SMS / Text Messaging is Here to Stay
These days the quickest way to connect with someone, be they a friend or a family member, is to send them a text message. This is because text messaging is extremely simple, convenient, and affordable.
It’s no wonder that texting has become the dominant form of communication – particularly for people under the age of 50.
Without a doubt text messaging is here to stay.
So, what does this mean for eCommerce store owners and operators who want to connect with their customers?
Texting for eCommerce Businesses
Texting provides a unique opportunity for eCommerce store owners to connect with their customers in a quick and personal manner. When you walk into a brick-and-mortar store, there are people there to assist you. If you have questions they can answer them. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, they can find it for you.
Online shoppers should have the same experience!
When visitors to your online store have a question, you want to give them the ability to interact with you right away. So, what is the best way to offer texting as a means of communication with your customers?
There are many ways to communicate with your online customers – see The Best Methods for Communicating with Customers in 2019.
Text messaging is by far the best way to interact with customers in real-time. The second best option is live web chat.
An ideal outcome of texting with your customers is that your customer could save your number in their phone and be able to reach out to you at any time.
In this article, we will explore the various ways you can encourage your customers to interact with you via text messaging. But, before we do that, let’s take a look at the stats behind mobile phone usage and consumers’ preference for text messaging.
Mobile Phone Usage
How to Connect with Customers Using SMS
If you wanted to, you could go ahead and list your personal phone number on your store’s contact page. This may work for eCommerce stores that are just getting started, but for any online store that is generating a decent amount of web traffic, you’re going to want a better solution.
First of all, you don’t want your personal phone number just floating around out there. The last thing you need is for it to end up in the wrong hands.
Second, you’re going to want a better way to manage your text message conversations, keep track of who you’ve spoken with, and gain valuable insights into the types of visitors arriving on your site.
The best way to do all of this is to use a text messaging service, such as Mochi.
When shopping for a texting service provider, pay attention to the following features. If these aren’t available, it’s worth looking elsewhere.
- Unique Phone Number
- Pop Up Text / Chat Widget
- Communication Dashboard
- Live Feed of Site Visitors
- Customer Insights
- Chat Logs
- Multiple Users
- Unlimited Support
Where to List Your Texting Number
Once you’ve determined your texting service provider, the next step is to make sure your customers know that they can text you and know how to text you.
Below are a number of options for communicating to customers that your company offers customer support and customer interactions through text messaging.
If you’ve chosen a texting / live chat service providers (e.g., Mochi) it should be visible on your every page on your site. This should be the case on both the desktop version of your online store and the mobile version of your online store.
For help making your online store mobile-friendly, download this FREE guide
The next best place to list your texting number is on your website. There are various locations, where you can place your texting number, such as your contact page, your site header, and your site footer.
Be sure to provide the number, with relevant extensions, and a clear call to action. This call to action should let your customers know that they can text you and that you want them to text you.
Social Media Profiles
Another great place to list the phone number, where online shoppers can text you is on your social media profiles. Many eCommerce stores have a Facebook page, an Instagram account, a LinkedIn company page, and a Twitter profile.
Each of these locations is a great place to list your texting phone number. While customers can message you directly through these mobile platforms, directing them to texting does two important things.
- It allows you to manage all of your communications from a single location – rather than various disparate social media accounts.
- It ensures that your customers have your texting number in their phone. This allows them to see old conversations they’ve had with your company and to reach out at any time.
Social Media Posts
If you’ve built up a good following on your social media accounts, you can also publicize to your following that you now allow SMS / text message communications. Many brands use social media to announce products, changes in service, and company updates.
A strategic social media post about how your company offers texting support, perhaps one that is accompanied by a competition, is a great way to get the word out.
Conscious businesses take every opportunity they can to engage with their customers and to inform their customers of important features and options. One often-overlooked option for communicating information to customers is your email signature.
By placing your phone number and an invitation to text message with your online store in the signature of your emails, you demonstrate to customers your desire to engage with them and provide support for them.
Email Newsletters & Automated Emails
Just like including your phone number and a call to action in your email signature, you can include them in your automated emails as well. When you do this, your customers have an easy way of finding your phone number.
Even if they don’t use the text function right away, they can always do a quick search in their inbox when they want to reach out. Of course, they can always respond directly to emails, but even customers prefer the simpler approach of using text messaging.
Many brick and mortar stores opt to list their business using Google’s Business listing service. When someone searches for their business, a Google listing will appear to the right of the search results on the results page.
In the Google listing, online shoppers can see the name of the company, a brief description, the physical address, a Google map showing the business location, and the businesses phone number.
These Google listings are also a great place for eCommerce stores to claim their business and list their phone number. In this way, potential customers can find your texting phone number and reach out to you with a quick Google search.
For eCommerce shops that sell through multiple channels or online marketplaces, (i.e., Amazon, eBay, Etsy, etc…) adding your texting phone number to these profiles can help to engage with customers across these various channels.
Listing your texting number on these channels allows you to display a more robust company profile, which will help to build trust with consumers, and it will also demonstrate to your customers that you are willing and ready to engage with them.
A large number of eCommerce stores find their early success at events such as trade shows, festivals, and conferences. A well-prepared eCommerce business will come with a good number of printed marketing materials. These materials may include booth displays, banners, cards, or flyers.
These printed materials are a great opportunity to provide your texting number to potential customers. Giving customers something tangible that they can take home and reference later is a great way to plant seeds of interest for your online business.
If you also send direct mail as part of your marketing efforts, including a texting number on this direct mail, could be valuable as well.
A well-used strategy for spreading the word about a business, whether it be eCommerce or otherwise, is to use S.W.A.G. or “stuff we all get”. Popular items include t-shirts, bags, pens, keychains, and other knick-knacks.
Including your texting number on S.W.A.G. items is a great way to provide a physical gift to your customers, which can later provide them with an easy way to contact your company. Another added perk is that when your customers wear or carry around your S.W.A.G. their friends and family are also exposed to your brand. It’s a win-win.
On-Premise Store Fronts
Some eCommerce stores have found a good blend of on-premise or brick and mortar operations and online or eCommerce operations. Those who have used this approach or are considering it as a viable option, have a unique opportunity to display their texting phone number in a more permanent way.
Businesses often display their contact info on their storefront and in certain locations inside their store, such as near the cash register or customer services desk.
Displaying your texting phone number and a call to action for customers to engage via text messaging, is a great way to educate customers about your modern approach to communication and engagement.
In Your Customers Phone
While all of the other options for displaying your texting number, which I’ve covered above, are worth implementing the most valuable location for your texting phone number to reside is in your customers’ phones.
We often take it for granted that our friends and family members save our personal phone numbers, so they can reach us at any time. Imagine the impact of having your customers save your eCommerce businesses texting phone number in their phones. For customers to do this, they must have a positive image of your brand and a desire to communicate with you in the future.
Engagement with you and your eCommerce store are now at your customers’ fingertips, whenever they want to connect.
Over to You
In this post, we covered the expansion of mobile device usage and the statistics that demonstrate this expansion. We also covered the preference consumers have for texting versus other forms of communication.
Texting truly has become the world’s dominant form of communication.
If your eCommerce business is able to capitalize on the movement towards texting with retail stores and online shops, you will have a greater advantage in providing customers with a pleasant and delightful experience.
You can maximize this potential by ensuring you communicate effectively to customers your ability and interest in communicating via SMS / text messaging.
Here is a quick review of the locations, where displaying your store’s texting phone number makes good business sense.
- Chat App
- Social Media Profiles
- Social Media Posts
- Email Signatures
- Email Newsletters & Automated Emails
- Google Listing
- eCommerce Marketplaces
- On-Premise Store Fronts
- In Your Customers Phone
Now, I’ll send it over to you to implement these ideas into your business practice. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below.
And, as always, best of luck!