Top SMS marketing trends to watch out for in 2021

Consumers are likely to receive more promotional emails, texts and push notifications in 2021 as brands try to engage with their audience in new ways during a pandemic and economic fallout. This increased effort will inevitably lead to increased clutter in the inboxes of users, making way for marketers to shift the focus on crafting a robust SMS marketing plan. With consumers being constantly on their phones, there is no doubt SMS marketing has become increasingly popular for businesses. As we enter 2021, we’ve identified some top SMS marketing trends you should watch out for this year.

SMS messages have a 98% open rate and a 45% response rate, which gives marketers a highly engaging platform to reach their audience. SMS marketing has already experienced a boost throughout 2020 and is expected to become even more popular as we enter 2021.

SMS marketing trends to watch for

Text-based customer service

Using SMS as a primary medium to provide customer support cuts long hold times and multiple transfers that customers experience during a phone call service. Around 60% of customers are reluctant to wait on hold with customer service for more than one minute, and it is safe to say that this attention span will continue to reduce. 

Moreover, customers are more comfortable in text-based customer service, as studies show that 52% of customers prefer texting customer support over calling. Therefore, brands are likely to incline further towards text-based customer services in 2021.

Transactional SMS

Transactional messages are automated texts meant to be for non-marketing purposes. If you are running a non-profit organisation, you can send transactional updates for your donors such as donation confirmations and updates about fundraisers. If you are in the insurance business, you can send payment confirmations or meeting updates. Notifications through text messages allow your users to receive important updates in a different channel from their cluttered email inbox.

Transactional messages can also be used for more than just informing purposes. You can capitalise on the opportunity to build a strong relationship with your partners through a personalised delivery of your message. For example, “Hello Martha, this is Vince from…” makes anyone feel connected to your organisation in a much more personal way.

Chatbot integration

One of the most popular trends that took off recently is the SMS chatbot feature. Chatbots save time and effort by answering common inquiries through automation. AI-powered chatbots can not only answer common questions but also complete automated tasks without any human intervention.

Government and health organizations can particularly benefit from the chatbot feature as it allows the people to access any available information without the need for staff intervention.  

These chatbots are the closest you can get to emulate real-life dialogue with your audience. Through a real-time virtual interaction between the chatbot and the user, you can provide a valued user experience.

In-depth targeting

If your audience receives updates that suit their needs and is in the same geographical location, they are highly likely to engage. SMS marketing tools like Octopush come with advanced segmentation features that allow you to categorise your audience so that you can target the ideal user for your campaign. 

This trend of personalised user experiences will only continue to rise in 2021. Segmentation lets you ensure that your audience gets updates that are relevant to them. It also allows you some extent of control over boosting conversions by aligning your promotions with the intent of your audience.

Why SMS Marketing?

Mass motification

For public announcements such as a new mask mandate, or disaster alerts, it is necessary to reach a large group of people fast. SMS provides a platform for sending out messages in bulk. Since 90% of all text messages are read within 3 minutes of receiving, it is undoubtedly the fastest digital medium, too. For example, the French government used the SMS marketing services of Octopush to send communications to their staff, including crisis management alerts during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Automation for fast service

Utilising SMS automation not only reduces your time and effort needed to conduct a marketing campaign but also ensures faster service. You can set sequences of messages on frequently asked questions, or integrate with your CRM to automatically send important updates.

Automation can also be used to keep track of referrals, meeting cancellations, and more.  

Interact with your audience

Text campaigns are a unique way of engaging with your audience. With a response rate of 45%, it offers a two-way communication tool which is more efficient than email. Using tools like surveys, polls, questionnaires, you can interact with your audience and understand them better. 

A text-based feedback system can also come handy to provide a quality service. You can send a follow-up text after resolving an issue that was raised by a customer. This will make your customer feel connected to your brand. 

Send reminders

SMS is a great tool for sending reminders for its instant delivery. One of the major reasons behind a missed appointment is that people forget to reschedule it on time. You can use SMS to send them a periodic reminder about an upcoming appointment. 

You can also improve your customer service by keeping a hassle-free option to cancel or reschedule appointments through text. Besides, reminders can also be sent before key dates such as election day, campaign rallies, registration deadlines etc.

How to use SMS marketing?

Medical reminders

Patients tend to overlook the importance of regular checkups twice or thrice a year. You can send automated text messages to remind your patients about an upcoming or a missed date of a checkup. 

Besides, you can also send weekly health tips. This is a good way of cultivating a strong relationship with your patients. As text messages feel more personal than emails, sending weekly health tips will help you stay in the minds of your patients.

Clinics often face the issue of missed appointments. Since doctors were already booked in due to prior appointment, it also harms clinics financially when a patient misses an appointment. You can use your SMS marketing tool to send personalised appointment reminders to your patients. They can cancel or reschedule the appointment according to their convenience which allows you to give the time slots to other patients. These appointment reminders can be automated and scheduled according to the set time interval, which saves time and effort on your part.

Permit and application updates

The application process for permits or licenses in public offices can be lengthy at times. Applicants also face a great deal of uncertainty when the process takes longer than expected. You can use SMS messaging to automate sending updates about the application status whenever someone requests for it. You can also send a personalised text whenever the process is complete. Octopush offers seamless integration to facilitate such automation that reduces the costs of hiring full-time support staff for this purpose and also saves valuable time. 

Health updates

SMS messaging can also be used to send alerts regarding disease updates such as flu virus, seasonal viruses, viral outbreaks etc. You can also send precautionary measures or primary care guidelines in case any patient has contracted the disease already. SMS marketing can thus be used for keeping patients informed.

A lot of patients call multiple times to know if their test results are available. Any delay in delivering the results can be a hassle for both the patient and the clinic. You can use automated SMS messaging for responding whenever a patient asks for the status of results. You can use integration for automatically sending an alert whenever the test results are ready. For this purpose, you will need an SMS marketing service like Octopush, which allows you to automate sending SMS notifications based on the parameters defined by your needs.

You can also send bulk texts to your customers whenever there is a temporary or permanent change in opening and closing hours of your service. This will keep your customers informed so that they can schedule their visit accordingly.

Election campaigning

In 2008, then US Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama sent a text to nearly 3 million Americans announcing Joe Biden his vice president pick. This wasn’t only dubbed as one of the most important text messages in history but was also a prime example of how brilliantly SMS marketing can be used in election campaigns. By sending a text before announcing it on TV, the democratic party engaged on a personal level with their audience, and needless to say, it paid off. 

When running for a political office at any level, keeping a close connection with the voters is essential. You can send important political announcements such as event reminders, registration deadlines, vote counts, etc. 

Moreover, text messaging can also be used to gather feedback from the voters, who can share their experiences and highlight the issues that they want to be resolved. Lastly, you can send a scheduled reminder to people to exercise their right to vote on election day, no matter which party they support.

Recruit volunteers

Text messaging can be a particularly effective tool in organising volunteer campaigns in grassroots. If your audience is unable to donate money, the next best thing is to ask them to donate their time. 

You can start by creating an SMS list with mobile numbers of people who are willing to volunteer. Signing them up can be as easy as distributing prompts on your promotional channels that read “Text VOLUNTEER to 6666”. This gives you a collection of individuals willing to commit their time for a purpose. 

The next step can be segmenting your SMS list based on their interests paired with their demographic and geographic data. This can help volunteers match potential opportunities with their interests or skill sets. Octopush offers an SMS marketing service that comes with advanced analytics that lets you target a specific group of people who fit your requirements.

Insurance services

At a time when information is more available than ever, competitive prices are not enough to stand out as a business. But one aspect that still holds is that providing exceptional and convenient service to customers always allows you to gain loyal customers.

Given the high response rate of SMS, you will be able to set more meetings through texts. For this purpose, you can attach a calendar invite link to set the time of the meeting. You are thus sending a personalised text asking for a meeting and letting them respond at their convenience. 

After a natural disaster like a cyclone, you can send text messages to your customers in regions that were affected and check on them. If they suffered damage, you can also share relevant information that will help them to raise a claim. You can also use MMS services to receive pictures that can be useful for the case.

Using SMS for your customer service also allows you to provide 24/7 service. You can use an automated chatbot when your agency is closed. If it is unable to provide service through automated responses, it can send them a text that staff will respond during the open hours. The contact page on your website must include the number that customers will use for texting you. This will help in increasing conversion from your website. 

As we continue to adapt to the new normal, SMS marketing trends are likely to continue the climb in the coming days. So make sure to enter 2021 with a robust SMS marketing plan using a reliable and secure service like Octopush. Get ready to tap the limitless possibilities of SMS marketing. Start your free trial on Octopush today by creating a free account!