One level of communication often remains in the shadows in the relationship between brands and customers: transactional SMSs, considered exclusively operational (or “bureaucratic”) because they are closely linked to customer behaviors and actions.
Yet the role of a transactional SMS goes far beyond a simple notification: it helps create a comfortable and continuous customer experience that is essential for cultivating a relationship during the stages of the customer journey that precede a purchase and also reach customer retention activities. Confirming all this is The SMS Advantage study by SAP & Loadhouse, according to which 64% of consumers consider SMSs useful for improving their user experience. The following graph traces the stages of a customer’s life cycle; we have marked the touch points where transactional SMSs are completely effective in red:
This potential is only possible thanks to the SMS channel’s unique features: speed and immediacy, able to guarantee opening rates exceeding 98%, in 90% of cases within three minutes of reception (Dynmark). In this blog post, we explain what transactional SMSs are and how to optimize their use.
One to one SMS: what it is and its purpose
Transactional messages are characterized by the presence of unique fields related to each customer’s specific behaviors, such as the confirmation of a purchase or an appointment reminder. Unlike promotional SMSs (product launches, flash sales, up-selling, cross-selling or remarketing activities), transactional SMSs mainly serve an informative role, as a complement to an action, accompanying the customer along the touch points at the heart of the customer journey: from website registration to a purchase, up to the after-sales phases.
Putting ourselves in the customer’s shoes, we can see how transactional SMSs have become indispensable for many companies: beyond their notification aspect, their transactional flows meet the customer’s need for reassurance. Received in real time and opened from anywhere – without needing to be connected or in front of a computer screen – transactional SMSs help consolidate a relationship of trust by conveying a sense of efficiency, transparency, and professionalism: a great incentive for a brand’s good reputation. Here are some of the most common uses of transactional SMSs:
- to communicate the creation of an order, confirm its receipt and thank the customer; or, if the goods are not immediately available in stock, to communicate the inconvenience and reassure the customer that the order will be processed as soon as possible;
- to inform the customer that an order has been canceled, for example in the event of non-payment, or to communicate an order’s shipment;
- to implement so-called business “bricks-and-clicks”, that is, the type of sales activities that call for orders to be made online or in a store, with in-store pickup. This is fundamental in the “click-and-collect” system for letting the customer know that the goods have reached the store and are ready to be picked up, avoiding the risk of customers leaving the store empty handed and saving them time and energy.
Three tips for transactional SMSs
Once your communication plan has been developed, here are three strategic tips you can apply:
- Send in real time
With transactional messages, timing is everything. The SMS must be delivered in real time, as an immediate consequence to an action or upon customer request. Instant and correct management of transactional messages is decisive in the creation of a relationship of trust and loyalty. Just like with delivery, real time availability of statistical data on campaign trends is also critical for measuring performance and, if necessary, introducing corrective actions in a timely way.
- Add a human touch
In addition to relevant content, always take great care in how you communicate, avoiding SMSs that seem to be generated by a computer. There is nothing more repelling than a careless post. Adding a human touch to your 160 characters is essential, giving it a conversational and direct tone, as spontaneous and natural as possible: be clear, avoid marketing or corporate jargon, abbreviations, slang and technicalities.
- Customize the sender
With MailUp, you can edit each enter sender field and replace the phone number with your name or company (or both), in full compliance with AGCOM legislation (Italian Communications Guarantee Authority). This trick makes the sender instantly recognizable, gives an additional human touch to the campaign, and adds transparency to your brand’s image.
Beyond notification, bringing back dialogue
Although the goal of a transactional SMS is not to persuade a purchase, those who are more daring can leverage them to reintroduce dialogue and accompany the customer to a new order. This is a particularly interesting scenario for e-commerce: using a simple notification as a springboard to a new offer. Let’s look at two examples:
The customer purchased a product
Hi [name], thank you for choosing us. Check out other products that go perfectly with your purchase: http://bit.ly/1ihg
Hi [name], thank you for choosing us. Here are some ideas to make the most of [product]: http://bit.ly/1ihg
Do you have questions? Would you like to tell us how you use transactional messages? Leave your comment below.