Top tips for SMEs on harnessing SMS comms in a crisis

In the new reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, staying in touch with employees and customers has taken on a whole new meaning. Everyone, from CEOs to potential customers, is grappling with the new reality of communicating in isolation and many businesses across the country have been thrown in the deep end when it comes to operating from home.

SMEs can turn to a long-familiar and faster-messaging format – SMS, with a 98 per cent open rate so that their voices can be heard above the constant alert overload. I’ve pulled together five best-practice tips for sending clear, concise and effective business text messages:

1. Get personal

Personalising your communications is imperative. Recently, we’ve seen numerous family clinics use SMS alerts to remind patients to attend to normal non-COVID-19 health needs. To personalise their messages, they address recipients by their first names and include information such as their usual GP, or the last time they made an appointment.

By doing this, you help reassure recipients that you’re being authentic while also increasing the likelihood in them seeing the SMS and taking the information on board.

2. Make yourself known

With a rise in SMS scams due to COVID-19, it’s important to use clear identifiers in your messages so that recipients know who’s talking to them and why.

Over the last few weeks, many Aussie MPs have reached out to their communities via SMS about staying at home and following government directives to help halt the spread of Corona. It’s important that recipients feel secure in knowing that this is coming from their representative and that they have a way of authenticating the origin of the message by including the sender’s contact details. 

You can also use a default message template with a signature that will auto-populate in every new message to help keep things consistent and make this step easier.

3. Brevity is key

People are already overwhelmed, so don’t use five words when just one will do. You don’t have to go full SMS-speak but keeping it short improves the experience for the reader and can help keep your messaging costs down.

For example, phrases like “it has come to our attention” can be replaced with “we’ve noticed”. “For further information” can be shortened to “For more info.”

4. Take action

Think about the desired outcomes of your message and include specific calls to action (CTA) for your recipients, Examples include: “click the link below” or “call us”. This helps your reader understand what’s being asked of them and allows you to easily measure how many people have followed through.

Some hot tech tips here:

  • Remember to use a URL shortener to avoid lengthy links.
  • Use a mobile landing page to give readers a more dynamic and visually engaging experience.
  • Provide your phone number without spaces so that it translates to a link in the message – most recipients will just tap the number to dial it.
5. Watch the clock

SMS has the fastest open rate of any business communications, with 90 per cent of texts opened within 90 seconds. But that kind of success depends on sending your messages at the right time. For many of our retail businesses with overseas customers, we encourage them to choose socially-aware times localised to their recipient’s location so that they won’t interrupt basic daily activities or miss important delivery updates and delays in the middle of the night.

With the right messaging structure and the right intent, your SMS comms can be easily identified and assimilated by your readers, and help you stay in touch from afar.

Igor Zvezdakoski, Chief Product Officer, MessageMedia

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