Messaging and chat are exploding, and that’s good news for brands and consumers who want quicker, more simplified, personal and effective communication.
Friends and family are increasingly using chat as a preferred means of communication, and consumers are chatting more with businesses, too. Half of U.S. consumers already use chat apps — such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger — to talk to businesses, and almost 7 in 10 Millennials do the same, research shows. Meanwhile, almost 9 in 10 consumers regularly use chat apps on a mobile device.
That’s a level of chat-focused engagement that brands need to take advantage of, and there’s no better time than now to evolve 1-way SMS campaigns to 2-way SMS chat.
What is SMS?
SMS is a rapidly growing form of text that is already used by more than five billion people worldwide. It enables the transmission of messages of up to 160 characters among users on a mobile network. The great news for brands is SMS is natively supported on all phones, and the user’s phone number acts as their identity. That means SMS can grow as fast or faster than the penetration of mobile phones, which are expected to reach more than 8 billion people in 2023.
Currently, SMS is most popular for outbound uses, such as appointment reminders, shipping notifications, flight confirmations, fraud alerts, or marketing campaigns. The results are astounding. More than 90% of SMS messages are read within three minutes of receipt. This means companies get an opportunity to engage with customers fast. What’s more, text messages have a whopping 98% open rate so the information gets delivered. In comparison, emails have a 20% to 30% open rate. A higher open rate increases the chance of a successful engagement.
2-Way SMS Chat Drives Engagement, Sales
Now, with consumers increasingly anxious to do business via chat, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, companies that launch 2-way SMS chat will catch a competitive edge.
Chat is fast, easy and direct. With 2-way SMS chat, companies will answer more consumer questions faster. They’ll be more able to follow up in real-time, simplify the customer experience, create happier customers and drive engagement and sales to new levels. Fast responses from companies to consumers can drive fast sales and issue resolution. Also, chat provides a continuous thread between customer and brand, increasing opportunities to cross-sell, up-sell and create personalized messages that build trust and affinity.
The ROI of chat and commerce is well documented by Aberdeen Research. Its recent study shows that at least two-thirds of firms use chat, such as WhatsApp and WeChat, in commerce and those that do experience significant results:
- 75% greater year-over-year revenue growth
- 89% greater annual growth in cross-sell/up-sell revenue
- A 48% Y-o-Y bump in customer retention rates
- Almost 21x greater Y-o-Y increases in marketing ROI
Key Benefits of 2-Way SMS Chat
Let’s look closer at the key benefits of 2-way SMS which is highly:
—Conversational. Commerce is all about relationships and relationships start with conversations. With 2-way SMS, companies don’t just talk to consumers, they talk with them. That builds engagement and connection. With a conversational thread flowing between brand and consumer, companies can quickly innovate and customize by changing tone and content to match the customer’s interest. With 2-way SMS, consumers easily share feedback, content, and opinions—which also makes them feel more valued. If conversations are automated with chatbots, brands do well if live chat takes over when questions become too complex.
—Convenience. Consumers today have multiple options to interact with companies, and they increasingly want to do it via chat—and on their timeframe. With 2-way SMS, consumers read the message and can respond when it works best for them. That might be right away or later. They’re engaged with the company without having to wait on hold for a call center agent. Because the full history of the conversation resides in the 2-way SMS chat, the company and the consumer know what transpired before. No more having to repeat the same information to yet another call center chatbot or live agent. This creates a more convenient and satisfying exchange.
—Engagement. Customer engagement is the emotional connection between customers and company. Gallup research shows that customers who are fully engaged represent a 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth over the average customer. With 2-way SMS chat, companies reach out, deliver their short message and then consumers can engage further when they want to. Companies aren’t interrupting consumers with unwanted phone calls at unwanted times, demanding attention. Because SMS messages are short, it only takes a few seconds for consumers to take in the information. Once they do, and if the information is on target, they are more likely to fully engage. This doesn’t happen with a phone call that is not listened to, or an email that isn’t opened.
2-Way SMS Adds Value
Even as companies evolve from 1-way SMS to 2-way SMS, they must continue to add value to the customer journey. Content needs to be pertinent and appealing. Responses to customer responses need to drive the solution the customer seeks. Messages also need to be effective in 160 characters. Also, companies should test approaches several times and use analytics to gather feedback so messages can be more tailored. The end result of a successful 2-way SMS campaign is improved customer relations and sales.
The Clickatell Solution
Consumer expectations are driving modern commerce activities. As consumers move more and more to chat, companies need to meet them there—or risk losing them to competitors who do.
In this landscape, the opportunities for 2-way SMS are huge. Globally, mobile business messaging traffic hit 2.7 trillion in 2020, up 10% from 2019, Jupiter Research says. The pandemic undoubtedly accelerated adoption of SMS marketing as consumers embraced more digital commerce.
Clickatell powers SMS campaigns with one easy-to-setup API, no developers or coding required. Whether your business needs a quick and exceedingly efficient SMS tool or the ability to create rich 2-way chat conversations with customers, Clickatell has the solution. For more information, click here.