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SMS as a marketing tool has grown in both popularity and capability over the last 5 years. With its rise predominantly happening in the B2C realm, we wanted to dig a little deeper on how B2B companies are really using SMS marketing to engage clients and drive conversions.
We spoke to a range of B2B marketing leaders to see how they are utilizing SMS as part of their marketing plan.
Typically known for its high open and conversion rate, SMS as a communication channel is a favorite for B2B companies to utilize. However when speaking to leading marketing professionals they shared a word of warning to not over use it.
Like with email, the act of blast messaging your clients will send you on a fast track of having a high unsubscribe rate. And this can be doubled down if the client is receiving material that is irrelevant to them.
According to CEO and Founder of awning.com, Shri Ganeshram states that, “SMS should be used when 90% of the audience will find the SMS interesting, engaging, or otherwise useful.“
Ensuring that clients are receiving relevant content is a must, and very easily achievable using a marketing automation platform and CDP like Ortto. Through robust audience segmentation you can create customer communications and journeys customized to your clients needs.
Content marketing specialist for Text Request, Jessica Ayre, focuses on the speed of delivery when it comes to using SMS, sharing, “SMS should be used as a way to get in touch with people quickly, especially regarding time-sensitive decisions and information.”
“People are more likely to respond to a text they see on their phone, as opposed to an email or a phone call. Texting can be done without much interruption to the work day and fits into a busy schedule.”
The pace, ease and lack of interruption to your clients are great attributes when choosing to use SMS in a B2B environment.
There are a plethora of successful SMS tactics used to drive action within B2B. We asked marketing professionals to share some insight into how their own business or their clients’ are using SMS and the success they have seen from it.
SMS is one of the best options available to send quick and timely information to your clients, while also helping to build brand trust and grow engagement. For example, it can be used to launch an upcoming feature or send a notification alerting the client to take action within their account.
“It’s a more personal and direct way to connect with clients about new product releases, office closures, or event invitations, among many,” shares Ryan Stewart, the founder of the digital marketing firm, Webris.
When used correctly, and after building an engaged customer community, sharing a company announcement will have a similar sentiment as receiving a text from a friend. For example, say you have a new long-awaited feature release, after segmenting your audience into customer advocates or highly-engaged clients, you can provide them with a first-look or access before the general release to the wider net of clients. SMS can help drive this extra level of brand trust and familiarity.
One of the most popular instances for SMS usage with B2B companies was confirming appointments or sending reminders to clients. It provides a seamless and hassle-free user experience for both parties.
“In my opinion, the best use case for SMS in B2B is for meeting reminders. Email used to be a place where anything that came through would be immediately seen. Not so today,” shares Corey Haines, the Cofounder of SwipeWell.
“We've seen lots of customers implement SMS reminders for booked meetings at SavvyCal and it has a very positive effect on reducing no-shows,” he continued.
Automating your meeting confirmation and reminders, benefits both parties greatly and is something that can run behind the scenes so your team doesn’t get held up with the admin side of scheduling.
Ortto can automate the whole process by sending your client a reminder SMS at a chosen time. Just like in the example above, your automated message can be made highly personalized by including the team member who your client is meeting with today, the meeting address and provide the option to reschedule if needed.
Due to the typically high engagement rate, the use of SMS as a communication channel makes it far more successful when asking your clients for feedback or to fill out a survey.
Nunzio Ross, CEO and Founder of Majesty Coffee, a commercial distributor of top of the line espresso equipment has seen that, “customers who receive promotions and surveys through SMS are most likely to respond to them, making it an effective marketing tool up to this day.”
“SMS marketing is an excellent driver of open and click-through rates among digital marketing strategies. It boasts an 82% open rate and 36% click-through rate, primarily because of its ease of access and consumer behavior on mobile devices,” continued Ross.
Predominantly the use of SMS marketing mentioned so far has been based on client nurture, however Beth Carter, Chief Strategist at Clariant Creative Agency has found success in using SMS as lead gen tool.
“I will say that we’ve been using SMS marketing with really good results at trade shows – particularly now that so many have returned to in-person events. We’re using SMS for our clients to create a “text to win” campaign.”
Carter continues, “In these campaigns, attendees send a text to the assigned number in order to enter a contest (prizes might be cash, or an iPad, etc.). When the user sends the text, the SMS platform sends an auto-response that includes a link to a mobile-friendly landing page and form. To complete the entry, the user must fill out the form, which includes name, company name, phone number and email address. Submitting the form enters the user into the contest – and also means the company now has that individual’s contact information, which can then be used either for direct outreach (if the user engaged with a sales rep at the trade show booth), or can be enrolled in a drip email campaign that continues to nurture the lead.”
Carter continues, “All in all, this has been a great upgrade to the ‘drop your business card in the fishbowl’ approach, and our clients have been able to generate some good-quality leads.“
It may come across as a simple tool for communication however there are some nuances, to take note of in order for you to see immediate success with your SMS campaign.
Send messages at the right time. When delivered in a timely way, your clients are far more likely to be more responsive and take the desired action. For example, ensure you are following your clients up post meeting, or if they have any queries, and provide peace of mind by sending a confirmation for their orders.
Ryan Stewart, the founder of Webris adds, “maintain professionalism and send messages between business hours. This way, you could avoid frustrating or interrupting them while spending quality time with family or going to bed already.”
As there are costs involved with sending SMS, it’s integral to keep the message as short as possible while still delivering all the important details.
Abe Breuer, the CEO and owner of VIP to Go, believes that the “brevity in communication makes SMS an effective tool for B2B marketing. Since most SMS messages have a 160-character limit, it has to be concise and straight to the point. This makes the message clearer to understand, especially for readers with a shorter attention span.”
Work out the messaging hierarchy here. What details are important to grab the clients attention then provide a call-to-action so they can find out more or actually take the desired next step.
Show a bit of personality when you’re talking directly to your client. Sounding like a robot, or sending a generalized, stock-standard sounding SMS will be detrimental when using this channel.
Josh Tyler, CEO of Tell Me Best, shares his insights, “one tip in automating SMS for partner-facing communication is to personalize messages so that they won’t feel like they are talking to an AI operator. This gives a warm touch to the approach, keeping the exchange nice and cordial. It keeps the recipient engaged.”
The response of marketing professionals with this question has shown the true flexibility and scope that SMS can provide in any B2B set up. From lead nurture, onboarding, engagement and even transactional, SMS can be used across the board and still deliver results.
This being said, not all stages of the funnel will be best suited for your clients or business setup. Something to take into consideration and through a period of testing you will be able to find what works best with your clients.
Jessica Ayre from Text Request, has seen SMS used primarily in a lead nurture capacity, the ”lead comes in through whatever form or sign-up page, and a text is triggered to that person saying "Thanks your message, we'll personally follow-up ASAP" or "Thanks for joining, how can we help?" Also for sales follow-ups after the first interaction. E.g. "Hey so and so, any update? Hope things are well."
“These two combine for some pretty massive improvements in conversions, anywhere from 30% to 100% depending on the business,” shares Ayre.
Create a great first impression from the get go by using SMS to welcome your clients to the business. It opens up a quick-paced channel of communication where your clients know they will get a fast response.
Once a client has signed up and opted-in to receiving texts, an automated message can be triggered to help them get started with the product, or point them in the right direction of where to start or where to find help (if needed).
SMS provides a great outlet to keep your existing clients up to date with company news, anywhere from upcoming events, tips, or updates when a sales representative will be in town.
If you’re an Ortto customer, you can use merge tags in these communications to personalize the experience. Merge tags can be used in your SMS content to populate information from any Salesforce custom object value — for example, you could use merge tags to sign your SMS off with the assigned sales representatives name or add the client’s city.
To learn more about using Salesforce custom object values in your email and SMS marketing, watch the video below:
Another engagement method noticed by Ayre, has been the use of SMS newsletters to share content with the added touch of an automated personal prompt, for example “Any questions about this? Happy to help.” to encourage clients to reach out with any questions.
“Texting clients is a sure way to build closer connections and establish personalized service. This leads to things like closing sales, retaining customers, and gaining valuable referrals,” adds Ayre.
Prioritize customer experience and convenience by utilizing SMS as a key communication channel with your B2B business. Reach people at the right time without interrupting their day-to-day life. Start building your SMS journeys with Ortto.
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