A Guide to SMS Text Messaging [Business Edition]

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Does the phrase "SMS text messaging for business" keep popping up at work?

We know the feeling.

We also remember when we were far too embarrassed to put our hands up and ask our colleagues and bosses, "what is SMS text messaging for business?"

We figured out pretty intuitively that it was text messaging used in a business context. But that didn't help us get any closer to understanding how we could use this technology to deliver a better customer experience and grow our monthly sales.

Luckily that all changed when we got involved in the sales CRM business; however, not everyone is lucky enough to have the answer fall straight into their laps.

And that's why we decided to pull together all of our knowledge, season it with a bit of good old-fashioned research, and bring you this comprehensive guide to SMS text messaging.

Ready to take a masterclass in a completely safe environment?

Then swipe (or scroll) down!

What Is SMS Text Messaging in the Business Context?

SMS Text Messaging

This first bit is really straightforward.

SMS text messaging in a business context refers to a company using SMS technology to communicate with their clients (or leads) and establish an informal channel for two-way dialogue.

Companies generally use a technology platform (like an online texting platform or a sales CRM with SMS capabilities) to communicate because they're far more efficient than asking their employees to simply text clients from their phone's native SMS app.

However, certain smaller companies and entrepreneurs are still doing it the old-fashioned way and sending them out via phone. Not the most effective way to go, but it's a start.

By the way, did you catch the word "informal" in our definition?

It's a fundamental part of the equation, so please double back if you didn't notice it there.

But why does it matter so much?

Because texting is the most informal and personal form of communication a business has at its disposal.

Just think about it - SMSs are usually reserved for friends, family, and the companies closest to someone's heart.

They're nothing like email inboxes, where spam and unread messages pile up and form mountain ranges comparable only to the Himalayas.

This means you need to tread carefully when you engage in SMS marketing, and you should always treat a recipient's inbox like it were your own.

Show them you care, remind them of an appointment, give them an exclusive offer, or make their life easier.

Do one of these things, and they'll happily welcome you amongst the select few.

Which Industries Use SMS Text Messaging?

Basically, all major industries use SMS text messaging to communicate with their customers.

But we'll let you in on a little-known secret:

An incredible 61% of marketers (regardless of their industry) don't use SMS as a marketing communication tool.

Source

That's right - despite their many benefits (we're getting there, don't worry), business SMS text messages are still relatively uncharted water for most firms.

For the moment, that is.

We're sure more companies will follow suit once they get wise to what SMS can do for their customer experience and business performance.

Here's a quick rundown, broken down by industry, to give you a head start:

Industry

What do they use SMS text messaging for

Retail and eCommerce

  • Offers and promotions
  • Abandoned carts
  • Upselling and cross-selling
  • Order management

Education

  • General communication
  • Health and safety
  • Billing

Travel

  • Last-minute deals
  • Booking confirmations
  • Boarding passes and tickets
  • Travel updates

Restaurants and Hospitality

  • Booking management
  • Updates
  • Special offers (i.e., birthday discounts)
  • Customer service

Real estate

  • Property updates
  • Scheduling
  • 1-to-1 communication

Events

  • Reminders
  • Updates
  • Ticketing and booking

Fitness

  • Promotions
  • Events
  • Health and safety

Insurance, Legal, and Finance

  • Scheduling
  • Lead nurturing
  • Policy updates

B2B sales

  • Account overages
  • Lead nurturing
  • Sharing thought leadership

Types of Business Text Message SMS

Types of Business Text Message SMS

Did you know that there are six main types of business text messages?

You were probably suspecting something of the sort as you read through the previous table because, after all, there's significant overlap between the various industries.

Let's elaborate on this topic with another handy table:

Type of SMS text messaging

Why do companies use it

Offers and Promotions

To let customers know about an offer in the most timely way possible

Surveys

To gain nearly instant feedback from customers without inconveniencing them

Appointment Reminders

To gently yet firmly remind clients of an upcoming commitment and reduce no-show rates

Contests

To grow customer engagement and strengthen customer relationships

Automation Sequences

To automate menial tasks and provide faster service

Lead Nurturing

To increase conversation rates and make leads feel like VIPs

N.B. This isn't an exclusive list. Don't feel constrained to only use these types of SMS - the world's your oyster as long as you deliver value.

And speaking of delivering value to customers (and readers in this case), we promised you SMS text messaging benefits a few paragraphs back, so without further ado...

Why Is SMS Text Messaging Essential to Most Businesses?

Business SMS text message software has five principal business benefits:

  1. Empowers more timely conversations
  2. Improves customer service
  3. Increases customer engagement
  4. Guarantees excellent reach without being overly invasive
  5. Delivers immediate gratification
  6. Makes for a highly cost-effective investment

1. Empowers More Timely Conversations

It takes an average of 8 touches to achieve a conversion.

Or at least that's what some of the research says.

The rest doesn't agree on the exact number of touches, but it does come to a very similar conclusion: it takes a lot of touchpoints to make a sale.

And that's where a good SMS text messaging service comes in to save the day.

How?

By equipping salespeople and marketers with robust sales and marketing automation, a.k.a. a digital assistant, or robot if you will, that enables you to hit up every single lead and customer in your database at the perfect time.

Has it been one week since you've last spoken? Is it their birthday? Is an important meeting coming up?

Don't sweat it; an automation sequence will drop them an SMS and keep them in the loop.

No need to remember everything (and waste upto 65% of your precious time on non-revenue-generating tasks).

2. Improves Customer Service

Here's a stat you should memorize:

89% of consumers want to have text message conversations with businesses.

And SMS text messaging texting is also the highest-rated contact method for customer service queries.

So give the people what they want and integrate texting as one of your communication methods because it'll help you simplify and defuse potentially tricky conversations.

3. Increases Customer Engagement

Increases Customer Engagement

Guess what?

If people want to be contacted via SMS, it means they're willing to open up, read, and engage with the majority of the messages they receive.

Our statement isn't just a gut feeling - the stats back us up.

On average, SMS messages have a whopping:

These two percentages make emails - and other communication methods - pale in comparison.

4. Guarantees Excellent Reach Without Being Overly Invasive

You can only send SMS text messages to customers who have explicitly opted in to receive them.

It's a legal requirement in the USA and in many other countries.

We know this might sound like a big drawback at first, but if you think about it closely, you'll realize that having a database of opted-in customers is a real treasure.

You get to communicate on a channel with 98% open rates, and your recipients are actually looking forward to your messages.

As long as you don't abuse your power.

5. Delivers Immediate Gratification

The 21st century is all about instant gratification.

I want this, and I want it NOW!

It can be challenging to satisfy such demanding customers, but luckily for us, SMS text messaging can lend a helping hand in providing immediate information.

The real beauty of texting lies in the fact that 90% of SMSs are opened and read within 3 minutes of being received - that's as close as you'll get to immediate in the world of impersonal communication.

6. Makes For a Highly Cost-effective Investment

Text message SMS is an established technology that's been around since 1992.

Which means that it's now cheap.

You can get friendly pricing from various providers, regardless of whether they're offering a standalone mass SMS text messaging platform or an all-in-one sales CRM.

And that low price translates into an average ROI of 500%.

Not too shabby, right?

You bet.

But as with anything, you avoid committing mistakes if you really want to see your investment turn a great profit.

So what should you avoid at all costs?

Six Common Text Message SMS Mistakes

Six Common Text Message SMS Mistakes

1. Sending Too Many or Too Few Messages

SMS text messaging marketing is a balancing act.

Too many messages and your recipients will get annoyed. Too few messages and they'll forget all about you.

How many messages are just right?

Unfortunately, there's no golden formula - the only way to find out what works for your specific audience is to run several tests and pinpoint the winning number of SMSs.

Here are a few tips to help you out:

  • Use a marketing calendar to build your first schedule - start with a regular weekly message and one or two blasts (like a discount or a special event).
  • Before clicking send, always double-check your message is adding value - if you're sending something out for the sake of sending it, skip it.
  • Watch out for high unsubscribe rates, as they are a sign of over-sending.

2. Selling in Every SMS

People quickly grow tired of sales messages.

One is exciting, two is fine, three is annoying, four is way too much, and there's no way back.

Don't quote us on those precise numbers, but you get the picture.

Over-selling leads to offer fatigue and makes customers and leads feel like you only think of them as ATM machines.

Pro tip: Stick to the give, give, give, ask formula instead, and use text message logging to make sure you remember the messages you sent out in the near past.

3. Treating Your Recipients Like a Mass Audience

Mass SMS text messaging is a risky business.

Why?

Because you're attempting to use a one-size-fits-all approach in the most informal and personal communication channel. Not a good idea.

Your message will stick out like a sore thumb, and you'll be one of the few SMS messages they don't open or interact with.

And before you ask, no, simply adding their first name isn't enough to personalize a message.

Not good enough

Source

If you really want to add a personal touch, you should try out segmentation and break your contact database into sub-lists based on behavioral and demographic criteria.

Say you're an insurance broker.

Instead of having one giant list, you could segment it to create the following lists:

  1. Home insurance for renters
  2. Home insurance for owners
  3. Life insurance for people aged 50+
  4. Life insurance for people under 50
  5. Car insurance for luxury vehicles
  6. Car insurance for basic vehicles

4. Using Non-exclusive Offers and Content

There's nothing worse than signing up for SMS messages thinking you'll join a select group of people and then finding out you're just like everyone else that ignored the pop-up.

Ok, we're exaggerating. There are plenty of things worse than that, like war and famine.

But you get what we're trying to say.

You'll really peeve off your recipients by sending them bog-standard content.

Two or three messages in, they'll be like, "so tell me again why I bothered signing up?"

Don't do it. Rather send:

  • Exclusive discounts
  • Members-only content
  • Invitations to special events

5. Confusing Recipients With Long Messages and Multiple CTAs

SMS text messaging is meant to be simple.

That's why SMS stands for "short message service."

So don't fall into the trap of sending long messages with multiple call-to-actions.

You'll only aggravate your readers and make them give up.

Condense whatever it is you have to say, and try sending messages that are:

  1. Short
  2. Personal
  3. Focussed on one CTA ( either a predefined answer, like YES or NO, or a clickable link)

Something like this:

Mobile phone texting

Source

6. Being Sloppy

Despite being informal and relaxed, SMS isn't an excuse for sloppiness.

Stay away from abbreviations and texting slang (it's not 2006 anymore) and always proofread your messages and run through an autocorrect platform like Grammarly.

Your customers and leads will appreciate the extra effort.

Just like they will appreciate it if you choose to follow our SMS best practice:

Five SMS Text Messaging Marketing Tips

Five SMS Text Messaging Marketing Tips

1. Always, Always, Always Get Consent Before Texting

We've already mentioned that you need to get consent before you send text messages to your database.

But we're going to repeat it again right here because it's just that important.

You absolutely need to stay on the right side of privacy and data protection laws because otherwise, you risk hefty fines and serious tarnishes to your reputation.

If you're a growing company, you want good customer stories and not lousy press.

Not sure about the legal details?

Then review the relevant legislation (like TCPA in the USA or GDPR in the EU) with the help of a corporate lawyer.

2. Remember To Add an Opt-out Code

There's one more legal requirement you need to be aware of:

Subscribers should be offered an easy way to opt out of the SMS messages they receive.

Many companies add a short sentence along the lines of "reply STOP to unsubscribe" at the end of their SMS text messaging marketing communication.

Don't think of it as simply a legal requirement, though.

Remember that by giving your subscribers the option to leave, you're showing them you stand by your content and you believe in good business practice.

Both are fundamental parts of building trust.

3. Make Joining Your SMS List Attractive

Alright, now that we're clear on the fact that people need to sign up to your SMS database, we should cover a related point that often gets missed.

People won't just join your SMS blasts out of the goodness of their hearts.

It's not enough to simply ask them via email, a website pop-up, or a social media advert.

You need to go out of your way to convince them.

A few proven methods include:

  • Offering something free in exchange (like a "how-to" guide)
  • Telling them about the exclusive benefits they'll enjoy
  • Entering them in a relevant contest (i.e., don't give them a free washing machine if you're a law agency)

And of course, don't forget to follow up on your promises.

4. Automate Everything You Possibly Can

Modern customers have ridiculously high expectations.

Remember the whole instant gratification thing we discussed earlier?

If you try to manually keep up with your SMS workload, you'll either lose your mind or never sleep again.

There's just no way you can answer all your business text messages within the 20-minute timeframe consumers expect an answer in.

Unless you ask your sales CRM (or messaging platform) for help.

Automate everything

Source

Automation and drip campaigns are the key to saving time and dazzling customers with your blistering fast response times.

5. Get Lost in Your SMS Text Messaging Service's Analytics

Your SMS text messaging platform can help with more than just automation.

It can track and visualize all the important metrics you need to monitor. Things like:

  • Delivery rate
  • Open rate
  • Click-through rate
  • Unsubscribe rate

Put this information to good use by running A/B tests and finding out:

  1. The best times to send an SMS to your audience
  2. The CTAs that guarantee the highest click-through rate
  3. The type of messaging that resonates best

Let your data answer the hardest questions.

Wondering How You'll Put All These Do's and Don'ts Into Practice?

Good thinking - you'll need some SMS text messaging software to help.

Your company might already have a platform for the job… or you might need to sign up for a shiny new platform.

Either way, don't miss the next section to learn about the best of the best.

Market-leading Mass SMS Text Messaging Software

Provider

Monthly price

(Oct 2021)

Key features

Ringy

(that's us!)

$109 + cost of credit packages

  • Integrated SMS platform with powerful automation, including drip campaigns
  • An impressive list of extra all-in-one features:
    • A full-blown sales CRM with sales pipelines and contact management
    • VoIP softphone with click-to-dial, local ID presence, and power dialing
    • Email marketing
    • Calendar integrations
  • Mobile apps for iOS and Android
  • Great customer service

TextMagic

$0 + From $0.04 per sent SMS

  • Simple yet effective communication platform
    • Mass messaging and two-way texting
    • Segmentation
    • Automation
    • Virtual toll-free numbers
  • Budget-friendly, pay-as-you-go provider
  • Quick setup
  • Over 200 supported countries - ideal for MNEs

Podium

On request, but roughly $99 to $449

  • Easy-to-use SMS text message marketing software
    • Built-in opt-in opportunities (i.e., straight after a text conversation)
    • Text-to-pay functionality
    • Immediate insights
    • Webchat integration
  • Encourages customers to leave reviews
  • Best for SMEs with large-ish budgets

Agile CRM

$8.99 to $79.99 per user

  • Leading all-in-one sales CRM with:
    • Cutting-edge SMS functionality
    • Lead scoring and custom deal milestones
    • Appointment scheduling
    • Email marketing
    • Web engagement
  • Intuitive user experience
  • Sales gamification

SimpleTexting

$25 to $625 + cost of extra credits

  • Mass SMS text messaging service excelling in:
    • Advanced automation
    • Segmentation
    • 1-to-1 direct messaging
    • Shortcode numbers
    • Text-to-vote and text-to-win
  • Flexible pricing model with a 14-day free trial
  • Easy to use
  • Custom integrations with over 400 apps

Freshsales

$15 to $83 per user

  • Solid all-in-one CRM platform with:
    • SMS marketing (via an SMS provider integration)
    • Email marketing
    • Workflow automation
    • Lead gen bots
    • Website tracking and web forms
  • Raving customer reviews
  • 24/7 support
  • Easily scalable

SMS Text Messaging FAQs

SMS Text Messaging FAQs

Can a CRM Send Texts?

Yes, most all-in-one CRMs (like Ringy) can send SMS messages.

They also feature advanced automation capabilities, a ton of personalization options, text message logging, and the ability to forward messages to all of your connected devices.

Trust us, they're the best way to get your SMS on.

Can I Integrate SMS Text Messaging Into My Current CRM?

Yes.

There's no need to panic if your current CRM doesn't have integrated SMS text messages.

You can either:

  1. Sign up for a standalone texting solution and use integrations to add SMS text messaging texting functionality to your current CRM.
  2. Switch to an all-in-one sales CRM (which is likely going to be cheaper).

How Do I Send SMS Text Messaging From a Tablet?

SMS text messaging from a tablet is easy-peasy.

Just grab your tablet and:

  • Log into your CRM via a browser and send text messages there, or
  • Download your solution's mobile app and text like you were using a smartphone

Summary

SMS text marketing is a key tool in the modern salesperson's pocket.

You can't afford to ignore it in 2020; if you do, you'll end up being the last one to jump on the bandwagon (and the one with the worst results).

So what should you do now?

Carve the five do's and the six don'ts into your mind:

Must-do's:

Get consent before texting
Add an opt-out code
Make joining your SMS list attractive
Automate everything you can
Become an SMS analytics expert

No-no's:

Sending too many or too few messages
Selling in every SMS
Treating your recipients like a mass audience
Using non-exclusive offers and content
Confusing recipients with long messages and multiple CTAs
Being sloppy

2. Sign up for one of the six market-leading SMS platforms you've learned about today

Of course, we recommend you start by requesting a personalized demo of Ringy because there's no other SMS text messaging platform that offers such excellent bang for the buck.

But since we might be slightly biased here, we'll leave the final decision up to you.

Either way, thanks for reading, and see you soon!

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