The first reaction most of us have when anyone says SMS marketing is always exasperation. Our mind automatically goes back to the tons of spammy, irrelevant messages we’ve received that go something like “Click on this link to win a voucher worth $100!” or “Reply YES to enter this giveaway!"
This reaction, though justified, only pertains to a specific part of text marketing – bulk texts. There is another side to texting customers that’s not explored by most businesses.
As stated by this AT&T Market Survey, though 98% of smartphone owners use text messaging regularly, only 14% of businesses communicate with their customers using text messages.
So, hold your horses before you pull down the curtain on this conversation and dismiss SMS marketing, or even text marketing in general. It’s important to understand the two categories of texting customers – mass texting and one-to-one texting. Let’s take a look at what they both mean, and which one is better suited for your business.
What is Mass Texting?
Mass texting, also known as mass text messaging or bulk texting, is the customer communication strategy of sending a single text message to a large list of recipients. It’s designed to help you reach maximum number of customers within minimum amount of time.
While it may seem like an effective medium at first glance, it comes with its fair share of risks.
Most businesses send mass texts through short code, a 5- or 6-digit number used only for one-way texting. Your customers cannot reply to messages sent using short codes.
The only exception to this is keyword texting. For instance, you send your recipients a message such as “Reply ‘SAVE10’ to avail $10 off on your next purchase at Wonderland.” They can reply to such a text message – but only with the keyword that you’ve specified within the text message – in this case ‘SAVE10’. As your customers options are limited only to the specified keyword, it leaves them with no room to have a conversation with you regarding their doubts or questions.
The second problem with using a mass texting service for reaching your customers is the negative impact it has on your customer experience. With bulk texting, you spam your customers with promotion-heavy messages that are often unrelated to their interests or needs. A constant badgering of this kind will result in customers opting out of your business texting list or worse, flagging you as Do-Not-Contact (DNC). Once they do that, you are no longer legally permitted to contact them in the future. If you continue to contact those who have opted out of receiving communication from you, you will be in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and other applicable legal compliance statutes.
What is One-to-One Texting?
One-to-one texting, also referred to as personalized texting or two-way texting, is a form of conversational dialogue via text messages between you and your customers. This type of business text messaging is done by using the 10-digit phone number your business owns or one that is assigned to you with a local area code.
With one-to-one texting, each text message is unique and tailored to elicit response from a specific customer. When the text message is sent by someone from your customer-facing team, it’s more relevant and personalized. And, it’s less likely to be marked as spam than a robotic sales pitch or promo offer sent through a mass texting app.
One-to-one texting allows recipients to reply to the senders and engage in a conversation. Sure, it’s more time consuming than mass texting. But the engagement and conversion you get from your customers makes this investment worth the time and effort.
When to use mass text messaging?
A bulk texting service can be used to communicate information that doesn’t need any context or conversation. They are inherently more transactional and can the take the form of:
From appointment confirmations to transaction confirmations, automated mass texting is the best channel to inform your customers about the confirmation of their recent interaction with your business.
The most common updates businesses need to give their customers are around recent transactions, shipping, delivery, and back-in-stock. Automated mass texting is a great way to give your customers this information. Additionally, bulk texts can also be used to keep customers informed about important business updates such as changed hours of operation, additional precautions specific to COVID-19, and many more.
You can use mass text messaging apps to schedule automated reminder messages to your customers. These reminders can be for upcoming payments, appointments, or even interviews. You can also use keyword-based texts as reminders to help your customers reschedule their appointments.
When to use one-to-one business text messaging?
One-to-one business texting works well only after the preliminary association has been established between your customer-facing employees and the customer. In other words, you can send a personalized text message only to the customers you’ve interacted with previously, either in-person or over other communication channels like phone calls/emails. You can’t start sending personalized text messages to your customers without introducing yourself and establishing a prior relationship. That will be invasive, and honestly, a bit creepy!
Once you’ve created the context and established a relationship, continuing the conversation over personalized text messages makes more sense than sending one-way promotion blasts. In fact, for sales and inquiries, 55%of customers prefer to communicate with sales associates over text messages. If you’re using mass texting services to do text marketing, you’re losing out on the opportunity to pursue the conversation with more than half of your customer base.
Personalized business texting is also the perfect medium to follow-up with customers. In fact, sending 3 or more follow-up text messages to prospects increases conversion rates by as much as 328%!
While following up with customers, it’s vital to sell without selling. With one-to-one texting, you can add value to the customer conversations by sharing your expertise, giving advice, and creating a relation between their needs and your solutions. These follow-up text messages are more effective than sending another blast of the same impersonal promotional message.
Another popular use case of personalized business-to-customer texting is appointment scheduling. No matter what business you’re in, scheduling appointments with your customers, even for simplest of tasks, has become the new normal in the COVID-19 world. A conversation between you and the customer is essential to understand what appointment slot works best for them, whom they would like to meet, and what’s the reason for their visit. What easier, non-intrusive, and convenient channel for this interaction than two-way messaging?
The most obvious use case for one-to-one text messaging is customer service via text messages. Each customer needs a different kind of assistance from you. Their queries and doubts have to be solved on a one-to-one basis by you and your team. Text message is the easiest channel for customers to reach you with their issues. They don’t have to wait for hours on the phone to talk to you or keep refreshing their inbox to see your responses to their emails.
Mass texting vs One-to-One Texting: Our Verdict
If you’re texting customers with the goal to drive revenue through customer engagement, then one-to-one business texting is the way to go.
Mass texting or bulk texting is less time consuming and hence, a preferred channel for communicating information that doesn’t require any conversation. There’s another way for you to leverage mass texting without hampering your customers ability to reply to your texts. You can choose a business texting platform that allows you to send the same message to multiple contacts but only after you personalize the editable fields. Unlike short code mass texting, this service allows your customers to reply to your texts and is sent from a 10-digit phone number your business owns.
An ideal business text messaging exercise based on an omnichannel approach uses the mix of both these texting modes, depending on the information that needs to be conveyed.