communication like that probably will get a lot of unsubscribes.
But you’re a B2B marketing professional. You’ve built a career on planning, targeting, nurturing and measuring your contacts, leads and customers when you reach out via email. Why would you suddenly change to slapdash tactics just because you’re using a new channel?
Imagine this, for example: You’ve signed up for a free trial of software you’re considering for your marketing team. A few days before your trial ends, you get a personalized text message — something like, “Hi, Rory, I noticed your free trial is ending soon. If you sign up for our basic plan, I can get you a free upgrade to the pro edition for a limited time. Let me know if you’re interested.”
Do you feel like you’ve been spammed? Maybe. But more likely, you feel like you’ve been offered something pretty valuable, and it’s sent in a way that is low pressure and yet still catches your attention.
If you’re the marketer on the other side, you might get crickets. But you might get a positive, real-time response. That’s just one example of how automated, well-targeted B2B text messages can bring you more business.
Do B2B customers want you to text them?
The main reason texting your B2B customers shouldn’t be considered spammy is that a lot of them would prefer if you texted them. Well over half — 61 percent — of people say they want businesses to text them while they’re at work.
On average, people check their phones 96 times a day. Spaced out, that’s a check roughly every 15 minutes. Surely some of those times people are checking their phone during work hours. And if your customers and leads are checking their phones with such frequency during the work day, do you really think it’s a bother to send them a text message?
If your messages are relevant, well communicated and offer real value, you should have very little resistance from your B2B customers. In fact, communicating via text might be the best way to maintain strong relationships.
B2B text messaging is actually a powerful channel for retention. It’s useful for maintaining strong, value-driven relationships with existing customers. For example, a new customer is struggling with one of your product’s features, and you send a text message to check in and make sure everything is going smoothly. It’s not, actually, they tell you. And, right away, you’re able to notify the right people on your team who can jump in and help them. All this in mere minutes. If this issue weren’t handled by text, you may never have known there was an issue at all and could have simply lost another customer.
Text messaging has a near-perfect score when it comes to better customer communication. In fact, 97 percent of companies that use text say SMS initiatives help them have more efficient communications with customers. And 86 percent of companies that use text messaging say texts engage customers more than email.
In the world of B2B marketing, efficiency and engagement aren’t everything, but they’re certainly a factor. Sales cycles tend to be longer than B2C sales cycles because of the price tag and the high stakes. Big-investment, organization-impacting purchases take time. It makes sense.
But that time should be taken by the customer, not by your team.
A recent study discovered that two times as many B2B customers said slow interactions were worse than high prices when they were deciding on a purchase. Slow marketing and sales processes are a barrier to purchasing decisions. If text messaging can help speed up your end of the bargain, why shouldn’t it be used?
Slow communications are also a barrier to customer success. If, like in our example above, a customer is struggling with one of your product’s features, fast help is a million times better than slow help. It could mean the difference of that customer’s continued business.
So what if there was a better, faster way to communicate with your customers and would-be customers? What if you could catch the exact moment a lead was ready to purchase and make the process happen in minutes, not days, and with zero phone tag?
That’s the power of text messaging.
What benefits are companies that don’t use B2B text messaging missing out on?
Texts are engaging. We’ve already discussed why B2B companies are hesitant to use SMS, but we’ve also discussed some of the reasons they shouldn’t be. Text messages are more engaging overall, when done well. And, they have a much higher response rate. Incredibly, people are 134 percent more likely to respond to your text than your email.
Texting is faster. One of the major differences between texts that add value and emails that add value is the response. You’re able to see any responses to your text messages faster than you can with other channels, which is helpful when you’re trying to build a strong customer experience. This fast response from your customers means shorter time to sale and, in turn, more chances for building revenue. As marketers emerge into this decade as the primary drivers of B2B revenue, faster close of sale is critical.
Texting is humanizing. B2B buyers are just as emotionally driven as B2C buyers, if not even more. More than 50 percent of B2B brands have established emotional connections with consumers. These consumers are looking for a connection with a brand that’s deeper than one that can be severed by simply returning a product. With B2B, the stakes are higher, the sales cycle is much longer and customer success sticks with customers even after they’re onboarded.
So, with all these personal touches helping to establish a relationship with your customers, why would you not contact them with the convenient, highly conversational method of texting?
Think of your own personal life, for example. It’s likely that there are some aspects of even your personal relationships that are managed and nurtured via text. Most of us text our friends, our family — even our parents. Texting is personal and therefore has the ability to truly connect people in ways that email can’t begin to touch.
It’s not a saturated channel. Even though half of the top retailers in the world use SMS marketing, only 39 percent of marketers overall use text messaging. That means you can get your message read in a space where most businesses aren’t trying to be heard. Adopting text messaging now before it becomes the next wave of marketing is a chance to stand out in a vast field of opportunity.