COVID-19 has significantly reduced the number of people going or being able to go to business locations physically. For many, it might feel like it is getting harder to really connect with your customers. But where one door closes, another one opens. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a rapid change towards a more digital world, which has hugely affected customer’s behaviour. So the best thing to do is meet your customers where they are today - most likely at their homes.

This is where contact-free, direct and cost effective SMS campaigns come in handy. According to Pew Research 81% adults in the United States owned a smartphone in 2019 and 13% owned a phone that is not a smartphone. This clearly shows that reliable and instant communication is of high importance to most.

The internet is buzzing with advice on how to cope and survive the COVID-19 era. It can get a little overwhelming so we have gathered some points to show how you could take advantage of the amount of time people are spending on their phones.

SMS campaign benefits for businesses

Reaching your customers and truly engaging with them is only a few clicks away. So if you haven’t already started planning your bulk SMS messaging strategy, here are 4 key points why you should start now.

1. Engagement

On average, American consumers check their mobile devices 52 times a day. And that was before the global pandemic happened. This makes SMS messaging a perfect communication tool. In fact, research shows that SMS has an open rate of 98% so there’s a great chance that once your message is delivered it will be read.

This is much higher than email open rate which is only around 20%. Think about it yourself, how likely is that you will open a promotional email? However, it is much harder to avoid a new text message.

2. Personalisation

Encouraging conversation has never been easier. Messaging automation gives you an opportunity to generate perfectly timed and personalized messages. But remember to know your audience!

Twilio has conducted a study which shows consumers’ response to different forms of communications. For instance, Millennials prefer to receive promotions/sales messages more frequently than Baby Boomers. Yet they can still be a tough audience - younger generations are more likely to penalize companies for poor communication experiences.

Now it is a great moment to take your time and learn about your users’ preferences. How would they like to be reached out to and how frequently? Is there a time of the day that would trigger more engagement? Find it out and enhance your communication by personalizing your techniques to a specific customer segment.

3. Straight to the point

SMS requires you to stay direct and not rumble about. As text messages are limited to 160 characters, it can boost your creativity to get your message across considering how many busy campaigns consumers face on a daily basis. This type of marketing makes it much more simple for clients to not only read and take the information in but also to respond.

4. Imprementation with other types of marketing

SMS campaigns work well together with other channels and it is easy to implement SMS to your marketing campaign. You could try using a shortened hyperlink to direct users to your website or send them a quick reminder to check their email for important updates. This can significantly increase your customers’ engagement on various platforms.

SMS is said to have eight times higher engagement rates than emails. This is a clear indicator on how SMS campaigns could support your other marketing techniques and create traffic to your platforms.

How to reach out to your customers via SMS messages

Connecting with your customers over an SMS seems like a good idea, but you are not quite sure where to start? We have collected some do’s and don’ts so you could start enhancing your relationship and adding value to customer experience.

1. Share business updates

These days the business environment can change on a daily basis. The last thing you want is to be an inconvenience in your client's busy day. SMS is a highly convenient way to let your customers know about any changes of your business operations. This demonstrates you value their time and that you are reliable, thus resulting in better customer experience.

Business updates can be anything from change in working hours, store closures or policy changes. Research shows that 63% of consumers want to know of changes in the plan via text messages. So if something changes, just reach out and let your customers know.

2. Send positive thoughts

Not all your SMS messages have to be promotional. In these uncertain times a lot of people are struggling with stress and anxiety. It is essential to keep a positive vibe and support your customers by lifting their spirits.

Instead of reminding them about the struggles we face due to the pandemic, try to think outside the box. What reassurance and kind words can you give to your customer to distract them from the everyday news reminding them of COVID-19?

While there was a time where it was suitable to send out messages eg. “Your safety matters, we are here for you “ - remember that perhaps this might trigger annoyance and irritation in some. Let alone in March 25% non-promotional messages were COVID-19 related. Undoubtedly, everyone has been hearing the same thing since the beginning of the year and we could all use a bit of a change.

However, remember to know the difference between positivity and humour and analyse whether your message comes across as uplifting or simply dismissive of the situation.

3. Tone down on urgency

Keep in mind that currently nothing is as urgent as COVID-19 so you don’t want to come across oblivious. You might want to rethink your campaigns that could trigger a slight panic in some such as “Don’t miss out” or “Join before it’s too late”.

This does not mean you cannot use any call to action buttons. “Call now” or “Make your appointment” can still be very effective without creating negative feelings.

4. Use promotional messages

Last but not least, old techniques such as promotional messages still work and provide results. Have you got a special offer going on? Customers still want to hear about your product, especially if it can distract them from the news. This will also remind your clients that you are not going anywhere and that some part of their lives can remain unchanged.

If you are concerned that customers long for a good old shopping experience, try not to worry too much. Adobe predicts that Americans will spend 14$ billion more this year just by shopping on their smartphones. And don’t forget the end of the year sales are still a big hit. According to Reuters it is expected that the upcoming Holiday sales will be up to 33% higher than in 2019.

The key to success: get to know who your customers are

Whichever method you decide to implement, don’t forget to analyse your results to get to know your customer base better and adjust accordingly. Bear in mind that caring, creative thinking and adopting new tools for your business can create long-lasting and trustful relationships. The best time to get started and connect with people is now!

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