Businesses See a Sales Lift with Texting
Orr adds: “Don’t just add people to a text messaging group; you need to respect the privacy of the medium.”
Orr also recommends email as a backup for texting. He and others point out that due to the immediacy of texting, if a customer/prospect doesn’t respond to a text relatively quickly, he isn’t likely to respond at all.
For text messaging to be effective, the message also needs to be creative and to capture the target’s attention very quickly, says Nestor Mata, technical leader and cofounder of JookSMS, a bulk texting service provider. He recommends using text messaging for short-term offers, like 20 percent off an item for a day.
“It needs to be quick and immediate and should require an immediate action from the customer,” Mata says.
“One of the most beneficial ways we’ve used text messaging is for follow-ups,” says Sean Pour, cofounder of SellMax, a nationwide car buying service. “If someone has called into our office previously, we’ll often reach out the following day if we haven’t heard back from him. On average this has boosted our sales by about 23 percent since we’ve implemented it.”
Pour adds that individuals often forget contact information or forget about the company, so simply reminding them helps loop them back into the company instead of losing them to a competitor.
SellMax also uses text messaging to help streamline sales by quickly alerting customers when their vehicles are about to arrive.
“We [also] use text messages to find out how our services were and how we can improve them,” Pour adds. “While we could follow up with a phone call, we feel that’s intrusive. When we send a text message, someone can text us their honest opinion about our service and we can improve on anything they found unsatisfactory.”
Andrew Scarborough, cofounder and chief operating officer of PriceWaiter, a company that negotiates on behalf of consumers to find the best deals on products, has seen customers buy six hours faster through text message marketing than through email marketing. Additionally, shoppers convert to buyers at a 27.7 percent higher rate.
Shoppers who respond to text messages, even if they are still in shopping mode, are more serious, according to Scarborough. “When using the phone or email [for sales], it’s a bigger ask,” Scarborough explains. “SMS is a more on-demand communications tool.”
Retailers aren’t the only ones having early success with texting as a sales tool. In the insurance industry, the medium is producing a winning formula as well.
“I know a number of our own agents and sales managers have had great success in using text messaging to communicate with current and prospective customers,” says Michael Stahl, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at HealthMarkets, one of the nation’s largest health insurance agencies. “These days, consumers are not always likely to pick up a call on their cell phone from an unknown number. As a sales rep or sales manager, if you have captured a client’s contact info, including a cell phone, and if you call and have the chance to leave a voicemail, that’s great! You know it is an active number. Hopefully, you can identify it as the prospective client you are trying to contact.”
From there, sending a text to the customer to confirm that he received the message and asking if there is an opportunity to meet is a great way to follow up, according to Stahl. Once the salesperson has identified himself and the reason for the contact, the prospective customer will feel more at ease and should be more willing to respond.
Michael Lucy, an independent life insurance broker, says his team generates 40 percent to 50 percent of its inbound leads via SMS, closing a large percentage of them. He adds that his prospects are ages 50 to 85, so the expectation that older consumers won’t respond to text messages is demonstrably false.