Personalizing Your SMS Strategy to Drive Engagement

If you already have an outbound call center, you probably know that speed to lead and staffing the call center are the two biggest challenges you’ll face.

Fix Speed to Lead

The fastest, most impactful way to fix speed to lead is to send a transactional message that lets the user know you’ve received their inquiry and you’ll be contacting them ASAP. This also primes them and increases the chance that they will answer the phone a few minutes later.

Most importantly, this will stop a user from shopping at a competitor, even if it takes you some time to contact them.

The real issue is when an inquiry comes in off-hours. Since most call centers aren’t staffed on the weekends and outside of normal business hours (nights), the prospect has to wait longer to receive a callback. Unfortunately, this wait can cause warm leads to grow cold and it drastically reduces the chance of them answering the call the next day.

Sending a simple transactional text message can stop people from shopping, set context to the call coming the next day, and increase your chances of getting that lead on the phone and converted. But transactional messages don’t drive engagement so, next, it’s time to elevate your messaging.

But, before you dive in, it’s probably best to start from the beginning. Make sure you’re all caught up by reading how to start getting into SMS, especially if you haven’t done it before.

Personalization For Newbies

Fortunately, it doesn’t take an emoji explosion to make your messages personalized (actually, don’t overuse emojis, it’s just awful). It’s pretty simple to start personalizing your messaging, and according to Forbes, it’s an essential part of an effective communication strategy.

71% of customers get frustrated when their experience isn’t personalized, and 63% of consumers will stop buying from brands that use lazy personalization tactics.

With data like this, personalization isn’t just something that’s “nice to have;” it’s going to make a huge difference in retaining and engaging your audience or losing them. As you saw in our previous post, transactional messages are a good way to start — they stop your audience from shopping around and are one of the first steps in communicating with them.

But now it’s time to make things more personal. After all, you don’t want to be one of those brands that just blasts generic messages. Not only is it impersonal, but Adobe also found that generic messages alone aren’t good enough.

66% of consumers say encountering content that isn’t personalized would stop them from making a purchase.

So, how do you personalize or customize messages? Let’s explore a few methods:

  • Use contextually relevant information
    • This includes the consumer’s first name, as well as any relevant information they’ve already submitted. Maybe mention you are glad they found you on Google. It shows recency, authority, and relevance (more on the psychology of the message later!).
    • For example, if they’re requesting a car quote, using the make and model in your response would make your message more relevant.
  • Check the time zone
    • If you’re able to conditionally send messages by time zone, target their specific time zone. It makes your message timelier and more relevant.
    • Whatever you do, don’t message someone at 6 a.m. PST thinking they are NYC-based!
  • Add in an agent’s first name
    • If a consumer has been assigned to an agent, make sure you use the agent’s name. People are more likely to respond to a message if they know an actual person is behind it.
  • Use multiple-choice, not fill in the blank
    • People make quicker decisions and commit faster with multiple options, not fill in the blank.
    • For example, instead of asking, “What’s a good time to call you?” ask, “We can call you back at 1, 2:30, or 4 p.m. — which works best for you?
      • Keep in mind, when you ask a question, you’ll get a lot of answers. (Ready to make the jump to conversational? Let’s talk!)

Pull the Trigger on Trigger-Based Messages

If you’re looking for even more customization, you might consider expanding beyond transactional messages. Adding trigger-based messages can also help you stay contextually relevant to your audience. It creates a connection by focusing on situations that are relevant to them.

For example, in some states, you can create a message for a segment of your audience who miss a payment that reminds them that they missed the payment and you’ll be calling them tomorrow to assist them. This does multiple things that could motivate a user to take action:

  • The message is personalized to a particular experience.
  • It reminds them they missed a payment, so they can rectify the mistake if they forgot.
  • It primes them for a phone call, so they’re more likely to answer a call they’re expecting.

Expanding your SMS strategy beyond transactional messages and using more personalization usually results in a significant increase in engagement. After all, 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand that provides personalized experiences (Forbes).

But what do you do with the unique responses to these messages? Check back here next week for the third and final part of our series to find out!