Fewer and fewer consumers are interested in communication methods they deem to be old-fashioned or inconvenient, like postal mail or phone calls. Thus, businesses have fewer opportunities for connecting with customers and developing meaningful and productive relationships. Increasingly, business teams are turning to solutions like SMS messaging — to varying degrees of success.
You can use 2-way SMS to develop strong and lasting relationships with your customers and clients — but only if you know how to navigate text conversations as a business. Here are a few of the most devastating mistakes businesses can make in their text messaging efforts and what you should do instead.
Despite being so widespread, text messaging tends to be an intimate method of communication. Unlike emails, which most consumers expect to receive from all manner of known and unknown entities — people and organizations included — text messages almost always come from those a person is quite familiar with, like family members, friends and close work colleagues.
When you first set up your business SMS service, you might be tempted to reach out to everyone in your customer contact list to inform them of your company’s new offerings. Some business leaders might even be interested in buying lists of contact information available online to attract new customers with their new communication capabilities.
However, because of the intimacy of the medium, texting customers without their consent feels to customers like an invasion of privacy. Customers who receive unprompted text messages from businesses are more than likely to immediately unsubscribe, and they might submit a complaint to customer service or provide a poor review online. Instead of sending texts to every customer in your list, you should encourage customers to sign up for texting services whenever you interact with them.
You need to send messages to your customers on a somewhat regular basis, to remind them that your business is ready and willing to serve them in whatever capacity they need. However, in the hopes of keeping their brand top-of-mind, many businesses send out messages far too frequently, inundating their customers with all sorts of messages that tend to cause confusion and frustration.
How frequently you should send SMS messages to your customers depends in large part on what you are using text to communicate about. For example, if you are sending out marketing messages about limited-time discounts, you might want to restrain yourself to a message once per week or even once every few weeks. If you are reaching out to customers via text for appointment reminders, you might contact them a couple times before their appointment time. Your messages should always provide value, so if you are sending so many that they become redundant and your opt-out rates rise, you know that you have a frequency issue.
Texting to Sell
SMS marketing is a relatively young field within the digital marketing landscape, and many marketers make the mistake of using similar wording and tactics in text as they might use on other digital marketing platforms. Unfortunately, because of the intimacy associated with text messages, the same messages that work outstandingly in email or on social media will likely drive customers away via text.
In particular, you need to be careful with how you try to sell to your customers over SMS. The personal nature of text means that recipients typically don’t feel like a member of an audience but rather an individual being spoken to directly by your brand. You should try to personalize messages as much as possible, and you should avoid filling every message with calls to action about buying products or services.
It is possible to provide value to customers via text without selling to them. You might offer information that consumers can use to make informed decisions about their upcoming purchases, like weather forecasts for their area. Alternatively, companies might send links to content that will engage and inspire their customers, like ideas for upcoming vacations or crafts appropriate for kids. When every text feels like a sales pitch, customers will unsubscribe, but if they enjoy the content you send to their SMS inbox, they will look forward to your messages.
The cringiest thing a company can do — in any of its marketing materials — is try to take advantage of ongoing trends in their marketing materials. When organizations attempt to make memes with their branded materials, or when businesses adopt teen slang, they always come off looking foolish. Your company almost certainly is not part of the culture that creates internet trends or uses slang authentically, so you should never include these components in your text messages. In fact, you might even stay away from emojis and stick to straightforward characters in communicating with your consumer audience.
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