The channels that businesses use to communicate with customers are in a constant state of flux as technology brings more options to the table. And savvy small businesses marketers are always looking for the most effective way to reach customers and prospects.
In the past, small businesses used channels like phone calls and snail mail to communicate with their customers. At the time, they were the most effective option available.
While businesses still get measurable returns from these channels, most small businesses today are using tech to stay connected with their customers.
Social media and email marketing are all the rage. However, there’s newer channel that is proving to be really effective — text messaging.
Across the world, there are more than 7.4 billion mobile connections. Of those, 3.6 billion come from not-smartphones that are still able to receive text messages.
Despite the wide reach of cell phones, text messaging is still an underused platform for marketing. Less than 20% of text messages that people receive come from automated business sources.
Among marketers, only 24 percent of marketers use SMS as an active digital marketing channel. This is a much lower marketing-to-personal communications ratio than you would see in your average email inbox.
Meet Your Customers Where They Are
Your customers use text messages to communicate. How do we know? Well, most people in a large portion of the world use text messages to communicate in 2018.
In some age brackets, SMS messaging is nearly unanimous. For example, 97 percent of Americans in the 18-29 age bracket use their cell phones for text messaging. While lower, even 75 percent of those in the 50-64 age bracket use their phones for text messaging.
When you try to communicate with your customers through a channel that they aren’t already using as a primary communications channel, it is much more difficult to get your message viewed and read.
By going to them and meeting them on the playing field that they prefer, you improve their reception to the content while increasing the chances that they engage with it.
Reach Customers Anytime, Anywhere
Most people carry their phones with them everywhere they go. According to a study by Zogby Analytics, millennials are very likely to keep their phone close by 24/7.
In that study, 87 percent of millennials responded by saying that they always have their smartphone close at hand, while 80 percent stated that it was the first thing that they look at in the morning.
The truth is that SMS marketing might be the best way to reach your audience anywhere in the world, at any time of the day. While email is also accessible via smartphone while on the go, users have much worse track records for opening and reading every email that they receive.
According to a study by Shift Communications, over 82 percent of users open every single text message that they receive.
You’d be hard-pressed to find read rates like that through any other marketing channel. When you send text messages, you know that your audience is opening and reading them at a decent rate. In most marketing campaigns, getting that far is half the battle on its own.
SMS Texting is an Unobtrusive Option
While sending too many text messages to your audience can get annoying fast, studies have shown that strategically sending text messages to deliver valuable or interesting content is actually welcomed by most consumers.
According to a report by SalesForce, only seventeen percent of consumers find text messages from businesses to be intrusive when they have opted-in to receive them.
Of course, texts from companies that users had not opted-in for were seen much differently, with more than half of respondents saying that they believed it was intrusive.
In the SalesForce report, they outlined the top six reasons why consumers opt-in to receive branded text messages:
- Coupons or deals (77%)
- Personal alerts (50%)
- Staying in the loop (48%)
- Meaningful content (33%)
- No need to visit a physical location/website/app for information (31%)
By getting your customers to opt-in to receive text messages, you provide your business with a simple and reliable way to communicate with them that they actually appreciate. With the right SMS texting service, you can easily get customers to opt-in.
How UniTel Voice Can Help Your Business with SMS Text Messaging
To complement our business phone packages, UniTel Voice also offers a toll-free texting service at just $5 per month for every 500 texts that you send.
Our SMS messaging service is designed to be extremely easy to use while providing small businesses with a lot of flexibility in how they utilize the system.
One of our most-loved features in our SMS text messaging service is our email integration. When your customers send a text message to your toll-free number, you’ll receive it as an email.
When you reply to that email, your customer will receive an SMS text from your toll-free number. It makes engaging with your customers through text simple, without requiring additional training for your customer service teams.
We also offer a number of in-depth features that allow you to build rapport with your customers through text, such as our autoresponder feature.
The text autoresponder feature allows you to send a series of automated text messages at specific intervals to any customer that opts-in to your SMS texting service. You can use the text message autoresponders for a variety of cases: customer service, sale promotions etc.
SMS and text message marketing are perhaps the most underutilized channel in all of digital marketing.
For local businesses, it provides a reliable way to drive customers into your business, inform them about sales, and build a relationship with them over time.
While you don’t want to burn your customers out by sending too many texts in too short of a period of time, strategically delivering content can be a great way to generate sales and turn one-time customers into advocates.
Editor’s Note: The article is part of the startup tools blog series Grow Your Business brought to you by the marketing team at UniTel Voice, the virtual phone system priced and designed for startups and small business owners.