6 ways text messaging beats email

OpenMarket – October 24, 2017

Email was once the golden child of customer communications – fast, reliable and cheap; brands thought they had it all. But things are changing. Here’s six ways SMS beats email.

Consider this: Bob’s travelling on holiday and, because he’s with his family, it’s unlikely he’s looking at his emails. Imagine how frustrated he is when he misses his flight because the gate is a long way from the lounge – and finds out later the airline had told him about it in an email. That he didn’t read.

Research by OpenMarket found the average open rate for emails is around 20%. Compare this to around 98% for texts – with 90% of those read within three minutes – and the benefits of using SMS become clear.

We’re not saying that email is dead; far from it. But there are certain moments in customer experience where the immediacy of SMS means you can deliver a personal touch that an email simply can’t. Here are six examples.

1 – More people have access to SMS

Like bank accounts, it seems everyone has at least one email address to their name nowadays. But consider this: there’s five billion unique mobile phone subscribers worldwide – around 88% of the world’s adult population – easily eclipsing the three billion registered email addresses.

Every one of those phones can send and receive SMS.

So if you want to be absolutely sure about reaching customers – especially if your audience is millennials or international – text messaging is by far your safest bet.

2 – Two-way conversations are easier

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes: you’ve received an email asking a simple question. But there’s a problem: it says “do not reply to this message”, and only offers a call center number for assistance. Ugh.

We’ve all been there. You spend what feels like an eternity holding on the phone, and when you eventually get connected to an advisor, the matter is resolved in 30 seconds.

Now imagine a simple text message asking the customer to do the same thing; but this time, they can text back their response – it could be pre-set choices or a free-form answer – and can get on with their life rather than spending a lifetime on hold.

3 – Everything in one place

Customers, especially millennials, are more connected than ever before. Rarely without their smartphones, they’ve become always-on consumers. But this poses a problem: with a mountain of messages flooding their phones every day, how do you cut through the noise?

Well, the very last thing you want to do is send yet another email – which they’ll only see when they open the inbox and settle down to read. So, go back to what works. Use the SMS functionality that – by default – is on every phone on the planet.

By delivering information to one place without any effort on the customer’s part – meaning there’s no need to wade through endless emails searching for that misplaced receipt or guarantee – you’re going to make their life easier. What’s more, customers can reply to messages with the press of a button.

4 – Better customer feedback

 As any brand knows, feedback is vitally important in understanding the voice of the customer, and discovering where improvements can be made. And if you want a truly representative response, timing is crucial.

Take an example from hospitality. Guests have just left in a taxi on their way back to the airport after a stay. Hit them with a survey email when they’re back at home, and it’s likely that it’ll fall in their junk folder. But catch them in the taxi with a text survey, and most will reply in an instant.

(And actually, Club Mahindra does exactly that. It works brilliantly.)

Not only do you get a higher response rate, but the guest’s impressions of their stay will be fresh in their minds – leading to higher quality answers.

5 – Anytime, anywhere availability

With SMS, your customers could be in Newcastle or Nairobi – they’ll still be able to receive quick and simple messages, and reply at the press of a button. And what’s more, they don’t need 4G or a secure internet connection.

That’s good news for people on the move in areas with poor data reception, who are unable to sync their emails or use their web browser. Like Bob in the airport, for example.

Indeed, customers can be safe in the knowledge that they can get hold of a representative any time of the day or night, simply by sending a text message.

6 – Deliver empathetic interactions, exactly when they’re needed

Think of all the thoughtful messages you could have sent to customers, at the exact point they needed them. At OpenMarket, we call these “empathetic interactions”. It’s what keeps customers coming back for more.

Back at the airport, if Bob had received a text rather than an email with the information about the gate, he’d have seen and read it straight away – and caught his flight.

That’s what SMS is all about. It’s a little gem of information, which arrives at exactly the right time to make a difference.

Give your customers a better reception

As a messaging platform, SMS puts brands in direct contact with five billion people worldwide – more than any other channel. When used alongside email and voice communication, brands can deliver consistent empathetic interactions, always focused around the customer.

To find out more about how SMS can help you to deliver great customer experiences, get our SMS vs. Email eBook. Be sure to also check out our Empathetic Interaction eBook – it contains everything you need to know about delivering great CX.

And if you’d like to talk to someone today about adding SMS to your customer engagement platforms, give us a call.

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