This post is a piece of our 2-part guide that covers:
Today, we’ll look at how Marketing teams can take full advantage of SMS as a channel.
How to use SMS for marketing
Though SMS is one of the most effective ways to communicate with customers and leads, texting doesn’t have to become your sole comms channel. It works perfectly well as a complement to other channels like email and advertising.
It’s just that using texts can catch and keep your audience’s attention a little bit better than other methods. It gives you an increased chance of standing out.
So by all means, continue your email campaigns, keep those ads rolling, and don’t stop creating SEO-tagged video content for your website. But, also, consider texting, too, if you want to generate more leads, convert those leads, engage your audience or nurture relationships with existing customers (in other words, if you want to do marketing).
Here are some scenarios that show how marketing teams can use text messaging to grab and keep their audience’s attention in the real world:
Increase opens and engagement
Let’s say you’ve been running email campaigns for some time and your audience just isn’t clicking through as much as you’d like. You’re lacking something engaging, and you’re losing customers because of it.
Let’s also say you want to try out a text messaging campaign to see what it can do for you. To do engagement right via text messaging, you’ll need a few things in place.
First, you’ll need a dedicated business number.
A dedicated number is a number that you can get through your SMS software that belongs to your company. This is a simple step to ensure that you will get through a phone’s spam filter and, more importantly, will be recognized by your contacts once you reach out. There are so many reasons you shouldn’t send texts from your personal number, so you should always try to seek out text messaging software that can get you that dedicated business number you need.
Second, you’ll need a great opt-in campaign.
When businesses text consumers, they need to first obtain explicit consent from each person. That’s why you don’t just get random texts from every business that has your phone number. A person has to agree to receive texts from a company.
There are a number of ways to get an opt-in. For example, you can use a form fill on your website to catch anyone who might want to sign up to receive marketing texts from you. You could also create an online advertising campaign to get people to sign up to get texts from you in exchange for some kind of discount on their first purchase. You can even add a little line at the end of your next few emails to try to encourage SMS sign ups:
Text 555555 to receive texts from us and get 15% off your next purchase.
There are lots of ways to do it, but, just as in most marketing functions, the most important thing is to give them something valuable in return for their contact info.
Once you establish your dedicated number for your texts and set up your opt-in campaign, you’re already on your way to better engagement. Your next step is to follow up with your subscribers with a double opt-in. Most companies do this to cover all their compliance bases. It could look something like this:
Thanks for signing up! Reply Y to confirm your subscription. Reply STOP anytime to opt out.
Look at some more ways to say thank you for your business!
Once you get your double opt-in (already another step in the right direction towards better engagement), you can make good on your offer. Something like this could be helpful:
Welcome to Happy Puppies! Use code BEAGLE to get 15% off your next purchase.
You can then start your text marketing campaigns, always keeping in mind that a little personalization (beyond just using the customer’s name) goes a long way.
Strengthen brand loyalty
Use SMS to get that near guarantee that your communications will be seen. And not only seen but replied to. Let’s look at two types of messages and see which one works best for brand loyalty and why:
Option 1: Don’t miss it: 20% off Sideways Merlot. Sale ends Tuesday.
Option 2: Hey, Jessica, Your favorite wine is back in stock. And, it’s 20% off for SMS subscribers this week. Would you like to order some?
These are two different ways to get across the same message: Our company is keeping track of your favorite wine, and we will send you any deals that you might be interested in. The first message works wonders for a new or cold lead. The second message, however, is much more personal. They both convey the same information, but when it’s customer loyalty you’re after, it’s not about the information but the delivery.
The second message to Jessica is friendly and casual and tailored just for her while still making sure she’s getting something out of the deal. It reads like a friend sent it, which strengthens the trust between your business and the customer.
This kind of marketing is only available if you use text messaging because it’s a channel that’s so instant and personal. You can almost see her writing back, Yes please! I’ll take two cases.
Increase brand loyalty with hyper-targeted marketing and ongoing conversations.
Increase your lead conversion rate
If you have a live chat widget, you are probably capturing leads who have already done their research and are interested in learning more about your business from a real person. Great! If you don’t have one, you might think about getting a chat widget to capture more leads who come to your site.
Either way, part of your job as a marketer is to help nurture a lead until they become a customer. This is why, depending on the content of the conversation, of course, marketing should be ready to receive leads that come through your online chat widget and other sources, like your opt-in campaign, for instance. There are people who are reaching out to your company with some prior knowledge and interest, so they’ll likely be prime for marketing communications like nurture campaigns.
Imagine someone visits your website, asks a few questions via chat, and then they leave. Normally, this would be the opportunity to send them an email to check in or just leave the relationship alone until they reach out again. But, what if your marketing team could add them to a lead nurture campaign targeted to leads generated through live chat? You could try to give them the info they need while maintaining informal, pressure-free communication. Remember, this lead has already shown interest, and however you can keep the conversation active, you should. Doing a nurture campaign via text message is not too different from email, only it’s faster and less formal, and probably will yield better results.
Here’s an example of a follow-up text message you might send to a lead who has come in through live chat:
Hi Izem, I saw that you were interested in our Learn to Fly course, and I wanted to send you this quick cheat sheet to start you off with the ABCs of taking flight: awesomecompany.com/learn-to-fly-cheatsheet
You can deliver value to the group of leads, personalize the content of the messages based on the subject of their questions in live chat, all while delivering real value.
Why not a phone call or an email? Bringing leads from live chat to SMS, when they’re integrated into the same platform, can be seamless. Reaching out via text can feel like a continuation of the conversation, since it will look similar to the prospect if they’re on mobile, and if they’re not, texting at least has the same back-and-forth conversational feeling as live chat so it’s not too abrupt a departure. Just make sure you have the proper opt-in permissions in place on your live chat before you start texting.
Generate more leads
There is no perfect live chat message that will help you generate more leads. Simply having a live chat widget that collects basic contact information (like name and phone number) is enough.
But, you still want to have a person on the other end of the chat if you’re going to get a true lead. Imagine you’re perusing a site you’re interested in, and you sign up for a chat session only to find out that you’re going to be talking to a robot. You might not be too happy, and you more than likely won’t wait around and try to get your questions answered by a machine. Would you?
Effective live chat has two things: a real person on the other end and a seamless transition to text message.
Here is an example of a simple conversation could help generate a true lead:
On your website:
You: Hi Jon, how can I help you?
Jon: I’m looking for information on the Ultimate Smile product. Do you know how much it costs?
You: Of course. It’s free for the first month and $20/month after that.
Jon: Ok thanks!
On Jon’s phone (after he’s opted in!):
You: Hi Jon, I wanted to let you know about the Ultimate Smile comedy event we’re hosting online tomorrow at 8pm. I think you’ll find it tongue-in-cheek. Here’s the link: awesomecompany.com/smile-time
Jon: Oh cool thanks!
You: Of course! Hope to see you there.
The ability to switch back and forth between your website and your customer’s phone is crucial to keeping conversations with new leads active. Finding an SMS software with live chat capabilities is the key to making it happen.