No one can ignore how much 2020 reshaped our society, how we communicate, and the way we do business. From increased digitisation and digital marketing to WFH and prolonged economic stagnancy and disruption; the world has changed forever.
SMS messaging is also changing too. According to MessageMedia CEO Paul Perrett, text messaging is undergoing a revolution in terms of how it is perceived, used, and how it is adopted as a business communications tool to connect with customers. Given its low maintenance and set-up costs, fast implementation and high cut-through; wide adoption has been on the uptick.
Market research company Forrester predicts a 40% uptick in marketing messages across 2021 in mobile messaging, email marketing and from many messaging app’s notifications. They also believe there will be a greater focus on more personalised and responsive messages. CommerceNext surveyed numerous US retailers who noted that while investment in other marketing tools was dropping, spending in SMS marketing campaigns was increasing.
According to our own ‘Attitudes to SMS’ research, consumers prefer texting, with 76% across the globe preferring to receive a text over other communications like email. Let’s look at how our SMS trends fit into this, and how you can start utilising them for more effective campaigns and communications in 2021 and onwards.
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Let’s get into the top 6 SMS trends you should jump on in 2021.
1. Adapt to quickly change with SMS
When COVID hit, it threw a huge spanner in the works for businesses that had so far avoided embracing digitisation. With stores closed, and consumers shuttered away; business owners rushed to adapt. While some thrived, others sunk under the overwhelming knowledge, skills, and training required to get on top of most digital activities.
In a mere 30 minutes, you can learn the basic foundations to send business text messages. With how quickly things can change today or tomorrow, businesses can really take advantage of marketing trends like text messaging’s easy adaptability to volatile and constantly changing circumstances.
When Greg Smith, owner of boutique confectionery store Lollyology, was forced to shut; he found himself uncertain and worried about his future now that he could no longer sell face-to-face. Forced to adapt, he turned to new marketing channels, including SMS, in order to start selling online. Not only was he able to get set up fast and keep his costs down, but Greg also found that text message marketing engaged interest from customers very quickly. Armed with a solid customer database full of phone numbers, he started sending broadcasts. Within 5 minutes of one, 10% of his customers would immediately start looking at his online shop with 8% of those going on to complete a purchase.
2. Integrate SMS into your cross-channel mix
For those businesses that are already using text messaging within their communications or have more complex marketing systems, they will likely notice an increased need for platforms or tools that integrate with each other, and work effectively side-by-side in order to reach desired outcomes.
When leading online wine retailer Vinomofo wanted to strengthen ties with their dedicated customer base, they sought to do so by using text messaging to reach customers more directly and personally. By plugging MessageMedia’s SMS integration into their chosen business growth platform, HubSpot, they were able to create more powerful cross-channel journeys that helped re-engage 50% of their churning customers and increase conversions by 21%.
3. Combine SMS use cases for even better results
The flexibility of SMS allows businesses to innovate their communications solution to meet challenging customer conditions. By combining use cases, sometimes consecutively; businesses are able to resolve challenges rapidly and in new and exciting ways.
A significant problem for blended string instrument retailer Simply for Strings lay in abandoned cart recovery. Given the significant investment, research, and decision-making that goes into purchasing a string instrument, this issue could not be solved with a simple, albeit powerful, abandoned cart reminder text alone.
In fact, Toby Cumpstay, co-founder of Simply for Strings, identified a well-known barrier for many online purchases: easily accessible customer support and expertise. With music educators and musicians filling out his employee ranks, Toby simply added 2-way texting to his abandoned cart reminders that allowed customers to quickly gain access to a knowledgeable expert right there and then to help them make a more confident and informed purchase decision.
Not only did this improve their customer service experience overall, Toby saw incredible results including a +40% redemption in lost sales from abandoned carts alone.
4. Use two-way SMS for customer support
Two-way SMS has opened the doors for many businesses in the UK and other countries to offer customer support and service in new ways. The problem with customer support via live chat, over the phone, or in person, is the pressure to act there and then.
With SMS, customers can easily reply at their own pace without feeling like they had to ‘stay on the line’ or lose their support agent should they become distracted. It also alleviates the pressure of customer support to move customers along the queue as they need to meet support quotas for the day.
When US boutique telecommunications provider Port Networks wanted to stand out from the competition and bring in a younger demographic of customers, they brought in 2-way texting as an additional channel for customer support. Their founder recognised that many customers, often younger generations, want the ability to do things at their own pace and as unobtrusively as possible. Adding text messaging to their communications arsenal allowed them to cut customer queue timing by over 50%.
That’s a win-win for everyone!
5. Build trust with an SMS Sender ID
With an increasing number of brands coming to market every year, there has been an increasing reliance on building trust and loyalty among consumers who are more likely to interact and buy from you if you are familiar.
One of the easiest ways to do this is through the psychological reinforcement of repeated encounters such as passing the same storefront every day. With text messaging, you can easily do this by utilising a Sender ID or naming identifier (i.e. the name that shows up or is saved by a customer to their phone when you text them or they text you).
Businesses who are already seeing fantastic results from SMS, such as Port Networks and Simply for Strings, are also using Sender IDs such as dedicated numbers. Considered the optimal choice when it comes to Sender IDs, these allow customers to save one consistent number to their phone, and allows for additional customer engagement features such as 2-way SMS.
RELATED: Learn about all the different advantages of having a dedicated number! There a considerable number of different Sender IDs on offer if you are sending to customers in Australia, UK, New Zealand and USA – so make sure you are across as many that are relevant to you.
6. Level up from SMS to MMS
Finally, numerous businesses are looking beyond SMS to continue on their growth trajectories.
Evolutions in texting technology have allowed businesses to improve upon the basic limits of text including being able to send longer messages or more dynamic, media-rich content with Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS).
With Mobile Landing Pages (aka MLPs) you can send customers straight to visually-striking, mobile-optimised landing pages personalised to their needs, and all without the need of an expensive developer or app.
When MessageMedia worked with trade services technology business i4Tradies, they needed a way for customers to be able to quickly send in images of issues around the house that required emergency maintenance. Using MMS technology as well as a dedicated number, customers could easily text in images to i4Tradies, which could then be routed through their system to a trusted expert tradie. The process of assignment now takes up to only 2 hours maximum, with the majority of jobs carried out by the next day – and all without the customer having to lift another finger.
SMS and its extensions MMS and MLPs, can help facilitate solutions to customer challenges in new ways that businesses have never thought of before.
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Final thoughts, further reading
Now you’re in the know with the top SMS trends, how will this help you optimise your upcoming text campaigns and plans for 2021? If you want to learn more making the most of your text messaging tactics for the year ahead, contact us or check out:
- Why the future of SMS lies in two-way conversations
- Which top 3 industries are adopting mobile communications for their business
- What’s the latest in digital retail transformations for ecommerce