Over the last decade, the way we communicate and conduct business as a society has been evolving at a faster rate than ever before. This was further boosted dramatically in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes it has brought to how we live, conduct business, and connect are likely to be permanent.
Here are the trends we see peeking over the horizon.
But First – Some Basic Insights
After all these years, the humble text message still is the preferred way to communicate, for personal and business use. Consider:
- Massive growth opportunity for your business
The use of SMS has exploded worldwide since February 2020, with more people using it to maintain contact with their families, friends, employers, and colleagues. Its use has also increased for making appointments, confirming arrangements, managing deliveries, and curbside pickups, receiving updates and alerts from schools and universities, and more. In many countries it has also been the primary method of receiving COVID-19 test updates and results.
- Hassle free, reliable and quick messaging
It really is the fastest, most reliable way for a business to reach the majority of its customers or clients. This is extremely important – many of our users cite challenges when calling their customers on the phone or generating fast responses using email.
- It just works
New research shows that more than 30% of businesses currently using SMS adopted it in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the vast majority intend to continue using SMS in the future as a crucial (if not their primary) client communication channel.
So how do your customers feel about SMS?
Consumers, on the whole, welcome text messages from their preferred businesses and brands. They are generally spending much more time on their smartphones than before. Almost 65% of smartphone owners use their default SMS app as their preferred messaging channel, with other popular messaging channels like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and others being significantly less utilized.
So it’s never been a better time to start using SMS to contact your customers.
Message Type Matters
The type of SMS message received from business matters as well, with consumers ranking the value of text messages as follows:
- Appointment reminders
- Delivery status updates
- Discount coupons/special deals
- Prescription refill alerts
- Quick answers to specific questions
- Booking confirmations/changes/cancellations
- Last-minute appointment opening alerts
- COVID-19 updates
- Traffic/transit alerts
- Email inbox alerts
Some communications from businesses are less welcome – and this needs to be considered from a customer retention perspective. The text message trends of sending political content and spam, for example, are less well-received, as is anything else which could be considered spam. Not only are these types of message annoying, but also could be illegal. You must consider your content carefully in these terms – what is its value to your client? (Read more at: How to Ensure You Don’t Annoy Your Customers).
How businesses feel about SMS
In comparison, businesses also ranked the type of text message, here’s how they rated them:
- Customer support/service
- Internal communications
- Billing alerts
- COVID-19 communications
- Delivery updates
- Mobile payments
- Curb-side delivery/pickups
It’s easy to see that, for both business and consumers, text message marketing is an intrinsic asset for your business and must be adopted for optimal outcomes, which leads us nicely into looking at some major trends for 2021.
10 Major Text Message Marketing Trends for 2021
Text messaging will continue to evolve considerably for business use, and here are some major text message trends to watch in 2021.
1. Automated SMS
Automated text messaging is going to become an even more important part of the customer journey. Similar to drip email campaigns, SMS automations can help nurture your customers throughout their customer lifecycle. The right SMS automation strategy will allow for personalized, timely, and relevant text messages to be automatically delivered to consumers to handle everything from appointment confirmations and reminders, to payment-due reminders, abandoned cart alerts, renewal reminders, and more.
2. Integrating SMS in Multi-Channel Communications
Using a multi-channel messaging approach with SMS will deliver in an array of ways. These include combined email to SMS promotions, social media marketing combines with SMS, and sharing of content such as updates and newsletters via SMS.
The digital landscape is more crowded than ever before. According to the personalization platform SmarterHQ, almost 75% of consumers are now willing to engage with only those brands and companies they have a personal connection to, and which send content that is customized and personalized for them. This means mass broadcasts of sales pitches will not be enough to engage and convert an audience. Personal connections are what matter most. Even bulk SMS must be personalized for its recipients – based on location, time zone, age, gender, interests, and other demographic markers.
4. Dedicated Numbers
Dedicated 10-digit long codes are toll-free numbers that, unlike shortcodes, enable both bulk messaging as well as one-on-one messaging. They are also more affordable than using a dedicated shortcode. A single 10-digit toll-free number can be used for both sending and receiving SMS, and you can send bulk messages to millions of recipients at one time using an instantly recognizable number that your business alone has access to.
5. Sender IDs
One way to enhance trust and loyalty in consumers for your brand is to adopt an SMS sender ID. Alongside your dedicated number, your sender ID helps your message recipients not only recognize you but also psychologically reinforces your presence in their lives.
6. Text Messaging for Customer Retention
Retaining existing customers is as important as generating new ones, and loyalty marketing is key to this. Global media company Forbes predicts that, in 2021, marketing for loyalty and retention will increase by 30%. Businesses will send more SMS renewal reminders, subscription renewal reminders, missed payment alerts, and membership renewal reminders.
The capacity to send a quick text message to a business, rather than an email or sitting on hold on the phone is very appealing to most consumers. Don’t send text message marketing blasts too frequently – consider the identity and preferences of your target clientele as well as your services and products.
7. SMS-Based Customer Service
Customer satisfaction is critical for the success of your business. There is nothing more damaging to the business-customer relationship than flawed customer service. Among consumers’ biggest gripes is the requirement to sit on hold on the phone, or worse still, be unable to get through at all. Sending emails for support and waiting an interminable amount of time for a response is also not ideal. By offering a “message us” or “text us” option for customer support or service, efficiency is improved, costs are reduced, and customer satisfaction increases.
You must make it very clear to clients and customers that they can “make the first move” and send your business a text message if they prefer, rather than communicating with you primarily via email, website contact form, or your social media pages. It can be simple to add a Click-to-Text button on your website – make sure you add texting capability to your Home Page and Contact Page, as well as to your call to action.
8. B2B Text Messaging
Text message trends will expand to include B2B communications, with more businesses and workers opting for SMS as their preferred contact channel. More businesses will incorporate text message marketing for active lead generation, customer service, content marketing, and more.
9. SMS-Based Influencer Marketing
When a celebrity or influencer shares their number and tells followers to text them, often it feels more personalized than sending them an email or direct message on social media. Thus many influencers have been able to grow their following using text marketing.
With influencer marketing growing in popularity for many businesses, competition is also becoming fiercer in this niche. Influencers need to show businesses tangible results in terms of clicks, engagement, or sales. SMS marketing will help track these results – one way to do this is by using designated keywords for discount links to be acquired via SMS opt-ins.
10. Multimedia Messaging
MMS is the evolution of SMS and brands can benefit enormously from this. Sending longer messages, media-rich content, videos, images, animations, and more – all combine to convey brand identity and unique message in a more meaningful way. Moreover, mobile landing pages enable you to send your MMS recipient to a mobile-optimized landing page without developing an expensive app or another system.
Choose ClickSend for Text Message Marketing
Access the very best SMS software for your text message marketing: choose ClickSend. We are an industry leader with hundreds of clients worldwide. We offer superior solutions for SMS marketing, email marketing, and a variety of other services for businesses and other organizations.