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Text messaging has become more and more pervasive in business, not just for marketing, but for all types of communications. Text Request, the business text messaging platform, recently released their 2023 State of Business Texting Report, which studies how consumers want to interact with businesses, how businesses are meeting those demands, and how to bridge gaps that may exist. Here are five key takeaways for business leaders to consider. Disclaimer: I work for Text Request and was part of this study, but that is as promotional as this article gets.
1. Eighty-eight of consumers want to receive texts about appointments
Appointments are the lifeblood of many businesses, and it’s clear that texting can help you set and keep more of them. Texting may also help you save time and overhead. Consumers are not answering phone calls, and they’re not listening to voicemails. However, 70% say that texting is the fastest way to reach them.
Instead of calling customers to confirm appointments, send a text. You can send one at a time manually to each person, send a mass message for each day’s or each week’s appointments or connect texting to your existing systems to automate notifications. In any case, texting is more effective and more efficient than individually calling about each appointment. This will also help you keep more appointments on the books since the leading reason people miss appointments is that they forget.
To set more appointments, and make more money by extension, text customers who are due for their next appointment or service. Text around annual renewals, for seasonal check-ins or whichever period makes sense for you. For example, the dealership where I got my last vehicle texts me every three months about an oil change and tune-up since that’s about how long it takes to drive 3,000 miles.
2. People want more SMS promotions (yes, really!)
Fifty-two percent of survey respondents said they want to receive texts for promotions and discounts, yet only 29% said their businesses are currently sending these texts. There’s a big opportunity here, and it’s important to think of promotions outside the realm of retail. The report lists several examples, including:
Prompting customers to schedule appointments or services
Telling customers about new services or other offers
Fundraising for nonprofits and schools
Sharing important reminders
Providing discounts or incentives
These can each be used to drive revenue for your business while creating great customer experiences.
3. Texting works for B2B businesses, too
The report notes that texting is sometimes thought of as a great channel for business-to-consumer (B2C) businesses, but not so great for businesses that sell to other businesses (B2B). However, business buyers are still consumers everywhere else they go.
Eighty percent of people have texted with a business before, and as people have these experiences with consumer services, they begin to expect them from business services, too. Easy applications of texting for B2B businesses include:
Touching base during the sales process
Finding a few minutes to chat on the phone
Appointment scheduling and reminders
Customer service and support
Promotions about new products and services
Texting helps you grab people’s attention and get responses. That can have a big impact, no matter who you serve.
4. The biggest expected trend in 2023 is texting for payments
This is perhaps the biggest gap the report found between consumers and businesses. It’s also the area that’s expected to see the highest increase in traction over the next year. Sixty-nine percent of people want to receive texts for payment reminders, and 45% want to pay their bills directly through text, yet only 30% of businesses are texting for anything related to payments.
This is important because taking in revenue is a critical function. If you can’t collect revenue — especially revenue you’re already owed — your business will struggle. Even small delays in collecting payments or having to spend more money to collect those payments can have a noticeable negative impact.
This is an easy need to solve for, though, because PDF invoices and payment links can be shared through text messages. If nothing else, businesses can begin texting payment reminders to any client with an outstanding balance and include invoices as needed.
5. Consumers are already comfortable texting with businesses
Eighty percent of people have texted with a business before, and 58% text with a business at least monthly. Meanwhile, 90% of consumers say they want to text with businesses and other organizations. People are comfortable texting for business purposes, and they’re beginning to expect these kinds of experiences. That poses both a challenge and an opportunity.
In order to meet customers where they are in 2023, businesses are going to have to add texting into their communications mix. The report notes it will be important to enable text conversations, not just one-way automations because customers want to use texting to reach a business on their terms. In fact, 77% say they want to text a business for customer service and support.
For many businesses, adding texting as a customer communications channel will be a new effort. However, those who do not take advantage of it to meet customer demand risk losing out to competitors who do.
What should you do with this information?
There are several clear opportunities for businesses to increase revenue, save on costs and improve customer experiences through text messaging. As with anything in business, the sooner you take action, the sooner you’ll be able to see the fruits of those efforts. But you do not need to run out and overhaul your entire strategy all at once.
Pick one thing that’s a relatively low lift, that you’ll be able to commit to, and implement it — like replacing appointment confirmation phone calls with text messages. As you and your team get comfortable with that change and can track any improvements, then look for the next opportunity, and repeat.