The first SMS message was sent from a computer to a phone at an office party in 1992. More than two decades later, text messaging remains a powerful business tool, especially in the realm of marketing and public relations. SMS messages still dominate the marketing world when it comes to open rates. More than 98 percent of text messages are opened within a few moments – those are astonishing numbers compared to, say, marketing emails – only about one in five of which are ever opened.
Beyond marketing, however, businesses are finding new and exciting ways to utilize this simple, effective, personal and inexpensive medium to drum up business and generate revenue. Here are five ways you can use SMS right now.
Use SMS as a Customer Service Platform
Known for its marketing prowess, SMS is also a highly underrated – and underutilized – tool for improving customer service. Supplement – or even replace – live chat or an automated phone system by simply giving your customers a way to text message customer service with an issue or question. If they can’t get online or can’t make a call, a customer can almost always shoot off a quick text.
Use SMS to Streamline Shipping
Customers expect to be able to track packages that they sent or are waiting to receive. The process, however, requires them to open an email, cut and paste a tracking number or visit the website of a third-party shipper like UPS. Use SMS to directly and immediately inform your customers in real time when a package arrived at a facility when it left a warehouse or any other updates.
Integrate SMS with Social and Email
As discussed in the article “SMS, Social & Email: The Three Pillars of a Strong Digital Promotion Strategy,” SMS’s true power is revealed when it joins forces with social media and email. This three-pronged strategy makes the whole more powerful than the sum of its parts – especially SMS. When SMS is integrated, it can be used with email and social to cross promote, to gather valuable customer data, to create textured, complementary, multi-faceted marketing campaigns, and, perhaps most importantly, to reduces cost and expenses.
Use Incentives to Measure Customer Loyalty
SMS messages are an excellent way to calculate, track and measure which customers on your list are engaged. One method that many marketers find easy and efficient is to offer a steep discount to the customers on your list – say, 25 percent off anything on your site for three days. Those clients who don’t respond to the promo code are likely dead wood on your mailing list.
Use SMS to Remind and Update
Marketers have long known that text messaging is excellent for promotions, giveaways, and contests, but SMS is also a great tool for informing and reminding in the weeks and days before a product launch, a sale, an event or a store opening. Don’t bombard recipients, but instead send messages consistently, with less and less time between messages leading up to the date.
Text-message marketing is a powerful, intimate, direct, reliable and cost-effective way to market products to customers – but businesses should think beyond SMS for marketing purposes. SMS is a powerful, cheap and direct customer service resource that far too few companies fully utilize. It can replace a cumbersome, email-based package-tracking service, it can help you thin out an overgrown mailing list, and it can build buzz before a big event. Everyone knows the power of SMS for marketing, but text messages can do a lot more than sell, especially when integrated with other platforms like social and email.