Let’s take a walk down memory lane back to high school. You’re writing an essay for your English class and remember what your teacher had said about the introduction paragraph — it has to have a “hook.” Something needs to grab your reader’s attention or they won’t have a reason to keep reading.
Ok, so you’re not in high school English classes anymore (thank goodness!), but I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t abandon that advice from your teacher. When you’re communicating with any audience, you want to make an impression. Especially when you’re trying to engage your customers, your writing needs to catch their attention and hold it.
This concept is especially important when you’re writing an SMS message to send to your customers. While SMS is a great channel in terms of reaching customers with speed and flexibility, you only have a handful of words to make the message truly worthwhile. With 160 characters or so to capture your customer’s eye, you have to make deliberate choices to make the writing effective. We’ve put together a list of six helpful tips to writing a more effective SMS message to make the most of each text sent.
1. Treat your first few words like a subject line.
When a text pops up on my phone, I can’t avoid the impulse to glance down and skim the first few words of the message. In just that glance, I can sense the tone and can decide whether I want to open that text right away or if it can wait. Is a friend in need? Does my sister need me to babysit again?
When you send an SMS message to your customers, always consider what they will see as the preview in their message inbox or on their notification screen. Treat the first few words as you would an email subject line: it’s the customer’s first impression before they open the text. Intentionally use powerful words (e.g., “explore,” “start,” “level up,” etc.), short sentences, or the customer’s first name through dynamic parameters to catch attention.
Just this morning I had a promotional SMS message from a politician pop up on my Apple Watch. The copy was wordy and the text was long. I don’t have time for that! Without a thought, I opened my phone and immediately deleted it. Attention spans are short, so when you send a text to your customers, get to the point quickly to ensure you capture their attention.
In general, the shorter the text, the better. That rule is especially when you’re sending a proactive text to your customers. Keep the copy between 75-115 characters, or 3-4 lines long. Make sure your texts still look professional and are easy to understand by all age groups. Once you use big complicated words, long sentences or unnecessarily abbreviate words, you’ll lose your audience.
3. Use visuals.
If the goal is to catch the eye of your customers, add in visuals where you can. MMS messaging makes texting customers much more interesting. Add in multimedia like images, GIFs, video, and audio to make your messages pop. Images are a fun way to give your messaging personality and flair.
Create attractive graphics that catch your customers’ eyes if they’re quickly scanning a text.
Graphics can be used to communicate important information like discount codes or upcoming sales. When you add movement to an image — like as a GIF — this too will make your text stand out.
4. Express gratitude.
The customers on your opt-in list are likely to be some of your most loyal. And your loyal customers want to feel valued and cared for. So why not use every opportunity you can to express your thanks to them?
When you send a text out, make sure your customers feel appreciated. Use expressions of gratitude in your text copy to build a connection with your customer base, even when you’re just sending an appointment reminder or a discount code. Add in phrases like “you’re the best, we appreciate you, your loyalty has paid off, thanks for being our customer” to boost engagement and interest in your brand and in your SMS message.
Part of capturing your customers’ attention is to use some urgency in your writing. Powerful, emotional words and short sentences can effectively communicate when there is a time-sensitive event like a sale or low-inventory. Plus, most of your customers are going to be on the go when they receive your message. To add timely language in, use phrases like “this weekend, starting now, almost over, today only” so your customers want to open and read your text right when it shows up on their phone.
6. Assume your customer knows nothing… but also that they’re not stupid.
There’s a fine line between coming across as helpful to customers and being patronizing. The tone of a message can determine whether your customers stick around or not. Avoid over-explaining and address your customers like they’re adults…because, more than likely, they are! You don’t have to start at square one when explaining your product or a sale to your customers, but keep the language accessible.
Be mindful when writing copy for your customers to not make them do additional work just to understand what they’re reading. Write instructions and descriptions simply and logically. Then, read and re-read before sending. Send a test text out just to your team internally to make sure the message hits right. Or, test it on a safe outsider to the brand to get their first impression before you blast it to hundreds of your customers.
Texting has become the most natural form of communication for most of us. Some 5.1 billion people on Earth own a cell phone, but most of us aren’t using them to make phone calls all day. Let’s say I want to reach a group of friends to plan a girl’s trip. Or maybe I need to ask my husband to pick up dinner on his way home from work. I send a text. Why? Because texting is a reliable, convenient, and fast way to reach someone. It doesn’t disrupt life like a phone call and doesn’t require formality like an email.
Companies are starting to take note of the benefits of using business texting from a computer to reach customers. Sure, you may be feeling some hesitation — is business texting worth the cost? Is texting our customers too invasive? Do our customers actually want to text us?
We’ve gathered 12 statistics that’ll answer your questions and prove its practicality. We’ll see why it’s actually one of the bestways to reach and engage your customers.
When your customers feel appreciated, your company reaps real, measurable growth. Growth like a boost to revenue for one. The payoffs for valued, great experiences are tangible. In fact, when you provide stellar CX, customers are willing to pay 16% more on your products and services. And they will be more loyal to you.
What can customer loyalty really do for you?
Retain customers. Repeat customers typically spend more than new customers. They already trust your business and its products or services.
The strategy is simple. To retain customers, spark a relationship. And do that by building experiences that create an emotional connection with your customers. But where do you start? Create a strategy for texting online. As many as 89% of consumers say they prefer texting with businesses over any other mode of communication. So it’s time to build out a strategy to drive your customer loyalty. And make some cash along the way.
Your Step-by-Step Guide to Building Out a Strategy for Texting Online to Drive Customer Loyalty (and Revenue)
Step 1: Build Your Opt-in List
To build a relationship with your customers, you have to know who your customers are. Before you can text your customers, get permission to contact them and build an opt-in list. Opt-in lists establish a list of customers who have agreed to receive communications from you. They’ve already signaled that they want to be loyal to your brand. They make it easier for you to know your audience and target personalized content to fit their tastes.
To create your opt-in list, promote opportunities to sign up for texts in their order detail email or during the checkout process. Provide an online form for customers to sign up for emails and texts from your brand. And consider incentivizing customers to sign up with a coupon or exclusive deal. Make your texting opt-in like joining a loyalty club to engage with and create a stronger bond with your customers.
Step 2: Keep your Audience Engaged with Texting Online
After you have your opt-in list, you have to keep that audience engaged in order to retain them. Texting online gives your business a perfect channel to not only acquire customers but to retain them. Harvard Business Review knows that it is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive to get a new customer than to keep a current customer. So, what touchpoints are you using to keep your customers close?
Here are some ideas that not only engage your customers, but also increase profit:
Gift your customers right off the bat. Welcome new subscribers with a discount coupon to use in their first 30 days.
Send customers in your opt-in list triggered messages about product updates, exclusive offers, or upcoming deals. Be cautious, though, about not sending these so frequently that they get annoying.
Give customers reasons to make repeat purchases by creating a point system and rewards. Just like with a credit card program, reward the more loyal customers with a discount after reaching a set point number or give them free shipping after spending a certain amount of money.
Send relevant content that interests your customers. Use MMS messaging to send interesting videos or create a newsletter with helpful product info.
Reportedly, customers like to be part of online texting loyalty programs. As much as 90% of participants in an SMS loyalty program have gained value from being a member. With special loyalty rewards and perks for signing up for SMS, your brand can give members the VIP treatment they expect.
Step 3: Customize and Personalize your Content
Personalization increases customer engagement and revenue. According to CMSWire, Amazon gets 30% of its revenue just from personalized recommendations. Today, personalized recommendations are almost as expected from brands as toilet paper is to bathrooms.
Considering that SMS has a 98% open rate compared to email marketing, texting online gives you a direct way to deliver a personalized experience with the guarantee that your customers will see your messaging.
Send texts that are personalized and ultra-relevant to your customers. Include their name in texts to make them feel known. Keep track of important dates — like their birthday or anniversaries — to send them exclusive offers on those days. Use feedback surveys and track customer purchases to make purchase recommendations or notify customers of specific sales that would pique their interest.
When you give customers a personalized experience, you’re more likely to keep them around and continue increasing revenue.
Step 4: Close Sales and Support Customers With Two-Way Texting
To maintain a relationship with your customers, you have to talk with them. Two-way texting online gives your sales and your customer service team a way to communicate directly with customers in a channel that’s more convenient and flexible than others.
Customer service agents and salespeople spend a lot of time on the phone. Texting online gives your teams a flexible and convenient way to cut back on wasted time (without leaving their CCaaS platform). To help your sales team qualify sales, send a text to the potential customer first. Include information that will help them decide if they are a good candidate for your services or not. If you use two-way business texting online, you can let your customers make certain selections to get more information.
Provide proactive customer service by sending messages to teach customers how to use the product well. Give customers an easier way to reach you through two-way texting. This way, they can ask a simple question or request information without increasing your call volume. And they won’t spend unnecessary time on hold.
And if that isn’t enough, here’s an added bonus. McKinsey found that companies that elevate their customer service see employee engagement rocket up the charts by 20% on average. Now, literally, everyone is happy. With these added strategies, you’re building a team of engaged employees and customers, while driving revenue along the way.
This post was originally published on November 8, 2018 and was updated on June 16, 2022.
Building revenue for your company is more than just getting customers in the door. It’s about creating lifetime customers. To do so, pay attention to your customer lifecycle. The customer lifecycle refers to the full lifetime of customers from when they learn about your product, to when they make a purchase, to when they become a loyal customer.
So obviously you want to keep customers engaged with your company and continue building revenue, right? You don’t reach the loyal customer stage by chance. You have to first actually connect with customers, and then have to maintain those connections.
Customers expect you to keep them engaged across all channels. In fact, 85% of consumers expect to use a blend of physical and digital channels to connect. For sales and support interactions, customers value you saving time and money or making their lives easier.
Traditional channels like phone or email get a notoriously low response rate. They can be as low as 6% when salespeople try to make contact through a phone call or email! It makes since though, I mean, how many of us answer a call from an unknown number any more? And then, our email inbox is cluttered (I have about 4,000 unread messages in my inbox alone), with nearly 50% of emails being spam.
When you’re limited by traditional communication, other challenges get more complicated, too. Every sales and support team has to face:
Difficulty in Lead Qualification: When email responses get delayed and phone calls go unanswered, your sales team struggles to track down and qualify hot prospects.
Vying for the Competitive Advantage: Odds are, customers aren’t only talking to you. Your teams need tools that give them a competitive advantage and help them stand out.
Managing Administrative Tasks: Sales teams spend less than 36% of their time selling due to manual processes and administrative tasks. They need tools that let them focus on selling.
Maintaining Relationships Post-Sale: Once a prospect becomes a customer, support and sales need effective ways of nurturing a relationship.
How do you meet these challenges? Well, SMS messages have an open rate of 98% (compared to 20% of all emails and 16% of phone calls). So to break through the noise, and connect with customers faster through texting. By investing in texting technology, you can reach customers through the entire customer lifecycle.
Three Texting Tactics to Help your Bottom Line (and how to do ‘em)
1. Send mass promotional texts
The best way to boost sales and start the customer lifecycle is to reach customers through promotions. Once a text has been sent, 95% are read within the first 3 minutes of receipt. So sending out promotional texts to customers is a primary way to draw customers in..
An SMS promotional text may take only five minutes to set up. Let’s say you have a list of prospects that have opted into receiving texts. They responded to an ad campaign in the past and you want to draw them back in. Here are some ways to do so:
Get creative with a text-to-win campaign to start a conversation.
Blast a message about a new product discount that just launched.
Create unique coupon codes for prospects to send via text.
How will this help your bottom line? Let’s take an example: Let’s say a clothing retail company sends one promotional campaign to about 1,200 people a month. After that campaign, they get about $2,500 in additional business for that month. By letting prospects know about possible discounts, they boosted their monthly revenue significantly.
I really struggle to follow through when I’m shopping online. Seriously, I’d be embarrassed to share how many of the open tabs on my computer are from different stores with items just sitting in my cart. I am notorious for abandoning carts. And I’m not alone. Nearly 88% of people never finish the checkout process. How can your sales team help avoid this loss of revenue?
To bring potential customers back into the customer lifecycle, follow up with customers who have abandoned purchases. Use texting to encourage those shoppers (like me) who’ve left products behind to come back and buy.
Let’s say a shopper leaves items behind in your online store. Have either your sales or your marketing create automated messages that send to their phone. It might look something like this:
Perhaps incentivize the customer to follow through on the sale with a small discount on their purchase. This use of texting restores customers who may otherwise walk away from a sale without a second thought.
3. Send date-triggered campaigns
Buying is personal and emotional, right? So, your customers want to feel known and respected by you. Personalized messaging stands out and helps you reach and acquire customers, while also nurturing the relationship. For a more personalized approach with your customers, send date-triggered campaigns.
These kinds of text messages let you text customers at times when they are primed to shop. This may be on their birthdays, anniversaries, or Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale reminders. Who doesn’t want to get free or discounted stuff on their birthday? Here’s how you can do this:
With the help of your texting platform, keep track of customer birthdays or note when customers first joined your company. Then automate date-triggered messages to go to those customers who opted into texts from you. Maybe send a promotional message five days before a customer’s birthday with a discount code or a BOGO deal so they have time to use it. Chances are, they’ll be excited about your birthday gift and will buy something in your store, supporting your bottom line and helping to retain customers.
For a while now, it’s been clear that texting isn’t just another way to connect with old friends and family. Texting has also become the preferred channel for customers to reach businesses and vice versa. Primarily, businesses and customers alike are seeing how reliable texting is for efficient and effective communication. As many as 60% of customers read texts within 1-5 minutes after receiving them. And the average SMS open rate is 5x higher than your typical business email. Customers are eager to reach you and hear from you via text.
In a world where communication remains a crucial part of any business’ strategy, texting can be an effective way to build business, improve consumer-to-business relationships, and enhance your brand. But it can be tricky to know what works in business text messaging. We need examples.
As the youngest in my family with three older siblings, I spent a majority of my life looking to my older family members as examples: What’s cool to wear? What music should I like? What should I not do to avoid getting in trouble with mom and dad? We naturally look for examples to understand how to grow and thrive. The same goes for our businesses. We look to good examples for how to grow and thrive with our customers.
So we’ve gathered a list of some of the companies who are leading by example. These are some of the best business text message examples out there. Ready to get inspired?
Suntrup Automotive Group has been servicing and selling cars in the St. Louis area since 1957. As a reflection of their amazing customer service, Suntrup was honored with the Women’s Choice Award for being one of America’s Best Car Dealerships for customer service and continues to strive for excellence in every aspect of their business. One way Suntrup maintains excellence is by opening communications between their service team and their customers with business texting.
To streamline communication at their dealership, Suntrup uses business texting to keep customers in the loop. Here’s how:
When a car gets serviced and is ready for pick up, the service advisor sends a text out from their computer to the customer notifying them that their car is ready or asking for approvals. The customer then has an easy way to chat back and forth with the service advisor — able to ask questions, give approval for work, or schedule a pick up. There’s no need to play phone tag or get bogged down with emails. With online texting, Suntrup can shave off over 40 hours of work every month, cut back on interruptions, and build customer trust.
I love to travel, but the process of flying stresses me out. I know I’m not alone in this. Every time we prepare to get on an airplane, there’s a lot to keep track of: security lines, boarding passes, baggage claim ticket, boarding time. I’m getting stressed just thinking about it. So as soon as I book a flight, I’m quick to download the app of whichever airline I’m on so I can check-in as soon as possible, look up my boarding time, check my gate, etc. Delta, though, relieves stress and helps me to be a step ahead in how they use business text messaging.
Delta Air Lines continues to earn accolades from customers for its outstanding customer service in the U.S. and around the world, frequently dubbed the best overall customer service airline. One way they stand out is through meeting their customers on the go. Here’s how they do so:
Delta keeps customers up to speed with any changes during the customers’ journey. When you sign up for texting from Delta, any time a flight change or gate change occurs, you’ll get a text from Delta with all the info you need immediately, no matter where you are. Customers can avoid showing up to the airport to find their flight delayed. Instead, they’ll know as soon as the airline makes the call, saving customers stress and time.
Delta also made another industry-leading move with business texting. To connect with customers in their channel of choice, Delta integrated messaging in their app with Apple messaging, letting customers connect with a live Delta representative to get in-the-moment assistance. Instead of sitting on hold for two hours after a flight gets canceled, customers can text a Delta rep using the phone in their back pocket.
Ginger Bay is dedicated to providing the best salon and spa experiences for men and women. In fact, they are so good at it that they’ve been named a Top 200 Salon & Spa in the nation from Salon Today Magazine for 21 years.
With no change to your existing phone service, Ginger Bay implemented business texting to stay in contact with scheduled clients, send alert notifications, and send out call-to-action marketing:
Ginger Bay uses texting to communicate with customers. But aside from just using it to schedule and manage customer appointments, Ginger Bay drives customer engagement as well. Using Textel, Ginger Bay sends texts to customers to offer promotions, keeping customers loyal and interested. To do so, they release a keyword for their guests to text their salon phone number by a certain time to receive seasonal gift card promotions, bonus points related to a loyalty program, or discounts on products. During one promotion cycle, they received over 300 texts in 45 minutes! With this example, we see how one business text message keeps customers coming back to your brand over and over.
I have horrible eyesight. And for years, I’ve gone from one pair of glasses to the next, trying to find the right pair that I will actually want to wear. But then I tried Warby Parker. Warby Parker makes buying glasses easy — offering Home Try-On so customers can give five pairs of glasses a trial run before committing. Warby Parker has also made it their mission to offer a cohesive omnichannel experience, adopting business text messaging as a customer service tool. Here’s how they use texting to assist their customers:
Glasses are an expensive online purchase with a lot of details involved: health insurance, prescriptions, returns, exchanges. Making that kind of purchase online means customers need access to help at nearly any time of the day, and quickly during their purchase. Warby Parker has made it incredibly easy to get help, offering live chat, email, phone, self-service, and text support. When you need someone to answer a question, customers can just click on the “text” icon on their website and open a text thread within their phone or laptop’s messaging app.
The brand also has some fun with their SMS support. Back in 2017, Warby Parker invited customers to text their “Costume Council” to get ideas for what to wear for Halloween that year. In using text message support in this way, Warby Parker inspired interest in their brand and kept current customers engaged.
This post originally published on June 29, 2018 and was refreshed and republished on June 2, 2022.
Texting is part of our everyday lives. Even as I write this blog, I’m carrying on a texting conversation with my sister and my college friends, and just minutes ago used texting to verify my bank account. We’re so used to SMS messaging that most of us expect businesses to communicate with this channel too. In fact, 69% of all consumers want to communicate with a business via text.
Texting gives businesses a distinct advantage — it lets you interact with customers on a personal and convenient channel. To see how SMS messages fit in a business, we’ve imagined how the quintessential American office of Dunder Mifflin would have used business texting. What if the characters of NBC’s The Office had the texting technology we have today?
How Michael Scott would use SMS Messages
Ok, so maybe the “World’s Best Boss” would misuse access to SMS messaging at times. But even with Michael Scott’s (often stressful) craziness, we can imagine some practical uses for business texting.
Sending out Discounts and Coupons
What if Michael could have avoided the “golden ticket” debacle entirely? Instead of giving out a massive discount all to one client, he could have used SMS messages to connect with each winning client about their golden ticket coupon. Maybe it could have gone something like this:
Fundraising and Event Communications
Michael Scott’s Fun Run Race for the Cure would have been a bit more successful if he could have promoted the event to all of his clients simultaneously. Whether you’re fundraising or sharing info for an upcoming event, an SMS message is a reliable way to reach all of your customers at once. Instead of relying on the sales reps to ask incoming callers for donations, he could have contacted his clients using a mass SMS message and maybe could have raised more than $340. It could have gone something like this:
How this translates to your brand:
You don’t want to pretend to be Willy Wonka for a day to reach your clients. But use an SMS message to reliably reach customers selectively or on mass. Text messages have a significantly more successful open rate than other channels of communication, with a 98% open rate as opposed to just a 20% open rate with email. This lets you successfully reach your customer base when you run promotions or fundraisers.
How Kelly Kapoor would use an SMS Message in Customer Service
Kelly Kapoor — the queen of customer service — is a master at handling any customer stress that comes her way. She’s the go-to in the office when it comes to navigating complicated conversations. And you know she would be on top of the latest trends with SMS messaging. So we’ve imagined some ways that Kelly would use SMS messages to build relationships with customers and handle customer support. Here’s how:
Two-Way Customer Conversations
Kelly Kapoor is not wrong. When customers text you, they want you to text them back. Two-way conversations is one of the biggest benefits of using SMS messages. When you text your customers, you create a relationship that encourages flexibility and shows that you’re available to help them. We can count on Kelly to add in a bit too much personality. But if Kelly were to use two-way SMS messages, it would go something like this:
How this translates to your brand:
According to a recent survey, 63% of consumers would switch to a company that offers texting as a communication method. As Kelly showed us, business SMS messages make for an easy way to address follow-up questions or requests from your customers. It’s fast, personal, and can help to resolve inquiries quickly using the channel of communication we all feel comfortable with (especially Kelly).
When you offer text as a support option, you add convenience and flexibility. Customers can text with support departments while they’re at home, in the office, or running errands. With SMS customer support, the customer is in control.
Texting is also an extremely helpful asset for companies that have long-term client relationships — companies like Dunder Mifflin. Texting keeps a solid record for customer service so you can verify details from recent conversations or double-check important information like invoice numbers and address changes.
How Pam Halpert would use SMS messages
Every office needs someone sane to deal with the craziness of incoming communications and appointment and meeting schedules. Pam Beesley Halpert has to handle all the details and put up with whatever Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute are up to that day. That’s a lot of multitasking. For a receptionist, SMS messaging makes that multitasking simpler, allowing you to juggle all kinds of incoming and outgoing office communications simultaneously. Here’s how Pam would use an SMS message:
SMS messaging can be useful for scheduling meetings and appointments — something Pam has to do a lot of for Michael. To avoid having to repeatedly answer phone calls, imagine Pam could use an SMS message to schedule those meetings. Maybe it would go something like this:
How this translates to your brand:
An SMS message system isn’t just useful for support or sales. It can be incredibly useful for managing business operations. As we can see with Pam, SMS messaging makes for a flexible way for your operations team to juggle meeting and scheduling communications in a way that integrates easily with your existing systems. Plus, since an individual person can have multiple text threads going at once, SMS messaging is more efficient than taking one phone call at a time.
Add business texting to reach customers effectively. And hopefully you’ll end up a bit more efficient than our friends at Dunder Mifflin.