Independent Thinking Blog

Text Messaging is Becoming a Business Imperative

Are you using text messaging in your business?

SMS is rapidly becoming a business imperative. Not an optional customer channel. Not a “nice to have but we’ll deal with it later.”

If you’re not giving your customers a way to engage with you via mobile then you’re going to be left behind.

Don’t get left behind.

I’ve talked with several associations recently that share a common challenge: attracting new — and especially younger — members. While the reasons are myriad, all of them share a common trait: they are relying exclusively on more traditional methods to reach out to their members and prospects. Limited engagement via social media. Zero use of SMS.

Rotary phone

We’ve seen this before.

Flash back almost a decade, and I was sitting in a meeting having a conversation about social media. There was this one woman in particular who stood out, a communications pro at a veterans’ association. She talked about how this stuff was irrelevant to her because her members were older and didn’t use social media. (At the time, many of the earlier adopters were younger than her membership demographics.) All I could think was — maybe, but what about the next generation of members?

Here’s another example from around the same time. I attended a series of focus groups with medical residents and fourth-year medical students. An agency that recruited clinicians for rural communities was trying to assess how well it was doing at communicating with its target audience. The moderator kept asking questions about phone customer service and email. The focus group participants kept asking about text messaging and Facebook.

The disconnect was a chasm.

Don’t get wedded to a single channel or platform.

I often tell clients that I’m platform agnostic.

I love Twitter, for me, but that doesn’t mean that I think Twitter is right for every business. Ditto for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Periscope, or Vine. You have to go where your audience goes and reach them where they are. And understand that this will change over time.

Right now, SMS rules.

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s the data.

Customers Love Text Messaging

A new report finds that 9 out of 10 customers want to use SMS with companies.

Here are a few key statistics:

  • 66 percent of customers rank text messaging as their #1 way to talk to brands.
  • Millennials and Generation X prefer messaging over all other customer service channels.
  • 85 percent of customers want to be able to message a brand (i.e., 2-way communication).

Text messaging is becoming the new email.

Data on Text Messaging

Customers want to use SMS for a wide range of tasks, from replying to order confirmations and appointment reminders to receiving coupons and rating new products. But apparently the breakup text is still taboo (whew!). The report found that customers don’t want to use text messaging for applying or resigning from a job — or for getting fired or firing someone.

I’ve offered some ideas before about how you can use SMS in your business. If you’re not using text messaging, it’s probably time to start thinking about how it might fit in.

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