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SMS: The New Hub for Business-to-Consumer Communication

Ann Farber
August 10, 2023
min read
SMS: The New Hub for Business-to-Consumer Communication

SMS: The New Hub for Business-to-Consumer Communication

SMS messaging has come a long way from just being a channel for sending promotional messages. In the past year, it has evolved into a central hub for business-to-consumer communication by integrating with various platforms across a company's tech stack. This integration enables more personalized and effective communication with customers throughout their entire journey.

Integrating SMS with a Customer Data Platform Enables Better Personalization

A customer data platform (CDP) consolidates customer data from various sources into one unified profile. With a 360-degree view of each customer, brands can deliver hyper-personalized messages and offers through SMS.

For instance, if a customer's data in the CDP shows they recently abandoned a purchase for hiking boots, you can send them an SMS coupon for 10% off to incentivize them to complete the purchase. The CDP enables you to identify these abandoned cart opportunities and target SMS coupons to encourage conversion.

SMS and Email Integration Facilitates Cross-Channel Orchestration

Integrating SMS with your email platform allows you to coordinate messaging across channels. You can use email to drive SMS opt-ins by promoting the value customers will receive through your text messaging program.

Once a customer opts in, you can orchestrate multi-channel campaigns spanning email and SMS. For example, you can send an email promoting a flash sale and then deliver reminder messages over SMS to boost engagement.

This cross-channel capability provides a unified experience across touchpoints. Customers perceive your business as one cohesive brand rather than disjointed communications silos.

Combining SMS with Help Desks Transforms Customer Experience

Allowing customers to communicate with your support team through SMS can transform their post-purchase experience. Optimize your help desk system to route SMS queries to the right agents.

SMS enables convenience for quick questions and gives customers an additional channel to resolve issues. Your agents can send proactive notifications over text message as well, such as shipping confirmations or reminders to leave a product review.

Overall, integrating SMS and help desk platforms removes friction from the customer journey by meeting their preference for messaging-based support.

SMS and Returns Platform Integration Enables Frictionless Processes

Returns are a major pain point that causes customers to churn. That's why forward-thinking brands are integrating SMS with their returns platform to remove headaches from the process.

When a customer requests a return via SMS, you can send them a prepaid shipping label or schedule at-home pick-up. Keep them updated on their refund status through automatic text messages at key stages.

Not only does this integration create a smooth returns process, but it also gives customers full visibility. The entire journey can happen conveniently over SMS without waiting on hold or tracking down order numbers.

SMS Shipment Tracking Provides a Superior Post-Purchase Experience

Keeping customers informed on order status after purchase is crucial for brand perception. Integrating your shipment tracking platform with SMS allows you to provide seamless updates through their preferred messaging channel.

Instead of forcing customers to dig through their inbox for tracking emails, proactively reach out over text when their order has shipped or is out for delivery. If deliveries are delayed, SMS enables you to get ahead of customer frustration and immediately notify them.

Overall, SMS shipment tracking promotes transparency and shows customers you respect their time and desire for convenience.

Loyalty Programs See Higher Engagement Rates with SMS Integration

Loyalty programs intrinsically create long-term value, but driving adoption and activity can be challenging. Integrating SMS with your loyalty platform makes it easier for customers to engage.

Send text notifications when customers earn rewards or reach new tiers. Share special members-only offers and redemption reminders exclusively through SMS.

The simplicity of text messaging makes your program perks more accessible. Members don't have to sort through emails or remember to check an app. The result is higher engagement rates, more repeat purchases, and lower churn.

Subscription Management Becomes Seamless with SMS Capabilities

Subscription ecommerce brands live and die by their ability to make subscription management seamless. Integrating SMS capabilities with your subscription portal gives customers an effortless way to control their account.

Members can text keywords to pause or cancel subscriptions, change delivery cadence, and more. You can also leverage SMS to proactively notify customers before renewals so they aren't caught off-guard by charges.

Even simpler use cases like "text STOP to end messages" provide subscription control. Overall, SMS integration enables unmatched portal convenience.

SMS and UGC Integration Improves Review Volume and Quality

Reviews and user-generated content (UGC) are profoundly influential social proof signals. But getting customers to leave high-quality reviews isn't easy. Integrating your reviews platform with SMS makes participation more convenient.

Prompt customers for feedback via text message post-purchase when satisfaction is highest. The casual nature of SMS often leads to more authentic and detailed reviews versus other channels.

With SMS review requests, you benefit from increased review volume and higher quality content. You can then display the UGC across channels to boost conversion.

Personalized Promotions Drive Revenue Through SMS Channel Integration

While some consumers still perceive SMS as a channel for spammy promotional messages, targeted offers integrated into the user journey can drive revenue. For example, integrating your promotions platform with SMS allows you to deliver personalized coupons based on purchase history.

If a customer purchases running shoes frequently, send them an SMS coupon for 20% off running apparel. Tailoring offers with context builds value rather than coming across as intrusive.

As a best practice, ensure customers can easily opt-out of promotional messages while remaining enrolled in your service texts. Honoring preferences develops long-term trust in your text messaging program.

Appointment Management and Reminders Optimized Through SMS

From doctor's appointments to car maintenance check-ups, SMS is an extremely effective channel for managing bookings and sending reminders.

By integrating SMS capabilities with your appointment management system, customers can easily book, reschedule or cancel appointments via text. No need for convoluted phone trees!

You can also leverage SMS for appointment reminders to reduce no-shows. Remind customers 1-2 days before and the morning of their booking for maximum impact.

Overall, seamless appointment management through SMS results in higher attendance, more efficient operations, and improved customer satisfaction.

Customer Service Evolves with Conversational Commerce Over SMS

Many consumers now expect conversational experiences from the brands they engage with. Integrating SMS with a conversational commerce platform enables dialogue-based service through messaging.

Customers can ask questions, get product recommendations and complete purchases all through natural conversation over SMS. With AI, these text-message conversations can be automated to resolve common inquiries 24/7.

Transitioning customer service into conversational commerce is the future. SMS integration paves the way for brands to meet expectations and serve customers through messaging.

Location-Based Promotions Delivered on SMS to Drive In-Store Traffic

Another way brands generate value through SMS capabilities is location-based promotions. For example, integrating SMS with a mobile location platform allows you to detect when subscribers are nearby and deliver offers.

If someone who opts-in is walking past your retail location, you can send them an SMS coupon to incentivize them to enter the store. For restaurants, you can send happy hour promotions when subscribers are downtown.

This provides value beyond generic blasts. Location-based SMS keeps your business top of mind and makes offers hyper-relevant based on context.

Payments and Commerce Functionality Monetizes SMS Value

At the end of the day, brands cannot lose sight of the bottom line. The good news is SMS capabilities can directly drive revenue through payments and commerce integrations.

Allowing customers to easily transact and make purchases directly within SMS conversations monetizes that channel. From one-click reordering of routine purchases to frictionless mobile payments, commerce functionality within messaging apps helps you maximize SMS.

Set up keywords, shortcuts, and call-to-actions to facilitate seamless transactions over SMS. The customer value will become tangible when conversions increase.

Social Contests and Campaigns Engage Customers Over SMS

Running contests and campaigns through SMS is an excellent strategy to engage customers. Integrate text messaging with your social promotion tools to enable entries via text.

For example, you can run a photo contest where customers text in their submissions. This provides more frictionless participation versus platforms like Instagram or Facebook.

For product launches and events, you can create buzz by allowing customers to RSVP or get additional info right over SMS. Integrating texting with your marketing stack adds engagement options.

Just remember to incorporate SMS without losing sight of your broader campaign strategy and goals. Measure results across all channels to optimize.

SMS Becomes a Customer Service Channel with Live Chat Integration

Wait times and poor issue resolution fuel Negative customer service experiences. That's why many brands are now integrating SMS with live chat platforms as an additional support channel.

When customers connect with support agents through chat, they can seamlessly switch the conversation over to text if preferred. This enables continuous conversations across channels.

Agents can also initiate SMS proactively if they identify an opportunity to better serve customers through messaging. Overall, live chat and SMS integration breaks down communication silos and provides choice.

Intelligent Reporting Provides Insights to Optimize SMS Campaigns

As with any marketing channel, reporting and analytics are key to maximizing ROI on SMS initiatives. Integrate your SMS platform with business intelligence tools to unlock robust reporting capabilities.

Look at metrics like deliverability, open rates, response times, and conversion rates for different SMS campaigns. Analyze performance by audience segment.

With comprehensive data, you can fine-tune messaging frequency, content, send-times, and integrations with other platforms. Robust analytics is crucial to optimizing SMS for long-term success.

The Future is Bright for SMS Customer Engagement

These are just some of the many ways brands can integrate SMS across their technology stack to enable valuable customer engagement and business growth opportunities.

The common thread is enhancing the user journey by meeting customers where they already are - on text messaging. Instead of flashy new channels, SMS integration provides convenience.

As more companies expand their capabilities to orchestrate multi-channel campaigns across email, apps, websites, and SMS, the future looks very bright for text messaging.

Brands that capitalize on this evolution of SMS from a simple promotional channel into a data-driven customer engagement hub will have a significant competitive advantage moving forward.

Key Takeaways and Action Items

Here are some key takeaways as SMS becomes a central integration hub:

  • Integrate with a CDP for hyper-personalization
  • Coordinate SMS with email for cross-channel campaigns
  • Improve CX by offering SMS support options
  • Build frictionless processes through SMS + help desk, returns, etc.
  • Provide post-purchase value via SMS tracking and reminders
  • Drive loyalty program memberships and engagement with SMS capabilities
  • Make subscriptions seamless through management via SMS
  • Increase UGC quality and volume with SMS review requests
  • Remember to balance promotions with service messages to provide value
  • Leverage SMS for appointment management and reminders
  • Prepare for the future with conversational commerce over SMS
  • Use location-based SMS when relevant to drive traffic and sales
  • Monetize SMS through integrated payments and commerce capabilities
  • Run social contests and campaigns with SMS entry options
  • Enable continuous conversations by integrating SMS with live chat
  • Analyze SMS performance data to continuously optimize

The time is now to elevate SMS as a core hub in your customer engagement stack. Test integrations that align with your goals and audiences. Measure results, optimize techniques, and expand capabilities over time. Lean into this SMS evolution to boost customer loyalty and brand growth.

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