Text messaging is the most used feature on any cell phone – smart or otherwise – and it’s also the most used form of communication for most of the world (including the U.S.).

If you’re like me, you look at how pervasive texting (SMS) is, and you think “There’s got to be a way to make money off of this!”

And there is.

There are several ways to use SMS to grow your business. Below I’ll show you a few of them, and I’ll explain why it’s so important that you do use SMS for your business in 2018.

1. Getting leads

In 2017, 70 percent of online traffic came from mobile devices, which is up from about 65 percent little more than a year ago. That number’s expected to grow to 73 percent in 2018.

People are on their phones a lot searching for products, businesses, and everything else. What happens when they find you?

Well, we already know most people prefer texting (see above), and now we know most people online are already on their smartphones. Something called Click-to-Text puts two and two together.

Click-to-Text is a button that works with your website, Google business listing, Adwords ads, and more. Viewers click the button to open a text to your business.

This tears down barriers and extra steps to convert more mobile viewers into leads. Once they text you, you also have the best way to reach them (their cell phone), and their reason for contacting you.

2. Following up on leads

Emails, phone calls, advertisements, and more all work for following up with leads and closing sales. But what if you could close more sales with fewer steps?

According to Constant Contact, about 17 percent of emails are opened, on average. About 20 percent of calls are answered (fewer listen to voicemail), and retargeting ads can be tricky to get right.

These methods work, but they also leave holes in your funnel, because you aren’t able to reach everyone consistently.

But 99 percent of text messages are read (mostly within a few minutes of being sent), which makes it easy for you to get your foot in the door. You can text to:

  • Get an update
  • Schedule a time to talk, or an appointment
  • Ask for the close
  • Share a “more info” link or picture
  • And more

SMS helps you grow your business by instantly connecting you with the people you need to reach when you need to reach them. Plus, 45 percent of texts like this (on average) get responses, and some studies show they get almost 300 percent more “yes” responses than phone calls (source linked above).

What could that do for your business?

3. Ongoing customer communications

You probably text with your friends and family. Why not treat your customers the same way?

It’s important to think of business texting/SMS as two-way and conversational, not just as a way to push information. These conversations build relationships with your customers, and those relationships are key to growing your business.

You can start conversations by:

  • Scheduling or confirming their next appointment
  • Checking in to see how things are going
  • Sharing new offers or info
  • Asking for feedback or reviews
  • Any other reason you can come up with.

89 percent of consumers say they want to message with a business for communications like these.

You should also consider how much easier it is to reach people through text than other methods, and how much time it can save you compared to calling.

The average phone call takes almost two minutes, but you can send one text to dozens, hundreds, or thousands of people at the same time (without starting a group thread). You can also schedule messages in advance, just like email.

4. Customer service and support

Per Harvard Business Review, it costs anywhere from five to 25 times more to bring in a new customer than it does to keep an existing customer. Improving customer retention by just five percent can also increase revenue by anywhere from 25 percent to 95 percent.

But what customers want has changed drastically over the last few years, and it could be costing you a lot of business.

Did you know that 32 percent of callers placed on hold hang up immediately? Or that most customers are frustrated with current customer service options?

People have always valued quick and convenient service, but now they want it to be quick and convenient from the palm of their hand — without having to do much of anything themselves.

Texting meets today’s expectations, and people like texting for service and support because they can go on about their day during the conversation.

When you exceed expectations and provide great customer experiences, you will keep more customers for longer while spending less to do so.

Action steps

Mobile engagement has been trending upward steadily for a decade, and some form of SMS or mobile messaging has been trending right alongside it.

In 2018, it’s crucial that your business get in on the action.

SMS can help you grow your business, and frankly, it’s what people will expect from you. There are just a few things you need to do to find success with SMS in 2018.

Step 1:

Offer text (or Click-to-Text) as a communication channel wherever you want people to reach out to you. For leads, that includes at least your website and Google listing. For customer service, that includes your website homepage and other contact pages.

Step 2:

Begin reaching out to leads and customers through text (just don’t spam people). You can do this by following up with leads after you see their information come in, or by sparking conversations with existing customers to build those relationships.

Step 3:

Get something to manage all these texts as a business. Text Request is made for this, and you can even use your current business number in most cases.

Once you have your SMS strategies in place – which you can see by this article is simple to do — then there’s nothing left but to do it!

What are your thoughts on using SMS for business? Post them in the comments and let’s talk about them!