Business in the Time of Covid: SMS for Customer Engagement
Suffice it to say, the coronavirus pandemic, along with the attendant lockdowns and safety measures, caught a lot of businesses off guard. The travel and hospitality industries, for instance, contracted sharply due to their reliance on what might be termed “fair weather and following seas.”
Nevertheless, while businesses as large as Airbnb and as modest as your local café were hit especially hard, they were not the only ones left scrambling. Amidst “shelter-in-place” orders and other policies aimed at attenuating the spread of the virus, many companies have turned to remote work to keep their employees safe and their businesses productive. Spotify, for example, recently announced a Work From Anywhere program, allowing employees to work from home, anywhere in the world, while still receiving “San Francisco and New York salaries.”
Still, despite the economic potential of the remote work revolution, it’s not much help for businesses that rely on in-person work and the free movement of individuals. But let’s back up for a second. Remote work is due to a larger trend: digitization. And, while digitization can’t recreate the pre-Covid economy, it can certainly help in-person businesses maintain a chunk of what they lost.
To illustrate our point, consider SMS messaging. As we noted on this very blog, text messaging has blossomed into a dynamic and versatile business tool, facilitating not only intra-team and intra-company communications, but engagement with customers, consumers, and constituents, as well. This is due in part to the fact that texting is widely accessible and globally standardized. Not only is it among the most affordable ways to communicate, it’s also easy to use and natively supported by every mobile phone on the market.
In addition, while email marketing open rates tend to languish in the 15-25% range, SMS boasts open rates as high as 98%. Moreover, it takes an average of just 90 seconds for someone to respond to a text message, compared to 90 minutes for email. The immediacy of SMS marketing makes it a perfect way to promote flash sales, limited time offers, “Last Chance to Buy” opportunities, or changes to dynamic pricing. It’s also great for appointment reminders, chatbot integration — you name it!
Of course, SMS for customer engagement is nothing new; and indeed, many businesses, large and small, already leverage it to varying degrees. So, today, we wanted to focus on some fun ways businesses have been deploying SMS during the pandemic.
In a recent article titled “Texting Customers Is No Longer Taboo When Everyone Is Stuck at Home,” the Wall Street Journal highlighted several businesses using SMS for customer engagement and loyalty in the age of coronavirus. Let’s take a look!
Five Creative Ways Companies Are Using SMS for Customer Engagement to Boost Business in the Era of Coronavirus
- Summersalt Inc — The women’s apparel brand created a playful and engaging SMS experience to stay in touch with customers during the early days of the pandemic lockdowns. By texting the word “Joycast” to the company, customers receive different types of content, like uplifting memes or activities to do at home during quarantine.
- DIRTY LEMON — Iris Nova Ltd., the parent company of NYC-based beverage brand DIRTY LEMON, has leveraged SMS to facilitate orders since first launching back in 2015. According to the company, direct sales to consumers in April 2020 improved 22% over April 2019. To personalize the service further, Iris Nova Ltd. says they use full phone numbers instead of short codes.(Quick parenthetical here. While there are certainly benefits to short codes, they do tend to make customers feel as though they’re texting with an automated system. So, opting to use full numbers in certain scenarios is a great way optimize your existing SMS strategy.)
- SwimOutlet — In an effort to boost their customer relations, the swimming brand SwimOutlet used SMS and MMS messages for a modern twist on endorsement marketing. Indeed, last April, they began sending voice messages and video messages to customers from Olympic athletes, such as three-time gold medalist Ryan Murphy.
- Giant Eagle Inc — Early on during the pandemic, the supermarket chain reported several employees had been infected with COVID-19. To restore trust between themselves and their shoppers, and to project an air of solemnity, they turned to SMS, which they used to provided Covid-related information, such as store sanitization procedures. In addition, they made it possible for customers to text keywords, such as “curbside,” for information on picking up orders without entering stores.
- Simplified — The provider of planners and organizational tools started using SMS to market their products in March 2020, just as covid was working its way into the public conscious. Initially, it intended to use SMS to communicate product launches, send personalized notes, etc. But as the pandemic spread, the company took a slightly different tack, using is to promote self-care as well. Within five weeks, Simplified’s text subscriber list grew to more than 6,000 numbers.
What Is Pareteum Messaging?
Pareteum Messaging, which you can read about here, is a programmable, multi-channel, two-way application-to-person (A2P) messaging offering. This means it enables organizations and businesses to communicate with their clients, consumers, and employees across SMS, email, voice, and more.
Of course, we’ve written about the SMS solution rather extensively. So, we highly recommend that you check out some of our older blog posts:
- Pareteum Messaging | SMS Engagement That Gets Results
- Crisis Management A Pareteum Messaging Success Story
- How SMS Can Help the Travel Industry Navigate the Age of Coronavirus
- Eight Ways SMS Messaging Can Improve Your Business
Pareteum is an experienced provider of Communications Platform as a Service solutions. We empower enterprises, communications service providers, internet service providers, mobile operators, full MVNOs, light MVNOs, early-stage innovators, developers, IoT (Internet of Things), and telecommunications infrastructure providers with the freedom and control to create, deliver, and scale innovative communications experiences.
The Pareteum platform connects people and devices around the world using the secure, ubiquitous, and highly scalable solution to deliver data, voice, video, SMS/text messaging, media, and content enablement.