In 2015, the average mobile phone user spent three hours a day on their phone doing things other than making calls. The mobile phone has become an integral part of our everyday lives and an increasingly essential shopping tool. Whether shopping online or in an actual store, our mobiles are with us, and can be integral parts of our shopping experience. Business Insider recently published findings showing that the smartphone has become the retail sector’s most important interface with customers. In fact, 60% of the time consumers devote to online sellers now takes place on mobile phones.
The opportunities to take advantage of mobile phones in marketing and loyalty programs have expanded rapidly in recent years with mobile advertising, websites and apps. Yet the core of mobile marketing is still SMS. In 2015, companies sent 1.6 billion SMS text messages to their customers to market their offers, deliver products and build relationships.
SMS marketing makes communication fast, simple and cost-efficient – and it has an amazing reach. As an extra bonus, SMS marketing also has the highest opening frequency of all messaging services – 90% of all SMS messages are read within three minutes of delivery. As long as the communication reaches the recipient, the opportunities for taking advantage of SMS in marketing and loyalty programs are nearly infinite.
Here are nine ways you can take advantage of SMS text messaging to meet your marketing and customer communication needs:
Does your business use outdoor advertising, print advertising or television commercials to attract new customers? Lower the threshold for those who want to learn more by offering the opportunity to send a text message to a simple short code number. Or link an offer to the short code number to further increase the impact. Saving the mobile numbers (with the consumer’s opt-in) creates a foundation for following up with outgoing SMS marketing.
Once the consumer has “opted in”, it’s easy to continue the dialogue directly in their mobile phone. Link an SMS service to the company’s contact directory and CRM system and you can reach hundreds of potential customers at the same time. SMS marketing with attractive offers drives traffic to the physical store and the webshop, speeds up purchasing decisions and increases the conversion rate.
SMS can also be used to let the customer buy services directly in their mobile – easier for the consumer, cost-effective for you as provider. Taxi companies can let customers book trips using SMS and receive direct confirmation that their taxi is on the way. Bus and train companies can manage both the sale and the distribution of tickets via SMS. Parking companies can make it easy to pay for parking directly by mobile phone and then provide a confirmation of the purchase and a reminder by SMS when the parking time has expired.
Companies that provide products on order, over the counter or online, can use SMS to easily update customers on the status of their order. By integrating an SMS service into the order system, automatic messages are sent to confirm the order and to notify the purchaser when the product leaves the warehouse and when it is ready for delivery or pickup at the store.
Is your business based on a large percentage of pre-booked appointments? All sectors that are dependent on the customer showing up on time, from the financial sector to automotive repair shops, can use SMS to confirm and remind customers of upcoming appointments. By linking the appointment system to an SMS service, you can offer a valued service to your customers while improving appointment precision and profitability.
Customer clubs and loyalty programs are obvious tools for nurturing and developing relationships with customers. Targeted SMS marketing gives you a fast and cost-effective complement to traditional channels and helps you reinforce current offers and promotions directly in the recipient’s hand. An SMS service integrated with the company’s CRM system makes it easy to both customize promotions to different customer segments and, with pinpoint accuracy, target loyalty discounts to specific customers.
As a service company, you can forge closer ties with your customers by offering service information via SMS. Companies in the travel industry can notify their customers of hotel reservations, tickets and departure times. Mobile operators, Internet providers and energy companies can offer up-to-date consumption data via SMS. If something goes wrong, an updated SMS can make all the difference between an angry customer and a deeper customer relationship.
SMS can also be used to send information and updates throughout the customer journey. Everything from reminding a customer that it is time to bring their car in for service or make their annual dentist appointment, to reminding them when a subscription is about to end or when an e-invoice is overdue. Short notifications sent with SMS are almost always welcomed by the recipient as a helpful service.
To make it on the market, you have to have your ear to the ground. Use SMS to find out what your customers think. A short question to follow up on a purchase or a call to the company’s customer service center, or a link to a longer survey online helps you better understand your customers and their needs and expectations.
Want more information about how to integrate SMS into your marketing and customer retention strategies? Download our free guide on building customer loyalty and improving the customer experience!