Are you looking for another way to reach out to your customers? Another way to get their attention is through SMS marketing. When done right, it could yield advantages to your B2B marketing campaigns.
In the third episode of this MarTech Podcast series, SalesNexus CEO Craig Klein and Martech Podcast host Benjamin Shapiro explore how to appropriately utilize SMS marketing to communicate with your customers.
BS: SMS is a big thing all of a sudden. And it’s starting to trickle into B2B campaigns as well. It’s something that SalesNexus recently added in their platform.
Why have you added SMS marketing into your platform and how are B2B marketers using that technology?
CK: I’ve seen it myself in my own interaction with customers. When we first introduced our email marketing capability, 10 plus years ago, one of the tactics that we would teach our customers is to send out an email. Then have your sales team contact people that are engaging with those emails really, really fast. And that works. It still works great because basically, you’re calling people while you’re on their minds. But in the last year or two, getting people on the phone has gotten even more difficult than it ever was. It’s always been challenging. And frankly, people just want to communicate in different ways and they have those options now.
What we wanted to do is add text messaging into that mix. I’m using email to get people engaged. Then if they want to talk to me on the phone, great. But if they want to have a text conversation, that’s okay too.
How does SMS marketing differ from email marketing?
BS: It’s worth having a conversation about synchronicity. I think of email as an asynchronous form of communication. I send an email. You read it whenever you want to read it. You reply to me sometime later. When it comes to a phone conversation, obviously there’s a sense of being synchronized because we both have to be on the phone at the same time. We’re talking and responding to each other in real-time.
SMS marketing is in between the two of those. I am going to send you an immediate request for your attention. That’s going to buzz in your pocket, on your wrist. It’s going to make a ding. It’s going to try to grab your attention in real-time. I could see how that’s really valuable. I could also see how it has a very high piss-you-off factor.
What’s the appropriate format for B2B communications and SMS marketing?
CK: There’s a certain etiquette to every one of these different approaches. With SMS marketing, the etiquette is such that people pay more attention to their text messages as they come in. Therefore you know you’re being more of an interruption in their day. As a marketer, that’s powerful. But you certainly don’t want to overuse it. By trying all three, what you will find is some customers just want to talk via email. Some customers just want to talk via text. Some customers only want to talk on the phone. And some people want to do a little bit of everything. That’s valuable. You can really set yourself apart from a competitive point of view, just by being able to have the conversation with your customer in the way that they want.
What are some examples of these different approaches?
CK: For instance, I’m a guy starting a business, but I still have my day job. So for that guy, email messages are probably going to be ideal. You’re going to be emailing him all day. However, he’s not gonna be able to respond until late at night after the kids are in bed. That can be an example of an asynchronous conversation. On the other hand, for a sole proprietor that just is living and breathing his business. He’s going to probably like text messages because he wants everything right now. And you know, there’s everything in between.
What we’ve also learned is that SMS marketing is great at step two of the funnel. For email: there are 10,000 people I sent this email to. 2,000 of them just clicked on it. So now I know there are 2,000 that probably have some kind of interest in whatever I’m emailing them about. Well now let’s use a text message to invite them to get on the phone. Rather than having a team of people, that’s capable of cold calling 2,000 people. Instead, let’s send 2,000 people a text message and let 200 of them raise their hand and say, “Yeah, I’d like you to call me next Tuesday at 3”.
What’s the distinction between email and SMS marketing?
BS: People hear SMS marketing and it’s like if my email campaign is about inviting you to a webinar. I’m not going to take the same message saying, “Hey, by the way, we’re doing a webinar”. I’m just going to start SMSing you because the open rates go from 30% to 99%. Because people don’t want to hear about your webinar over an SMS. They don’t want to be disrupted because you’re doing a marketing activity. That’s a message that’s appropriate for something that’s asynchronous.
Now when somebody has said, “Yes. I am interested in attending this webinar.” Maybe SMS marketing is the right way to follow up. Say, “Hey, the webinar’s about to start”. Something that requires real-time communication. A reminder that is specific to an event or a form of communication. “Hey, you mentioned that you wanted to schedule a demo. Here’s the link to schedule it using our Calendly link” or something like that. You know, there are ways to appropriately use SMS marketing, but it is not for your traditional like outbound batch and blast type messaging. That is the key to making people upset and having a bad brand affinity.
CK: Where we found it most effective is it’s a tool to facilitate the relationship. It’s not a tool to initiate the relationship.
What are some of the other key ways that B2B brands are using SMS marketing?
CK: Aside from event and scheduling reminders, you can use it to inform your customers of a new product launch. You can also utilize it for customer satisfaction or outreach. You can say, “We closed your customer support ticket yesterday. Can you tell us a little bit about how you felt about it or is there anything else we can help with?” All those transactional things, text messages are great for. We’ve all experienced it when we go to the doctor or the dentist and they’re doing that a lot.
It can be great in the sales relationship as well. Once we have a salesperson engaged with the customer. “Hey, I’ve called you a couple of times.” As a salesperson, that’s one of your greatest challenges. You have qualified sales leads. There’s definitely a need, a budget, and all those other things. And you had a great conversation with them the first time, but you just can’t get the guy back on the phone. Because he’s a super busy executive. That’s where a text message can be perfect. You’ve called them once or twice, you’ve been getting voicemail. So now you send a text message.
For the reasons that you’ve already described, that guy is about three or four times more likely to reply to that text message and say, “Hey. Sorry, I’m busy. Call me next week.” Than he is to hear your voicemail, and pick up the phone and call you as a response to the voicemail.
At the end of the day, there are multiple different ways for you to communicate with your customers.
BS: And each one has its own nuances. Email is great for asynchronous communication. People are generally more accepting of receiving marketing messages through that. And event-based triggers are great for SMS marketing. But you have to be careful to make sure that you’re not using your different forms of communication and ways that your customers are just not going to like.
One of the key points here is that you should talk to your customers. If you can build a portal or some sort of communication for them that allows them to customize the way that you’re communicating with them. “Yes, I want to receive my emails. No, I don’t want these types of text messages. Yes, you can reach out to me over the phone.” That’s going to help you build stronger relationships with your customers and inevitably drive more sales.
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You can also check out this episode on the MarTech Podcast website: https://martechpod.com/episode/creating-b2b-email-campaigns-that-get-results-craig-klein-salesnexus/including-sms-marketing-in-your-b2b-campaigns-craig-klein-salesnexus/