What do you think of when you think of text messaging? Rambling conversations with friends or regrettable late night musings to an ex probably. You probably think that it’s on the decrease and you would be right, person-to-person (P2P) messaging is on the decline by up to 12% year on year according to ComReg.
However the story for application to person (A2P) text messaging for business is very different and only on the way up. In fact a recent Juniper report is predicting that A2P messaging will grow to $60b by 2018. As texts have an incredible 98% open rate (compared with just 22% for email) and can be received by everybody regardless of their mobile phone or apps, more and more businesses realise that SMS is the most effective method of communication. To help your business to get the most from this, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 ways in which you can grow your businesses revenue by using SMS. Let’s talk about text.
#1 Marketing Texts
This is the one that most people think of when they think of bulk SMS. Marketing texts can be any notification to your customer base or segment of your customer base with new product information, specials or anything else that you believe will add value for them and prompt them to purchase from you again.
Marketing texts are most effective at getting customers to repeat purchase at a very low cost, once they have opted-in to your contacts list. Customers can opt-in at any point of contact with your business, from a checkbox on a website or form, to a shop assistant asking if they would like to receive great monthly deals by SMS.
Below are a couple of good examples:
“Hi Harry, Our latest collection will be in store from 16 Nov. Why not come on down, we’ll be getting in some really great pieces. OPTOUT to 50123”
“Hi Ann, Come in-store any time this weekend to take advantage of our summer sizzle special and get 2-4-1 on all selected items. OPTOUT to 50123”
Notification SMS messages tell your customers when they are required to carry out an action. This can be anything from the time to return a book to the library to you being low on credit for your parking account.
These can be automated to run in the background and can ensure that you make additional sales or additional savings. All with a quick setup and very small running costs.
Here’s a couple of examples:
“Hi Barry, You’re copy of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is due back at main street library by 5pm on 13 Nov. Please ensure it is back to avoid paying fines”
“Hi Jenny, You’re Payzone parking account has €0.38 remaining, please top up at http://bit.ly/1GBfCTo”
#3 Automated Reminders
Automated reminders are scheduled to prompt customers to carry out regular activities at a set time each day/week/month/year. These will ensure your customers don’t forget. Without them many businesses would lose out on the revenue from this activity time after time.
Here’s an example you might recognise that you would be lost without:
“Your Green bin is due tomorrow. Have you signed up for our Automatic Top Up service yet? It’s our Easy way to pay. http://bit.ly/1GBfCTo. OPTOUT to 50123.”
#4 Vouchers / Loyalty Programmes
With the proliferation of customer options today, customer loyalty is key.
By sending relevant targeted vouchers to customers at key times, such as when they haven’t purchased in x days, you can turn a customer into a life time brand advocate.
SMS can offer businesses of all sizes an effective loyalty scheme with no start-up costs. Here’s our infographic on how this might work in practise for a boutique.
Any business that deals with appointments, from doctors to sports coaches, knows of the lost revenue from missed appointments. They miss out on the revenue from the missed person and don’t have enough time to fill the slot again.
Especially if the booking is made long in advance, we all know that appointments are easy to forget. Appointments can be made via SMS, then automatic reminders can be sent to the customer beforehand so they won’t forget, and if they can’t make it then you’ll know and can reschedule.
Here is how an appointment process via SMS might go:
Customer: “Please book Jane Kelly in for an appointment at the Skin Foundation on 15/12/15 afternoon if available”
Business: “Hi Jane, you are scheduled for one of our specialists at 15:00 on 15/12/15, please reply if you cannot make this time. Thanks you for your valued booking”
Business: “Hi Jane, This is a reminder that you have an appointment at the Skin Foundation next Wednesday at 15:00. Please reply ASAP if you cannot attend at this time for any reason.”
#6 Security Authorisation
SMS is a highly effective method of completing quick security checks. Businesses can quickly ensure that they are the owner of the handset or are aware of a potential security threat. This is important for many companies to prevent fraud.
Below are a couple of examples that are used regularly:
“Your verification code is xxxxx. Please enter it into the field provided online.”
“A purchase of €500 has been made using your credit card ending …5555. Please contact your local bank branch if this payment was not made by you.”
#7 Debt Collection
Yet another revenue gaining use of automated bulk SMS that is separate from marketing text messages. SMS reminders of outstanding bills are the low cost option for many businesses to collect debts.
With a 98% open rate, debt text messages will almost always be read. It cannot be filtered on their phone and it carries more weight by text as it is more direct and personal than email. Even small outstanding amounts are viable with SMS as the send cost is so low and customers can be encouraged to pay straight away with a click to call number or a link to the payment website.
These texts can of course be automated so you can increase your debt collection with no extra time spent after setup.
Here is a sample that your business could send out:
“James, You’re electricity balance is outstanding at €112.15. Please pay this by calling (01)2843011 or online at http://bit.ly/1GBfCTo by 12/01/16”
“Paul, You have 2 movie rentals still to return. Please do so ASAP. Your account is suspended from further rentals until the bill total of €27.14 is paid in full in-store.”
#8 Enquiry Handling
SMS is a two way channel, so both the customer and your business can communicate with each other. It has proved a quick, direct and hassle-free method for customers seeking information or the resolution of issues. Crucially, it is popular with customers and can prevent them from taking their complaints to social media.
Make sure to respond quickly or have an automated bounce back text set up at least saying that you will answer soon. People expect their SMS enquiries to be answered promptly.
Other good SMS examples in this space is for contacting out of office employees and crisis response.
Here is how a customer enquiry might be handles using SMS:
Customer: “I have forgotten my password, are you able to find it for me?”
Business: “Hi Jenny, we have reset your password for the account associated with this phone number to Password321& , Please reply for any additional support”
#9 Premium SMS Payments
Premium SMS is a quick and well established method of collecting small payments (usually below €3) directly from users phone bills. Typical examples of uses for this are: Competition entries; voting payments; charity donations (remember the ice bucket challenge?); paid alerts; ringtone purchases; mobile game purchases and chat payments.
This is perfect if your company collects a large number of micropayments as it is so quick and painless for customers to use.
Customers will usually be asked to enter a keyword associated with the charge followed by some relevant information about themselves to a short code (a short memorable number eg. 51000).
Here is an example of a competition:
To be entered into the draw to win a €2,000 Christmas hamper text COMP followed by your answer and name to 51000.
“COMP Answer A John Smith”
#10 Integrating SMS with you existing software
While SMS can be used to automatically send to customers as certain times or when certain criteria are met, it can also be sent through your company’s existing software. With minimal development, your system can send texts through a bulk SMS provider via an API.
Perhaps you run a hospital and would like to offer the option in your existing software to send appointment confirmations to customers at the click of a mouse. By integrating with an SMS provider via an API, your staff will not have to open the bulk SMS platform to do this. It will simple be an option in the hospital’s booking system that will send the texts through the SMS providers gateways.
So there are the most commonly found uses of SMS for business. Hopefully you have gained some ideas from them on how to increase revenues that you can take to your boss. Of course there are more uses for the humble text message. If you have any others then we would love to see them in the comments section.