The Complete Overview of Business Texting

FREE: Your Complete Guide to Successful Business Texting (SMS) Online

Mobile devices and usage have been a growing trend for the last few decades. That's no secret. You're probably already familiar with society's obsession with smartphones. These mobile devices have become a staple for how we interact with each other, with brands, and with the world around us. Texting is native to mobile, and it's the #1 way people choose to communicate. Yet businesses have had difficulty understanding how to implement texting into their operations. It's really easy. Below we outline everything you need or might want to know about business texting. Enjoy our overview, and feel free to reach out with specific questions!

What is SMS/Texting?

Let's start with the bare basics. SMS is an acronym for Short Messaging Service, and has been referenced colloquially as "texting" for about as long as anyone can remember. A "text message" is simply a piece of electronic data with a size limit of 160 characters (for English). It's made specifically for language, rather than imagery or design, and can effectively include any character you'll find on a standard keyboard.

Why Are Texts 160 Characters?

We haven't always had today's great internet speeds and data processing power. Back when Friedhelm Hillebrand was concocting SMS in 1985 (seemingly forever ago), 160 characters is what he subjectively deemed to be the optimum combination of: a data file small enough to send electronically, yet large enough to say what needed to be said. The actual breakdown goes like this.

A "bit" (short for "binary digit") is the smallest unit of measure for computer data. Electronic Characters, such as those used in the English language, are known as "7-bit characters." In other words, every individual letter, space, punctuation mark, etc. is a piece of data 7 bits in size. 7 bits multiplied by 160 characters equals 1,120 bits. This also converts into 140 bytes. 140 bytes (1,120 bits) is what was deemed the optimum balance of data sharing in 1985, and that figure has stuck with us ever since! Talk about trend-setting.

Why SMS 160 Characters

What is MMS?

MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service, or more commonly as "picture messaging." Unlike SMS (standard text messaging), MMS has no file/data size limits. This makes it awesome for sharing images, gifs, videos, texts, audio, etc., but it means that you need a larger network (like 3G - third generation - or newer) to support these larger messages. For anyone with a smartphone, the technological differences between MMS and SMS are seemingly nonexistent.

Why Use SMS & MMS for Business?

There's a sizable handful of different ways SMS and MMS directly help your business, which we'll detail below. The overarching theme is that people prefer texting. This is big. This is not a preference like Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi, where you ask for a Coke, but sure Pepsi's okay, you guess. It's more than that. This is a preference that's created a stark difference in daily behaviors. It's not just that people prefer texting, it's that consumers prefer texting and have a distinct dislike for phone calls (and emails in many cases). Let's look at the stats.

More time is spent every day on text messaging than is spent on phone calls, emails, instant messaging, and even face-to-face communication. Gallup has stated that "sending and receiving text messages is the most prevalent form of communication for American adults under 50." An individual's daily text-to-call ratio is 5-1! This means consumers are actively choosing to text in place of calling. And they're doing so for countless reasons every day.

When asked how they'd prefer to communicate with a brand, 90% of sales leads said they'd prefer to be texted, compared to 10% who preferred to be called. What's more, only 20% or so of phone calls even get answered, whereas 99%+ of texts are read, and have an average response time of 90 seconds. This is big. Even compared to emails, texting is far faster and better received.

You should use SMS (texting) and MMS (picture messaging) for your business, because texting gives you the ability to finally reach people you need to reach, fast, virtually guaranteed, and in the manner your targets prefer to communicate. Reach people, get answers, stand out from spam messages and sales calls, and get results that significantly boost your brand, and your ROI.

SMS Mobile Smartphone Timeline

What's the Difference Between Short Code & Long Code SMS?

In practice, the regulations around short code SMS and long code SMS are very similar. The difference comes down to functionality. Which one is best for your situation depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

What are they?

Short code SMS refers to a 5- or 6-digit number, like 555-55, which can be used for automated SMS campaigns and verifications. Long code SMS refers to a 10-digit number (plus country code), like +1-423-218-0111, which can be used for conversations or alerts.

Permissions

However you choose to text, you have to get permission from each person to text them. This is not an option! There are two forms of permission: expressed consent and implied consent.

Expressed consent is simple. It’s whenever you have a record of someone stating that you can send them texts. Example: There’s a sign on a restaurant table that says, “Text ‘PIZZA’ to 555-55 to receive updates and special offers.” When a person texts in “PIZZA” to 555-55, you now have expressed consent to text them. There’s a clear record of the message and its intent.

Another example of expressed consent is when filling out a form. You could ask the prospect for their mobile number, and then have a checkbox that says “I’m okay with receiving communication via text message.” When a prospect checks that box, you have expressed consent. You have a record of that person giving you permission.

Implied consent is a little different. The basic rule of thumb is that if someone willing gives you their contact information (such as through a business card, email signature, or verbally), you have implied consent to contact them via whatever information they gave you.

Generally speaking, someone who texts you first is giving you consent to text them, though it’s a bit of a toss up as to whether it’s expressed or implied. It's left up to context. Why did they text you? How did they get your number?

Whenever you text with multiple people simultaneously, whether through short code or long code, the recipients have to be told they can opt out of future messages. It’s similar to emails. You can send individual messages without an opt-out link, but any message involving a list must include the option to opt out.

Functionality

Probably the biggest difference between short code and long code SMS is how each is used. Short code is made for automation and mass messaging, whereas long code is designed for conversations.

Several companies will usually share a short code number (because owning one outright would be very expensive), and they’ll pay a monthly fee for using keywords. So if you text “PIZZA” to 555-55, you’ll be entered into one list for campaigns, and another company could use the same number with a different keyword, like “MUSIC,” to enter you into a different list for campaigns.

Because companies share short code numbers, a person could not have a conversation with a company through that number. Which company would it go to? That’s where long code comes into play.

Long code SMS numbers are individually owned, so consumers and businesses can have conversations with each other as needed. Long code messaging effectively functions the same way as any two people (or more) texting each other from their cell phones.

Accordingly, short code and long code SMS differ in how many messages can be sent out at a time. Because short code is designed for mass alerts, anywhere from 10-40+ messages can be sent out every second. Because long code is designed for conversations (and to inhibit spam), one message can go out every second. (Note: some long code providers limit, or throttle, the number of messages to fewer than one per second, which can be annoying. Text Request does not do this.)

Cost

With short code SMS numbers, you’ll be looking to pay anywhere from $500/mo to $2,500/mo per number, depending on how you want things to be set up. You’ll also pay anywhere from 0.5 cents to 5 cents per message (depending on country, etc.). With long code SMS numbers, you really only pay for the texts you use, which could cost anywhere from 2-7 cents per message. For more on long code SMS pricing, click here.

Texting as a Lead Generation Tool

Let's start at the top. Before you can use text to close sales and for ongoing customer support, you have to get customers. Obviously, you've already got customers, but how can you use text to get even more? A typical sales cycle looks like this. A brand - that's you - puts themselves out there via content, advertisements, etc. Interested consumers bite, and provide you with their contact information. They become your leads. Then, the brand - still you - works tirelessly to push those leads through a funnel and (hopefully) turn them into paying customers. For many, it's an exhausting process.

Without leads you have no potential customers. Without potential customers, you won't have any paying customers. As you're well aware, this places an immense amount of pressure on sales and marketing leaders to continually find more, better qualified leads. Generating leads is a necessity, and texting makes this process easier for brands. Our personal favorite way to gain leads through text - not that we're biased or anything - is with a Click-to-Text option on your website (which we gladly help you set up, should you choose to work with us).

The majority of web traffic comes from mobile devices. That phrase was first presented in a comScore report in June of 2014 - over 2 years ago. Mobile usage has been increasing steadily since. When people have a question, what do they do? They grab their smartphone, Google it, and find your website. What's the easiest way to communicate from a smartphone at any time of day or night? Text. Click-to-Text enables you (the brand) to place a button on your mobile website, so that mobile viewers can simply click the button, and open a text message pre-addressed to your business. Does it get any easier?

Lead Generation Sales Cycle

Click-to-Text works well at any time, and that's a large part of where the value is. It's easier and meets consumers' preferences, but it also opens up availability. Most businesses have a sales or customer service team available roughly between 8:00am and 6:00pm. The problem is, that's also when consumers are working. They're availability is limited. When they are available, when they're searching, is typically outside of their work hours, which is when you're probably unavailable.

Text replaces the phone call and simplifies lead generation. You don't have to have a representative standing by to manage a text. And now you have the person's intent and best way to reach them. Consumer has a question. They find your website. They click a button, and then the conversation continues when your representative is available again. Boom. Leads.

Window of Opportunity Text vs Call

Texting as a Sales Tool

Getting more leads is great. Improving your customer service is awesome. Boosting all-around efficiency and customer satisfaction is priceless. But none of it matters at all if you can't get customers. Thankfully, text can be a great way to close sales and bring in those much needed new accounts. For any reason you might need to communicate with someone, you could theoretically send a text. By the same token, you can text leads and prospects at any stage of the sales funnel.

Text could be the only way you communicate with leads and customers - you'd still do well! More often than not, texting will be another tool in your sales arsenal, like email marketing campaigns or that special discount you reserve for big time potential customers. Except with text you'll actually reach leads when you need to.

When you get a lead, that person has given you their phone number. Even at businesses, we know that more than 80% of the time, leads will default to giving you their cell number. You can text those numbers to reach your leads the first time. In fact, about 90% of people say they'd rather be texted than called. You're actually doing a disservice when you call instead of text. What's more, texting works for closing sales. Here are the stats to prove it.

According to Software Advice, less than 10% of people answer calls from toll-free numbers. Only 15% are willing to answer calls from out-of-state. And less than 30% of people will answer calls from local area code numbers. Calls clearly aren't a very efficient means of reaching people. Many consumers take the approach, "If it's important, they'll leave a message." Even if leaving messages makes sense for your sales operation, less than 30% of people check their voice mail. The only people who leave voice mail anyway are salesmen and your mother. Phone calls can be effective, but they're not efficient. There are better ways to reach people.

Texts have a 99% open rate. 95% of those texts are opened and read within 5 minutes. The average response time for those messages is 90 seconds. Texts also have a 205% higher response rate than phone calls, and responses through text are 295% more likely to be "yes" responses than phone calls. How much time does it take you to call 100 people? How effective is that? How much time does it take you to text 100 people? A few minutes, tops. How effective is that? Very. Let's see what phone calls and texts look like side by side.

Lead Conversion Text vs. Call

Everyone's funnel looks a little different, but let's go with this average. You have 100 qualified leads. When you call, an average of about 20% will answer. Of those you speak with, let's say 50% will be interested in furthering the conversation. Of those who expressed further interest, 20% will go on to purchase from you. That is what your sales funnel looks like if you're only calling leads to close sales. You start with 100 leads, 20 of them answer when you call. 10 of those leads are interested in furthering the conversation. 2 of those leads will go on to purchase from you. Now let's look at texting using the same ratios.

You start with 100 qualified leads. 95 of them read your text within 5 minutes. 47 of those leads are interested in furthering the conversation with you. 9 of them will go on to purchase from you. In as little as a five minute span, you've just boosted your sales ratios by 450%. Can anyone afford to miss out on that?

Closing sales through text isn't difficult either. You can still use your scripts (though it might work better to come off more naturally). One of the biggest reasons people aren't answering your calls is that they're busy working. Often, you just need a "yes," "no," or "let's talk on [DATE]." For salesmen, the simple "Update?" text has proven to be very valuable. Your sales cycle likely has several touch points. Add texting to boost each of those points, and to greatly improve your sales game.

Texting as a Customer Service Tool

Whether you want it to be or not, customer service (or account management, or whatever you want to call it) is an important part of your organization. Duh. If you don't treat customers well, they won't be your customers for long. That's exactly the problem. 89% of consumers say they're unhappy with current customer service options. In other words, only 10% of consumers are content with customer service options given to them. That's not good. That's not good at all! Even worse, most of these consumers - about 80% - are actively frustrated with current options. Who can blame them? Customer service is usually a dreadful experience. If you're an average business, this means you're ticking off about 80% of your customers. Who's that good for?

For every one good customer service experience, there are between ten and 400,000 bad experiences. Think about it! There's a reason we share customer service stories and why we despise the thought of calling an 800 number. Customer calls. They wade through minutes of automated call forwarding. They talk to someone. They're put on hold. Repeat three times. The issue might get resolved. How many customers could possibly be happy with this? How many customer service representatives hate their jobs because of this? All of it, however, could disappear if you cut the fluff.

Offer text as an option for customer service. This way consumers can get on with their lives without getting frustrated by your brand and having to repeat themselves over and over again. Text is the customer service option consumers are looking for. The company who offers the best customer experience is who will win. Be the winning company who lets your customers text you.

Customer Service Text vs Call

Texting for Collections, Billing & Accounts Receivable

Just about every company has a person or department that keeps up with who's paid and who hasn't. Why? Because when you provide a service for someone, it makes sense that you get paid. A big problem, though, is that a lot of people forget to pay. It's a simple, human mistake. People are busy and things fall through the cracks. Texting fills in those cracks.

Whether it's paying for insurance, leasing property, or anything else with regular payments, there's plenty of room for mishap. People get a hundred emails a day. They might miss your reminder. People get mail out of their box, set it aside, and forget about it. Nobody answers calls or checks their voicemail anymore. But everybody reads virtually every text, almost instantaneously.

Let's say it's a week, or maybe a couple of days, before a bill is due or before someone's coverage lapses. Shoot a quick text to everyone who hasn't paid yet. "Hi! This is So-and-So with Business-You-Use. Just wanted to give you a quick reminder that your bill is due on MM/DD. Thanks! Have a great day. :)" Even better, you can include a short link to their account login page to make the payment process even easier (and more effective). Doing this is polite, it's personal, and it gets results. Ask Sarah, the VP of a national healthcare brand.

After three weeks of using Text Request, Sarah said, "We've had an increase in collections by thousands a week, and a 66% increase in customer retention." I don't care who you are, that makes a tremendous impact! Oh, and they also increased sales by 17%. Collections is an important part of your business' growth and sustainability. Make it stronger by adding text.

Texting for Internal Communication & Compliance

Everyone texts for myriad reasons, but organizations often aren't sure how to handle texting. Managers text other employees for information, updates, and check-ins. Office workers check in with crews out in the field. Over time, a significant amount of confidential and customer information is sent and received through text. This is great with regards to convenience, but it can also leave your business in a junkyard of trouble if not handled appropriately. There are two necessities for business texting.

Organizational oversight is key. Ideally you want all staff communicating only through platforms and accounts that your business has access to. Particularly in industries like insurance, government services, medical, accounting, and law, it's always necessary for compliance officers to be able to see who said what to whom and when. If everyone's texting about everything from their personal cell phones, as is usually the case, organizations are left with chaos and liability. But by keeping everything in a centralized, manageable location like Text Request, businesses can bring back the oversight and accountability they need to protect their own skin, and that of their customers.

Security is the second key for any business platform. When you're storing confidential customer information, you have to know that information will be safe, and that those in charge of the platform itself are working to make it more secure every day. Text Request has the highest security measures available surrounding your confidential information, and we're constantly improving upon that. This is way better than dozens of individual cell phones loose in the world for anyone to steal or hack into.

Businesses are made and grown by people communicating with each other often, about things which aren't exactly meant for public ears. In today's world, text is a massive part of that communication. As a business, you've got to make sure all of that shared information is safe, compliant, and secure. We can help with that.

How Picture Messaging (MMS) Fits into Business

We share pictures with each other all the time. We use them to capture memories and to share our personal experiences with others. Pictures also hold a very practical place in business communication. The cliche says "a picture is worth a thousand words." The truth is picture messaging gives you more time and money.

Retail

You could take a picture of anything for any reason. Retail store customers could snap an item of clothing and ask the store if they have it in a different size, or for recommendations of other items to go with it. Customers could take a picture of an item label on a shelf and ask if there are any more in stock. Stores themselves could send out pictures of new items and coupons to subscribers.

The thing about retail is that over 80% of smartphone owners are already using their phones to help them out with buying decisions while they're in your store. Being able to send texts and pictures back-and-forth is a clear advantage for your store over whoever else customers might find online.

Home Service and Repair

In any of these areas, you need to be able to see the space. Cleaning service? You need to see what the damage is, how big the space is, etc. Moving company? How much furniture do they really have? Handyman? Know what you're working with and which tools to bring. There's no reason why a representative from your company should have to commute to a potential job site so you can give a price estimate. That's just wasteful.

Instead, have (potential) customers send your office pictures to assess the situation. There's also no reason why any of your crew should be unprepared for the job ahead, but how many times do technicians and others out in the field have to leave a site only to pick up a tool or part back at the shop. There's a better way.

Picture Messaging MMS in Business

Customer Service and Tech Support

How many times have you or other customer service representatives and tech support workers had to ask the person on the other end of the phone to explain what they're seeing? Before you can help, you need to know what's going on. Whether it's computer wiring, an invoice, a software error, or anything else, sharing a picture of the situation is going to be more helpful than trying to explain it over the phone or through email.

Sales and Information

Consumers often ask for more information, whether for their decision-making process or otherwise. What typically happens is the sales rep (or whoever's asked for the information) types up a rather lengthy email. Maybe the email contains links to pages holding more information, maybe not. This isn't bad, it works sometimes. But there's a better way.

Create an image, one page PDF, or infographic to text to these consumers instead. This way you have that person's cell number (the best way to reach them). You have expressed permission to text them (the best way to follow up). Your message stands out because it's a picture message, rather than an email like everyone else's information. And since the brain processes imagery 60,000 times faster than text, consumers can process your information faster, too. Picture messaging information creates a better experience.

Ways to Use Group Texting in Business

We've all experienced pains from unwanted group texts, where we're stuck getting notification after notification for something we might not even care about. As a business, this wouldn't make for a very good customer experience. Yet, it's often valuable to be able to send one message to several or several hundred people at once. That's why we created BCC group texting for our users.

You want to keep that personalization, but you also want to say the same thing to several people without everyone getting stuck in one giant message thread. Here are several ways you can use this BCC group texting option for your business, and why it's beneficial.

Reviews, Surveys, and Feedback

Studies perennially show that personal recommendations and reviews are one of the most important factors for other buyers looking to make a purchase. Whatever the applicable platform is for you - Google+, TripAdvisor, Apple App Store, Salesforce App Exchange, etc. - other people's opinions of your business make a difference. One way to use group texting in business is to send all your happy customers for that day/week/month a link to leave a review on the site most appropriate to your business. It's simple for the customer to do, and it can drastically improve your growth.

If you privately want to receive feedback from customers (which is often a good call), you could create a survey or simple ask for a comment. Google Forms and SurveyMonkey make it very easy to create and manage surveys for free. You can then text the survey link to all of your customers. For a more open-ended, casual response, you can simply text something like "How was your experience working with us?" or "Is there anything we could do to improve your experience?" With how convenient texting is for consumers, you'll more easily gain the information you need to continually improve your business.

For Sales

Sometimes you need to tell a bunch of people the same thing, or ask them the same question. Why waste time going through everyone individually when you could hit them all at once and be done with it? Let's say you're in sales.

There's a group of people you need to get updates from. There's a group of people you need to schedule appointments with. And there's a group of people you've yet been unable to reach, among others. For all of these groups, you're going to say the same thing. Why not just get it over with through a BCC group text? Texts also get a 200+% higher response rate than phone calls or emails. Why wouldn't you just text them, and free up all that time for the leads most likely to purchase?

Group Texting in Business Texting

Appointment Reminders and Confirmations

People forget. It's part of the human condition. Why should that have to hurt your business? Every missed appointment is missed revenue. Yet confirmation calls and voicemails are time consuming, yielding low response rates, and emails often go ignored. A simple text to that day's or the next's appointments can do wonders for your kept ratio, and thus for your bottom line.

Even better, those who would have been unable to make the appointment are now prompted to reschedule. We've this turn into a win-win situation time and time again. Many also use it to fill last minute openings, such as medical and health offices.

Internal Communication

Nobody wants to be stuck in a chain with their coworkers, but it's often the case that you need to ask or notify a group of them at once. BCC group texting makes this simple, and gets you the information you need quickly. BCC group texting makes it easy for any of your communications to be personal, private, simple, and incredibly efficient.

SMS Hosting Your Current Business Number

If you just want the simple answer to "What is this," here you go. SMS hosting your current business number is where we add our Text Request online dashboard to the 10-digit phone number you're already using to make calls. For a bit more technical of an answer, keep reading.

Every 10-digit telephone number comes with two parts: voice and text. Most telecommunications providers only ever deal with or own the voice profile of a phone number, leaving the text portion of the number up for grabs. What we do is acquire the rights to the SMS profile of available numbers, and host the text portion of that phone number within our online dashboard. Nothing changes to your current phone/voice services, because we only deal with the text portion of the number.

To connect your current business number to mobile networks - and thus, to be able to send and receive texts from your phone number - we use what's called an SMS gateway. This is a set of code that connects text messages from your computer to mobile networks, and on to cell phones.

Basically, all of this means you can add our online dashboard to current business number(s), so long as your telecommunications provider isn't already using the SMS portion of your number. To see if your current business number is available, click here.

Bringing It All Together

Online live texting is the largest void in business communication, which means there’s a lot to cover. Business texting is simple. Business texting is effective. Texting is the most prevalent, and the preferred form of communication for those under 50. With how flexible a tool it is, you’re severely hurting yourself and your business by not using it. And if you are using it in some area, think of all the other possibilities!

SMS for Business 101: Internal Communication & Compliance

SMS Business 101 Internal Communication Compliance

You're a business. A business is made up of people. People who communicate with each other to get stuff done. Texting helps you get stuff done, often more efficiently than other methods of communication. Internal communication is no exception.

Through our SMS for Business 101 series, we've been walking through a simple, step-by-step guide for implementing texting into your business in a variety of ways. See, we believe that a management solution for texting is the largest void in business communication. That's why we built our platform. But it's bigger than that.

Everyone texts, but no one is really sure how it fits organizationally. That's what we've been helping you learn. We've been giving you the knowledge and expertise you need to simply and quickly implement texting into your business to improve operations.

We've covered everything from what SMS is to why it's importantgenerating leads to making sales, and customer service to collections. In this piece we'll cover texting for internal communication and compliance. We'll wrap up the series, and you'll be left with everything you need to implement texting completely, on your own, and to use it successfully.

Your business is made up entirely of people, at least most of whom need to communicate with each other regularly. We have a cornucopia of customers who use our system specifically for internal communication. Here's the gist of why texting works well for them, and in what situations texting is a good choice for internal communication.

Do you ever have employees or teams out in the field? Maybe at a job or site away from your main office? Even when they're away, you still communicate with them. Actually, you probably communicate with them more when they're out of the office. You check in with them for updates or details. They do the same with you. If there's a question or a need for some extra tool or file, you reach out to each other. For all of this, texting works great.

It actually works better than calls or emails because it's so much quicker. Texting doesn't interrupt. If you're in the middle of a conversation with someone else, or engrossed in a project, you won't take a call or email, but you'll read a text real quick. That's typical human behavior. Texting's simpler. It's how people function naturally in 2016. The only thing that's missing is ascribing "texting" as a specified step in your operations.

If you're in the office and simply need to ask a quick question to someone across the hall or in a different corridor, you're not going to walk down to talk face-to-face. If you're a really traditional person, you might email them and wait hours for a response. Or, if you're like most people, you'll just shoot a text and hear back whenever so-and-so isn't tied up in whatever they're working on.

People and businesses communicate like this everyday. The only potential problem is that most of this texting is done from personal cell phones.

I'm sure you trust your employees. I hope you're able to! But all of these employee-to-employee conversations include confidential information (not to mention anytime employees might text with customers and clients). Which means your business is directly responsible for making sure that information is safe and securely held by only your business.

You need a business texting tool. This way, everyone can still have their own line (or as many as you want). They can all use it on their desktop during the work day, if they like. You can always look and see who said what to whom at what time. This way, you have 100% compliance and organizational oversight into your business's communications.

Texting is a tool that people naturally use for internal communication. As a business, you have to be able to handle these communications with compliance. Put two and two together, and the only thing you're missing is something simple to manage it all.

SMS for Business 101: Texting for Collections

SMS Business 101 Texting Collections

When you and your business provide a service for someone, it's important that you get paid for providing that service. Duh. That just makes sense.

It also makes sense, then, that collections would hold a relatively important role in every company, particularly those that deal with ongoing payments. As we've seen with several Text Request users, texting can be a very powerful (albeit simple) tool for collections. Here's what we've learned.

One of the top reasons, if not the #1 reason, why people neglect to pay up is simply because they forgot about their bill. That's all! Here's a situation. A family is currently leasing-to-own a set of furniture and appliances. Like many, the prefer not to have an automatic withdrawal set up. They know payment is due on the 15th, but they stay very busy, and completely forget about the bill until several days after it's due. Now the business doesn't have their money, and the customer is charged a late fee. It's an all-around terrible experience.

Here's another common situation. So-and-so, let's call her Emily, signs up for an insurance plan. Emily gets an email two weeks before her bill is due, but she doesn't read it because the average person gets over 100 emails everyday. That's too much for any person to work through so often. It's not that Emily doesn't care about her insurance, but insurance is something you sign up for and forget about until you need it.

The insurance company calls Emily to tell her she's late on payments, but Emily doesn't pick up because she doesn't recognize the number. No one answers phone numbers they don't recognize. She doesn't listen to the voicemail because nobody listens to voicemail anymore. Emily lapses on her payments, and falls out of being your customer. Your business has now lost a paying customer, and Emily is now at greater risk of the unexpected. It's a lose-lose situation.

You can apply a scenario like this to several industries: healthcare/medical, utilities, insurance, rent/leasing, banking, accounting, law - you get the idea.

On the surface, texting is one of the simplest things we do everyday. Perhaps that's why it's so effective. Text message open rates are just short of 100%. Actually, 95% of all texts are opened and read within 3 minutes of being sent. That's incredible! Let's apply that to a collections situation.

One of the top reasons why people don't pay bills is because they simply forget. People are human. They make mistakes everyday. Your business shouldn't have to suffer because of a customer's mistakes. Your business - probably your accounts receivable or collections department - keeps an active list of who's up-to-date on their payments, and who's not. Use this!

Here's a situation. Two days before the payment deadline, you send everyone who hasn't paid a quick text message. "Hey! This is so-and-so with Business-You-Use. Just wanted to give you quick reminder that your bill is due in two days on MM/DD. Thanks! Have a great day. :)"

This is polite. It's personal. It's subtle. It's effective. Virtually everyone you text will read this within minutes, and most will take action. Congratulations! You've just significantly boosted your collections. If anybody has questions, they can text you back. You could even put a direct link to their account's payment/billing page within the text. It's amazingly convenient!

Another option is to send a text before someone lapses - before you lose them as a client. Here's another situation. Two weeks before you'll have to drop someone as a client, let's say, you shoot them a quick text. "Hey! This is so-and-so with Business-You-Use. You're about to lapse on your [product, account]. Please get us [$specified amount$] by MM/DD. Thanks so much! Have a great day. :)" Again, if they have a question, they can just reply to your text. You could even add a direct link to streamline the process. It's a magnificent tool, because it works.

Take it from one of our users. Sarah is the VP of a large, national healthcare brand. They added texting to their collections department (and to their sales team). A few short months later, Sarah reported "an increase in collections by thousands a week, and a 66% increase in customer retention." I don't care who you are, that makes a tremendous impact! Oh, and they also increased sales by 17%. For more on using texting for making sales, reference this.

Texting is effective, efficient, and - maybe best of all - really inexpensive! Collections is an incredibly important part of your business, its growth, and its sustainability. Why wouldn't you include texting in that?

SMS for Business 101: Texting as a Customer Service Tool

SMS for business 101 Texting Customer Service Tool

89% of the population wants another customer service option. Not much less than that (79%) are actually frustrated with current customer service options. People are displeased with customer service. This is nothing new.

We've been going through a crash course in how SMS/texting can and should be used in the business world. People text literally hundreds of times a day for hundreds of reasons. With its prevalence and preference, it makes sense to implement texting as a formal business tool. That's what we're here to help you do. This week is all about using texting as a customer service tool. Let's dive in.

People love to text. More than that, people are disgusted by calling a customer service line. Why shouldn't they be? You call. You press a few buttons to send you to the right person or department. You accidentally hit the wrong button and have to start all over again. Once you finally get through to the right place, nine times out of ten you have to wait on hold. If you do get to speak with someone in customer service, you have about a one in five chance of hanging up satisfied. It's an abysmal experience.

But not with your business, right? Your customer service representatives pick up immediately every time. They're always super polite, and help everyone with a cool demeanor. You have no dissatisfied customers. You always get golden reviews. 100% of companies deal with customer service issues. 99.9% of them create dissatisfied customers (who then leave) at some point.

There's two types of companies who actually care about customer service. There's the mom-and-pop places, where they've spent a lifetime building individual friendships with their customers. Then there's the customer-service-first businesses like Zappos and most of Virgin Group, who do so well they're usually bought out.

Chances are you don't belong to either of these two groups. Chances are you have a customer service team, and you have the occasional unhappy customer. But that's okay because other parts of your business do well enough to make up for it, right?

Even if it's not your #1 priority, customer service should be at the top of the list. It costs a company, on average, seven times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep one existing customer happy. You should do the right thing anyway, and always treat customers with grace and respect. But even if that's the last thing you care about, think of your bottom line!

At the heart of it, texting is an option many customers would prefer. Sure, not everyone would only text you as soon you added the service. But some will. As more and more customers learn about the option, they'll use it more. If you do it right, they'll refer you and this text option to their friends, etc. This is what we've seen time and time again with our own users.

Remember, these people are unhappy with current customer service options. If done right, texting is the solution to consumers' complaints! Texting is super quick. 95% of texts are read within three minutes. This negates the hesitation that someone will be stuck on the phone for God only knows how long. Text, and move on.

If your service team implements texting appropriately (i.e. follows our recommendations), every customer that texts in can have an appropriate response or follow up step attached to them or their file within minutes. For customers, this is a far better alternative to sending an email and praying you get a response within the week. This makes customers happy, which puts more money in your pocket and boosts your brand. It's quick. It's convenient. It's personal. It's natural.

Texting is a great customer service tool, in part, because it's digital. Everything about it can be tracked. You can see which CSR said what to which customer at what time about whatever topic. All this information can be kept in your CRM or whichever customer management tool you use. You can place a textable number on your website under the customer service section or inside a customer portal. This makes any "clicks" on that number trackable, and you place a great customer service option right where customers need it. (This also works great as a lead generation tool.)

Have you ever tried explaining what something looks like over the phone? Why not just snap a quick photo of what you're trying to explain, and text it to the customer service team? "This is what I'm looking at. How can I fix it?" For both the customer and the CSR, this is a dream! It saves time and keeps people happy.

The company who offers the best customer experience is the one who will keep the most customers. They will be the ones with all the happy customers. The majority of consumers want another customer service option. The majority of businesses have a customer service system that is painful at best.

Consumers, particularly those under 50, prefer to text. Texting is 100% trackable, and can be used to give customers what they want, when they want, and how they want it. Texting is such a great customer service tool that it's frankly inexcusable for any business not to be texting.

SMS for Business 101: Making Sales with Texting

SMS for Business Making Sales with Texting

Last week we walked through using SMS/texting as a lead generation tool. That's a great way to harness texting, but leads aren't worth much unless you turn them into sales. That's why this piece covers making sales with texting.

To be clear, when we say "making sales" we'll be referring to the process of helping leads through the sales cycle to purchasing. We will not be referring to mass-texting coupons and discounts to get people on your website and in your store. That's something you can do, but that's not what we're focusing on. We're focusing on managing the world's most preferred form of communication to more efficiently turn qualified leads into paying customers.

Getting a lead through text doesn't necessarily mean you should neglect other ways of making sales. And getting leads through forms or referrals doesn't necessarily mean you should only follow up with them through text. Texting is simply another tool in your sales arsenal to help close leads faster.

You have a lead. That means you should have their phone number and permission to contact them. Less than 10% of people answer calls from toll-free numbers. About 15% are willing to answer calls from numbers out-of-state. Less than 30% of people will answer calls from a local area code. This research should feel startling to you, because phone calls are typically the first method a business uses to contact leads. You have to communicate with leads to close them. If only one-in-five calls picks up, you're already at a disadvantage.

When making sales, it's all about your ratios. That's how you know what works, what doesn't, and what people need to shoot for. Phone calls simply don't work. Let's use cross-industry averages for an example.

If you have 100 qualified leads, 20% of those leads will answer your phone call. 50% of the leads you speak with will be interested in a more in-depth consideration of working with you. About 20% of those who expressed interest will finally purchase from you. This is what your sales ratios will look like if you're just making phone calls to leads.

You started with 100 qualified leads. 20 of those leads talked with you. 10 of those leads were interested enough to consider purchasing after they learned more. 2 of those qualified leads finally bought. You have these severely low rates because you can't reach them.

Companies with larger budgets are able to combine phone calls with complex email drip campaigns, IP tracking, and social ads to boost their ratios as high as 20% (20 purchases out of every 100 qualified leads). But these conversions take time - often a year or more - and cost exponentially more to put in place. They're effective, but they're still not very efficient.

The central problem with relying on phone calls (and even emails) for making sales is how little people choose to communicate and engage with others through them. Making sales is difficult because you can't reach people. Now let's see what it would look like if you texted leads to follow up with them.

95% of texts are read and responded to within 3 minutes. You have 100 leads. You text each of your 100 leads. You reach 95% of them. Just like with our phone call scenario earlier, 50% of those you reach want to have a more serious look at purchasing from you. About 20% of those interested will buy.

Out of 100 leads, you reached 95 of them. Within 3 minutes, 47 leads have told you they're seriously interested. Between 9-10 of those 100 leads will end up purchasing from you. Now you've boosted your sales ratios by about 500%, simply because you're able to reach more people more quickly. This has profound effects on your revenue, and your cost per acquisition (sale). If you do have a larger budget, you can use some of the more complex methods used above to boost this significantly more!

Making sales with texting is not a difficult move to make. All you do is start following up with leads through text instead of through calls. You can still keep people on newsletter lists, still call them, etc. But now you're not wasting any of the qualified leads you've worked so hard to get, nor are you wasting hours and hours of employees' time trying to reach those leads.

Texting is a great tool for making sales. Maybe you handle the entire sales process through text, maybe not. The most important thing is that with texting you're able to reach who you need to reach. You've got the chance to boost your ratios by 500%. You'd be crazy not to try that, right?

SMS for Business 101: Texting as a Lead Generation Tool

SMS for Business 101 Lead Generation

One of the most common questions we get is "How does this make us money?" That's a great question! In any way you'd communicate, we can harness texting to help improve your operations, which translates into more money in your pocket. But, specifically, how can a business use SMS to gain revenue?

Over the next few additions to our SMS for Business 101 series, we'll cover just that. To start, we'll work through how your business can use texting as a lead generation tool.

A typical sales cycle looks like this. A brand puts themselves out there. Interested persons give the brand their contact information and become leads. Brand works tirelessly to turn those leads into paying customers. 

Without leads, you have no potential customers. Without potential customers, how do you hope to gain paying customers? Generating leads in some capacity is naturally a primary focus for every business. SMS (or texting) helps you to gain these leads in various ways. Our personal favorite way to gain leads through texting is with a Click-to-Text option on your website.

In the summer of 2014, it was reported for the first time that people spent more time surfing the web on mobile devices than on computers. Since then, Google has made major changes to their search engine algorithm to support mobile-friendly websites, strengthening this consumer behavior in the process.

Texting is also the primary form of communication from a mobile device. Actually, it's the most preferred form of communication in the world, and people spend more time texting than any other form of communication, even face-to-face.

Mobile devices are the primary way that consumers make it to your brand's website. Texting is the most prevalent form of communication in the world, and it's the native language of mobile devices.

It might make sense if people could text your brand directly, from their mobile phones on which they're already viewing your website. Don't you think? Click-to-Text, as we've called it, makes this a reality, and gives you a fantastic lead generation tool in the process.

You're probably familiar with click-to-call features. Every smart phone has this capability. If a 10-digit phone number is given (on a website, in a text, on Facebook, in an email, etc.), you can click on that number to start a call. This is really simple. It makes for a great user experience. And it makes things very easy for those who want to speak with you directly. Click-to-call has become so effective that 3 million people use it everyday.

We know that the general population prefers to text. We know that Millennials in particular hate answering phone calls. We also know that 86% of calls to businesses are placed on hold, as well as how much people dislike waiting on hold. What if you could just Click-to-Text a business? As the business, this option allows you to capture the information of potential customers who might otherwise have never interacted with you. In fact, this is exactly what our users report back to us.

Someone gets to your website. They see your call-to-action, "Call us for a free quote!" Even if someone gets to your website and tries to call you, they don't always turn into a lead. Did they talk to anyone, or just wait on hold before hanging up? What information did you get from them? With Click-to-Text, you appeal to a much wider audience, and anyone who texts in instantly becomes a lead. You have their intent, the best number to reach them, and an open line of communication where they already spend most of their time talking.

Click-to-Text works as a fantastic lead generation tool on your website. It's effectiveness is, of course, directly related to your website. If you only get 100 hits a day, you can't necessarily expect your text line to be blowing up. But you wouldn't expect your phone to ring off the hook, either. What if your website doesn't boom? There's still other ways to get people to text you. Ask.

Whenever you send an email (personal or marketing campaign), you can place your text number in the signature or as a call-to-action to follow up with you. This turns passive contacts into active leads. If you have events going on, ask people to text in their name to your text line. This goes over well with a raffle-style giveaway.

You can place your number on a billboard, on a social media ad - anywhere! The beauty about texting is that everyone does it, and most people prefer to text. Anywhere you place your text number with a call-to-action (e.g. "Text us to schedule a demo! XXX-XXX-XXXX) turns into an instant lead generation tool.

 

For more info on why your business should use SMS, click here.

For other ways of using SMS/texting to bring in more revenue, subscribe to our blog and be instantly notified when that information comes out next week.

SMS for Business 101: Why Use SMS?

SMS for Business 101 Why Use SMS

People use SMS all the time. The average smartphone owner sends and receives over 100 texts every single day. Gallup has even stated that "sending and receiving text messages is the most prevalent form of communication for American adults under 50." Impressive!

People spend more time texting than they do on any other form of communication, be it face-to-face or digital. In fact, over 18 billion SMS messages are sent each day.

This research alone makes a rather powerful case for why you and your business should incorporate SMS into your operations. And that's before we get into the benefits! Everyone is texting.

SMS is an incredibly flexible medium. For any reason you might communicate with someone, you could theoretically send a text. Would you always prefer to text instead of some other form of communication? Well, that really depends on who's initiating the conversation.

Generally speaking, the younger and more affluent an adult is, the more likely they are to text, and for a broader set of reasons. As with anything else, there are exceptions to this generalization. But the majority of consumers actually do prefer texting to other forms of communication. That's why its usage is still growing as other forms of communication keep decreasing year over year.

Simple reasons why people prefer texting include its mobility (you can text from virtually anywhere in virtually any scenario), its prevalence (texting is accepted as a standard medium for communication), its flexibility (check out these 101 reasons why you might text someone), and its privacy (no one overhears your texts), among others.

Despite any negativity you might feel towards texting, you need to understand that hundreds of millions of Americans (and billions around the world) find immense value in it, to the tune of 100 messages a day.

Texting is a great option to have for your customers and targets, because it's what they're already doing. It would be impossible to over emphasize the importance of meeting your customers where they are.

 

If you would like clarification on what exactly SMS or texting is, click here.

For more info on how SMS or texting can bring your business more money, click here.

SMS for Business 101: What is SMS?

SMS for Business 101 what is SMS

You probably see it all over the place. You've at least seen it enough to find this post, and I'm sure you've used it thousands of times to communicate with friends, clients, coworkers, or family. But what exactly is SMS?

The simple answer is that SMS is an acronym for Short Messaging Service. A "short message" is more commonly known as a "text message," and is a piece of electronic data with a size limit equal to 160 characters in the English language (for languages like Chines or Arabic, the size limit is equal to 70 characters). A character is a letter, space, punctuation mark, number, or symbol. It's basically anything you could find on a standard keyboard - or in this post, for that matter.

Why is SMS 160 characters? When SMS was being created, the same great bandwidth/internet speed easily accessible to us today was not available at all. The text used for these messages is composed of 7-bit characters, meaning that every letter, space punctuation mark, etc. is a piece of data (or code) that is 7 bits in size. 7 bits multiplied by 160 characters is equal to 1,120 bits of data. This size of data is more commonly converted, and referred to, as 140 bytes.

When Friedhelm Hillebrand was creating SMS back in 1985, 140 bytes of data is what he deemed to be the optimal combination of a data file small enough to send electronically, and large enough for any given person to say what they needed to say.

There's a much more complex way to explain how all this works, involving how the data for each character is coded and transferred between devices. But let's suffice it to say that SMS stands for "Short Messaging Service," which is an electronic message consisting of 160 characters or less. That 160 characters is equal to 140 bytes of electronic data (or code), which is what in 1985 was considered the optimal electronic file size for sending real-time communications.