Is driving local traffic your number one goal?
How about getting a 97% open rate and transforming your relationship with customers for the better?
On October 13, I moderated a sponsored Search Engine Journal webinar presented by Thomas Clawson, Partner Marketing Manager at Podium. He provided the latest insights and insider tips on using text messaging more successfully as a marketing channel for prospecting and customer nurturing.
You’re likely very familiar with marketing channels such as email, in-app prompts, direct mail, and display advertising.
However, Short Message Service (SMS) marketing is a relatively new field.
When used effectively, text messaging can be excellent.
As a business or an agency helping other companies, you can capitalize on the changing tides of customer communications with SMS.
Here’s a recap of the webinar presentation.
How Do Customers Want To Communicate With Local Businesses?
Podium interviewed more than 1,000 diverse consumers across the United States and Australia to answer critical questions about how customers want to interact with local businesses.
Here’s what they found out.
The Evolution Of Business Messaging
Messaging isn’t new, but it’s forever changed.
So why is texting the next revolution?
Look at these stats:
Statistic #1: There is a 98% same-day open rate for text messages.
This is past the average email open rate of 18% and presents an excellent opportunity for marketers to jump in and try out SMS.
Statistic #2: An 18% click-through rate of text messages is 6.9x higher than email.
This shows that SMS is a high impact on those who are using it.
Statistic #3: Only 12% of local businesses use texting as a marketing tool.
This means there is a great opportunity out there to fill the gap.
LA Furniture is a retailer with a significant brick-and-mortar presence across the Los Angeles region and a solid online retail wing.
Madeline shared her ideology around communication with customers and why they have leaned so heavily toward SMS communications.
“We have to be thinking about consumers of the future. They are the people who grew up with cell phones and computers…they are very efficient with their time, and we need to be aware of that.”
–Madeline Sweeten, LA Furniture
The newest group of spenders with serious spending power now grew up a lot of times with a cell phone or used it young,
Consumer Messaging Trends
It’s simple: your customers want to text.
Statistic #4: There is a 209% difference in response rate between text messaging and phone, email, or Facebook.
Many businesses default to using the phone, emails, and maybe a social media channel to communicate with customers, but they’re missing a huge opportunity.
A 209% increase in response rate is not something to scoff at: it’s an unfair advantage against your competitors, an efficiency driver for your employees, and a revenue maximizer.
Statistic #5: 1.8x more consumers prefer texting compared to any other communication method.
Consumers genuinely prefer text messaging with businesses.
So this shift is here, it’s real, and your customers are waiting for it.
The Power of Conversational Messaging
Conversational messaging differs from spam because it’s more personalized.
The person texting you introduces themselves, and your answers go beyond a yes or a no.
When these kinds of conversations open up, you start seeing better results for your business.
Statistic #6: 74% of consumers report that they would be more likely to text with a local business if they knew a real person would receive and respond to their message.
Conversational messaging puts a face and a human feel to your business and meets the customers right where they’re at with the service they deserve.
Statistic #7: 50% of consumers report being more likely to respond to a text message from a business if the employee introduces themselves.
When customers know a real person will receive and respond to their message, they would be more likely to text with that local business.
They want to be messaged as a person from that business.
Texting’s Unfair Advantage
Statistic #8: 28% of customers say they converse with local businesses via text message.
With SMS being one of the most effective but most minor channels utilized, it gives businesses a window of opportunity to be a true leader in the space before it becomes widely adopted.
Statistic #9: 43% say they would like to converse with a local business via text message.
The customers are ready.
Two-thirds want the ability to text with their local businesses, and the businesses around them aren’t meeting their needs.
Imagine the implications for a local business that adopts texting.
SMS Marketing For Local Businesses
Are you using text as a marketing channel today?
Promotional messaging is any way you message your consumers to promote or advertise your business, typically by offering sales, discounts, and coupons.
Statistic #10: 21% are more likely to opt into SMS promotions from a local business vs. a major chain or online-only business.
Local businesses are uniquely positioned to win with SMS marketing.
Consumers report being 21% more likely to opt into a local business opt-in list than a major chain or big box business and 45% more than an online-only business.
That’s an unfair advantage that can, without exaggeration, tilt the tables in favor of local businesses.
If you’re smaller, more regional, or more niche, there’s an ample opportunity here.
Your customers will more likely feel that there will be a connection and that they’re not just someone on the list.
SMS Best Practices
Now that you know the power of SMS marketing for local businesses, how should you think about implementing it for your business?
Statistic #11: 64% of consumers prefer to receive incentives from local businesses via SMS.
Podium’s research found that most consumers want text message promotions that provide coupons, discounts, and loyalty offers.
Statistic #12: 1 to 3 promotional text messages per week is a safe cadence for businesses.
In terms of timing, it appears that 1-3 promotional text messages per week are the sweet spot for a large portion of consumers.
For in-demand products, back-in-stock messages work well.
Statistic #13: 59% of consumers have been texted by a business they did not permit.
Now before we send you on your way to start capitalizing on SMS marketing’s moment, it’s important to remember that SMS marketing is a regulated channel with significant repercussions if not adhered to.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) prohibits, among other things, companies from using automated technology to call or text customers on a cell phone without their consent.
Class actions are the most significant risk for companies subject to the TCPA (and Spam Act in Australia and CASL in Canada). TCPA class actions often result in substantial settlements. So this is important.
Unfortunately, many consumers have experienced this type of transgression, as the majority have received a promotional message from a business to which they did not give consent.
Statistic #14: 61% of customers say they would unsubscribe from promotional messages.
These are individuals who received messages that they didn’t recall signing up for.
There are right and wrong ways to do this, and really about getting the opt-in or the permission to text these people.
Some way to gather opt-ins is through signage in your store, places on your website, or giveaways.
Once you get that audience, it’s captive, they’re excited to work with you, and it’s high impact.
Statistic #15: 75% of consumers say they will unsubscribe if they receive too many messages.
It’s also important to remember that you have to earn your audience’s trust with every message, as they can opt out at any time.
When asked what would cause them to unsubscribe from a list they had already opted into, consumers pointed to two significant issues:
- Being messaged too frequently
- Receiving messages that didn’t matter to them personally.
Local business texting is here.
Are you ready?
Always keep the following in mind:
- As one of the most powerful, yet least utilized channels, SMS offers businesses an opportunity to be a true leader in this space before it becomes mainstream.
- SMS marketing is a regulated channel with significant repercussions if not followed correctly.
- The sweet spot for most consumers appears to be 1-3 promotional text messages per week.
[Slides] 15 SMS Marketing Trends Every Local Business Marketer Needs to Know
Here is the presentation:
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Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal