Conversational SMS Marketing: A Complete Beginner's Guide for 2022
Conversational text marketing is a great way to engage with customers one-on-one after they reply to your messages or when they initiate the conversation themselves. Learn how to develop your SMS marketing strategy this year.
Ever heard of conversational text marketing or the benefits to be had by engaging in it? No? Well, grab a mug of something yummy to drink, pull up a chair, and like Shakespeare, said … lend us thine ear!
Because using texts as part of your marketing strategy is a great way to improve your business while saving money and time in the process.
We're not talking about old-school SMS messages that simply shout out deals and get quickly deleted from your customers' phones as SPAM. Instead, we're talking about an effective strategy that allows you to interact with your customers on their level without having to go through layers of emails, phone calls, or other communications methods.
In the following article, we're going to discuss how conversational SMS marketing can help you build trust and loyalty in your customer base along with the other benefits it provides.
Now, let's jump in and take a deep dive into what conversational text marketing is and how it works, shall we?
A Deep Dive Into Conversational Text Marketing
Conversational text marketing, also known as conversational texting, is a way to engage with customers one-on-one after they reply to your messages or when they initiate the conversation themselves.
Companies usually employ conversational texting intending to create an immediate experience. It's all about customer engagement, which Hubspot defines as "the process of interacting with customers through a variety of channels in order to strengthen your relationship."
One of the most common ways of employing conversational text marketing is through the use of chatbots. If you're on Facebook these days, you've likely gone into one group or another where you had to answer a list of questions to get in. You're inducted into a chatbot text sequence as soon as you answer.
Another example on Facebook is when users go to a company's Facebook page and click a "message us" button. Often, the button is linked to a conversational text sequence that pulls the user into a chatbot funnel or an FAQ answer session.
However, another common way to use conversational text marketing is through SMS two-way text messaging.
How Does Conversational SMS Marketing Work?
Conversational SMS marketing is a process that includes sending and receiving messages with your customers via text messaging (SMS). This strategy is unique because it allows for two-way communication.
Its purpose? To provide you with opportunities to fill in gaps of information left by email marketing — which is among the most common channels used by eCommerce (and other) brands today.
Through conversational SMS marketing, you can better communicate with your audience in a more personal way and build relationships between them and your brand through their preferred method of communication - texting!
The thing to remember here is that being pushy and salesy out of the gate is a turn-off to most people, and it doesn't work well with SMS marketing. A better approach is to be friendly, helpful and use the medium to build trust.
It's Real Time Conversations
Just how "real-time" are SMS text marketing conversations? The answer is that they're as "real-time" as possible.
That means your customers can expect a near-instant response when they text you. And if you're using an app like Shout, they'll get messages in near-real-time.
Moreover, according to Statista, people aged 25 to 39 are more likely than any other age group to use messaging apps to reach businesses and ask questions. So if you want to reach millennials, texting is the way to go.
At the same time, if your customers are 40 to 54 years old, they're more likely to use traditional SMS texts straight from their phones.
You Can Keep Conversations Going
Conversational SMS marketing builds off of each interaction, which furthers the dialogue and the resulting relationship. You don't start from the very beginning each time your customer messages you. You also don't hit the reset button if they choose to switch the conversation channel.
This means that every message you send has a chance to build on previous ones or add value in some way before moving forward with something new. Here, a great best practice is to record and store each conversation you have with your customers in a customer relationship management system (CRM).
That way, whether you're coming back to a conversation with someone yourself or one of your team members takes over the exchange for you, all the information you'll need from previous engagements with that customer will be easily accessible.
Benefits of Conversational Text Messaging
While immediate engagement is on the top of the list of benefits offered by two-way text messaging, there are actually many benefits to consider. For example, you can send conversational text messages to any mobile phone user in the world without requiring them to opt-in beforehand.
Of course, this makes it easy for businesses to reach potential customers with tailored offers at just the right time when they're most likely to act on them.
But let's take a moment and look at a few more.
- Message recipients feel that they have more control over their communications. After all, they can stop texting with you at any point during the conversation.
- Text conversations can help gather valuable data about your customers. SMS texting is a great way to gather valuable customer data because they often share their needs in their own language. Put differently, it gives you a way to conduct market research at a fraction of what other research methods would cost. Remember, extensive surveys and focus groups are not cheap.
- It's possible to create long-lasting relationships. Two-way SMS marketing allows for meaningful interactions with customers. Harvard Business Review discovered that businesses can communicate continuously via messaging apps, making their offers less forced. It often means those offers are also based on real value. This helps to build meaningful relationships with customers.
- Conversational marketing solves customer problems. It's all about listening to your customers' issues before offering them your solutions.
- You get replies to the texts you send more often. Conversational texting is structured in a way that makes the interaction more natural and potentially more interesting for your customers.
What Are the Characteristic Features Of Conversational Content?
As previously stated, conversational content is designed to be interactive and engaging. It encourages two-way communication by providing an opportunity for customers to respond directly to your brand or company. This type of content also typically uses a more informal tone, which helps to create a personal connection with readers.
With that said, here are some tips to help you start off on the right foot.
Write Like You Talk
One of the better ways to ensure your content has that informal, friendly tone we just mentioned is to simply write your texts the same way you would to a friend. In other words, write the way you speak.
But, how do you do that and keep it interesting? Texting stuff about your business, products, or services can't always be fun and exciting, right? And, you don't want them rolling their eyes and deleting your texts as soon as they see them. So, how do you create that engagement with your customers, talk like you usually do, and not bore those you're texting to death?
Use Shorter Sentences
Shorter sentences are better sentences in the texting world. They make your customer feel like you're actually talking to them, not just rambling on and on about stuff they don't care about. Longer sentences are harder to read. The more difficult they are to read, the less likely the customer will continue to engage with you.
Use Simple Words
When engaging in SMS text marketing, use simple words. That doesn't mean you have to simplify your messaging to the point of absurdity. And, you really shouldn't have to feel like you're talking down to your customers.
However, there's no need to use overly complicated words either. Keep in mind that straightforward and easy-to-understand language is best when it comes to marketing and sales.
Don't Worry As Much About Grammar
In conversational text marketing, no one is grading you on your grammar. When people talk, they often do not use grammatically correct language. They throw in everyday slang, contractions.
Plus, texting has come to have its own slang, which is usually made up of acronyms like:
When getting your message across in texting, feel free to break grammatical rules. It'll free you up to be authentic and to be a lot more personal with your customers.
Be As Personal As Possible
If you know your customers' names when texting, use them. These aren't some nameless, faceless numbers out in the ether. They're real people, and they appreciate it when you treat them with that personal touch.
If you don't know your customer's name when texting and you're texting live, one-on-one, you can obviously ask your customer what their name is and then use it in the conversation. However, if that's not possible for whatever reason, then focus on using the word "you."
By doing that, you let your customers know that you're talking directly to them and that whatever you're saying applies to them.
But, being personal isn't just about addressing your customers by name. Many business owners make the mistake of trying to sound too corporate. It's as if, by using words like "we" instead of "I" when talking to a customer, they can give off the impression that their brand is larger than it actually is.
However, customers see through that sort of thing, and it just serves to put an invisible separator between you and them. Again, the best policy is to text your customer the same way you'd text a friend.
Think About Italicizing Words You Want To Emphasize
You can use italics to emphasize a word or phrase. When you italicize a word, it stands out and draws attention to itself. This is especially helpful when you want to highlight a key point or make an important distinction.
Remember, you can reflect how you speak in your writing. How? You can read your text aloud before hitting "send." You'll discover words that are easy to recognize, and then you can italicize those.
Ask Engaging Questions
When you ask your customers questions that get them to think, it grabs their attention. It keeps their attention for a longer time. That's good for you. Relevant questions give your customers a reason to care. The longer you can keep a customer engaged, the more invested they become and the more likely a relationship will develop.
Wrapping It All Up
Conversational text marketing is a great way to engage customers and create lasting relationships with them over time. What makes the medium so successful is that it's easy for both parties, requires little planning on your part, and can be done at any hour of the day or night while being highly effective in engaging consumers.
When done correctly, conversational text marketing should feel like you're chatting with a friend and should allow for two-way communications. The message style should be friendly and engaging, and if you do any promotions, they should be subtle at best.
Remember that you build trust and rapport with customers when you have honest conversations. Two-way text messaging allows you to bridge the communication gaps found in email marketing, which is often the main channel for new eCommerce businesses and others bootstrapping their marketing.
Email marketing, social media marketing campaigns, and digital marketing all have a place within a marketing strategy. If you choose to engage in conversational marketing, it doesn't mean that you're necessarily replacing other marketing tactics. Instead, you should view conversational SMS texts as a tactic that supports and complements all the others.
Finally, keep in mind that the great thing about conversational text marketing is that it's incredibly versatile. There are companies out there literally crushing it with SMS marketing. You can too!
And the reason is that you can use it in so many different ways, and there are plenty of things you can do to take advantage of its positive aspects.
We all know what happens when you increase the number of new customers while getting old ones to come back again and again through meaningful conversations. So, if you've never tried out conversational text marketing before, perhaps you should get started.
After all, who couldn't do with just a little more profit?