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Seven Ways to Use Transactional SMS Messaging

Research shows that it takes the average person 90 minutes to respond to an email message, but only 90 seconds to respond to a text message. Knowing that, retailers, brands and marketers need to develop mobile strategies that enhance existing efforts with SMS messages and reach consumers in the most direct way – on their personal devices. Surprisingly, 75% of consumers actually want companies to text them for anything ranging from appointment or payment reminders to special offers, yet only around 30% are doing so. Needless to say: this is a massive, untapped opportunity.

While traditional promotional SMS messages focus on marketing (one-day sales, product launches, weekly informative broadcast campaigns), transactional SMS messages based on triggered events add value for consumers because they’re personalized, relevant and timely. They are designed to increase loyalty, prevent lapsed buying behavior, and re-engage valuable consumers. So what are the benefits?

Timeliness: Transactional SMS messages are time-sensitive, so it’s critical to utilize mobile channels that naturally allow for fast, almost instantaneous message delivery. Unlike a personal email account where daily activity is limited by time is spent in the inbox, consumers frequently access their mobile phone’s texting application − a prime opportunity to deliver time-sensitive messages that will most likely be opened and read.

Enhanced Engagement: Transactional SMS messages keep brands top-of-mind and reduce reliance on marketing messages to maintain connections. For new customers, service-based messages can help establish initial mobile relationships without the need for marketing messaging. They also allow you to opt-in net new subscribers to your mobile database, which can be used for marketing purposes.

Loyalty: Transactional text messaging is truly 1:1 – a close customer relationship and enormous marketing opportunity. Keeping consumers engaged after a conversion can establish a direct connection between brand and customer, build loyalty, and drive sales while creating a consistent, seamless experience.

By incorporating the following tips into your strategy, you can increase your revenue and build a better brand in as little as 160 characters:

1. Account Activation/Verification (Identity Verification)
With SMS, you can enable an account activation or verification feature to increase security and peace of mind. Customers who sign in or register will receive a unique code requiring them to verify their account by clicking an activation link or entering a verification code on their mobile device. This extra step ensures account access to the right persons.

2. Shipping/Delivery/Pickup Notifications
After an order is placed, real-time information about shipping, delivery and pickup can be shared via text messages and keep the customer updated on their mobile device. This creates a sense of trust and helps maintain that relationship.

3. Order Confirmations
Similar to shipping/delivery/pickup notifications, order confirmation text messages verify an order has been successfully placed. This not only reduces post-purchase anxiety but also reinforces a brand’s reliability. These messages reassure customers about their purchase and provide ways for them to extend the relationship with you, whether it’s through another sale or simply signing up for email updates.

4. Time-Triggered Reminders
Missed appointments mean missed opportunities for sales, which is why it’s crucial to cut down on no-shows. Time-triggered text messages ensure that customers don’t forget when and where to meet you. You can remind them a day or even an hour prior to the appointment, or reach back to those who purchased consumable products when it’s time for them to replenish. A simple text provides a reminder on the go.

5. Real-time Alerts
Phone calls are easily missed (or ignored), and because only 22% of emails are actually opened, customers won’t always act in a timely manner. Real-time text alerts combine important information with immediacy: a flight change, a table being ready, recent credit card activity or data usage. They’ll not only help your customers feel valued and informed, but will also increase the likelihood that they’ll be repeat shoppers.

6. Opt-In Requests
After signing up for an email or mobile list, customers expect a confirmation. One example of an opt-in request is a welcome message that simply says, “thank you” for signing up or delivers the discount/offer promised as the opt-in incentive. Make the most of this opportunity by personally engaging each subscriber with content curated to their interests and keep them interacting with your brand. As another example, sending a short birthday text accompanied by an exclusive offer, discount or freebie is more than enough to win over a lifetime customer.

7. Product Alerts
These text messages automatically notify first-time or returning shoppers when inventory levels change. They also allow customers to sign up onsite to receive alerts when inventory is replenished and keep ongoing conversations alive.

The Bottom Line: Transactional SMS messaging offers a quick, easy way to send important information to customers and create a better experience for them. Although they are not marketing messages, consumers value the availability of this information so much that it increases the likelihood they’ll become loyal customers and continue to purchase from you.

For more insights, download our SMS State of the Industry report.

About the Author
Megan Ouellet is Director of Product Marketing for Listrak.
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