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Text messaging is everywhere these days, and business texting platform Text Request recently released its 2024 State of Business Texting Report (disclaimer: I work for Text Request and was part of this study).
The report covers how businesses are using SMS today, what will be trending in 2024 and what challenges and opportunities that presents.
These are the top three SMS trends you need to jump on to succeed in 2024:
1. Replace phone calls with text messages
Some conversations need to happen over the phone, in person or through another channel. However, the report found that most of those conversations and updates could be texts.
70% of consumers say texting is the fastest way to reach them
87% want to schedule appointments and get notifications through SMS
66% of employees save 1-5 hours a week by texting
When asked how this plays out in day-to-day work, respondents noted that they are able to reach customers and employees faster and more reliably by texting. They no longer had to make multiple phone calls to connect, and contacts no longer missed important updates because they didn’t check their email.
This year, look for opportunities to replace phone calls with text messages. Great options include customer updates, appointment or service scheduling, employee check-ins, sales follow-ups, and any time you could send one mass text instead of individually calling every contact.
You should also consider creating SMS templates for commonly used messages and updates. This helps you save time while also keeping communications consistent across employees. Make these changes, and you may just end up in the 10% of respondents who save 10+ hours a week by replacing phone calls with text messages.
2. Text to ask for Google reviews
They don’t have to be on Google, but you need online reviews on the third-party platforms where your potential customers are searching for you. For most, that’s Google. For others, it may be Facebook, Angi, G2 or some other platform.
These reviews are important because they’re from real customers publicly sharing their experiences with you and talking about how great you are to work with. The more reviews you get, the more you’ll be trusted by potential buyers and — especially with Google reviews — the higher you’ll rank in search results. That gives you even more opportunities to win new customers.
Currently, only 21% of businesses are texting for online reviews, but an additional 35% of businesses wish they were. Now is the perfect time to start, because it’s an effective tactic that consumers are familiar with but isn’t overly used yet.
To implement this, send a text to each customer after you’ve completed service or delivered your product. Thank them for working with you, and ask them to leave you a review. Be sure to include the link to your review page. Then reply to any feedback you get.
3. Route customer service through SMS
Rather than texting for marketing and promotions, most businesses surveyed are actually texting for everyday conversations with customers and employees. In fact, 75% of organizations say they text for customer service, making it the most common use case. This underscores three important trends:
Consumers find it more convenient to text for customer service questions, support and updates
Businesses tend to find texting for customer service more efficient than other channels
Texting for customer service is increasingly an expectation that consumers have when working with businesses
Businesses are finding success by texting for customer service, and consumers increasingly expect it, so you should consider giving customers the option to text you for customer service. You may even want to be proactive and text customers first for check-ins and to see how they’re enjoying your products and services.
What you should do with this information
There’s no guarantee that text messaging all on its own will lead to lower expenses, streamlined operations or higher profits. You need to walk through a few steps internally to see success:
1. Determine what you’ll text for
Are you replacing phone calls and voicemail? Are you adding in an extra touchpoint? Are you texting for scheduling, sales, promotions, hiring, customer service or some other use case? There’s no need to overthink this, but you do need to decide what you’ll be texting for and what you expect to see from that action.
2. Enable contacts to opt in
You need to follow SMS rules and regulations to stay compliant and ensure your messages will be delivered. The best way to do that is to enable contacts to opt into receiving messages from you, rather than you cold-texting them. A few good options are:
Add a phone number field to your contact forms — plus a disclaimer that by giving you their phone number, you are allowed to text them
Create a keyword, like “INFO,” that they can text to your number to opt into messages
Verbally ask customers if they would like to receive SMS messages, and note their response in their contact records
Do this consistently, and you’ll likely see more and more people opting into texts.
3. Set internal processes and expectations
You want to make sure employees are following a consistent process and texting with customers in a way you deem professional and effective. You know your business better than anyone, so it’s up to you to set the processes and expectations that will best fit your business, employees and customers. Just make sure everyone’s on the same page, and you should be good to go. Or, if you need help, reach out to an expert.