SMS Marketing for Business
The rapidly accelerating road along the ol’ Internet Superhighway has led us to the Internet of Things (IoT).
The IoT represents one of the fastest-growing channels going — composed of physical devices that “talk” to each other: from simple sensors to smartphones and wearables and yes, even Alexa. Boost their power with SMS and these robust technologies can transform the way we do business — from retailers to automotive, finance, healthcare, hospitality, fitness, and virtually every industry imaginable.
Connected We Stand, Unconnected We Falter
SMS and IoT are all about connectivity. And the more connected we are, the less un-connected we wish to be. The question isn’t whether to adapt new technologies. Research and experience has shown businesses cannot afford not to. The question is only how long can anyone wait? In a recent report advising businesses about how to proceed in our new COVID-era normal, global management firm McKinsey & Company concluded that the “ability to absorb a shock, and to come out of it better than the competition — will be the key to survival and long-term prosperity.”
Promote Accountability & Trackability in Shipping
As a society we’ve become accustomed to immediate satisfaction from businesses we frequent — or at least receiving immediate answers. Text message marketing quickly responds to these needs and expectations by offering intelligent, robust features like 1-on-1 Chat and the automation of urgent notifications sent to large subscriber bases with the simple, efficient click of a button.
For businesses centered around the retail industry — whether that is clothing, bath salts, or food delivery services — the need for speed shifts its focus to shipping and logistics. While texting can’t alter how fast shipments actually arrive, it can (and does) keep customers updated on their progress. IoT can aid in this process by tracking and monitoring packages throughout the supply chain. Systems have the power to report a wealth of data like location, temperature, humidity, quality control, delivery time, and more. This is important not just to customers on the lookout for important packages — but also service industries like healthcare who may rely on timely shipments of medical supplies. Or even auto dealerships, who can more easily track the arrival of car shipments and then trigger a text to a customer who may have their heart set on finding a specific color of the car they’re interested in. As Manish Choudhary, SVP of Global SMB Products & Strategy and Chairman, India for Pitney Bowes notes, “Consumer demand and the march of the eCommerce giants are just two of the reasons for a relatively-early adoption of IoT in shipping. As parcel volume surges, organizations manage this with innovative technologies.”
Contactless Payments Boost Safety & Efficiency
“Look Ma, No Hands” has almost become the rallying cry for #2020goals. Since COVID entered our national consciousness, everyone has become more attentive to germs and the way we spread them — from dutifully singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice while washing hands to devising creative ways to accomplish tasks sans contact. It’s all like a not-so-fun game of Twister as we twist ourselves into pretzels to avoid touching anything at all costs. Instead, consumers are favoring contactless methods of payment more than ever before. Why get concerned with the idea of touching a dollar bill (who knows where it’s been?) when there are apps and devices specifically engineered to accomplish this feat. IoP (Internet of Payments) is an offset of IoT that is ramping up with faves like Apple Pay and Fitbit Pay. Of course, purchasing via text is as easy as grabbing one’s phone. With 92% of Americans owning a mobile device — a number that increases by up to 98% when you narrow the field to 18-29 year olds — texting is always in reach. No extra batteries (or extra apps) required. And with 2 Factor Authorization (2FA) security, customers can always feel secure using their mobile phones to transmit funds.
The Future is Already Here
For an article in Forbes, Daniel Newman references an unnamed expert in SAP’s IoT report, who “gave the example of a coffee shop texting a customer, ‘Shall we have your usual waiting for you?’ as soon as they step off a nearby train.” He adds that these technologies “can keep you connected to your customers 24/7, be it via mobile coupons, text alerts, or invitations and incentives specifically sent when a customer is near your location. Even better, you can personalize these notifications with their favorite dish or product, based on their IoT-connected ordering history… Mind-blowing, right?” Bobby J. Davidson, President of Percento Technologies International, agrees — imagining an “ability of shoppers to sign up for text messages that offer special deals on products as they move around stores, and in-store advertising that uses facial recognition and can provide personal insights.” You can take advantage of these opportunities by synergizing the power of SMS and IoT to build new marketing and sales funnel strategies.
“Often, the mavericks who've skipped the box-ticking in life are the ones we're seeking.”
So explains Dawn Graham — a highly sought-after career coach, author, and one-time recruiter — for her article in Forbes.
And it’s true, isn’t it? It’s the risk-takers in life — the out-of-the-checkbox thinkers and road-less-taken adventurers, with unique (perhaps even renegade) backgrounds who typically generate the most creative solutions with the most visionary talent.
They’re the Steve Jobs of the world, the people you want at your company — typically inspiring, illuminating, and successfully pushing the envelope. They’re different, they stand out — and they’ll make your company stand out as well.
Why Does Potential Get Overlooked?
Artificial Intelligence has revolutionized our world and the way we do business in countless wonderful ways. But when recruitment and the hiring process has gone full AI, things can begin to feel a bit… well, artificial.
It’s no mystery as to why companies are tempted by these technologies (whether hiring is tasked to an outside staffing agency, an in-house HR department, or even the boss of an exciting start-up). Platforms can attract a stratospheric amount of applicants with promises to (supposedly) match the most relevant skill sets with the job opportunity while winnowing down applicants in need of various qualifiers. Indeed, AI gives businesses what often interests them most: extra time and money.
Clearly, we’re accustomed to (and appreciative of) modern tech streamlining our lives and increasing productivity. However, as Graham points out, “a robot is still unable to analyze intangibles such as if a candidate will be a fit for the culture, or if the candidate's career story demonstrates the type of motivation and curiosity that will make him [or clearly, her] a high-potential.”
She further admits, “The argument can be made that many humans aren't well-trained at assessing these qualities either, so there's work to be done.”
How Is The Recruitment System Broken?
By prioritizing quantity over quality in seeking to fill recruiting funnels, employers and recruiters sometimes rush by the candidate with the most to offer.
In the not soooo distant past — the 50s, 60s, 70s — employment was an entirely different landscape. Many professionals stayed at their job their entire careers, counting upon higher-ups to recognize their talents and create new opportunities and challenges that would help them leapfrog up the corporate ladder. Lifetime hires and internal growth kept the focus on staffed employees.
For many, the model has changed. Firms now spend exorbitant sums of money addressing either newly minted roles for expanding businesses (thanks in part to the rise of entrepreneurship) or as is often the case, hiring replacements. A report from the Society of Human Resource Management found that companies spend 42 days and $4,129 per hire. That’s on average. Even an $8/hour employee can cost about $3,500. Turnover is generally high across the workforce so this routine gets repeated. Again and again.
Why Should You Reenergize Your Hiring Methods?
Looking for work is a full-time job. Job seekers scour scores of job sites and social networks looking for new opportunities — from LinkedIn to Twitter to personal Facebook connections and groups. They submit meticulously curated resumes and cover letters, take assessments, complete video bios, acquire references, fill out potentially lengthy forms, determine who (if any) in their networking circle may be connected to the employer, and prepare samples of their work — just to get their foot in the door for initial interviews.
Graham cautions that, “We need to put in the work, too. Candidates who may not work out for one role may be perfect for another.” This is particularly true for recruiters and companies with a vast staff.
With over 20,000 staffing and recruiting agencies in the U.S. alone, competition is fierce to land clients and represent the best talent (which in turn retains clients).
Matt Lowney, EVP for talent and operations at The Buntin Group shared that he “will absolutely select a staffing vendor based on the depth of their recruiting process.” The advertising exec adds that “a good agency will have a relationship with candidates that makes a difference and causes them to engage with our opportunity. If the agency can do that and I can’t, it’s well worth the money.”
Employ SMS to Engage With Applicants & Personalize The Process
Humanize the whole operation and stay connected and engaged to build the best team for your company. A few tips on how SMS can help you best achieve success:
- The better a recruiter gets to know candidates’ various skill sets — the better they will understand how to appropriately pitch them. This goes double for getting to know what clients truly need.
- Nurture relationships with texting. Seamlessly communicate with applicants via 1-on-1 Chat to streamline the process.
- Text real-time alerts for jobs to fill ASAP. Emails can languish and job opportunities are timely.
- Discretion is often appreciated. Some job seekers may wish to keep their job hunt on the DL — particularly if they’re looking to leave their job. They may not readily be able to check personal emails or chat with recruiters on the phone. Texting is the safest bet.
Can an exclamation point alter your business? What about a question mark? Or an ellipses?
Perhaps it’s hard to choose because they’re all so different. And that’s the point, isn’t it?
The English language — or any language, really — is a marvel. Constantly evolving, regenerating, and revolutionizing the many ways we connect with each other through beautiful prose, haughty lyrics, daily conversation, and the lightning speed-rounds of text messaging and social networks.
But communication isn’t limited to linguistics. Throughout the history of language lovely flecks of punctuation to mark momentum and add various shades of context have come in and out of usage. Texting sometimes abides by its own language — like the welcome use of emojis. It’s also shifting the way we employ punctuation.
Here are seven common punctuation marks and how to think about them while composing texts for your business.
1. The Period
Ah, so simple. So pure. So… final. In general day-to-day usage, the period clearly ranks as the most common form of punctuation in the English language — but in textiquette, it can be viewed as the most brutal (besides, perhaps, the ellipses, see below).
A rose is a rose by any other name. But a period in a text can be viewed as downright passive-aggressive — even if that‘s not the intention.
Don’t assume that the period has been rendered redundant just because one can end sentences by sending a text. Linguist Gretchen McCulloch recently spoke to NPR and cautions, “problems can start to arise when you combine a period with a positive sentiment, such as Sure’ or ‘Sounds good.’” It’s that clash, that friction of diametric meanings that can unfurl into the real-life equivalent of ending an argument with a tight smile and a “Fine!”
2. The Exclamation Point
As an article in The Atlantic ponders, “How many exclamation points do you need to seem genuinely enthusiastic?” As it turns out, the answer varies from person to person, industry to industry.
McCulloch notes, “The single exclamation mark is being used not as an intensity marker, but as a sincerity marker… If I end an email with ‘Thanks!,’ I’m not shouting or being particularly enthusiastic; I’m just trying to convey that I’m sincerely thankful, and I’m saying it with a bit of a social smile.” In other words, exclamation points can be fun.
And when you're marketing fun, the simple exclamation point used once (or five times) can be as effective as a playful emoji. Better yet, use them both!!!
3. The Question Mark
Curiosity will almost always be a good thing. As such, there’s little doubt the question mark will be with us for the foreseeable future. The question (ahem) becomes how to use it — and how many is too many? Again, this depends on your targeted audience, industry, and the degree of playfulness you want to inject.
For example: a bar or restaurant could have some fun with a message that reads “Game Night! Who’s excited for the Yankees to take home the title???” But a credit card company could elicit alarm with “Did you make a $55 purchase at Billy’s Ice Creamery???” Not to mention, it may come off a little judgey.
Lesson here: Use the beloved question mark — but make sure there’s no question about its appropriateness.
4. The Comma
Sometimes punctuation marks in texting come down to questions of necessity. Will their omission greatly affect the meaning or can it be easily and quickly deduced? For example: “Wear your Red White Blue to celebrate July 4 with us!”
As writer Matthew J.X. Malady theorizes, “In some ways commas are like ketchup and mustard. We’re glad those things exist. They surely make our french fries and hamburgers taste better. But we’d all survive without them. Some assert that the same is true of commas.”
For those who bristle at the idea of commas going the way of the dinosaur or the once oft-used pilcrow (¶) — don’t fret. Commas will likely forever hold a seat at the texting table. After all, a restaurant wouldn’t want to fire off a personalized text with “Let’s eat Dave!”
The lesson: All industries can use commas sparingly. Businesses that cater to a younger or more laid-back crowd (ie retail, bars, restaurants) can experiment with a few casually forgotten commas to feel more relatable to subscribers.
5. The Apostrophe
If any punctuation mark were made for text messaging, you may think it’d be this one. Its very purpose is to streamline and shorten character counts, right? It turns “cannot” into “can’t.” The Wall Street Journal praises it as “versatile” and “quirky.” But it also notes that “these little marks can’t cope in the age of texting.”
The apostrophe’s been around since the 1500s and was a staple of typewriters as far back as the 1800s. Yet in a 2017 study at the University of Tasmania, Nenagh Kemp found that “the apostrophe is on its way out.”
Blame it on autocorrect. Some operating systems add the mark automatically so users have become accustomed to ignoring it. And still others don’t wish to toggle over to the symbol keyboard when it’s overlooked anyhow.
Bottom line: consider your audience and your industry. Gen Z’ers may be happy to ignore your lack of apostrophe usage as it’s the language they already speak. Older generations — and subscribers in the healthcare, financial, government verticals — may appreciate both your attention to detail and effort in trying to bring the apostrophe back.
6. The Ellipses
Proceed with extreme caution. Perhaps more than any other punctuation mark, the ellipses is generational. For some, an ellipses is innocuous, simply a trailing off of thoughts. But for younger texters, it’s ominous. Like the textual equivalent of a score for an Alfred Hitchcock movie… or a slasher for Netflix.
Unless you’re well-versed, it may be best to avoid confusion for your business and skip altogether.
7. The Semicolon
Sure, you can use semicolons to join two similar sentences together; it’s an elegant punctuation mark the literati’s enjoyed since the Renaissance. Cecelia Watson even wrote an ode to the semicolon, wherein she discovered Herman Melville included over 4,000 such characters in Moby Dick.
But Herman Melville never used one in a text message. And if you do, it’ll look like you’re trying way too hard. So unless your business is devoted to novelists of the 19th century, this one’s a full stop.
Size matters. Why do you think you never hear of “Little Pharma?” The pharmaceutical industry is a massive, sprawling, vibrant ecosystem all of its own — and as such, it’s an essential industry that can never take a break. Not for a holiday, nor (especially) a worldwide pandemic.
Medications and vaccinations for all types of disorders and diseases must continue to be discovered, developed, produced, and marketed.
But like most of the world, the industry has experienced tectonic paradigm shifts in its business model this year. Beyond all the digital triage — ie the telemedicine and virtual appointments — drug company sales representatives’ relationship with healthcare providers (HCPs) have also been perhaps forever altered.
Face-to-face conversations between doctors and pharmaceutical reps — once the standardized norm — have (at the moment) virtually all but disappeared.
As have lavish dinners and hobnobbing conferences. Even the once simple strategy of dropping off samples at the doctor’s office with the aim of striking up a conversation (and some business)… has faltered.
In our current reality, communications have gone almost entirely digital — triggering pharma reps to quickly regroup, reevaluate and refocus their energies on strategic multichannel campaigns. Unable to visit doctor’s offices, reps are now launching new drugs virtually — encompassing video, email, and SMS text messaging solutions.
Texting Isn't New to Pharma, But Adoption Is Increasing
Sure, a novel coronavirus is complicating life as we once knew it — but there’s nothing entirely new about healthcare representatives (HCRs) integrating text message marketing. We’ve been on this path for years.
Brands like Pfizer have been increasingly texting consumers, airing D2C (direct-to-consumer) TV spots that offer attractive discounts in Text-to-Save programs. Addressing the full spectrum of the customer funnel, companies have also sent out refill reminders, important updates or alerts, and other vital CRM initiatives.
Changes in the field at large (ie evolving pharma guidelines, physicians moving away from private practices in favor of larger healthcare systems that often limit contact with reps, heavier workloads, increases in the amount of mergers and acquisitions, etc) were already pushing the industry in this direction. But COVID-19 has certainly expedited the inevitable gravitational pull to other credible sources and means of connection.
Rx: Increase Doctor Engagement, Boost Results
Known as 'detailing,' the one-on-one promotion of drugs to doctors by drug reps has been a multi-billion dollar enterprise for decades. But field reps, by their very nature, work out in the field — meeting with doctors in their offices, at the conference, or networking at other social events.
But as doctors have cut back on these in-person meetings, pharma reps must look to other methods to connect and engage. And in 2020, they do so while striving to keep socially distant, often working remotely and from home.
According to a survey released last year from Indegene, a leading global pharmaceutical and healthcare solutions provider, a majority of physicians look to medical journals, both online and offline, as a source of the least-biased pharma-sponsored information. Real-world evidence (RWE) was another highly trusted and credible channel.
Other popular sources included brand websites and email marketing — both of which are important elements of a multi-channel campaign, yet present their own unique drawbacks. Amplify your strategies by adding a strong SMS text messaging campaign to:
- Engage with time-scrapped doctors by quickly and efficiently providing them with info they already want to have (ie journals, RWE)
- Send automatized SMS notifications to a segmented list of providers (ie specialists most receptive to certain medications or treatments)
- Include easy-to-use Link Shorteners to seamlessly route HCPs to respected journals with a single click — circumventing the pratfalls (or abandonment) of websites that can be tricky to navigate
- Automatize scheduled reminders in advance of remote meetings or slide presentations
- Enhance open rates (SMS is 5X more effective than email, with 98% open rates vs email’s 18%)
- Follow up on any important email campaigns with an SMS text alert to expedite awareness (average response time for SMS is 90 seconds while emails from a known source are 90 minutes)
- Utilize our 1-on-1 Chat feature to seamlessly connect in real-time and a time that works for both schedules
- Raise awareness and stir excitement for product launches with a variety of promotional SMS campaigns
It’s a perfect prescription for success.
A Healthy Outlook for Technology
As the Wall Street Journal recently noted, “The industry has long considered the launch of a drug crucial to its sales performance.” And yet, it adds that “drugmakers can’t [currently] draw on the very tactics long counted on to give new products a strong start.”
But innovation is the most defining hallmark of the pharmaceutical industry. Eric Dozier, Vice President of North American Oncology at Lilly said, “We have a responsibility to make sure we inform doctors, given that cancer is not going to take a break.” Naturally, the same could be said of any other malaise.
At the time, the company was planning to release its newly FDA-approved cancer drug. It launched in May of this year, marked by a launch fueled by the digital tools, platforms, and virtual meetings that will likely continue to redefine the future of the industry.
Don’t text and shop — or you may end up spending more than you bargained for.
Much like you would never want to be distracted while operating a motor vehicle, a sidetracked consumer can be equally accident-prone — but with their wallet. Distraction inherently breeds risk. A reduced ability to devote to the focal task at hand (say, purchasing the lemons tonight’s recipe requires… or selecting just the one pair of shoes you need for vacation) lends itself to the likelihood that plans will go awry.
Multi-tasking while texting, talking, or checking social media on mobile phones theoretically buys back time. And time is money. But shopper beware: this deal comes with an extra price tag attached — and it can be costly.
Distractions While Shopping Lead to Impulse Buys
Marketers map out a variety of goals they want customers to accomplish as they lead them through the full funnel experience of their customer journey. Naturally, these include accepting the call to action of a planned purchase — as well as digesting the messaging of advertisements (paid/print/digital/social), signing up for free trials/offers/subscriber lists, and nurturing and building loyal relationships so customers return for cyclical journeys and become advocates (in other words, becoming little marketing engines of their own via reviews, blogs, and personal recommendations in their own social circles).
A distraction along this well-thought out journey can either disrupt the journey entirely — or lead to a nice reward. At least 92% of Americans own a mobile phone… and that statistic only rises as we winnow age demographics to younger generations.
We talk and text a lot. Some statistics cite five hours per 24 hour window — on average. And when we’re distracted while shopping, we’re more likely to make purchases we don’t need.
- 77% of shoppers say they’ve made a spontaneous impulse purchase in the past three months
- 79% of impulse buys still take place in physical retail stores.
Clearly, cell phones are a key distraction in our daily lives that can tip the odds in a retailer’s favor.
A Case of "Possession Obsession"
“Possession Obsession” isn’t just a wiggly little Hall & Oates song. Buyer compulsion is real — and for business owners, it can be spectacular. “It's the cookies and the ice cream and spur-of-the-moment impulse decisions that we need to try to keep under control. And those are the ones that tend to happen more often when people are distracted by their phones,” said Jeffrey Inman, a marketing professor at the University of Pittsburgh and co-author of a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science.
But it’s not just cookies and ice cream that qualify as impulse buys — we’re all hard-wired into cravings. As Hall & Oates croons, “gimme, gimme, gimme...”
Retail’s the paradise of many temptations and material flights of fancy. Whatever the excuse shoppers allow themselves, the end result is the same: a soaring credit card bill.
Kit Yarrow, consumer psychologist and author of "Decoding the New Consumer Mind", agrees. “When we do other things, we're not really paying attention to how much money we're spending, and therefore, we're much more susceptible to mistakes and impulse purchases.”
But Retailer Beware: Distractions Lead to Impulse Buys Only Some of the Time
While distractions can snowball into extra purchases, this effect hinges on the reason behind the usage.
- 9% of those who use their phones for purposes unrelated to shopping (ie texting, social media) are more likely to make unintended purchases.
- 13% of those who use their phones in a shopping-related manner spent less money on unplanned items.
When consumers are focused on their task at hand, like entering a store with a freshly texted promo (in-store on-demand coupons see redemption rates of 70-80%), the buyer is less likely to leave the store with more than they expected.
Capitalize on the Subtle Art of Encouraging Impulse Buys By Drawing Attention to Impulse Products
Unplanned purchases help brick-and-mortar stores level the eCommerce home field advantage. Either way, texting is a net positive for retailers. Consider other creative techniques to boost impulse sales:
- Offer free WiFi in stores and charging ports in carts
- Display impulse items near high-demand products
- Place lower-priced impulse buys near checkout or fitting rooms: anywhere that customers are likely to congregate
- Take advantage of lighting to (literally) shine a beam on quick grab items
- Attract customers with attention-grabbing display colors (like red or neon)
- Build attention-grabbing signage around the impulse displays
- Present product samples or demos
Rolling out the red carpet? Sending out press releases to reporters? Or issuing gold-encrusted invitations to your guests? No matter how you go about it, a little anticipatory excitement for an upcoming event is always welcome.
Of course, you may not be planning a glittering movie premiere or a splashy wedding reception. And some events — like an annual cleaning at the dentist or a scheduled meeting with your colleagues — may not require such elaborate fanfare or invitations. Sometimes, they may just be in want of a good reminder.
The immense surge of mobile texting has revolutionized the way we communicate. Think about it:
- 97% of Americans text at least once a day
- 91% keep mobile phones within arm’s length at all times
- 90% of users check cell phones within 30 minutes of waking up
- Worldwide, more people own a cell phone than a toothbrush
It only makes sense that businesses are changing the way they connect with their customers, staff, and volunteers.
Reduce Missed Appointments: Save Time, Money & Resources
No shows are a costly business. By texting SMS or MMS event notifications, companies can almost 100% ensure scheduled reminders are received, viewed, and acted upon — eliminating costly and timely administrative headaches in the process. And all with a few clicks of a button.
Whatever your industry, text notifications represent a vital tool… and one you should be using to boost growth and engagement. Text hotel guests in advance of upcoming stays — or you could even remind patrons of a big sale or upcoming performance, jumpstarting more business.
As a government agency, the Fresno Public Defender’s Office cleverly uses text message event notifications to reduce the county’s Failure to Appear (FTA) incidents, arrest warrants, and technical violations. This greatly reduces wasted taxpayer funds, improving efficiency and minimizing the amount of incarcerations for certain violations.
“This technology helps keep people out of jail while also freeing up valuable County resources,” argues Elizabeth Diaz, Fresno County Public Defender.
Indeed, local governments spend over $9B on unnecessary pretrial incarceration, plus an additional $1B issuing and enforcing FTAs. By incorporating text reminders, Fresno dramatically reduced some of their jurisdiction’s FTAs by over half, with 30% of users texting back to their attorney to continue to engage.
This is a winning solution for us all.
Reminders Can Save A Life — Millions of Lives
Sometimes, an event reminder can literally be a matter of life or death. Sure, texting about a massive, blow-out sale may feel urgent (potentially even saving your business with a crucial and timely inflow of cash). Or perhaps a SMS reminder for a business meeting could save your job (no shows in the office are not recommended for climbing the corporate ladder).
But for those in the healthcare industry, text reminders are often truly a lifesaver for the patients in their care.
A recent study conducted by Penn Medicine found that automated text conversations just a week prior to scheduled colonoscopies could increase turnout from a rate of 62% to 90%.
As the second-deadliest form of cancer, colorectal cancer is often dubbed the “silent killer.” One in three of us are not up-to-date on this screening — so routine testing is vital, along with correct appointment adherence.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Nadim Mahmud MD, an Assistant Professor of Gastroenterology proved SMS to be “especially appealing to health systems because it is scalable and efficient.”
“Automated text messaging and new insights from behavioral science offer opportunities to effectively and efficiently engage with patients before important health prevention activities,” adds Dr. Shivan Mehta, MD, the study’s senior author and Assistant Professor of Medicine.
Engage, Engage, Engage…
Exploring how technology and the framing of messages affect screening rates, the study measured how levels of engagement could alter testing.
Dr. Mahmud and his team “think text messaging is successful because it is patient-centered. It is already widely used by our patient population, does not requite much effort by the patient to participate, and patients can read or respond whenever they choose.”
Engagement is key here. Not only did the study show that rates of attendance could be dramatically boosted with a reminder — but appointment adherence was followed as well via text prompts. Patients that answered with questions to the notifications (and three quarters did) received a response from staff within 24 hours.
Some examples of automated messages that were delivered to patients included a colonoscopy date reminder upon enrollment, the office’s address (which was also linked), a prompt for questions about the procedure a week prior to the appointment, a reminder to pick up necessary prep materials (ie sports drinks and laxatives), and messages to prompt each sequence the night before the appointment.
The results are staggering — but a boost in engagement would help anyone in any industry. Just imagine what SMS and MMS event notifications can do for you.
“The more you tell, the more you sell.” So proclaimed David Ogilvy, one of the real-world inspirations for Mad Men, who revolutionized the world of advertising.
But wait, you say — “in a text blast, there’s only so much story to share, right?”
Not quite. Vividly bring your texts to life when you add heart, emotion, interest, and value via MMS messaging. This includes imagery, animated GIFs, video, promotional coupons, audio, and more.
Unlike the purely text-driven SMS (with its limitations of 160 characters or less), MMS opens up visual ways to communicate that resonate with subscribers at a far more impactful rate than text-only.
Connect Instantly, Emotionally, Directly
We relate to photos and images on the most basic, primitive level. After all, we’re visual creatures, and images speak louder than words alone. And there is both an art and a science to visual marketing. A few statistics to consider:
- 91% of buyers prefer visual and interactive content rather than traditional formats.
- 13 milliseconds: speed in which the human brain can process entire images.
- 60,000 times faster: The difference between how quickly our brains are estimated to process visual information over text alone.
- 250% engagement boost with MMS over SMS messaging.
Creativity May Not Be Automatic — But Delivering It Can Be
A 2017 study further revealed that visual content makes a noticeable impact on every major business goal, influencing lead generation and sales (71%), brand awareness (84%), website traffic (85%), and social media engagement (81%).
If those numbers sound good to you, you’re not alone. According to survey respondents, 80% leverage automation tools to boost visual content creation.
"It's undeniable that the need for visual content and tools to support its creation will continue to grow exponentially in the years ahead, yet there are so many ways to execute visual content creation that it's easy for companies to get lost,” said Zohar Dayan, co-founder and CEO of Wibbitz.
One of the keys to visual marketing, of course, is how you distribute it to your subscribers and customers. Tools like MMS messaging, which streamline the process of getting your message out to customers as quickly and efficiently as possible, are a best bet. You can also include a trackable link back to your website and monitor engagement.
Limitless Options with Visual Variety
While the English language offers over 170,000 words — if a picture is worth (at least) a thousand, you can just imagine the infinite possibilities you have to connect with an audience visually.
Visual content presents you with a virtual cornucopia of options to enhance your texts — from compelling photos, video, gifs, infographics, gifographics, memes, illustrations, visual quotes, and more.
MMS Video Content Leads the Charge
According to Zohar Dayan, “when it comes to visual content, video is king. It’s predicted that by 2021, video content will account for almost 82% of internet traffic, making it an ideal format for marketers to disperse a narrative to a desired audience.”
Naturally, MMS text messaging is the most efficient, seamless way to deliver your videos to subscribers, boosting overall engagement rates of up to 250% as compared to SMS-only texts — which already offer 6X the engagement of email.
Integrate multichannel campaigns... and you can also embed videos into your email campaigns and social media platforms. Best of all, you can invite customers to easily opt-in to your text subscriber list by promoting Keywords. Grow your audience by continuing to deliver a wide-array of value-driven content.
Personalize Your Branded Messaging
Just like customizing your texts (by addressing subscribers with their first names, locations, etcetera) will yield impressive results and boosts in engagement — personalizing your content elevates your messaging to a new realm.
Consider sending animated GIFs to add a playful dose of humor or emphasis to stir interest for what may be a major store sale or important open house. Perhaps a school or nonprofit could leverage a compelling visual image to generate extra buzz for a charitable bake sale or an important Text-to-Vote campaign.
"What sets you apart from anyone else is your own personality. To stand out as a go-to authority, lead with authenticity, have the confidence to truly be you in everything from your branding photos and marketing videos to social media," offers Sharon Haver, the founder of FocusOnStyle.com.
In the fast-moving, digital world — where speed is always of the essence — the need to deliver valuable information reliably and efficiently has never been more vital, and that's as true for automotive dealers, repair shops, and others in the transportation space as it is Silicon Valley startups.
- 92% of car buyers research cars online
- 13.55 hours: average time 2019’s shoppers spent researching & shopping for a new vehicle
- 61% of time spent shopping & researching was done online
- 75% of auto shoppers say online video influenced their habits and purchases, according to a Google study
According to a 2019 study released by Cox Automotive, “With car buyers making more decisions online and ahead of time, by the time many of them arrive at the dealership, they are ready to buy. As a result, dealers should hone their online marketing and sales strategy to help buyers get to ‘yes’ online.”
In addition, Cox Automotive found that “dealers must consider new ways to more effectively compete online, including advertising that is more personalized to the shopper as well as offering more steps to the sale online through digital retailing.”
The marketplace is shifting to the digital space, with shoppers spending well over half the time they allot to car buying well before every stepping foot into a dealership. And some won’t enter the dealership at all. The traditional playbook of print and television advertising no longer fully works. Modernize your automotive marketing game to get it in the right gear with multichannel tactics that include SMS and social media.
Content is King Of the Road & Your Automotive Marketing Plan
Bill Gates first coined the phrase “Content is King” back in 1996 when he predicted that content is where he would “expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting” and that the long-term winners would be “those who used the medium to deliver information and entertainment.”
Make your brand stand out from others with impressive inbound marketing solutions and by offering value-driven, easily digestible content to attract customers to your dealership. Implement inbound marketing tools like social media, blogs, and SMS text communications. The better the content you consistently produce, the more likely you are to attract an audience and entice subscribers to opt in and move through the sales funnel.
But don’t stop there: it’s important to remember content marketing isn’t just about immediate sales and gratification. It also caters to your long-term goals to nurture customer relationships — which ultimately translates to repeated business and brand loyalty.
Ensure your content is read with email campaigns, social outreach, and sending out SMS text messages to relay timely messages like sales, inventory additions, recalls, and more — all with trackable links so that you can continue to measure success.
Ignite Brand Recognition
Stand apart by offering powerful content strategies that differentiate yourself from your competitors. This should include an array of written content for your website, social media, and informative videos posted across all channels. SMS subscribers can also opt-in to receive MMS texts with video and audio capability.
Rev Up ROI
With increasing competition, dealers often begin dropping prices to stay on top of the marketplace.
But there’s another way. Instead of getting competitive over price, stay competitive by boosting ROI on established marketing initiatives.
Nurture relationships with existing customers, some of whom may be approaching lease-end dates or may be interesting in trading in their vehicles early for a new model. Cold calls can be irritating to busy customers. And with 5X the opening power of emails, SMS texts are easily the most efficient method of communication.
Did the lead not end up in an immediate sale? Whether a sale is being negotiated online or on the lot, send a follow-up text to stay in contact and finish the deal.
Adapt to Ever-Changing Times
More and more automotive shoppers are looking to extend their habit of shopping online — to buying online. This is a trend that showed itself before Covid (with companies like Tesla and Carvana leading the charge). Now that it’s here, don’t expect it to disappear.
Rhett Ricart, chairman of the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA), recently told Car and Driver that he expects “80 to 90 percent” of dealers to have full eCommerce capability by the end of the year.
Meet the current need and change with the times. Send SMS alerts to keep your subscribers aware of updates and changes. With 98% engagement rates, you can ensure important text messages are read upon receipt.
Go The Extra Mile, Show Off With Shining Reviews
The time where car buyers walked into a dealership with little information is long gone and now just a blip in the rearview mirror. Whether you’re a dealership or manufacturer, you know that excellent reviews are essential for sales.
Trigger automatic SMS reminders for drivers to leave outstanding reviews in every category from service to sales to brand. Add a special incentive for customers to complete the review — perhaps a service discount.
Speed Up Seasonal Sales Slumps
What’s the solution? Well, apart from figuring out how to prolong your historically good months, you can make inroads to your rebound plan with appealing promotions, dealer incentives, and personalized targeted campaigns based on shopper preferences.
You can also offer MMS coupons to reward customer loyalty and incentivize proper maintenance.
Small- and medium-sized businesses with Squarespace online stores have a new, efficient, and effective way to directly nurture relationships with their customers and clients using automated order and shipment notifications thanks to the new EZ Texting Extension.
Mass messaging autoresponders make it easy for business owners, marketing and support teams, and others to drive more meaningful, engaging, and intuitive interactions with customers, enhancing brand loyalty and satisfaction by reaching them in a direct manner where they are: on their phones.
For Squarespace online stores this Extension is an effortless way to integrate SMS text messaging — what InvestorPlace recently called “the future of communication” — into checkout and shipping workflows. And like a Swiss Army knife, there are more benefits packed into a simple text message than one might imagine.
If you’re an eCommerce retailer (or ship through your website), you likely already send email confirmations, but did you know that texts are 134% more likely to be read than emails? Text messages also have six times the engagement. Use this increased engagement opportunity to expand your brand footprint, speak directly to your customers in your voice (even if that includes emojis!), and improve your ongoing relationships. You can boost customer satisfaction with a post-purchase link to an exclusive offer, loyalty program, or promotion, or enhance customer insight via a link to a post-shipment survey
The EZ Texting-Squarespace Integration is Great For…
- Maximizing operational efficiency and effectiveness
- Creating a more intimate link to your customers
- Enhancing brand loyalty and customer satisfaction
Who Best Benefits From the EZ Texting-Squarespace Integration?
Here’s how just a few industries and small businesses can put the Squarespace-EZ Texting Extension into practice:
Retailers can easily integrate text communications for orders and shipping details. Text customers shipping notifications to keep them aware of when they can expect to receive purchases, follow-up with a post-purchase survey link, and consider incentivizing future purchases with promotions and deals.
Photographers and Artists often favor Squarespace for their award-winning design. As the business of art leaps between gallery walls to online portfolios and websites, visual artists have pivoted to new methods of promotion and customer outreach. Texting also provides artists with the kind of intimate connection they want with their customers and provides the opportunity to add information and links for upcoming events and exhibits.
Restaurateurs can liven up their sites with Squarespace’s layouts for well-designed menus, OpenTable reservations, event calendars, and eCommerce options for gift cards, merch, and food. Add an SMS integration to enhance online purchases of gift cards or merchandise during peak seasons and holidays.
Musicians leverage the power of Squarespace sites to share songs, list gigs, sell merch, and connect social media and streaming pages. Adding text allows musicians to automate post-purchase messages that can include links to upcoming performances or “thank you” gifts like an exclusive download.
Personal Trainers and Fitness Gyms can amp up their websites with Squarespace, using the tool to manage clients and scheduling concerns. Add text to your checkout workflow to thank your clients and followers for class purchases, merchandise, or gift purchases.
Learn how to get set up on Squarespace with our Help article.
It’s time to expand your customer vocabulary and begin speaking emoji!
Think of an emoji as a modern-day hieroglyphic, only it looks like emojis are here to stay. In a world with an app for everything, we’re reaching the point there’s now an emoji for it all as well. Go beyond the 26 letters of the English alphabet with over 3,300 emojis — and new options continually released.
Why? Because emojis are more than the cute images popular enough to have their own Hollywood film — they can also be the hero of your marketing strategies. They are the world’s most global language — easily accessible internationally with little or no need for translation, and used correctly they boost click-through rates, open rates, and engagement levels. And they’re fun! Inject emojis into your content and brand voice and a whole world of expressive possibilities opens up.
Emojis first leaped onto our digital screens in the late ‘90s and since then have grown exponentially, extending from smiley faces to food, plants, travel, activities, clothing, animals, vehicles, industries, a variety of skin tones, and so much more. Basically, if you can imagine it, there’s probably an emoji that applies.
Why Use Emojis?
Emojis can turbocharge campaigns and engagement by adding energy, humor, emotion, and personality to your communications. Used correctly, emojis can be attention grabbers that resonate with audiences. You’ve probably already seen them crop up in your emails — both in subject line and message.
No matter what your emoji style may be, emojis can translate into big business. Some tips to consider as you get started…
1. Keep Emojis Relevant; Drive Effectiveness & Engagement
With thousands of options to choose from, you have every opportunity to keep your emojis attuned to your brand. Emojis are often used best sparingly and to add a little levity or visual aesthetic. Be sure the situation calls for it.
2. Break Down Barriers, Communicate Efficiently
Cognitive fatigue and brain drain are issues we all deal with to some degree. So many emails, so much content to absorb. A quick emoji image can break up the monotony and grab a customer’s attention. A rose may be a rose by any other name — but your audience may prefer to see it rather than read it.
A picture may still be worth a thousand words, but emojis can translate into big business. A few examples: to boost open rates on urgent notifications, you can quickly cut through barriers with simple alert emojis. Or add an emoji of shoes for a major sale.
3. Great for All ages
Yes, Gen Z and Millennials do love their emojs — but they hardly use them exclusively. Gen X and Baby Boomers speak the same language so feel free to implement for an intergenerational audience.
4. Get Creative & Get Engaged
No, not with the diamond ring emoji [(insert diamond ring emoji & laughing face emoji)] — but emojis add personalization, humor, emotion, empathy, and charisma. Like ancient hieroglyphics, images speak to us on a very human level — balancing out the somewhat impersonalization of digital content.
Play around with new campaigns and seek ways to engage your audience. Subscribers are more likely to respond to you with quick emojis so go ahead and implement a Text-to-Vote campaign with emojis — whether that is asking clients to send different facial expressions, voting on hopeful travel destination, or the simple thumbs up or down approach.
5. Leverage Social Intelligence
Implement smart social intelligence tools and strategies to measure commonly used emojis per industry, holiday, or occasion.
6. Speak Creatively, But Carefully
A word of caution: a few emojis have alternative uses, innuendos, or could be easily misinterpreted — and this could send an incorrect message for your brand. So if you’re new to this language and unclear, it’s always a smart idea to double-check. Emoji analysis from social intelligence tools (or even a quick Google search) can keep you from implementing any problem ones and help you avoid potential pratfalls.