SMS for B2B is the dark horse in selling techniques. While cold calling has its place in B2B sales, it’s not a well-liked selling method for most of us. B2B buyers are busy – really busy! – and while a conversation over the phone at the right moment can propel the deal forward, frequent contact at the wrong time can put people off.
Many buyers feel more comfortable with SMS because they’re not compelled to stop what they’re doing and engage right away. That may not sound great for SDRs or BDMs who want to close their deals before the month’s end; but at least these messages will be seen and read, and not lost like an email in an overcrowded inbox.
SMS might be an underrated and underused channel; but if your buyers like it, you should too.
Why SMS for B2B?
- SMS read rates are as high as 98%
- Buyers are 4.5x more likely to reply to an SMS than an email
- Marketers using three or more channels in their campaigns see a 250% higher purchase rate than marketers using a single channel
It’s no surprise that 61% of marketers increased their SMS budgets in 2020. The mobile, whether at work or at home, has become more than a communication device. People use it as a calculator, a camera, a portable TV. The smartphone is never further away than arm’s length – and that provides businesses with an unmissable opportunity to reach their prospects and customers.
What’s SMS for B2B?
In layman’s terms, SMS for B2B is businesses selling to prospects via text messaging. An important thing to note is that B2B buyers are everyday consumers. And while many wrongly consider SMS a B2C-exclusive tactic, the channel can be used in the same way in a B2B context.
For instance, consider this:
After filling in a prospectus form, entering your email address and mobile number, you browse part-time university courses that will help with your career progression. Later that day you receive a text inviting you to a virtual open day about the institution and preferred course. You accept and are one step closer to choosing that institution.
An example like this can be applied to B2B scenarios easily. Like the above, once your prospect opts in to your marketing, you can use SMS to follow up on high-intent actions like product page views, demo or sample requests, and content downloads.
Benefits of selling via SMS
One of the biggest advantages of selling via SMS is speed. You can meet your audiences where they are and get your important sales prompts across quickly. In fact, text messages are read much faster than any other channel. Sounds too good to be true, right?
90% of SMS is read in under three minutes.
Text is also a more personal approach to selling, which makes the buying experience that bit more human. Like B2C, people want to be spoken to and not marketed at. Personalizing your message on your buyer’s preferred channel helps you break down barriers and reach decision-makers when your competitors can’t.
SMS for B2B: best practices
1. Always get permission
Like any marketing channel you need to get permission from your audience before contacting them via SMS. Failing to do so is illegal and could cost your business dear. What’s more, recipients will be unimpressed receiving unsolicited texts from you, and that’s not good for business. Luckily, there are easy options to get permission:
- Opt-in form
The moment a prospect lands on your website there should be an obvious place where they can subscribe to your marketing. Whether it’s a popover on your homepage or a post-purchase prompt, invite users to sign up by communicating the benefits. What will they get in return?
- SMS campaign
Create an initiative that encourages prospects to text a specific code or keyword to sign up to text messages from your business. Make sure it’s obvious about what you’re going to send them so that the delivery and expectations are aligned.
2. Communicate something of value
If even one text message you send doesn’t have any value for the recipient, it’s not worth sending. Remember, subscribers have exchanged their mobile phone number for something of value. As a marketer or salesperson, it’s your job to deliver.
Offers and promotions might first come to mind, but you can reach out about other important stuff too. You might want to send a text that includes a link to a competition form, for example. You could also send a zoom meeting reminder, some handy content, or pricing details for your product or service. Whatever it is, there should always be a reason for sending a text, otherwise you’ll just annoy your buyers and put them off buying!
3. Include a compelling CTA
Communicating something of value is all well and good, but there needs to be a way for recipients to take you up on the offer. What you need is a clear and compelling call to action (CTA).
The key is making sure your CTA is actionable – in other words, that it outlines what the recipient needs to do to get to the next step in the journey.
Here are some examples:
“Use this code for one month free!”
“Check out our services here.”
“Complete the form to win!”
Successful CTAs are always simple, so keep yours brief and succinct. And remember, the action should seem effortless. Subscribers won’t have the attention span or time for a longwinded process.
4. Keep your message concise
You only have 160 characters to convey your message. And don’t forget, Unicode (things like emojis, etc.) will cut that limit to 70 characters – but luckily dotdigital warns you about that! In both cases, brevity is the answer: you’ll want to get your points across in a few words.
Here are some simple tips to help you save on your word count:
- Open with something irresistible: much like an email subject line, you want to communicate value right away and with as little characters as possible. Phrases like “FREE TRAINING” will grab people’s attention instantly.
- Sell benefits over features: rather than list your products and services, communicate the benefits. What’s in it for prospective customers? Is it saving time or making more money? Reducing production costs or improving management style?
Don’t let the 160-character wordcount put you off – if anything, it makes messages much more effective and digestible. Plus, writing concise marketing copy is a brilliant transferable skill.
5. Get your timings right
Just like your email campaigns, timing is everything with SMS. Buyers are busy like the rest of us, juggling a work-life balance, so catching them at the right time makes all the difference.
Think about your prospect’s work day – when are they most productive and when is their down time? Try and catch them mid-morning or straight after lunch. Avoid times when they might not read your text messages – for instance, Monday first thing or Friday afternoon.
Remember not to spam subscribers – give them some breathing space in between your communications. Messages should sink in with recipients before you reach out next. So, be sure to consider a careful, staged approach with the right texting frequency.
6. Test, test, test!
Split testing isn’t just for email or social, it’s for SMS too. Test which messages resonate better with which audiences and understand who you’re sending to: is it an executive or decision-maker?
Planning out all your variations for all of your personas, you can then split-test for each to see what works best. As with your sales templates, testing your content helps decipher the winning combination that drives positive engagement – signing up to an event, requesting a demo or sample box, viewing a pricing page – with prospective buyers. You can also test any personalization you use, CTAs and links, plus your ‘from’ name. All this analysis will help you curate the most optimum text message.
And that’s a wrap!
I hope you enjoyed this B2B-inspired SMS blog. SMS is a great channel for B2B companies; it helps your BDMs drive opportunities down the funnel. There’s no better way to get your buyer’s attention; and in a digitally noisy world, breaking through the noise will help you close more business deals. Plus, buyers prefer SMS to cold calling. And they won’t delete it without reading it, like they would an email.
There’s one more, very important, thing. Choosing the right SMS tool is key to success. Luckily, dotdigital has you covered.
dotdigital’s SMS tool
dotdigital Engagement Cloud’s self-serve SMS tool allows you to pepper your marketing automation programs with engaging text messaging. Drive more leads and sales with multichannel touchpoints that turn opportunities into orders.
- Capture your customers’ attention better than on any other channel
- Achieve repeat conversions with timely nudges
- Reduce virtual meeting no-shows with appointment reminders
- Generate sign-ups to online events through early-bird texts
- Use SMS as auto-responses for competition entries, feedback submissions, and more
- Subscribe contacts to other channels with direct links to branded landing pages