Sales agents have a VERY narrow time window in which to contact new prospects before those leads become unresponsive or “cold.” According to a groundbreaking 2009 study by Dr. James Oldroyd, if a first contact attempt is made within 5 minutes of the prospect initiating a request for information (or contact), companies are 21 times more likely to qualify—meaning a lead is willing to enter the sales process. As the world transitions, the speed of mobile device follow-up is key to success.
Commissioned by InsideSales.com, CEO David Elkington comments on the study’s profound findings, “We call it the ‘wow effect’ as in wow, that was fast! You are impressive,” referring to the reaction a person has when contacted so soon after submitting a lead.
So how long does it take your business to follow up prospect leads? More than one hour? If yes, you are not alone. According to the March 2011 Harvard Business Review, here’s how most companies are doing:
- 23% never responded at all
- 24% took more than 24 hours
- 16% responded in 1-24 hours
- 37% within the hour
Thus, two-thirds of companies are throwing away advertising and marketing investments if they wait too long—read taking more than 5 minutes—to follow up with prospects.
Did you know that text messages have a 95+% open rate? Due to the incredibly high open rates for text messaging, this is absolutely the best way to follow up with your customers and get them to follow through on your offers. A change in schedule notification, an offer deadline reminder, or a last minute promotion to help increase business are all great uses for an SMS broadcast. Here are a few tips to help you maximize the results of your SMS marketing:
6 TIPS FOR TEXT MESSAGE CAMPAIGNS
Remember that the implicit purpose of text messaging campaigns is to create connections with your existing and potential customers so they come to know you, so they can begin to trust you. To do so, it must be rewarding for them to read your text. Always provide value or pique their interest.
|1) Timing: Select a day and time when your potential customers are most likely available. For example, during the weekdays many people work 9:00 am to 5:00 pm so disturbing them at work may not be the best time. On the flip side, if your target market involves other businesses perhaps texting during a weekday is actually preferred.|
|2) Keep it short and relevant: SMS texts are limited to 160 characters, however don’t feel that you need to use all 160 characters. Keep your messages to exactly the length they need to be. Avoid unnecessary waffle, keep your messages on topic and always relevant to what the recipient is expecting from you. When you want to alert your customer to a valuable article or link, use a service like tinyURL.com to reduce the size of the link.|
|3) Always ask permission before you send: Most people enjoy receiving text messages, but only from people to whom they have given their number. People want control over who sends them information, especially since most people are in a state of information overload. The last thing you want to do is anger or annoy a potential customer; this actively works against sales. Ask permission, make sure they understand what they will receive, and let prospects know that there will be no charge for incoming texts (but that it might count toward the customer’s text plan). Many cell carriers allow for free incoming texts.|
|4) Offer value: Give prospects a reward for having given you their cell number. Offer something of value. It could be service messages related to customer appointments, a free report, or perhaps a video that offers great tips related to the product or service your business offers. You could offer an SMS coupon or voucher code that can be exchanged in-store or online for a discount or special offer. Offer value and they will take the next step in the sales process.|
|5) Personalize your texts: Include the subscriber’s name at the beginning of a text, just like you would for an e-mail campaign. People like hearing their own name when they read the text message to themselves in their head. This also sends a signal to your lead that you are interested in beginning a relationship, rather than a one-off piece of communication. To further personalize your campaign, find out when your customers want to hear from you and how often. What products and services to they typically buy? All this information maximizes the effectiveness of your text campaign so that you sent the right people, the right information, at the right time.|
|6) Make it easy to opt-out: Of course you’d like to avoid having people make the decision to stop receiving your texts, however it’s important that your prospects feel they are in control and can stop receiving unwanted information anytime. In fact, in some countries (notably the UK, US, Canada and Australia), you must give leads a clear “get out” option by law. So when you send a message ensure your recipients can unsubscribe by simply replying “STOP” to your message.|