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How SMS Boosts Customer Onboarding Campaigns

Is the status quo of customer onboarding actually working? Learn why there's value waiting to be unlocked with SMS campaigns for new customers.

How can brands boost the performance of new customer onboarding campaigns? For many companies, onboarding means a few emails in a drip campaign or a mailed welcome packet. However, as consumer communication preferences change, more and more businesses are looking to harness the potential of SMS marketing to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of their customer onboarding strategies.

What Is A Customer Onboarding Campaign?

An onboarding campaign, also called a welcome campaign, is a concerted outreach effort to new customers. Whether it’s via email, direct mail, text, or phone call, the onboarding campaign is the first contact a company makes with new customers after they purchase or enroll in a product or service. The goals of onboarding campaigns are usually to improve satisfaction, educate customers about the product, and uncover and resolve potential issues. Onboarding campaigns can also guide customers through important setup tasks such as enrolling in autopay or downloading the company’s app.

Customer onboarding is a cornerstone of customer satisfaction and can significantly improve customer engagement. According to one study, welcome emails have an open rate of 91.43% (Hive.co). Typical email open rates hover around 20%, so this shows significant interest by customers in onboarding content.

Customer Onboarding Can Improve: Customer Satisfaction, Retention, Engagement, and Customer LTV

The Benefits Of Onboarding Campaigns

If you want to retain customers and get them to recommend your brand to others, you need to provide a great post-purchase customer experience. Onboarding campaigns are a priceless opportunity to turn a sale into a relationship. And you’ll want to put your best foot forward — after all, about 77% of consumers would recommend a brand to a friend after just a single positive experience (ProProfs).

Here are some of the key benefits to implementing an effective onboarding campaign.

Customer Satisfaction

New leads are most engaged within the first 48 hours of opting in to your outreach (Campaign Monitor). Welcome messages make use of that window to leave a strong positive impression. By reaching out promptly, brands show that they appreciate and care about their customers.

Resolving Issues Early

A proactive welcome message allows brands to address any potential issues, questions, or concerns early on. By providing useful information and resources, you can often preemptively resolve problems and prevent user dissatisfaction.

This works best with frequently asked questions or common issues that you can anticipate. For other issues, you’ll need to encourage the customer to engage and tell you about the problem (more on that later!).

Setting The Stage For Future Interactions

A welcome campaign is not just about the initial interaction. It also sets the stage for the future. By engaging clients from the start, brands lay the foundation for future renewals, upgrades, and cross-sells. This can lead not only to a more loyal base of customers but also a higher customer lifetime value (LTV) (Userpilot).

The Usual Approach For Onboarding

The traditional approach to a new customer onboarding campaign involves sending emails, direct mail, or making phone calls to connect with new clients. Among these, the humble welcome email is surely the most common. As we mentioned above, welcome emails have great reach and are good for raising awareness with customers. But what about actually getting those customers to engage or take a specific action? This is where incorporating SMS into your onboarding strategy can provide better results.

Sending SMS messages to customers is not a new concept. Texting has been employed in marketing strategies for decades and it continues to be a powerful tool today. Currently, many companies send messages to deliver time-sensitive promotions, exclusive deals and discount codes, and personalized offers directly to consumers' mobile phones. Other uses that leverage the immediacy of SMS include appointment reminders, order confirmations, and delivery notices.

These transactional uses of SMS can be very effective, but texting can also help to build a strong relationship with your customers. Let’s explore the impact SMS can have for customer onboarding.

An annotated SMS message showing best practices for texting new customers. It reads, "Hi Carina! This is Jan with ABC Services. Our team is here to help as you get started with us. Learn more with this quick intro video." The notes read, "Personal Approach, Build Trust, Customer Education."

The Power Of SMS For Onboarding Campaigns

SMS can significantly enhance campaigns by delivering concise yet impactful messages directly to users' phones. By reaching consumers wherever they are and allowing them to respond on their own terms, SMS encourages a higher engagement rate than mail or email.

Consumers Prefer Texting

One study found that 85% of smartphone users prefer texting over emails or calls. SMS messages are concise and easy to check quickly. One commonly cited stat is that 90% of SMS messages are read within just 3 minutes.

By the same token, it’s easier and more comfortable to respond to a text message compared with an email, especially for mobile users. This could explain why a study found that the response rate for SMS was eight times higher than email (Retail Dive).

Maintain Customer Attention

It can be difficult to keep customers interested after the initial purchase or sign-up. This is another area where SMS can be used to boost engagement. SMS has high reach and enables customers to read and reply on their own terms. By reaching out with a campaign of several texts, brands can keep interest and engagement high long after the purchase decision is made. This helps cement a positive feeling about your product or service, which can lay the foundation for valuable interactions in the future.

Amplify Existing Onboarding Outreach

Texting may have advantages over other channels, but it doesn’t have to replace them. Texting can help you get better engagement and results from your existing onboarding outreach and educational content.

Do you offer a great how-to video in your welcome email, but aren’t seeing many customers click through? Sending a link using SMS can make your content easier to consume on the go, leading to more views. You can even use MMS to let customers watch the video directly in their messaging app.

This makes texting a great way to enhance customer education. By using SMS to share videos, webinars, knowledge base articles, and other resources, you can help customers have a better experience with your product or service. Thoughtful customer education can also head off common issues that would lead to frustration and negatively impact retention.

Go Even Further With Conversational Outreach

You know what they say about first impressions — you never get a second chance to make one. Onboarding campaigns are no different. So, when the opportunity knocks, it's important to make a lasting impression.

Here at Drips, we don’t just help large brands incorporate SMS into their outreach, we offer a complete conversational outreach strategy. Conversational outreach enables you to go beyond traditional welcome messages. Rather than one or two onboarding emails, we engage customers in dynamic, AI-powered SMS conversations that support them for as long as 90 days.

By using this innovative approach to welcome outreach, brands have achieved impressive results:

  • With Drips, a major Medicare Advantage plan got 28% more members to fully complete the welcome process.
  • Drips also boosts other onboarding channels. The same plan got 20% more members to transfer to a welcome phone call with an agent.
  • Another health plan saw 55% more engagement using Drips compared with typical phone outreach.

If you’re interested in the benefits of using SMS and conversational outreach to onboard your audience, we’d love to tell you more!

Conclusion: Why You Should Text Your New Customers

With its high reach and low barrier for engagement, SMS is a natural choice for taking new customer onboarding to the next level. It works great alongside existing welcome outreach channels such as direct mail and email and can drive more attention to educational content. With SMS, brands can more effectively improve customer satisfaction, foster brand loyalty, and boost retention.