Most people who own a mobile device are familiar and comfortable with texting. It has become a regular part of their lives. This makes business texting a powerful and affordable way to communicate with customers.
What is business text messaging?
Business text messaging (or business texting) involves sending and receiving text messages from a business phone number to prospects and customers. Business texting is a form of communication and marketing that businesses can use to correspond with their target audience. Examples of business text messaging include sending customers promotional offers, updating the status of orders and services, and responding to queries about business times and locations.
Business text messaging falls into two categories:
- SMS (Short Message Service) supports alphanumeric messages consisting of up to 160 characters. Most telephone, Internet, and mobile-ready devices support SMS messaging.
- MMS (Multimedia Message Service) supports text messages greater than 160 characters, as well as multimedia (e.g., images and video). It can include up to 500 KB of data, and audio or video files.
How do businesses use text messaging services?
Businesses can use text messaging in the following ways.
Appointment reminders and scheduling
Enable customers to schedule appointments by text and automate reminders to help them remember to keep their appointments. It’s more convenient for them and your business, and helps to lower cancellation rates. It also reduces the amount of time employees spend making manual phone calls to customers, which can help to improve the efficiency of your human resources.
Payment and billing reminders
Many customers pay their bills online but might forget to pay by the deadline. Sending an attention-grabbing notice that their bill is coming due will help customers to make timely payments. This benefits your company and your customers, as you will receive money owed and they won’t incur unnecessary interest charges and fines.
Order confirmation and delivery updates
Online retailers have made order confirmation and delivery updates an expected requirement for consumers. Incorporate text messaging into your inventory system to inform customers when they’ve placed an order and when to expect delivery.
Birthday and anniversary messages
Sending birthday and anniversary greetings to customers is an effective way to build brand affinity. People generally like being contacted and acknowledged on these occasions, so reaching out to customers on these days will create goodwill. Your business message will also stand out from other birthday and anniversary messages.
Event reminders, updates and promotions
Your business can send text messages to inform prospects and customers of events and promotions before they occur. You can provide updates and schedule changes before the event, and send out text messages after the event to gather feedback. You can also get creative with text messages during the event, such as requesting selfies, doing scavenger hunts, or asking trivia questions for prizes.
Many restaurants use smartphone apps to support online ordering, but they can be too expensive for smaller restaurants and businesses. Use business texting to take one-off orders, as well as promote new offerings and limited-time specials, announce company news, and collect feedback from customers.
Text-to-landline customer service
Business texting can enhance your customer service strategy, as many customers prefer texting over speaking on the phone to customer service reps. Many business texting services enable you to create web-browser portals that provide customer support texting. You can also have texts forwarded to your mobile phone.
Customer preference polls
Find out what is important to customers so that you can better service their needs. Use business texting to send text-to-vote SMS polls to collect customer insights. You can then personalize your offerings by different segments’ preferences. For example, you can run different promotions for customers with and without children.
Contests are an effective way of increasing customer loyalty and attracting new customers. Use business texting to ask customers to enter a code to participate in sweepstakes, or choose random numbers to award prizes during special days and promotions. Different jurisdictions have specific laws and regulations about contests, so consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance prior to initiating a contest.
Coupon and discount distribution
Text messaging is an effective way to distribute coupons, as well as announce discounts and specials to customers. This can encourage more customers to come into your store, or place orders on your website. It also eliminates the worry for customers that coupons get lost or expire, since they are saved on their mobile devices. You can also promote flash sales by text message to create greater urgency for your products or services.
Word-of-mouth promotion is an effective way to grow your business. The best sources of referrals are satisfied customers. Send text messages to your best customers to refer their friends to your business. Add discounts and other rewards to incentivize customers to help increase referrals.
Inspirational and motivational messages
Inspirational and motivational text messages can help your business stay top of mind with your customers and increase engagement. The types of messages you send will depend on the type of business. For example, if you operate a gym or other health-oriented business, you can send health-focused text messages in the morning to help customers start their day on a positive note
What are the benefits of business texting?
Business texting offers several key benefits over other types of business communications.
- Reach customers wherever they are: Many people carry their smartphones and mobile devices everywhere, and use them all the time. Business texting enables you to reach your customers anywhere and at any time.
- Interact on a one-to-one basis: Business texting enables you to engage in two-way communication with your customers. It allows customers to interact with your business via SMS, and you can respond to their messages directly. You can also reach out to specific customers to address their specific needs.
- Communicate at scale: Business texting enables you to use mass text messages to reach large groups of customers at the same time. You can send business texts to everyone in your mailing list, or specific groups of customers.
- Get instant responses: Business texting is the quickest way to communicate with customers and get more immediate responses. Customers are more likely to read and respond to a text compared to a phone call and will respond more quickly to text than email.
- No need for special software: If your customers have a smartphone or other mobile device, you can interact and communicate with them easily. By sending a text message to a given number, your customers can opt in to your text list and receive messages, and you can communicate with them at any time. They don’t even need an Internet connection.
How does consent work with business texting?
The legislation and rules on consent and business texting differ slightly in different countries.
In the United States, according to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, your company requires the customer’s express (i.e., written) permission to send text messages to their phones and mobile devices. Written consent can involve signing a physical document or a digital signature. Even if your company has permission to contact a customer by email or phone, you must get their express permission to contact them by text messaging.
According to Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), consent may be either express or implied. If a customer does business with your company, they provide implied consent to contact them for the next two years. Customers can also provide express written consent to contact them by text message. Your text messages must clearly identify the sender, and provide an opt-out option.
Top text message apps and services
There are many different text message apps and services that you can use for their business. Our best picks include: