SMS is one of the most effective tools in a successful marketing campaign. Social media has been taking the focal point of marketing strategies of brands across the world over the past decade. With such a trend, it was forecast in the marketing world that SMS marketing could take a back seat. Contrary to this assumption, in an era when time is of supreme essence, product and service providers are aware that ‘speed to market’ is the key differentiator that would set them apart from the competition. We already know how bulk SMS works in this regard as one of the quickest ways to market a product or service to a large section of your target audience. 2-way SMS provides the advantage of gathering customer reactions promptly which will help the marketers create impactful campaign strategy.
One of the main objectives of any marketing activity is to create a loyal customer base apart from increasing the bottom line. Loyalty can be garnered only by increasing customer satisfaction. An effective marketing strategy can make the customers invested in the brand, increase customer satisfaction and thereby improve sales. Customer engagement lies in the fact that they have easy and hassle-free channels to communicate back to the brand and receive fast responses. Bulk SMS can get your messages across to your customers but it does not give you the option to receive replies back. People today generally prefer to get their tasks done through SMS transactions or Chat Bots rather than making phone calls and waiting for the customer service personnel to pick up their call.
What Is Two-Way SMS All about?
Technically speaking, two-way (or also referred as 2-way) SMS is an organized system that combines outbound and inbound SMS into a single comprehensive service. By employing a dedicated number, a marketer can send and receive SMS through a web messaging platform by using APIs. Customers can respond to the SMS through Short Codes or virtual long numbers. A Short Code is a set of numbers with 4 to 6 digits, to which the end-users can send SMS back in the form of a keyword specified in the original message. These short codes can be either a normal code, where the customers are charged normal SMS rate, or Premium where the customers are charged much higher for each message. Premium numbers are used for participating in contests or to avail premium services. Short codes are country and operator specific, which requires getting the codes from each operator in a country.
Long numbers (also known as Long codes), on the other hand, appear like proper phone numbers that will help in receiving SMS and connect to the SMS server without the need for a physical devise. Long codes are used when the brand is expecting communication from various regions and to create a unified communication.
2-Way SMS helps you integrate SMS communication into your backend applications through normal APIs so as to store customer communication or to retrieve data to provide back to the customer. In simpler terms, 2-way SMS is the mechanism by which the brand and the customer can communicate with each other through messaging (SMS). Here is an example; “Dear John, thank you for using our service online. Please send us your feedback to 4444”. Customer can send their feedback as a text message to the number 4444, which is then automatically stored in the CRM system or forwarded as an email to the respective team members.
Customers can also initiate the communication with the brand to receive information back or for providing confirmation/consent. Here is an example; The customer sends the message “GR” to the short code 4444, to retrieve latest Gold Rate. The system encodes the code “GR” and directs the query to respective system which will send the details back to the customer. The reply SMS may look like “Thank you for using the service. Todays Gold Rate is $45 for 22 Ct and $50 for 24 Ct. Rates were updated at 04:30 PM”.
Here Are 5 Reasons Why You Should Use 2-Way SMS
1. Connectivity To The Customers
2-way SMS lays down a channel of direct connection with the customer. This gives the customer a chance to reach out and develop a relationship with the brand. A well-rounded buying experience happens when the customer can get back to the seller with feedback. It enables in gathering valuable data about the product and market trends which can be employed to come up with more up-to-date strategies. Personal communication like rewarding them on special occasions, recognition for your customers, special discount codes on participating in SMS contests, etc. will improve customer relationship and retention.
2. Information on the Go
2-way SMS allows you to provide information on the go. You can provide information to the users and collect information from the users in a matter of seconds. SMS has a high read rate and subsequently, the chances of them getting back through the Short Code or long number will also be more. Customers are not limited by data or talk time to be able to respond to the SMS which is the greatest advantage of SMS marketing. Be it for receiving information related to Loyalty points, getting the latest offers in a store, getting store location or to subscribe to receive updates, customers can do it using a simple text message rather than waiting to go online or reach customer support.
3. Cost Effective
In comparison to other platforms, 2-way SMS has higher ROI owing to the lower setup and running costs. There is an inherent acceptance towards SMS since the customers have willingly provided their information. This means that either they are already existing customers or people who are interested in the brand. Therefore the chances they will read and respond to the messages sent are also high which eventually will reflect positively in the ROI.
4. Transactional Communication
The most advantageous feature of 2-way SMS is that it enables marketers to develop a conversational type of marketing SMS instead of merely targeting customers with rather simple promotional messages. The messages can be drafted in a way that establishes a dialogue with the customer. This improves the buying experience and customers will get a sense of familiarity with the brand.
5. Save Time through Automation
The two-way SMS service can be set up for automated and prompt responses based on preset keywords that recognize customer preferences. Essentially Precise provides easy-to-use APIs through which marketers can send, receive and monitor messages. They can be integrated easily with any third-party tools or applications. This saves time and resources. Automation enables features like setting up booking and appointment reminders which customers can respond to quickly and easily. Setting up a keyword trigger to these responses allows you to effectively manage the entire process with minimal effort.
An Example Use Case For 2 Way SMS
A popular Jewelry store brand in the region wanted to provide various services to its customers through Mobile and other platforms. As part of the multiple touch point requirement, SMS mode of communication was also considered. The services include getting the latest gold rate , information pertaining to loyalty points, offers and redeem options. Essentially Precise proposed 2 way SMS as a solution that will enable customers to send SMS as a request with the keyword mentioned in the message. The SMS will be sent to a short code number which that was routed to client’s backend system through Precise SMS Server. Client system processed the request based on the information requested and the details are shared back to Precise SMS server. An SMS text is then formatted and send to the customer – all within 5 seconds. The same was also used to provide customer support and service where the customer sends inquiries through SMS which is directed to the support team.
This is a classic case which demonstrates the utility and ease of bringing in 2-way SMS to your campaign. For modern customers, making phone calls to customer support centers is highly undesirable and inconvenient. They want to text, and they need a prompt resolution to their concerns without talking to multiple representatives from call centers. This combined with Chat Bots, online chats and various other touch points improved customer experience with the brand.
2-Way SMS Service By Essentially Precise
2-Way SMS gives you all the benefit of Bulk SMS with the added bonus of target customers being able to reach back. We can provide you with our 2-way SMS gateway that spans over 45 countries in the world. We make integration of 2-way SMS to existing back end systems easy and snag-free. Get in touch with us to know more about how you can implement 2-way SMS to take your SMS marketing campaign reach new heights.