Using SMS channels for marketing purposes is a common practice that a lot of companies have already implemented in their work. 

SMS marketing has a dozen of benefits: it has an extremely high open rate (around 98%), it can reach wide demographics, and it helps to build and support long-term relationships with customers. It is also pretty easy to grow customer engagement with SMS marketing.

However, the majority of businesses are still using only 1-way texting, which basically is broadcasting business news and offers to the audience, without giving them a chance to reply here and now. Really, it is a pity: SMS, at its core, is designed for quick communication, and without replies available, it loses half of its potential. 

So how do you establish 2-way texting and stimulate clients to engage in a conversation with you? And more importantly, what value will it give you? Let’s talk about it in this article.

What is 2-way texting?

Two-way SMS messaging means a conversation where both sides can text each other. It is the way all private SMS conversations go: we text our friends, family, or other acquaintances and receive a reply. 

As we have mentioned, it doesn’t always happen like that in business communications: a lot of companies continue to send one-sided SMS messages, not planning to enable real conversations between them and their clients.

In business messaging, bulk two-way SMS communication will work the same way as with private conversations: a business (or sometimes a customer) starts a dialogue by sending an SMS, and the second side sends a reply.  

How does two-way SMS communication work?

Two-way text messaging is usually powered by SMS message platforms that allow sending bulk texts to big groups of numbers (hundreds or even thousands). Then, a two-way SMS gateway enables a capacity to handle every conversation separately and receive replies from every receiver.

Examples of how 2-way SMS can benefit your business

So, why should you adopt 2-way SMS for customer engagement instead of sending 1-way messages as you have done before? 

The first and the most important reason is that you can increase customer engagement by 2-way messaging. 1-way messaging is limiting you by isolating you from your clients. What if they have questions or want to clarify something you have shared in your SMS? 

Of course, they can try and contact you through other channels (website, social media or call your contact number), but it is a too-long customer journey that demands a lot of action and effort. Only a small percentage of people will be persistent (or disgruntled) enough to go with it. The majority will let it go. As a result, you will probably lose a lead you could successfully convert to a client, and a person will remember this situation as a disappointing experience interacting with your brand.

In comparison, two-way SMS marketing will open gates for human, friendly conversations where you can enhance your connection with a person and win their loyalty. When replying to customers with personalized messaging, you get a chance to build a community and position yourself as a human-centered brand.

Moreover, two-way SMS marketing gives you a better view of your client’s behavior and mindset. You might analyze how they reply, and what their biggest focus or interest is. And knowing your customer is a key to successful marketing. Later, you can extrapolate this data not only for future SMS campaigns but other channels you leverage for your marketing activities.

7 ways how you can use 2-way SMS to improve customer engagement

So, two-way texting sounds promising for your business, but what strategies should you choose to receive real replies from interested customers? 

As with any other marketing campaign, at first, you need to experiment and test different approaches to find out what will work best for your company and your targeted audience. 

However, you can study the experience and use cases of other businesses and take them as pointers for your first campaigns. Here are a few examples of how you can engage customers with a two-way SMS message. 

Renewal Offers

If your services are based on a subscription, there will be a moment when a customer needs to renew or cancel it and switch to other providers. Car lease, business tools, streaming, and music services are the ones that need to retain their customers and continue to provide services to them. 

Sending a message, especially with some special offer or discount, when the client’s subscription period is coming to an end might help you address any concerns or complaints that users might have experienced. In this case, the personalized dialogue will work much better than some template messages.

Appointment reminders & confirmations

Sending reminders about appointments is a common practice a lot of businesses use, but it is usually a short notification that doesn’t imply any reply from a receiver. 

It can work that way, but 2-way SMS will allow customers to confirm, reschedule or cancel their appointment within one conversation, and hence, bring them a pleasant experience where they don’t need to find your other contacts and try to get in touch with you. 

Moreover, customers will be able to easily clarify important things about their appointment, for example, ask for directions on how to get to your place. 

Feedback surveys

Asking for feedback is always a smart move: it helps you to understand if you are fulfilling your customers’ expectations and needs, as well as prevent situations when your clients go online to complain or share their negative experiences. 

Of course, such surveys can’t work without proactive two-way messaging. You might try different approaches, for example, ask clients to score their visit or interaction with you from one to ten or ask for a more eloquent reply.

In any case, stay open to any critics and show customers that you care about their opinion and not do it only for show. 

Invitations to events

If your business is built around hosting events, or you are doing a single event (for example, celebrating a shop opening or any kind of anniversary), make your invitation interactive with a 2-way SMS messaging service. 

Send an invitation message to the clients and ask if they are interested to join. If their reply is positive, share a sign-up link. This way, you can try to increase the conversion rate and push more people to register for your event.

Payment reminders

You might experience issues with cash flows if your customers neglect or forget to do regular payments. So, instead of trying to fix a symptom and request money for overdue payments, you might just send reminders to the clients who would need to do payments soon. Done right, it won’t cause any irritation from customers, but on the contrary. 

Two-way messaging here will again allow customers to ask their questions directly on the spot, and hence, increase the chance that they will get all necessary info immediately and proceed with payment.

Replies to the questions

Sometimes, customers might start a conversation, if you leave a textable number on your website or social media. Nowadays, a lot of people prefer texting to actual phone conversations, and hence, giving a texting option will make you look better in the eyes of customers.

Recover unfinished online purchases

A lot of purchases that haven’t happened could have been saved if the business had reached customers at the right moment. When the item in an online shop is left in the cart, you might reach out to the client via SMS message and offer them a consultation. 

It might work in the majority of cases, as you can provide people with the info that will finally persuade them to make a purchase.

Retain more customers with the Testelium SMS testing service

Two-way SMS software will power up your ability to receive replies from customers and start actual conversations with them, but it is not the only software piece you will need for successful SMS marketing.

A text SMS testing tool will help you analyze the routes that you use to deliver messages and hence, detect fake SMS DLRs and unreliable providers. Cooperating with such partners will decrease your delivery rates and discredit your efforts to grow customer engagement.

The Testelium platform allows you to send test messages efficiently. It has the capacity to check the validity of delivery reports, run content and SMSC verification, as well as enable MO testing. It also supports automation and seamless integration with your own SMS platform, so you will be able to set up SMS testing via REST API.

Testelium helps you to take full control over your SMS infrastructure and make it stronger to deliver better results. If you want to know more, feel free to contact our manager: we would love to answer all your questions!