Dotdigital blog

SMS marketing for B2B

We don’t know where the myth ‘SMS is a channel reserved for B2C brands’ came from. It’s so untrue, we think maybe your competitors made it up to get ahead.

Maybe you think it’s unprofessional? Email was once considered informal too, just because it was new – but now it’s the industry standard. And SMS has been around for nearly thirty years now. Just like the Millenials who grew up using it, SMS is old enough to be on a board of directors. It’s time to start taking it seriously.

The truth is, whether you’re B2C or B2B, SMS improves stats across the board – from lead generation and conversion times to improving ROI and reducing churn. But the great news is, if some B2B businesses haven’t yet caught on, SMS is the perfect channel for them. Your campaigns are going to stand out and resonate with your buyers more than ever. And that’s not the only reason why SMS is such a good fit for B2B…

Changing B2B expectations

Perhaps it’s that millennials are in full swing in the workforce these days, even at senior position levels. Perhaps the silicon valley, hoody-and-sneakers work-life has permeated its way through even the most formal institutions. Or maybe… it’s just that we’ve realized that our business buyers aren’t just anonymous faces of business, but that they are people. Because business today is personal.

These are exceptional times, so forgive me for pointing out the obvious that our work and personal lives have never been more intertwined. But even before this global crisis, this was already the case. The advent of personal devices such as pagers, laptops, and eventually smartphones, have brought more and more of our work into our homes. At the same time, B2C marketers have elevated their game so much, that expectations from B2B buyers have also risen, with increasing expectations of personalization in B2B communications. And what’s more personal than a phone?

Sure. You could reach out with a call. But there are a few problems with this tactic. Firstly, you can’t scale phone calls the same way you can emails or SMS, nor would you want to! Phone calls are disruptive. You are already reaching into someone’s personal bubble; the least you can do is reach out in a way that gives them the time and space to respond.

After all, At&T reports that 85% of mobile device users prefer a text from businesses over a phone call or email. Sure, they haven’t specified B2B or B2C in this statistic, but what they’ve said is clear. People prefer getting SMS from businesses. And while you need to bear in mind all the decision-makers in your marketing and pitch, at the end of the day, your buyers are simply made up of individual people. And in that room where those people decide on whether to choose your business, it sure helps to have an evangelist on your side. SMS is the perfect channel to achieve this.

Here’s how:

Data capture and lead generation

As with any of these use cases, remember to keep in mind the kind of consent your company operates under when sending any communication, whether it’s SMS or email. For lead generation, this is particularly pertinent. You are probably going to capture your B2B buyer’s info from some top-funnel collateral or something akin to a webinar sign-up. (If you haven’t already put in a phone number capture field at this point, you’ll probably want to at the end of this article!) No matter where you capture data, we recommend being transparent at the point of signing up about what you intend to send, via what channels, and how often. Always promote valuable content to your prospects (that means valuable to them, not just your business!) because then your signposting will always sound like an attractive offering to sign up to.

You could also consider a text-to-join campaign, where a prospect can use a keyword to enroll themselves in receiving SMS. This could be, for example, top tips related to their industry vertical and aligned with your business’ expertise. A good thing about a text-to-join campaign is that it can exist offline as well as online, with easy instructions on how to join on printed collateral, billboards, business cards flyers, and more. Or a rep could simply mention it during a networking session. Make the content valuable enough and text-to-join is so easy to enroll in, that you could see an organic explosion of sign-ups from people in the business community who want to hear what you’ve got to say.

Convert leads faster

Alerts, reminders, and notifications aren’t just for letting you know a parcel has shipped or telling you about a dentist appointment. Businesses use them too to alert their prospects about new content they have released, relevant to the prospects’ interests of course. This means less time waiting for warm leads to graduate to hot, hoping they stumble across high-intent content from you or compete with their other time-pressing work emails.

A lot of people read on their phones on their commute… or well, they did! Perhaps for the time being you’re more likely to catch them on the sofa than the tube, but ultimately, with 98% read rates in SMS, the point is, you can catch them! You can even embed a tracked link in the SMS to make it even easier for the contact and easier for you to track ROI. Just make sure your content is mobile-friendly before doing this.

Data capture

Are you missing information from a prospect that is blocking your progress in their route to a sale? Maybe you are missing information to generate a quote. Maybe you’ve sent a quote and are not sure if they’ve seen it or are happy with it. A timely SMS can quickly gather the information you need to nudge buyers further down the line and also operate as a great ‘check-in’ without being too pushy.

Eliminate no-shows

Whether it’s an in-person meeting, a phone call, a webinar, or a Zoom meeting, sending your customers and prospects helpful appointment reminders via SMS will increase attendance. You’ll probably get thanks for it, too. Plus, if they can’t make it for any reason, consider adding functionality for them to reply, making rescheduling that much easier, and decreasing the chance of a no-show.

Improve ROI

Using SMS in conjunction with an email campaign can see a 30% lift in email open rates (CTIA). If you have a big company announcement or a feature update to shout about, using a joint email and SMS approach will see a much bigger return on investment. But be selective here. Use segmentation in your contact lists to make sure what you’re sharing is relevant to your audience. The last thing you want is for the prospect or customer to associate your brand with spam.

Reduce churn

Don’t forget about your existing customers! After all, we all know how much more expensive it is to gain a new customer rather than retain an existing one. Reduce churn by reaching out to your customer base and offering them some extra value in the form of useful collateral, industry news, or top tips. Align these with your own offering and you’ll also likely see an increase in one-off or monthly reoccurring revenue, making it just as much value for your business as it is for your customers.

Surveys and polls

Finally, using our auto-responder functionality in Dotdigital makes it easy to conduct surveys and polls for valuable customer feedback, enabling you to change tack and become more successful. You may even want to do a competition to say thank you to your customer base, or warm up some of your colder leads. Contact us today to learn more about how to set this up.

We’ve got lots of resources to help you streamline the B2B customer lifecycle, plus more insight on SMS marketing.

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