April 17, 2019

When Is the Right Time to SMS Message Your Prospects?

When To SMS Prospects

According to the Pew Research Center, the most widely-used feature on a smartphone is text messaging. A whopping 97 percent of smartphone owners use their text messaging feature or app regularly. That’s a lot of folks!

Electronic Communications and Marketing

Marketing strategies quickly embraced email “back in the day” when electronic communication first became a part of customers’ everyday rituals. Unfortunately, with the popularity of email marketing came the tsunami of spam. Email marketing, while still a valuable tool, has a reputation for spam lurking in the inbox.

SMS text message marketing, on the other hand, enjoys an astronomical open rate of 98 percent. That means almost every one of your SMS messages reaches their destination.

Optimal Timing

Digging a bit deeper reveals estimated projections in mobile advertising to prospective and established clients expected to reach 72 percent of digital ad expenditure in the U.S. in 2018. To get the most bang for your mobile advertising buck, you need to make certain your SMS messaging is going to the right platform at the right time.

How people interact with their mobile media varies throughout the day. It seems if you want to reach your mobile media audience, the best time to find them on their phones or tablets is between 5 p.m. and midnight, with “prime time” being 8 p.m. to midnight. Early morning can be a productive time as well, but it can’t beat the night.

Reasons To Text Clients

The last thing you want is an established customer or a promising prospect to consider your messaging intrusive or interruptive. There are a few scenarios where common types of SMS text messages are preferable to phone call or email.

Permission to call.

A phone ringing may be an interruption and annoyance if the customer doesn’t expect it. Toward that end, avoid this scenario by texting to ask permission to call. A simple question often gets a more positive response with an exact time that the client can take your call.

“Hi Marie, this is Amanda from XY Associates. Is now a good time to call?”

Appointment confirmation.

One of the best ways to avoid appointment cancellation or no-shows is to SMS text an appointment reminder.

“Hi, Marie. Amanda from XY Associates. Are we still on for meeting at 1 p.m. tomorrow? Can’t wait to discuss your portfolio changes.”

Lead follow-up.

Developing a quick follow-through habit is one way to beat the dreaded sluggish follow-up that too many people encounter.

“Hi, Marie. I enjoyed your input on that Skype conference yesterday. I would love to talk more. May I call you this afternoon around 3 p.m.? Amanda from XY Associates.”

Renewal request.

If you’re working on renewals of subscriptions or services, and don’t get a response from your client, an SMS text message may be just the thing to grab their attention.

“Hi Marie, it’s Amanda from XY Associates. I notice your service subscription expires in one week. Have time for a quick call take care of renewal?”

If you’re managing a team, texting bits of encouragement and updates on the team’s overall progress is always a great motivator.

Reasons Not to Text

What is going on at the other end of the spectrum? If there are times when texting is optimal, there must be times when it isn’t such a great strategy. There are a few general times that sending an SMS text to a prospective or established customer is not such a fantastic idea.

Top of the hour.

The top of the hour is a busy time on most people’s mobile media device. This time is when competing brands send out text message promotions. If you don’t want your message lost in the herd or delayed, resist the urge to send your message at the top of the hour.

Be wary of the weekend.

For some, weekends are time for family, fun, and frivolity. For this reason, many find their opt-out rates increase on the weekend when text messages go out. To avoid this, follow one of the first rules of marketing: know your target customer.

Nothing happening at the moment.

Mobile device users do not like to receive texts if the subject doesn’t involve something of immediate value. Remember that text messaging is an instantaneous medium. Include real-time information, not something happening a month from now. Send immediate offers: “Offer expires Tuesday!”

No rapport, no text.

Simply put, cold-calling through SMS text message is rarely a good idea. Texting is a more personal form of communication and saved for prospective clients you know a bit better. They should at least recognize your name in the text.

Respect the clients’ wishes.

If the client tells you not to contact them via text except during normal business hours, honor that request. If you don’t, you’re only going to antagonize them and drive them to your competitors.

Why don’t you write me back?

Texting a prospect to ask why they aren’t answering your emails or taking your calls is poor form all the way around.

Prospects to Clients via Text

Texting is a useful way to build a relationship with a new prospect. However, be sure to get permission before going to the more personal realm of SMS texting. At the end of the initial contact, ask, “May I text you in a few days to answer any other questions that may come up?” It is that simple.

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