You may be surprised to learn that the UK’s fastest growing marketing channel is text messaging, and that this often overlooked technology has produced some of this year’s best performing marketing campaigns. You may even be thinking “text messaging for business, isn’t that intrusive?”. If so, please prepare to have your opinion challenged, or dare I say changed?
The facts behind SMS
All businesses face the challenge of trying to connect with their chosen audience in an ever busy and increasingly digital world. 2016 research conducted by data agency mobilesquared, showed that 33.67 million consumers have opted in to receive text message alerts from their favourite brands and businesses, which is 65% of UK adults. This figure is expected to reach 48 million in four years. Compare this to Facebook’s 30 million users and the fact that only 9% of them are willing to view the platform as a marketing channel (compared to 100% for opt-in SMS) and you can begin to see the real-world power of text messaging for business. The full stats on this are available for free in our latest whitepaper.
Let’s talk about engagement. The main issue faced by those using email is that millions of them are sent every day, but the average open rate across all industries is less than 23%. That’s more than three-quarters of all business emails going to waste. On the other hand, SMS enjoys a 98% open rate and nine in ten are read within three minutes of being received. A well executed SMS campaign can also expect an average 32% response rate.
Where do the phone numbers come from?
With business SMS, it’s vital you understand the ‘opt-in’ part. Just like any other communication channel, business text messaging has good and bad users. The latter being similar to email spammers who generally mass-send unsolicited messages to a purchased or scraped database in the hope of reaching the right people. If you’re doing that, you can forget that fantastic 32% response rate I mentioned earlier.
Correctly using SMS can massively grow revenue and generate unbeatable results, but you must understand that it’s a tool for building a loyal customer base. Most companies naturally build a list of contacts just through normal day-to-day operations, but if you don’t naturally gather numbers it is easy to start. All you have to do is advertise an offer or promise to send regular offers, if people text your business short number. For example, a restaurant could put up a poster saying “text FOOD to 60777 to get weekly lunchtime offers”. If the food is good, hundreds will join the list. The restaurant owner can then promote special offers to fill tables during quieter periods.
You may have seen this method being used to great effect by Donald Trump in his recent election campaign. His use of “Text Trump” gained him instant access to millions of Americans at the touch of a button. This method can be applied to almost any business that offers their customers value and is a proven way to obtain the phone numbers of people who are likely to buy from you.
The reality of bulk SMS for business
SMS is used by restaurants and retailers to boost loyalty with special offers, couriers to provide tracking information and by dentists to deliver appointment reminders. The range of uses is vast. The other truth behind business SMS is that it’s cheaper than you think.
Earlier this year, Lookers, the third largest car franchisee in the UK spent £1800 on a campaign that saw 80,000 personalised SMS vouchers sent to previous customers and contacts. The result? Nearly one in every 1000 people bought a car and Lookers made over 4,000% ROI on the campaign. It’s not often you hear figures like that bounded around. Similarly, P&O’s Net Promoter score received a boost when they started using SMS to inform passengers of delays and regulatory requirements. Suddenly, potential frowns up and down the land were turned upside down. Happy customers lauded P&O for providing useful information that saved them from long waits at busy docks.
P&O are a good example of why SMS isn’t all about marketing, a beauty therapist can reduce missed appointments with reminders, or a logistics business can offer timely alerts and updates to customers that wish to stay informed. And let’s be honest, we will always choose effective communication over being kept in the dark. There-in lies the awesome customer service that creates celebrated brands.
Forget the “text” part
The technology behind text messaging has evolved far beyond the old 160 character limit. SMS for business offers features such as the ability to insert website links, attach files, forms, images, videos, interactive mobile surveys or personalised vouchers, all with campaign tracking tools so that you can see what was delivered, opened and clicked.
Platforms such as Textlocal.com also allow you to schedule messages far in advance, setting up pre-determined customer journeys to deliver content straight to anyone’s handset based upon their interaction with your business. A simple example of this is a car garage sending MOT reminders or an optician sending annual check-up reminders automatically, depending on when the customer last visited.
The future of SMS
The 2016 mobilesquared research also showed that over the next four years, an additional 15 million people will opt-in to receive text messages from their chosen brands and businesses. That’s a growth of 3.75 million people each year. No other marketing medium can say that.
If people like your product or service and choose to receive offers and alerts from you, the value of communicating with that audience cannot be underestimated. If the messages you send are useful or contain a tempting personalised offer, then there is no reason they wouldn’t be delighted to hear from you.
You can try it for free
When you sign up for Textlocal’s free of charge, contract-free platform, you normally get 10 free SMS credits to have a play around with. However, if you head to the sign-up page via the shiny green button below, your account will come pre-loaded with 200 SMS credits for you to send a test campaign to an opt-in list totally free. On paper that sounds like a big giveaway, but in reality the low cost of SMS means that’s actually about £4.60 of free SMS. If you get your first campaign right though, and 62 of those 200 people (32%) respond, I’ll bet my theoretical hat that’s worth more than £4.60.
A campaign takes just a few minutes to set up. But if you need a hand or have any questions, we have the most friendly support team you’ll ever speak to. Feel free to call them on 01244 432 821.