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Email marketing can be enormously frustrating.
You spend ages crafting the perfect email, and then, after you click send, you notice that:
- Only 15-25% of your database opens it
- A measly 2.5% clicks on a link
And this means that, unless you have an enormous database and/or expensive products, you'll end up struggling with lower than expected ROIs.
But chin up, because there's a (not so secret) solution to your problems: text messaging. And to be specific, online text messaging.
It's not a new kid on the block - the first SMS was sent back in 1992. But it's only recently started causing a commotion as one of the hottest sales & marketing mediums.
Interested in learning the whole nine yards, from online texting's definition all the way to the best business SMS software on the market?
Is that a “hell yeah” we hear?
Fantastic, it would have been a pity to leave this guide unopened and unread after all the hard work we put into it.
So buckle up, set your cell phone to “Do Not Disturb” or “Airplane” mode, and get ready to learn all about online texting.
What is Business Online Texting?
Online texting refers to the activity of sending an SMS message via the internet from a computer to another device (which could be a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop).
It's that simple - the only difference between regular texting and online texting is the presence of a computer in the equation.
But why bother using a computer to text when you already have a smartphone in your pocket?
- Thanks to templates, merge tags, scheduling, and audience management, sending texts is a far more efficient process with computers.
- You're able to centralize all your customer communication in one single location.
- You benefit from automatization (i.e., drip campaigns triggered by user behavior).
- It's possible to view your SMS messages across all your devices, including your smartphone.
That's a big step up from using an iPhone to text, and a colossal one if you recall how businesses texted in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Boy, oh boy, aren't you glad T9 is gone?
How Does Business Text Messaging Online Work in 2021?
Online texting for business is as easy as 1, 2, 3 (4, 5, 6, and 7):
- Find a software provider that enables you to send business texts from a computer (more on the best options later in this post ) and sign up. You can text free online send and receive text messages from certain websites, but we don't recommend this option due to security concerns.
- Upload your existing database to the software program - be sure you can prove that these people explicitly opted-in to receive texts (it's a legal requirement).
- Create a few personalized SMS templates and set up an automated sequence (i.e., a welcome series) to make texting your new leads faster.
- Get yourself a local phone number to send from (if possible).
- Optional: set up text forwarding to your phone (via an app), so you can manage responses on the go.
- Schedule messages based on a time (i.e., 5.14 PM) or an action (i.e., visiting the thank you page of an online funnel), and watch your responses fly out automatically.
- Use the program's built-in analytics function to measure your campaign's effectiveness to get better and better at texting.
That doesn't sound too hard, right?
If it does, don't worry, by the end of this blog you'll know exactly where to start.
What Types of Messages Are Usually Sent With Online Texting?
Online text messaging opens up a nearly infinite amount of possibilities for businesses.
Just to give you a few examples, organizations commonly use SMS messenger online technology to deliver the following messages:
- Offers, coupons, promotions
- Lead nurturing
- Welcome messages
- Abandoned cart sequences
- Upsell and cross-sell opportunities
- Birthday and anniversary messages
This is by no means an exclusive list, so feel free to get creative and try something new.
Why Is Online Text Messaging Essential to Businesses?
Excellent question - we got so lost in the “what” and “how” that we almost forgot to tell you why you should care about online texting.
Let's backtrack for a second and bring out the big guns: four mind-blowing stats.
- 5 billion people (65% of the total population) use SMS to send and receive text messages, and that's predicted to keep growing until we hit 6 billion in 2025.
- SMS open rates are as high as 98%, with 82% of people self-admitting they open every single SMS message they receive. Email open rates pale in comparison.
- SMS click-through rates are 33% and conversation rates 15.5%. And that's no typo .
- Over 50% of consumers prefer to use texting as the medium for communicating with companies.
These numbers should be more than enough to convince you of the benefits of online business texting. Still, since we're here, we'll go one step further and really twist your arm with this summary table of the eight main advantages of online SMS marketing.
The benefits of using an SMS messenger online
The reasons why it's a benefit
More conversations = more conversions
Superior customer service
Cost-effective and efficient
Right time, right place
Improved customer retention and win-back
And now here's the genuinely wild thing:
Despite online texting's incredible benefits and its enormous potential market, only 39% of marketers and salespeople use it as a communication tool.
So what's stopping you from becoming the person that makes that statistic tick up to 40%?
Are you worried that the low adoption rates are an industry-related thing? Is online texting simply not suited for some types of businesses?
Any company with customers can benefit from SMS messaging to improve their communication as long as they use them sensibly (a.k.a. legally and without descending into the inferno of spamming).
However, a specific group of industries benefits even more than others from online texting.
Let's find out with another (quick, we promise) table.
The Businesses That Benefit Most From Online Texting (and Why)
Examples of how they use online texting
Retailers and e-Commerce sites
Schools and Higher Education
Appointment-based services (i.e., doctors, beauty salons)
Subscription-based businesses (i.e., gyms, software)
(i.e., sales, marketing, insurance, legal)
If you happen to work in any of these industries, it's pretty much mandatory for you to keep reading this post.
Because you're on the verge of mastering 10 fundamental online texting tips - the kind of stuff that transforms customer communication and business performance.
But should you just give up if your sector didn't show in the previous table?
You won't get away that easily. We still highly recommend you keep going because of online texting's many industry-agnostic benefits.
And you never know, an inspirational case study about your company might be the reason we add another row in the future. 😉
Top 10 Online Texting Tips for Marketing and Sales
1. Always, Always Get Permission Before Texting
Step 1 in any online texting campaign should be ensuring you're on the right side of the privacy and data protection laws.
You definitely don't want to get slapped with hefty fines by regulators.
And no, claiming ignorance won't help you. You need to do the homework; it's part of your job as a salesperson and/or marketer.
Where should you start from? By making sure:
- You obtain explicit consent from customers before you text them (i.e., via an opt-in box on your physical and digital forms).
- It's easy-peasy to opt out of SMS communication.
We also suggest you review the most important pieces of legislation in this sphere:
- Telephone Consumer Protection Act ( TCPA )
- Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act ( CAN-SPAM )
- California Consumer Privacy Act ( CCPA )
- Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation ( CASL )
- The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act ( PIPEDA )
- EU General Data Protection Regulation ( GDPR )
P.S. You only need to read the relevant regulation to your and your customers' home countries. And if anything is confusing, don't hesitate to drop by your legal department.
2. Use a Lead Magnet or an Enticing Offer To Convince People to Opt-in
Since you need to convince people to sign up (or opt-in) to your online text message campaigns, you might as well do it in style.
Give your customers or your leads something that will catch their attention and make them go, “Wow, I really want that!”
Otherwise, they won't magically sign up for your texts - I mean, think about it: would you just give your number away to any odd business?
Didn't think so.
You need to win over their hesitations by applying the WIIFM (What's In It For Me?) principle and offering subscribers something cool like an exclusive offer, member-only promotional codes, or a free video tutorial.
It'll be worth it (as long as you follow through).
3. Start Simple and Only Add Complexity When It Makes Sense
A lot of marketers and salespeople make the mistake of overengineering their campaigns from the get-go.
They spend ages focusing on segmentation, writing the perfect copy, adding tons of catchy CTAs to their texts, and creating complex automation sequences.
And only when everything is perfect, they send their first text message online.
It sounds good, but unfortunately, it doesn't work.
Because business texting is meant to be simple, straightforward, and all about the customer.
So rather than getting lost in a vortex of unnecessary details, you should stick to:
- The most basic level of segmentation that makes sense (i.e., based on product purchased or lead location)
- Simple texts and automated sequences
- One call-to-action (CTA) per text message
You can make it more sophisticated (especially in terms of personalization) as time passes because you'll be able to count on accurate analytics to fine-tune your strategy.
One more tip:
Always keep your list clean - unnecessarily large lists only add to the complexity and the costs of running online texting campaigns.
4. Texts Are Meant To Be Short and Sweet
When we said “simple” in the previous point, we also meant short.
Text messages aren't supposed to be novels or substitutes for longer-form content like emails, social media posts, or blog entries.
SMS is an entirely different communication channel that's perfect for sharing a couple of lines, whether they be an update, a thought, or an offer.
No more, no less.
And don't even think about saving space by filling your SMS with abbreviations or “text talk” - T9 is gone, and nobody does that anymore.
Try to stick to something like this:
5. Personalize, Personalize, Personalize
Texting is one of the most informal and personal forms of communication around.
If you don't believe us, just check your inbox.
What do you see?
Casual chats with family, friends, colleagues, classmates, and the odd message from one of your favorite businesses.
That's a tough crowd to fit in with, especially if you send out impersonal text blasts that start with “Dear customer” or “Dear Mr. Smith” and end with a generic call-to-action about a product they've never even purchased.
So rather than being the uptight guy crashing a university party, be a chameleon.
Say “Hi,” use your contact's first name, keep it casual, and personalize the content to match their interests, past orders, or current purchase intentions.
6. Automate, Automate, Automate
The early bird catches the worm, and the first vendor to act makes the sale.
It might sound silly, but it's true in 30-50% of cases.
So what happens when a client drops you a message, and you can't reply because you're stuck in that endless Monday review meeting?
Well, it all depends on whether or not you have an online texting tool with robust automation functionality.
If you do, your virtual assistant will reply to your client and, at the very least, let them know that you'll take care of their inquiry as soon as you can.
If you don't, your client might jump to another faster company. Ouch.
But automation isn't just helpful in saving you in a pinch; it's also great for:
- Sending reminders
- Running drip campaigns for leads and ex-clients
- Using client behavioral as a trigger for a personalized text
7. Ask People What They Think with SMS Surveys
SMS messages are the best and easiest way to collect feedback from your clients.
Come on, what other medium allows you to fully automate this tedious job and still achieve an expected response rate of 31% ?
Don't even try answering that one - it's a rhetorical question.
SMS stands head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to surveys.
Expect to be blown away the next time you want to do a bit of customer research.
8. Become an Analytics Ninja
But before you pull your hidden katana out, we have to say, “no, not that kind of ninja.”
The type of ninja we're talking about is far more comfortable with spreadsheets, bar charts, and custom reporting dashboards than sharp blades.
And that's exactly what online texting platforms with powerful analytics capabilities (or, in other terms, the good ones) demand.
Someone needs to step up and transform all that data into actionable insights.
How else are you going to track your performance and improve your effectiveness?
Pro tip: run A/B tests to find out which content resonates best with your audience and to...
9. Master Send Times
Don't listen to the marketing gurus and famous companies saying that a specific send time (i.e., noon on a Tuesday) works best for SMS marketing.
These are simply generalizations, and everybody is evangelizing for a different time and day.
You need to use your data and run your own A/B tests to find the best time for your specific audience.
But you can use common sense and a bit of best practice to give yourself a head start.
Step 1 - put yourself in your clients' shoes. For example, text cooks and tradesmen early in the morning and work-from-home moms before the kids get back from school.
Step 2 - avoid these three big no-nos:
- Don't text between 10 PM and 6 AM.
- Don't send texts at the top of the hour (most marketers and salespeople do).
- Don't consistently send texts at the same time (more attentive people will notice you're just sending out blasts, and they're not special).
10. Respect Your Database's SMS Inboxes
Last but not least, you need to treat your contact's inboxes like they were your own.
Would you bombard yourself with pushy, annoying, or plain-out aggressive text messages?
We seriously doubt it, but if you did, you'd probably end up being the first one to opt out of your own campaign.
So "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," and follow the give, give, give, ask principle (offer them three valuable experiences before asking them to do something) to build a positive, trusting relationship with your clients and leads.
The Key to Online Texting: Business SMS Messaging Software
Now that you know all about online texting and you're fully armed with 10 actionable tips, there's only one thing stopping you:
You need to install some software onto your computer to turn it into a well-oiled texting machine.
But don't panic; it's going to be really straightforward.
Types of Online Texting Software Available
You can pick from two main types of online texting software - standalone or integrated.
Standalone software is generally classified as:
- A specialized business SMS app, or
- A dedicated SMS marketing program.
And integrated software is usually either:
- A CRM with built-in online texting capabilities, or
- A sales enablement tool.
What's the difference?
This table gives you the low-down:
Standalone online texting software
Integrated online texting software
Our Top Software Recommendations
If you already have a CRM or sales enablement tool you're happy with, we suggest you take a look at these impressive standalone online texting programs:
But if you want to upgrade more than just your online texting capabilities, we highly advise you to go for a cutting-edge sales CRM like:
Conclusion: Start Online Texting Today
As you've learned today, online business texting is a serious rival to other more well-established mediums like email and social media.
Online texting might not offer the same amount of messaging space, but it dominates both in terms of open, click-through, and conversion rates.
Do you remember its eight other business benefits?
Here's a quick recap in case something slipped your mind:
- More conversations with clients = more conversions
- Superior customer service
- Cost-effective and efficient
- Right time, right place
- Increased productivity
- Insightful analytics
- Improved customer retention and win-back
- Incredible ROI
And since we're summarizing what we've covered today, let's also revisit the 10 most important tips on text messaging online:
- Always ask for permission before texting.
- Use lead magnets and/or offers to get people to opt-in.
- Keep your texting strategy as simple as possible...
- … and your texts nice and short.
- Personalize your messages...
- … and automate them.
- Use text surveys to gather customer feedback.
- Get analytical with your texting software's insights.
- Find the perfect send times.
- Respect your contacts' inboxes by always adding value.
At this point, we're confident you're ready to dive headfirst into online texting.
Are you with us?
Is that the second “hell yeah” we hear from your side?
Awesome - then definitely take a moment to check out Ringy, our state-of-the-art sales CRM that makes business texting as easy as taking candy from a baby.
And then book a demo , so one of our friendly colleagues can show you our platform in action and explain more about how we can transform your sales function.
See you there!