How often do you clean your personal email inbox to get rid of all those unopened emails? Probably way too often. It’s quite likely your customers are also drowning in various offers and updates that they never read.
According to CampaignMonitor, the average email open rate is only 18%. But can you guess what is the one thing people open 98% of the time? It’s SMS messages.
So if you haven’t already included an SMS message in your marketing plan, you should get right on to it. Not sure where to start? In this post, you will learn how to get the most out of your SMS marketing strategy using SMS automation and find out why it’s the best way to improve your team’s efficiency while reaching your customers wherever they are.
Consumers willingness to receive SMS messages
So how come SMS messages are opened almost always? The reason behind this is that they’re brief, usually containing only 160 symbols.
For marketers keeping the message brief might seem like a big challenge at first, yet it is highly beneficial as an SMS will take only several seconds to read. Your key to success is to fit the valuable information in the short text and move the conversation along.
What also speaks for SMS marketing is that there are almost 5 billion people using mobile phones worldwide and the number keeps growing. This means that around 63% of the whole world’s population could be reached within minutes even if they are on the go. Sounds like an exceptional marketing opportunity, doesn’t it?
Getting started with SMS automation
In simple terms, text message automation is the automatic sending or triggering of SMS messages when something specific happens. Messages can be sent out either to individuals or to a larger group of people and it all can be pre-scheduled.
The possibility to plan so much ahead allows businesses to save a lot of time in their everyday communications and be available to their customers even outside of business hours.
So whether you’ve got a small or a large business and you want your promotions, appointment reminders, special offers and other content to be seen by your customers, SMS marketing tools with the possibility to automate messages will help you stand out as well as boost your team’s performance.
6 ways to make SMS automation work for your team
Employee productivity is crucial to the success of any business. There are always small details and processes that can be made significantly simpler or be completely eliminated. And when provided with the right SMS automation tools, employees will be able to manage their tasks with less effort and make the most of their time, knowledge, and resources.
A study conducted by Upland reveals that the greatest benefits of automation tools for marketers are:
1) saving time (74%)
2) boosted customer engagement (68%)
3) and increased timely communications (58%).
But how exactly will these improvements take place? Here are the 6 main aspects that will determine the increase in your team’s efficiency when implementing SMS automation tools.
Automation can be put into use in a similar way as does your website’s Frequently Asked Questions section, and provide a simple solution for your customers when they are trying to find an answer to a common problem.
You can set up keywords that will trigger a templated response and automatically text it back to a customer. For instance, if someone texts you and it includes the words “business hours,” your automatic reply could be about your business operating hours and include information on what time it is possible to receive real-time customer support.
This covers two things. Firstly, the customer receives a quick reply and it will contribute to an overall customer experience. Secondly, it will reduce the time your team will have to work on common problems and they can focus on more complicated questions.
Of course, automations are not only limited to be an addition to your FAQ page. If the question at hand seems to require further attention, it can automatically be assigned to a specific team member.
You could also use automations as part of your marketing campaigns or send out a simple “thank you” note when a customer signs up to your services or purchases your product.
2. Using scheduled notifications
SMS notifications can work especially well for eCommerce and retail stores as after purchase customers want to feel secure. Keeping them informed at every step of the way will help to achieve this as well as enhance your business-customer relationship.
For example, in eCommerce it is possible to use a schedule for order notifications. Once a specific trigger occurs, such as order confirmation or shipment of a parcel, send out a notification to let customers know.
Scheduled notifications are also a good option to automatically encourage the customer to finalise their shopping. Every time someone leaves items in their cart without making a purchase, a simple automated text message can help to win them back.
Scheduled text messages also increase the chances of your notification being seen. Imagine you’re sending out a notification for a pending payment or an upcoming appointment. Naturally, you’d wish to get a hold of customers instantaneously. But what if their email notifications are turned off or are automatically categorised as spam? Even your app’s push notifications might not do the trick as a lot of users have turned them off. Result? Your effort has been for nought.
Yet 90% of SMS business messages are generally opened within 3 minutes according to MobileSquared. Regular reminders to customers at the right time will help you to be heard. You can also inform customers of upcoming events or send them confirmation with important details.
Think of Uber – a global ride-sharing network, for example. Complementing their in-app notification they have made SMS message alerts to work for them and keeping their customers up to date about pick up arrival estimates and the information regarding their driver and the vehicle.
This lets their customers know that they are well looked after and they can have a sense of security. Try to come up with ways how your brand can make customers feel the same way.
3. Sending out personalised messages
It is possible to send out thousands of messages at once and still keep it personal. Besides guaranteeing that you will grab the reader’s attention you will also show them that you value them.
No one wants to continuously receive texts about a venue that is a thousand kilometres away from them or about a product they have shown they have no interest in. Receiving such messages will give out a red flag that the company does not value their customers’ time, the sender has not bothered to do their job and has just decided to send the message to everyone.
Excluding hundreds of people from a list could perhaps lose you a few sales, but keep in mind that 91% of smartphone owners have claimed that they have made a purchase or plan to buy something after seeing an ad that has been relevant to them.
Therefore, understanding your customers and not taking them as one big mass, will make your brand stay out and your employees take pride in the successful leads.
Some ideas on how to get started with personalised messages:
Using recipient’s name
Including the customer’s name in the message is a simple yet foolproof way to give personalisation to your message. Using names humanizes the interaction between business and their clients.
How come such a simple technique is so effective? It comes down to basic human psychology – our brains become ecstatic when we hear our name called, gaining our attention to it immediately.
Wish your customers a happy birthday
Remembering your customer’s birthday is another simple but rewarding approach to grab their attention. A special offer or a promotion for a birthday can go a long way.
Try to collect this data when someone shops at your store, whether in house or online and then surprise them on their birthday. It will definitely pay off and contribute to customer loyalty.
Naturally, there are other things to consider when personalising mass messages. The primary thing to take away from here is that the goal for personalisation is to grab the receiver’s attention, show that you respect their time, and streamline communication with these clients who will get something out of it.
4. Compliment other channels with automated messages
Whichever channel you are using for marketing it is crucial that all your platforms complement each other, and this goes for SMS as well. Whereas SMS can be beneficial on its own, it also provides the perfect opportunity to enhance your other mediums such as email and social media.
Remember, the email open rate is basically 4 times lower than SMS, and social media can get way too cluttered with all the content passing through there. A simple follow up text message asking if the user has already seen the latest newsletter will boost your email open rate.
The same goes for social media – you could invite your customers to take part in your Facebook or Instagram contest and enhance your overall reach on these platforms.
Furthermore, you can use SMS automation to keep your customer informed. This works especially well after they have made a purchase – SMS automation offers a great solution to send customers speedy updates on their order updates. You will definitely gain plus points and enhance your customer experience as everyone’s eager to know about their shipment status.
Bonus tip: One of your goals should be for the customer to take action as soon as they have read the text. Convince them that the clock is ticking and the offer is not going to last forever. Use words that will create a sense of urgency that will direct customers to other channels:
- Limited offer
- Ends today
- Don’t miss out
- Last chance
5. Learn about your customer behaviour
SMS automation is a great chance to explore putting your knowledge of customer behaviour into good use. You will be able to launch campaigns according to your customers’ interactions with your brand.
Let’s say your eCommerce store sells make-up products. Knowing your customer purchase history, you could trigger a replenishment reminder. Try using a template, which enables users to text back.
For example, you could provide the option to choose between “order now” and “remind me later”. This will nudge the customer to shop with you again as well as give them the opportunity to make their purchase conveniently either instantaneously or in the future.
Another thing to keep an eye on in terms of customer behaviour is to understand which of your followers are engaging with which of your channels. You do not want to over-burden their experience with your brand.
For customers who are active on all of your channels, you should keep sales-related messages to a minimum and instead focus on building brand loyalty like in the cosmetic example above. This can be achieved by engaging in a friendly conversation, reminding them that they matter to you and send special offers and last-minute updates about your services or products.
Combining the strengths of different mediums will also work towards enhancing the collaboration between your sales and marketing teams. By creating mutual goals and clearly seeing the results will create a feeling of unity.
In fact, it is proven that teams using regular briefs and debriefs productivity will increase from 20% to 25%. Make sure your team knows they are all working towards the same goals and urge everyone to work together!
6. Collect feedback from customers
To improve various aspects of your business starting from your products/services to your customer support you require information from your customers. You must know how people feel about your brand and their overall experience that is associated with you.
Fortunately, collecting customers’ feedback has been made simple with automated SMS messages.
Based on a study conducted by University of Michigan, collecting feedback over text messages helps businesses to get a more accurate overview of customer’s experiences. SMS surveys are usually short and people are able to fill them in at their own convenience, which makes it a perfect medium to find out what you are doing well and which areas need improvement.
Once someone has opted into receiving text messages from you, decide to give them some time to get to know your brand and schedule a survey to enquire what has been their experience so far. If they have completed the survey, make sure you have set up an automated thank you note for their contribution.
Another good option is to send a text message after a customer has made a recent purchase or reached out to your customer service reps. This will provide you the opportunity to receive timely feedback regarding their overall shopping and/or support experience.
The word “timely” is the key here. You want to make sure the SMS is scheduled to be sent right after or just a little time after the customer has had an interaction with your brand as they will have a fresh memory of the experience.
Reaching your goals with SMS automation
As with everything you do, it is necessary to have in mind what your goals are before you get started. Think about what you wish to achieve with implementing SMS automations? Perhaps you wish to get more subscribers, increase sales, drive traffic to your channels or improve the overall customer experience?
Getting your focus in place, you are able to plan much more effectively and make your team’s collaborations much more productive. This will also lay the basis to measure and analyse the results you get.
So remember that practice makes perfect. Be experimental and find out what works best for your audience as well as which approaches will benefit your team workflow and productivity.