Personalisation: building an effective SMS communication strategy

In 2020, effective communication with consumers and the wider community ended up being crucial, and the use of SMS was a key part of this.

For example, with the spread of COVID-19, Government agencies and healthcare professionals adopted SMS as a key channel to contact communities and patients in a matter of seconds, keeping them informed with the latest information and alerts.

With lockdowns and forced closures, many small-business owners transformed their systems, adopting SMS as a low cost but highly effective channel to strengthen communication with customers and to keep them updated.

Now that many small businesses have added SMS into their communications mix and accelerated their digital transformation more generally, it’s time for businesses to take an even closer look at their communications strategies, making sure they’re optimised for the year ahead. Whether you’re new to SMS or wanting to improve your current strategy, here are some key factors to consider.

Personalisation is key

A study by Wunderman found an overwhelming 79 per cent of consumers said brands need to demonstrate they understand and care about them, before they consider a purchase. This is quite staggering when we consider the fading discourse on brand loyalty. Nobody wants to feel like one of the masses – people want to feel special and that businesses value them specifically as a customer. This is why personalisation in customer communication is so important.

Two-way conversations

The beauty of running a business with a relatively small customer base is that you can still be quite granular where you want to be. Personalising SMS messages for your customer base is a great way to grab attention and build rapport, but you can take it one step further and engage in meaningful conversation with customers, which will strengthen long-term relationships. Two-way SMS services are an effective way to achieve this.

A good example is how Melbourne-based personal training business, Mayne Fitness, utilised two-way texting to stay in touch with clients during COVID-19 this year. Small-business owner Adam Mayne shared follow up text messages with his clients to see how they recovered from virtual training sessions and could subsequently engage in dialogue with those who responded, all in an efficient manner with a high open rate. It demonstrated to Adam’s customers that he really cared about their wellbeing and fostered a stronger relationship, leading to customer retention and further customer acquisition through word of mouth.

Fostering trust

Consistent and effective messages will help cultivate trust with customers. Keep your messages short and to the point. Customers might disengage if your messages are too long or contain too much information. Ensure you don’t send too frequently and SPAM their text inbox either.

Security should also always be a priority for small businesses communicating across any channel, to ensure the safety of their customers. By the same token, the last thing a small business wants or needs is for its text communications to be mistaken for smishing scams by customers, and for their investment to be wasted.

A tip to help mitigate the risk of being mistaken for text scams is again, personalisation. Personalising text messages helps make it clear to the customer they are known to the business. Another valuable tip is to use a dedicated number so that all of your messages come from the same familiar number customers can save to their phone and will additionally have all previous communications come under the same thread.

By considering some of these strategies to sharpen your customer communications plan, you can ensure better growth of both customer relationships and business results throughout 2021.

Anushka Wijendra, COO, Message Media

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