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5 fundamentals to master SMS customer engagement

Customer engagement. We’ve all heard of it. And we all want it. 

Reports have shown customer engagement is essential for sustaining a long-term, successful business and loyal customers. A Gallup report found that successfully engaged customers can add an average 23% share in wallet, profitability revenue and relationship growth.    

But what is it ? And how do we get it? 

What is customer engagement and why is it so important

Two key things arise in most common definitions of the term: interactions and focus on customer. 

What is customer engagement infographic

A customer engagement counts when a conversation, action or interplay occurs between a brand and a customer. In addition, while a brand might prompt it, it must also be actioned by your customer. 

This means engagement is driven by your customer’s willingness to interact with you.  

Establishing real connections through a customer engagement strategy means you are moving past the mindset of simple acquisition and conversion. As the business landscape grows more competitive each day, this may be critical to sustained longevity and growth. 

Why SMS delivers better customer interactions more often

According to our 2019 report, customers across the globe have a high preference for SMS communications.   

When you compare other communication tools, nothing quite sizes up to text messaging.  

Text inboxes are currently not overwhelmed with marketing clutter so SMS easily cuts with proven 98% open rates. People’s growing preference for mobile means if they aren’t already on it, they’re psychologically trained (‘ting ting’) to rustle up their phone as soon they hear a notification. 

In addition, text messaging incites action. Whether that’s texting back, clicking a link or making a purchase, consumers act almost automatically. Research has shown that SMS has 8x the response rate of email, with strong conversion rates of over 20%. Other studies have demonstrated 90% response rates, which is what many of our customers experience. 

RELATED: Enhance your response rates even more with 2-way text messaging

Plus, here’s 5 other reasons why SMS engages customers: 

SMS customer engagement infographic
  1. It’s instantaneous and immediate: most texts arrive in 2 seconds 
  2. It’s brief and concise and targets right information to the right audience 
  3. Universal and widely used (no smartphone necessary) 
  4. Requires customers to opt-ins (they want it!) 
  5. Provides a better, more personal customer experience 
 

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5 fundamentals of SMS customer engagement with tips

Now that you know how powerful text messaging can be in capturing customer attention and interaction, here are the five fundamentals to help you master it:  

1. Timeliness

Many businesses simply rely on texting cut through for time sensitive messages. 

When you send a customer a message, you can be sure most of them will receive and read it within just a few minutes. Let’s say you want existing customers to see a special promotion in time for an upcoming sale, or you need to update recipients about a sudden outage in their area. You can rely on SMS messages to get through when you need it too. 

Even better, texting also enhances responsive actions such as for a marketing campaign that compels people to come in-store, an emergency alert to provide more information or a simple request to reply back to your message. 

Text message example of using timeliness to increase customer engagement

Besides using text itself, how do you enhance timeliness? 

  • Focus on the copy – use words that increase urgency to induce the action such as ‘2 hours left!’ or ‘Limited stock’ 
  • Send at the right times – Make sure you’re not sending to customers in the middle of the night. Check the local time of recipients or use something like MessageMedia’s Socially Aware Sending function, which you can get access to when you sign up for a free trial

2. Media-rich (images, video, emojis)

While text dominates texting, you can enrich your customer engagements and SMS marketing with visual sparkle using images, video, emojis and even personalised mobile web pages. In fact, studies have shown that MMS delivers a 15% higher click-through rate than SMS

Customers feel more emotional connections when text is accompanied by visuals because it helps them to imagine themselves with the product, getting that service or achieving their inspiration or dream. That’s why shopping catalogues, magazines and Instagram work so well. 

What small things can you do to enrich your messaging with MMS? 

Text messaging example to show how media rich MMS can uplift customer engagememt
  • Picture this – Be strategic when you send MMS such as when you know a customer is close to conversion, or needs their memory jogged. 
  • Send it in – Make engagements even more interactive by allowing customers to send inbound MMS i.e. send an image or video to you or back to you. For businesses this can be extremely helpful if a customer wants to show a fault or issue and an expert needs to assess it without being there in person.  

RELATED: Learn everything you need to know about MMS in our beginner’s guide or start sending MMS straight away by contacting us now

 3. Click for action

As we talked about before, texting is great at triggering immediate responses and actions. After all, we’re used to following up with a text or clicking a link when our friends and family text us. Make sure you’re clear on what customers can do and lead them in the right direction.

Text messaging example to show how easy triggering actions via SMS can uplift customer engagement.
Use Mobile Landing Pages (MLPs) to expand options for action!

Trigger the right action by: 

  • Shorten your links – Use our complimentary link shortener (Short Trackable Link) in our web portal when you sign up for a free trial or plan. Not only will it save you space in your 160 character texts, but it also helps you track clicks-through and performance in driving chosen outcomes and results. 
  • Go MVP with MLPs – Want to offer customer’s something more personal? Give them their own dedicated mobile landing page without the need for an expensive app. They’re perfect for when you want to offer customers a bit more detail and more action options. 

4. Give them an assist

Convenience is key in the modern age. If you want customers to engage with you, make sure it’s within their fingertips! Help customers make the right moves by giving them a simple assist with SMS reminders and 2-way messaging. 

Text messaging example to show how easy it can be adding reminders and 2-way messaging to make it more convenient for customers and recipients.
Add SMS reminders and 2-way messaging to make customer journeys more convenient.
  • Set and forget – Automate helpful text reminders especially if you are a service business. Not only will this help you ensure fewer no-shows, it will also serve busy recipients (and their forgetful minds) well.  
  • Open a 2-way street – Add in easy responses like ‘Txt Y to confirm’ instead of forcing customers to click away to fulfil an action. Or go a step further, and open up text messaging for customer support. 

RELATED: Learn how 2-way messaging can help you build better customer relationships even more easily.

5. Feedback frenzy

As we pointed out in the previous fundamental, opening up for customer responses will almost automatically uplift customer service and interactions. As much as customers want to be pointed in the right direction; they also want to feel like their thoughts, voices and opinions matter to your brand too. This can help uplift churning relationships or customer loyalty. If you open up 2-way messaging, you should also consider asking for and reintegrating their feedback into your business. 

Use easy text surveys for even better feedback!
  • Ask for it – Texting can be great for collecting feedback from customers whether that’s through general support, or by requesting customers fill out a form or survey via a Short Trackable Link. Not only does it get to them fast, you can do it on the go or in person. Automate reminders if they don’t follow up.  
  • Build it in – Send other recipients or customers a link to other customer’s feedback as a social proof point that you have a legitimate business. Recipients are more likely to trust you knowing that others do too. 
 

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Final notes and further reading

When it comes to customer engagement, it’s not just about the frequency but the quality of your engagements.  

Customer interactions should feel part of a larger strategy to improve and deliver for your customers through your product, your service and the experience of your brand. Ask yourself: what is this interaction adding to my customer’s life? If it’s not helpful, or out to delight, then is it worth engaging in? Texting, after all, although powerful, should be relegated to its best and most contextually effective use cases for your business. 

Want to learn more about how text messaging can better engage customers?