Inside Small Business recently caught up with Andrew Mumford, Chief Sales Officer of MessageMedia Group, to find out how text messaging is revolutionising appointment scheduling and promotional activity for small businesses.
ISB: First of all, Andrew, please tell us a little about MessageMedia
AM: We have been in business for 16 years and now have offices in Melbourne – our headquarters – Auckland, London and San Francisco. We use an enterprise-grade gateway system compatible with all the major Telco carriers that allows businesses to send messages to their customers. Last year we sent 1.3 billion text messages to 22k customers.
ISB: How can small businesses take advantage of a text messaging service?
AM: Take, for example, a hairdresser operating from home or a small salon. They can use a text-messaging service that allows their customers to ascertain when their usual stylist is next available and make a booking that syncs with their own and the business’s Google Calendar.
The business can then send a message the day before the booking asking the customer to confirm they will make it, or offering them the chance to re-schedule if they can’t.
Fundamentally this type of service is viable and effective for any small business that needs to run an appointment book.
ISB: And how about text messaging as a marketing tool?
AM: More and more luxury brands and small businesses making niche products are using picture messaging to advertise, texting photos of their products direct to customers’ – and potential customers’ – mobile phones.
Texting is also a great vehicle for instant promotions. Digital “scratchies” enable businesses to pique interest and reward a proportion of their customers with prizes that they are immediately notified about via a follow-up text message.
ISB: Are there any other text messaging applications that can help small businesses work quicker and more efficiently?
AM: Absolutely! The service can be tailored as a collections tool, whereby payment reminders can be sent by text and invoices settled via a payment gateway.
The response rates to text messages in comparison with other forms of communication: the average open rate of an email is below 20m per cent with a six per cent response rate whereas 98 per cent of text messages are looked at, 90 per cent of them within three minutes of being received.
ISB: What about the future for text messaging services?
AM: All our development work has a customer experience focus. The next step is user-initiated communications, a system that will identify what a customer wants and automatically react accordingly based on recognition of individual words in texts. Going back to our original example, it will enable the hairdresser to make the most suitable appointment for a customer based on a single text message.
Andrew Mumford will be presenting at the B2B Expo at Sydney’s International Convention Centre on 28 and 29 June. Inside Small Business is official media partner of B2B Expo 2017.