Just send them a text: leveraging SMS for business

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Once the exclusive domain of personal communications to friends and family, SMS has quickly become the most effective platform for businesses to engage with their customers and staff.

At 98 per cent, SMS has one of the highest open rates of any platform with most people opening a text within just 90 seconds of receiving it. This ensures messages, offers or promotions are not only seen by more people, but at a faster rate than they would be on other platforms.

In addition to improving customer response times, effective SMS communications facilitate higher customer engagement and conversion with an average response rate of 30 per cent. SMS marketing has a higher ROI than any other platform with 50 per cent of those responders typically making a purchase. This redemption rate for promotional coupons is 10 times higher than any other channel.

For maximum cut through and engagement, small businesses can utilise SMS for a range of marketing and customer communications including promotional messages, appointment reminders, booking confirmations, click and collect, event management and satisfaction surveys. SMS is also ideal for standardised and auditable communications to employees, including availability checks, RU Safe and lone worker notifications.

However, the challenge for small businesses has always been how do you deploy SMS at scale so that you’re not welded to your phone all day instead of running your business.

Easy-to-use technology platforms can now be used to implement and automate SMS communications.

Communications platforms like Whispir’s are incredibly versatile and can be utilised by a diverse range of businesses to solve a range of challenges using SMS. They provide fast development capability, cost-effective infrastructure and service delivery, repeatability and reliable process automation – all key benefits when looking at ways to more effectively operate in this new COVID-normal.

This capability has extended beyond basic messaging and scheduled delivery, with businesses now able to use workflows to automate messaging paths based on keywords or phrases used in the body of the incoming text message responses. This two-way conversational building block dynamically captures recipient content to trigger and route further automated communications.

And the great news for small businesses is that the platforms have low-code/no-code capability. This means it will integrate with what IT system you’re using and can be quickly implemented and used without the need for outside IT expertise. They use drag and drop style templates so that you can build them yourself.

For example, your businesses could use this capability to ascertain customer interest in a virtual event. Based on whether the recipient’s answer was “yes” or “not right now”, they can respond to the recipient with additional information on the event. This information can then be routed to the business email to record responses for follow-up and reporting purposes.

Automated SMS responses are completely customisable and not limited to Yes, No or numbered list responses. Businesses are also not limited with the number of SMS responses prompts they can establish and can set time constraints for when SMS responses are captured. For example, if you’re messaging your staff about a vacant shift tomorrow, you can select to only capture responses that are received today. Businesses can also use the same platforms to preset different automated responses in instances when the recipient hasn’t responded to the initial.

Conversational messaging significantly improves customer experience, providing seamless contextual engagement based on earlier recipient interactions. As SMS messages can incorporate URL links, businesses can use messaging pathways, conditional logic and triggers to move customers and employees online to purpose-built web pages that do not require an app.

By automating more of the communication journey, organisations can build loyalty with their customers, resolve enquiries faster, save time and improve user experience.

Ben Erskine, Head of Content, communications workflow platform provider Whispir