SMS Marketing

Text Messaging: 3 Reasons Your Business Should Use It

Convenience is no longer a nice-to-have for consumers—it’s expected. In fact, nearly 80% of American consumers say that convenience is one of the most important elements of a positive customer experience. Furthermore, 73% believe their experience weighs heavily into their purchasing decisions.

Advances in technology and digital transformations for business have changed consumers’ expectations of their shopping experience. Convenience is now expected at every stage of the buying journey. Products and services need to be easy to access, useful, and simple.

Over the last decade and a half, the number of minutes consumers spend on shopping has fallen to 20% fewer minutes per week. This isn’t due to a lack of interest; it’s an expectation that shopping be more efficient. As a result, the minutes consumers dedicate to shopping are increasingly valuable.

Today’s customer is looking for the best experience—something intuitive that makes their visits, communication, and transactions easy, helpful, and convenient.

Can your business compete in today’s convenience economy? 59% of consumers feel that companies have lost touch with the human element of customer experience. And that doesn’t necessarily mean face-to-face communication. What it means is one-to-one communication. Mass emails, robocalls, and flyers in the mail don’t feel personalized. No one likes the experience of calling a business, waiting on hold, likely having their call forwarded several times, and then more often than not, leaving a message.

Many local businesses feel that they can’t keep up. They’re anxious to find a better way to attract new clients and delight customers without creating more work for themselves.

If you need help keeping up with the evolving needs of today’s consumers, there are three ways you can get started.

Here’s your step-by-step guide to transforming your business with text messaging:

  1. Your business should be easy to get in touch with
  2. Your business should connect with customers through their preferred channels
  3. Your business should offer customers speed

Texting–The Easiest Way to Modernize Your Customer Experience.

01. Your business should be easy to get in touch with.

Today’s customers expect finding you to be painless. Imagine this: From a mobile device, John looks for a business like yours in a quick browser search. In order for you to show up in the top three to five results (which statistically are the only results John will likely be reviewing), your business needs to have a star rating of four or higher. John will look at your total number of reviews and compare it to the total number of reviews (and stars) of the other top results, or your competitors.

Next, John will read a few reviews before making a choice—who to contact (and we’ll get to how he’ll likely contact you in a minute). Nearly 88% of consumers read reviews to determine the quality of a local business (especially one they’ve never worked with before). And 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more than they would have otherwise.

Those reviews are vital in John selecting your business. But showing up in the top three to five results is even more critical. The top three organic Google search results get 75% of all clicks and in a Google Maps search, the clicks are even higher with over 90% going to the top three results.

If you need help learning how to get more reviews and boost your local SEO, click here.

When John finds your listing, he’ll likely be on his mobile device—58% of all site visits come from mobile devices. And 88% of the time, if a consumer searches for your business on their mobile device, they’ll reach out within 24 hours.

You want to make sure John has all possible channels available for him to communicate with your business, including texting. Of course your listing should also include a phone number for traditional phone calls (as we discussed in step two), but 90% of customers prefer to engage with a business through texting or another messaging app. It’s imperative that you allow customers to reach you the way they want to communicate.

To make sure your business is easy to get in touch with, follow these two steps:

Step One:

Turn on messaging in your Google My Business listing and then consumers will see a message button on your listing when they search for your business from a mobile device. The button allows consumers to text you directly. You can answer questions, send links, and provide a personal experience to those searching for your products or services.

It’s important to remember that once you turn on messaging and you receive a new message, it’s best practice to respond quickly. Google will deactivate messaging from accounts that don’t respond to consumers within a 24-hour period consistently.

Check out local business texting in action: Auto body and collision repair shop, Cascade Collision, wanted to turn on their Google messaging option, but the logistics of divvying out those messages was overwhelming. Cascade found the right solution, automating messages to the right people at the right time. With their new solution, they were able to ask for reviews at every stage of the buyer’s journey via text. Now Cascade has an average 4.8 star rating with hundreds of reviews and has appeared in 59% more Google search results.

Step Two:

Enable the right web chat feature on your website. More than 41% of consumers that visit your website expect a live chat feature and if they’re visiting your site on their phone, that number rises to 50%. Think about that—nearly one in every two visitors wants you to offer a live chat option. But what happens when the conversation takes more than a few minutes? Or visitors are hesitant to start a conversation because they don’t want to be tied to their computer, chatting with a live customer service rep (or a bot, in some cases)?

The right web chat feature offers a solution—web chat to text functionality. When the prospect starts the live web chat, they enter their phone number so the conversation can continue via text. It’s the flexibility and convenience needed to keep the conversation going. Plus, it shows that your business values one-to-one communication.

02. Your business should offer customers speed.

In today’s world of instant gratification—online purchases with guaranteed 2-day delivery, on- demand entertainment, instant results in a Google search for information—consumers expect convenience in all aspects of their lives. We already know that 80% of American consumers say that convenience and speed are in the top elements of a positive customer experience.

For your business, it’s important to understand what interactions with your customers might increase their satisfaction and improve their customer experience. Scheduling an appointment? Sending reminders? Making payments? Asking questions?

Many consumers run into challenges communicating with businesses outside of typical open hours. Messaging is now the key answer and the way of the future for a convenience and speed-driven consumer.

Here are two ways speed and text messaging can improve a customer’s experience:

Speed of Communication and Return Business.

Let’s circle back to John again—he’s searching for a product or service that you offer. He’s found your business via a Google search, and he’s connected with you via the messaging button within his search results.

Throughout John’s buying journey with you, it’s important that you offer him the option of speed. What does that mean? If John runs into a problem with your business, you want to know about it right away so you can fix John’s problem (and John will want to let you know right away so he can get his problem fixed). Messaging with John at any point during his journey allows you to hear about his experience in real-time and fix any problems as they occur instead of waiting for a bad review or a cold lead.

It’s important to note that while you gather feedback you’ll be gathering insights about what your customers love and why they leave so you can make data-driven improvements and increase your chance of returning business.

Speed of Purchase or Payment.

Did you know that 78% of local searches result in an offline purchase, usually within hours? With texting, that close rate could be even higher.

Here’s an example of a customer making a purchase via messaging within minutes, based on a real story:

Within a matter of minutes the consumer found the right product, requested a payment link and delivery date, and made a purchase. It’s the convenience and speed that made this customer’s experience positive!

The open rate for text messages is 98%? Compared to the open rate for email at 20%, that’s a dream. And with 50% of US consumers completing a purchase after receiving a branded text, messages that offer purchase or payment options will increase the speed today’s consumer is craving.

You can use messaging to improve the speed of all interactions:

  • Answer questions for potential customers who are researching your company or visiting your website
  • Allow customers to schedule appointments through text messaging or even Facebook
  • Send reminders about appointments or payments
  • Collect payments
  • Send follow up instructions or information
  • Quickly request new reviews or feedback after a visit

With the right messaging technology, you can not only create a more convenient customer experience, you can retain customers by fixing problems in real-time, offer purchase or payment options within a text message, and earn repeat business by providing a data-driven positive customer experience (with insights gleaned from real interactions with customers).

Check Out Local Business Texting in Action:

The Bridal Collection, a bridal dress and alteration shop, needed a way to communicate with customers throughout their buying experience. They noticed that most negative reviews centered around unhappy customers that didn’t feel comfortable voicing their concerns in person. In one example, a customer said, “I didn’t want to hurt your employee’s feelings, but I thought she was hemming my dress too short.”

The Bridal Shop implemented texting into their customer communication options, allowing brides to communicate any and all concerns throughout their buying process. Their Google review rating increased to 4.9 stars, overall reviews jumped to nearly 1,000, and by adding messaging to their website, they gather 80 additional leads per month.

reading a sms message on mobile

03. Your business should connect with customers in their preferred channels.

As a local business, you know that location is a key part of convenience. And in the world of your prospect and customer, they want you to meet them where they are right now.

Preferred channels of communication can vary based on demographic and generation, but consumers of today and of the future want a digital, convenient experience. And they want it for everything from appointment reminders to payments. Even phone calls (yes, even the automated ones) are rarely answered or responded to if they request confirmation or another response.

Where are customers right now? Their phones. While 95% of people worldwide own a cell phone, and with more global access to the internet than toilets, 90% of consumers prefer texting to traditional methods of communication.

The right web chat feature offers a solution—web chat to text functionality. When the prospect starts the live web chat, they enter their phone number so the conversation can continue via text. It’s the flexibility and convenience needed to keep the conversation going. Plus, it shows that your business values one-to-one communication.

It’s vital that your business interact with potential leads and customers in their method of choice by showing up where they are already:

  • Text options
  • Google Business Chat
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Instagram
  • Text-based web chat

It’s not enough anymore to only have a website. In fact, 95% of website visitors will not convert because they can’t get the information they need on your site. They want real communication with a real person, in real time. And if they start a chat with you on your site, they don’t want to be stuck at their computer until the conversation is over— offering a solution that allows them to continue the conversation via text adds more convenience to their experience with your business.

Continuing with our John example from Step 1, John might ask a question on your website and start up a conversation with a customer service representative. After a few minutes John might realize he needs to go and with that action, your conversation with him is over. With a text-based web chat solution, John can enter his phone number into your web chat window and the conversation continues when John needs to step away from his computer.

With all of the channels your potential customers are engaging with, it might feel chaotic to try to master all of them at once. A better approach is to funnel all communication into a single inbox to save your team time and respond to all messages in the way your customer prefers to communicate. Find a solution that offers a single inbox for all messages and you’ll be on track to answer the consumer’s call for convenience (and your team’s call to manage all incoming messages!).

person reading text messages

Check Out Local Business Texting in Action:

Pierce Flooring and Design, a family-owned business based out of Billings, Montana, has been around for 93 years. With seven locations, a wide range of customers, and multiple touchpoints during their buyer’s journey, they needed an upgraded communication option.

With their new messaging platform, Pierce Flooring and Design is able to “confirm installation, schedule services, track work that is being done, and send reminders for payments. It has completely changed the way we do business.” As their VP puts it, “Texting customers is the way of the future.”

Prior to adding their new messaging platform, Pierce had a less than 50% success rate in calling customers on the phone. “…now we have a 90% success rate getting [in touch] with customers.”

04. What does this mean for your business?

You might be feeling overwhelmed if you’re just starting the transition to a more convenience- focused business, one that prioritizes future-based thinking to attract more customers. But with the right interaction management technology, you can add convenience to both your customer experience and you and your team’s experience.

  1. You can make your business easier to find (and connect with) by adding messaging to your Google Business Listing.
  2. You can offer your customers speed through real-time communication and payment options via texting.
  3. You can show up where your prospects already are by funneling all messaging into a single inbox so you can respond in real time.

Find the right interaction management solution that will help you:

Leverage every preferred messaging channel—with one inbox for all messages from Facebook, Google, and more.

Gather reviews easily and quickly—with a simple text that has a higher chance of response than email and only takes 30 seconds.

Convert website visitors to text conversations— with a web chat feature that keeps the conversation going.

Offer speed and convenience across all interactions— with a solution that prioritizes ease in all communications including scheduling, feedback, payments, and reviews.

With the right solution, your team can automate responses, consolidate all messages into a single inbox, and make sure no communication slips through the cracks.

Press send with Podium.

Podium offers a suite of messaging tools for local businesses. From getting found online to winning repeat business, Podium powers every step. It’s the simplest way to connect to consumers by pressing send–talking to customers, collecting reviews, and gathering insights in real-time through text.

  • Press send to attract more leads with frictionless communication.
  • Press send to retain customers by staying connected to them throughout the customer journey.
  • Press send to save time by making work more efficient for you and your team.
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