In the modern marketplace, nearly all consumers carry a smartphone with them most everywhere they go. And texts are highly reliable, almost always reaching their intended recipients. In fact, according to statistics, SMS messages enjoy a 98% open rate, which is markedly higher than the 20% reported for emails.
But for businesses, utilizing texts for consumer communications can present both opportunities and risks. While consumers can be reached quickly and reliably via text, many tend to be much more guarded about sharing their SMS contact information than they do their email addresses. This is largely because, much like phone calls, texts can feel like a highly personal form of communication. And when not utilized carefully and appropriately, texts from businesses can feel intrusive and annoying.
When used strategically, though, the business-related text can serve as a powerful communications tool for a business. It can also serve as a convenient, informative, helpful and even welcome form of messaging for a consumer. To do it right, businesses should consider these four guidelines for using SMS messaging to communicate and engage with consumers:
- Be conscious of the rules: First and foremost, per the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, businesses must obtain express permission from consumers before sending them automated text messages. So to keep their texting campaigns in line with the law, before sending any such “robotexts,” businesses should ensure that customers have opted in on receiving them. Further, any business sending such texts should offer recipients a quick and easy way to opt out. Common ways of obtaining consumer consent for text messages include having them sign a paper or electronic form granting such permission or texting a specific keyword to a business-affiliated phone number to signify the consent.
- Send texts at the right times and for the right reasons: Because texts typically result in almost immediate notifications appearing on users’ smartphone screens, often accompanied by audible sounds, businesses should be careful not to send them during hours when a consumer is likely to be sleeping. Further, businesses should try to reserve text messages for sending timely information. Messaging for which the timing is not particularly urgent or important would, in most cases, be better conveyed via an email.
And while not a written rule, businesses should also be careful about the types of messaging they send to consumers via text. For example, consumers typically appreciate being sent timely information regarding the status, fulfillment and shipping of their orders. The same can be said regarding texted reminders about appointments and upcoming service-due dates. But harder-sell marketing messages might not be so quickly embraced, especially when sent too frequently. As such, these should be sent cautiously and sparingly. That said, when these messages are sent, one effective way for businesses to up their consumer appeal is to include coupon codes and/or special offers in the messages.
- Pick the right platform: For businesses interested in implementing text messaging, a number of easy-to-use platforms are available to help them automate, time and track the SMS messages they send. But the right choice for a particular business will depend largely on its specific needs and situation.
A few of the top SMS messaging services on the market today include:
– TextMagic: a particularly good option for those looking to get started with text messaging quickly and easily;
– SimpleTexting: an affordable, all-in-one service for SMS marketing campaigns and one-on-one conversations with customers;
– EZ Texting: a popular text-messaging service that is both full-featured and simple enough for those with limited technical experience to use.
- Make stronger connections with personalization: Lastly, as with any customer-facing communications, adding elements of personalization can both help a business build stronger connections with its customers as well as make the messaging seem less “spammy.” Many SMS messaging services, including the ones mentioned above, allow businesses to speak to customers directly by name in texts even when sending messages to large numbers of recipients at once. And further, by segmenting the audiences that receive specific text messages (another capability enabled by most text-messaging platforms), businesses can help ensure customers receive relevant content that is likely to pique their interest. This is also an effective way to ensure consumers want to keep receiving such texts.
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