When one speaks of omnichannel strategy, social media platforms often come to mind. In addition to traditional voice, many brands using an omnichannel approach these days engage customers on numerous social media channels as well as through different modes of chat such as video and live chat. However, one channel that is sometimes ignored but equally meaningful for sales and customer service is SMS, or text messaging. A Pew Internet study found that texting is the most widely used app on smartphones, with 97% of Americans using it at least once a day. While text messaging is wildly popular for social communication, the channel also presents great potential for brands seeking greater customer engagement. Digital Marketing Magazine found that 75% of respondents would like to have offers sent to them via SMS, while an eWeek study found that over half the customers surveyed would willingly text customer service agents and the same number showed a preference for SMS over their current preferred channel. So how can brands capitalize on this channel for increased sales and customer satisfaction?
Brands can use SMS as an excellent channel for targeted marketing. Based on customer preferences and purchase history, brands can schedule text updates announcing upcoming sales as well as discount codes. Geolocation tools can also be used to send offers to customers when they are in-store, as many studies have shown high redemption of in-store offers. A Velocify study found that sales prospects who are sent text messages convert at a rate that is 40% higher than those who are not sent any text messages. In addition, one appealing aspect of texting is that it’s perfectly in line with the habits of mobile consumers, so reaching out via text is a way of making brands more accessible to customers who prefer information on the go. However, it’s important to keep in mind that customers need to feel respected and have some control over the frequency of contact. Customers should first be asked if they wish to receive text communications and be given the right to opt out at any time (it’s also quite possible that texts cost the customer, so rates should be communicated clearly). It’s also a wise strategy to limit the frequency of texts to no more than 4 times per month for sales purposes, as customers should view these texts as welcome offers and not as harassing reminders.
Given customers’ preference for quick and easy communication (and even better if it can happen on the go), SMS remains a viable channel for customer service. Brands which employ an effective SMS channel can communicate easily with customers just as they would over chat, keeping communication concise yet pertinent. However, if the conversation becomes too complex to handle over text, it should be moved to another channel just as chat would. Brands can also use the channel to send links to customer feedback surveys post-contact, making sure that the survey is optimized for mobile and easy to follow for higher completion rates. Lastly, SMS is also an effective channel for sending quick updates such as tracking numbers and order status for deliveries.Given the popularity of SMS as a daily communication channel, it makes sense for brands to capitalize on its benefits for driving sales and customer satisfaction.
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