A new study from Zipwhip underlines the importance texts have on making your small business a success. In fact, their 2019 State of Texting Report says that 39% of businesses use some kind of texting to communicate with clients.
Small Business Trends got in touch with Scott Heimes, Chief Marketing Officer at Zipwhip, to find out more about the study and how small businesses can take advantage of texting.
He started by pointing out where other more popular methods are falling short.
“Most businesses rely on email for customer communication, and this is part of the problem. Consumers receive dozens, if not hundreds, of emails a day, cluttering inboxes and burying valuable emails under spam,” he writes. “ This influx in spam has contributed to email’s low open rate of roughly 20 percent, leaving the majority of emails unread and communication opportunities lost.”
The report highlights text messaging as faster and more efficient.
“Since seventy four percent of consumers are reporting zero unread text messages, the idea of an overflowing text inbox akin to email is virtually unheard of. Texting is conversational, and feels more human and personal than email.”
Tips on Texting with Customers
So, what are the best ways a small business can use texting to talk to customers?
Start an Opt-In List
Even though the study reports that 76% of consumers report receiving text from businesses, Heimes suggest starting an opt-in list so there’s little chance of annoying prospects.
He says there are even cross over advantages to business texting.
“Text messaging can also extend the life of other communication methods, like voice calls,” he says. “For the businesses that have text-enabled their existing phone number, customers can respond directly to phone calls with a text message and continue the conversation via their preferred medium.”
There’s always the tendency to use abbreviations in any kind of digital communication, but that’s not a good idea when you’re texting clients. It’s also suggested that you use full sentences whenever possible.
Zipwhip numbers report there are 200 million business phone numbers in North America, but only the real estate (73 percent), agriculture/veterinary (65 percent) and entertainment and leisure (63 percent) industries use texting regularly.
Don’t Use Short Codes
The report also says 75% of consumers are frustrated when they can’t respond directly to a small businesses’ text message. Using short codes like abbreviated phone numbers that only allow you to send texts to consumers should be avoided.
Do Use Text Enabled Phone Numbers
“For the businesses that have text-enabled their existing phone number, customers can respond directly to phone calls with a text message and continue the conversation via their preferred medium,” Heimes writes.
Although this technology is continually evolving and keeping pace with advances in AI, small businesses might want to avoid it for now to concentrate on texting. The report underscores a good reason for this suggestion.
“According to Zipwhip’s 2019 State of Texting Report, 74 percent of consumers said they would rather engage with a real person than a chatbot. To solve for this, chatbot technology will continue to evolve, and with time offer consumers an experience that leverages the best of what chatbots and human interaction can offer.”
Customize the Time You Send Texts
Texts should be informal and customized to each recipient. Forget about a one-size-fits-all approach because it won’t work. What’s more, you’ll need to send them in a routine number on a monthly, weekly or daily basis.
A little analytical research is valuable here across social media channels to find out how often and when your target market is online.
Craft the Tone Carefully
“Texting is conversational, and feels more human and personal than email,” Heimes says. “Small businesses should also be mindful of the tone used in text messages, as subtle intonations don’t always translate well over them.”
Zipwhip’s 2019 State of Texting Report surveyed a total of 2,000 people in December 2018 including 1,000 responses from consumers and 1,000 responses from businesses from nationally representative Americans ages 18 and over.