Could your B2B business benefit from an SMS marketing strategy?SMS marketing for B2B sounds kind of wrong, doesn’t it? Isn’t text messaging too informal for a business-to-business setting? Isn’t SMS marketing just about pushy messages and flash sales? No. Not when done right. And we’re going to help you do it right.
Despite the name, business-to-business marketing doesn’t speak to a business as a whole. You are speaking to an individual within that business. An individual that almost certainly has a mobile phone, like 90% of the world’s population. Possibly even a second phone just for work purposes. And, like so many of us, they probably check their phone a couple of hundred times a day.
Did you know that text messages have a 98% open rate and 60% of users will open a text message within 5 minutes of receiving it?So doesn’t it make sense to reach out to your customers and prospects through a channel they use so actively? In fact, B2B is arguably far more relationship-focused than B2C. As deals can take much longer from start to finish and most B2B buyers tend to be repeat customers. So the personal touches in your communication matter that much more than in a B2C context. If used wisely and respectfully, you could use SMS marketing to reach the right customer at the right time with the right message far more effectively than through other channels such as email or social media.
In this ultimate guide to SMS marketing for B2B, we will take a look at:
7 reasons why you should be using SMS in your marketing strategy in 2023
7 Common use cases of SMS in marketing
7 Best practice guidelines for SMS marketing.
Reasons to use SMS marketing for your B2B business in 2023
Everyone has access
Unlike other forms of mobile-based marketing, SMS (short message service) is a built-in application on every mobile device. Users don’t need to download a specific social media platform, messaging app, or email app to have access to SMS. So your potential audience includes all mobile phone users.
On top of this, SMS texting doesn’t need an internet connection. So you can reach your customer whenever you need to, wherever they are, whatever their data contract.
Best engagement levels
SMS has an open rate of 98%. Compared to around 20% for email. But that doesn’t tell the complete story. That open rate may sound too good to be true but take a moment to consider your own personal experience with text messages from companies. How often will you open a message from a company just to get rid of the notification? So what we really need to know is the click-through rate.
According to Hubspot, SMS has a click-through rate of 36% compared to an average of just 8% for emails. As well as a response rate of 45%. Now those numbers are worth your time right?
Average daily screentime
The average mobile phone owner spends between 3-4 hours a day looking at their phone. That’s a huge window of time. Unsurprisingly, different generations use their phones in varying amounts with the highest being Millenials and GenZ who average up to 10 hours of screen time a day.
Of course, a chunk of that time will be outside of working hours. But it’s a fair assumption that your customers are picking up their phones to check notifications multiple times during the working day. So you can put your message in the palm of their hands with an SMS.
Millennial buying power
Planning your marketing strategy is all about knowing your audience. There is no point focusing your efforts on a channel that isn’t popular with your customers. When it comes to your B2B buyer audience, you’re onto a clear and untapped winner with text messages. As mentioned above, millennials are among the heaviest users of mobile devices with 95% using text messages daily.
But more importantly, millennials make up 60% of B2B buyers. So, by using SMS marketing, you will be speaking to your customers through one of their most-used channels. Which is always a good start for building a strong relationship.
The shift to mobile commerce
It’s a cliche at this point but no less true. The pandemic increased our use of mobile phones. For everything from communication to online shopping. B2C shoppers are used to a smooth and frictionless mobile experience. And when they are at work, those same B2C shoppers expect their B2B experience to match. B2B merchants are increasingly taking leaves from the B2C playbook in creating mobile-first ecommerce stores.
Speaking to your customers and prospects on the same device they want to use to place their orders just makes sense. Sending a VIP discount code or step-by-step onboarding advice in an SMS with a link to the right page is a great way to get an immediate response.
Stand out from the crowd
In an ever-changing and ever-more-competitive market, it’s always important to find an edge over your competitors.SMS marketing presents a fantastic opportunity to stand out. Less than 40% of marketers currently use SMS.
Despite the rising number of mobile phone owners and the ever-growing number of hours spent glued to our devices, only 14% of companies use SMS to communicate with their customers.
Particularly in the B2B space which tends to trail behind ecommerce trends, a well-executed SMS campaign can set you apart from your competitors and build a stronger relationship with your customers.
Boost omnichannel marketing campaigns
This is not to say that SMS is going to replace email marketing. Both serve different purposes. They need to work together for omnichannel customer engagement.
Use your emails to deliver long-form information, like newsletters, abandoned cart messaging, new product information with shoppable links directly in the email body. Use text to send short and sweet messages with quick updates and links to exclusive offers.
You can also use them in tandem to promote the same offer or event. Starting with a long-form email with all of the details and following up with a text including just the basics and the call to action.
Particularly given that SMS achieves better results when used sparingly, it is not a stand-alone tactic but a personalised supplement to a wider campaign.
Common use cases of SMS in marketingTo give you some ideas of where to start bringing SMS into your marketing campaigns and customer communications, here are 7 common use cases for SMS. You’ll notice these are all very short messages. Use SMS for a quick, simple message with a clear value-add eg a booking confirmation, or a clear call to action eg customer feedback.
Exclusive and time-sensitive offers
Sign-up confirmation and thank you message
Surveys and feedback
Booking/appointment confirmation and reminders
Important announcements and business updates
Useful content sharing eg step by step onboarding instructions
SMS Marketing Best Practice Guide
Opt-ins and opt-outs
Collecting opt-ins is essential, and a legal requirement in most countries. Text messages are a lot more personal than other forms of marketing communication so it is absolutely vital that the recipients of your texts are happy to hear from you. Aside from going against regulations, sending unwanted SMS messages will just alienate your audience and lose sales. Make sure there is a clear opt-in box for marketing when you collect phone numbers at checkout or registration. And then send a confirmation text offering a second chance to respond and confirm.
Just because you have customer names and phone numbers carefully organised in your CRM doesn’t mean they have the same. Trust is extremely important for mobile marketing and mobile commerce. Consumers are extremely wary of calls and messages from unknown contacts and are most likely to simply delete the message and block the number if they do not feel the source is secure and legitimate.
With marketing platforms like Dotdigital, you can set a “from name” which appears on the recipient’s phone as the sender instead of a phone number. If you don’t have a from name set up for your SMS marketing, be sure to identify yourself in the body of the message.
State your intention clearly
Make sure your recipients know what these texts are going to bring them. If they are expecting delivery updates only, they probably won’t be happy to receive marketing messages. They need to have the choice to opt-in to exactly what you intend to send. Someone that has chosen to receive marketing SMS messages from you has
Be mindful of frequency
Whereas there is plenty of evidence to suggest that more regular email campaigns achieve higher success, with SMS marketing, less is more. A customer that has given you permission to send them SMS messages has placed their trust in you to bring them real value. But sending messages too often is more likely to annoy them and break that trust. Particularly in the B2B world, be respectful of your customers. At an absolute maximum send one text a week. But less frequently, like once or twice a month, and only when you have something truly valuable to offer will receive much better responses.
SMS has a character limit of 160. Any more and you’ll spill over into a second message or into an MMS which the customer will need to use mobile data to download before reading. So think carefully about what you want to convey and how to communicate the essential hook of your message.
However, do not resort to common text abbreviations. Particularly for B2B marketing. Although a lot of text slang is commonly understood, not all of your clients will be familiar with the meaning. Confusing customers is not going to win sales and it can look unprofessional. Of course, if it is in keeping with your brand image and tone of voice that is different, but that is more likely to be the case with a B2C brand and still not really advisable.
Time it right
Even more than with emails or social posts, timing is everything. If you are sending B2B marketing messages, be sure to send them only during office hours. No one wants to hear from one of their business suppliers during dinnertime or at the weekend. While an email might sit in an inbox for a couple of days before being read, your customers are likely to view your SMS messages immediately so you want to be certain to reach out at a moment when they are feeling receptive.
If your audience is international, the regional codes at the start of phone numbers will let you segment by time zone to ensure everyone is contacted at the correct time for their location.
Personalise your messages
Using your marketing platform such as Dotdigital, segment your audience and personalise your messages. Including your customer’s name and writing a message that is relevant to their business will make them feel special and appreciated. The key to SMS marketing is the VIP experience. Because of the intimacy of the channel, SMS marketing needs to work harder than any other type of marketing to feel like a friendly and welcome conversation.
Ready to boost sales with SMS marketing in 2023?There are clear benefits to implementing an SMS marketing strategy for your B2B business. The most important thing to remember is that your customers are placing their trust in your brand when they opt-in to receive text messages. To keep this trust you need to use SMS sparingly and always offer real, exclusive value. In return, your audience will reward you with higher engagement than any other channel, boosting your sales and customer lifetime value.
If you’re ready to include SMS marketing in your strategy for 2023, get in touch with our expert team to discuss your unique business needs and how to get started.