NEW YORK, US: It wasn't that long ago that the cost of texting was on the rise, but the recent move towards smartphones has changed business models for cellular carriers.
Instead, texting and talking are becoming an unlimited package with data being the hot, expensive commodity. VoIP and managed IP PBX service have been big game-changers, as well as smartphones and tablets. Small and medium sized businesses are nimble enough to make rapid changes to adjust with the market. We are just now beginning to see rumblings of a new breakout trend for SMB: Business texting. SMS for business is a valuable tool for both internal communication and external outreach.
Internal communication within an SMB
According to a survey by RingCentral
, 91% of workers that text regularly send texts to colleagues, and 71% of texters sent texts to customers, suppliers, or partners. 79% of bosses also are in favour of business texting. Texting is also more discreet. Workers in the field can text the office without ignoring clients. Because texting is both fast and silent, field agents can become, for instance, better negotiators by checking if a price is acceptable. As another example, a worker who is off the clock is much more willing to dash off a quick text than to take a business phone call if they are out enjoying adult leisure activities.
Passive communications from a business to consumers
Texting and email are becoming interchangeable. Mass texts are becoming a valuable marketing tool, just as email lists have been for years. Automated business texting services are beginning to spring up. SMBs can use texting services and text apps to send messages that are time-delayed, event-sensitive, or repeated. It's a great way to say "thank you for your business." Many online retailers, including Amazon, send text messages with tracking information about packages, including delivery notices.
One business that adopted business texting and saw significant gains was Auction Broadcast Company, which is the parent company to Red Top Auto Auction
. Red Top is in the business of selling cars at auctions to dealers in closed auction. Within minutes of creating an account with bulk text provider EZ Texting, Jackie Calvert, the marketing director for ABC, was able to import his contacts, and sort them into groups. He sent out his first text message minutes later, announcing an upcoming auction. Calvert now regularly sends out alerts detailing how many cars will be sold at auctions, giveaways and other incentives.
Interactive communications between businesses and consumers
Interactive texting is the next frontier for business. According to the aforementioned RingCentral survey, 32% of texters have closed a deal over text, 61% of businesses wish they could send and receive texts from their business number, and 78% wish they could text a toll free number
and receive a text reply. Alongside this consumer demand, both the private and public sectors are bringing interactive text messaging to the public. In the US the FCC is encouraging the development of text-to-911 for emergencies
. Google is one of many VoIP providers that integrate text/SMS and chat/IM, and it's a small jump from there to businesses adding chat-capable computers to existing call centres. The customers themselves are also using apps and texting to find reviews and of items they see in the store, and conversely, getting pictures of items they are browsing for on e-commerce websites.
Some brick-and-mortar establishments, like coffee shops, are experimenting with texting orders instead of waiting on a line to order. Three major pizza chains, Papa John's, Domino's, and Pizza Hut, all allow customers to register ordering details online, then, once activated
, customers can order a pizza via text.
Coca-Cola is another success story. Their rewards program, MyCokeRewards, allowed for customers to enter their reward codes on an app while they were still out and about. Coca-Cola found that 47%, nearly half, of their redeemers were over 35.
Texting's strength as a business tool lies in its innate characteristics of being intensely personal. The format doesn't allow for standard business letter format, and instead cuts right to the meat. Business texts are received over a phone, which many people keep with them 24 hours a day and by their bed. The small and medium sized businesses that can best capitalise on business texting are sure to be the ones that succeed, as will the carriers that provide the best means of business texting.