More than 60% of people worldwide think that business should use sms marketing more often. That includes B2B organization like yours as well!
What it does not include is bombarding your contacts with SMS like these: (internal wince).
At the outset, SMS marketing for B2B companies could seem similar to B2C communication:
- They both include one on one conversational messaging
- Both the messages are sent via a channel that is more personal than ever (yeah, I am talking about your mobile phones)
- And the messages still get read more than emails (check out why text message marketing is important)
However, there is one crucial difference. In the B2B scenario, the buyer is another business and not just another individual.
Such a fundamental change drastically impacts how you use SMS
- The audience persona vastly different (so mind your language)
- The kind of texts you send are also not the same (that’s right, no promotional offers)
Instead, your texts are focussed on engaging your contacts and help them make a buying decision (your business over competition).
In this post we will see how you, as a B2B organization, can benefit from SMS marketing. I will also cover major use-cases and outline how to get started.
Does B2B SMS marketing really work?
Short answer: Yes!
Long answer: Of course it does!
If you are unsatisfied with both the above answers, let me lay down the facts.
- Open and click through rates of SMS outperform emails.
- SMS is interactive
- It is also personal
- Users don’t need to download an app, or have a smart phone, or internet
- The millennials (like yours truly) are already part of the workforce and they prefer SMS
- 85% of mobile device users prefer a text from businesses over phone calls or emails
So yes, your leads would definitely appreciate an SMS from you. One way to know for sure is to measure the impact B2B SMS marketing has on your sales cycle.
Once you get started with SMS marketing for B2B, you will notice that such regular contact reduces your sales cycle and improves your marketing ROI.
Since SMS is just another way of nurturing ‘cold’ leads until they are ready to buy – you will find that it complements your marketing efforts and converts old leads faster.
Even better, a lot of new prospects would sign up to receive informative SMS from you, directly increasing lead generation.
Let us see how you can get started with SMS marketing for your B2B organization.
What do you need to get started with SMS for B2B?
In the B2B context, using SMS marketing does not involve sending texts from your cell phone. Instead, you will be using a business tool (like CallHub), to set up campaigns.
To get started with SMS marketing, here is what you need:
- A texting tool (like CallHub): This will give you a secure dashboard and enable you to set up multiple campaigns. Not only will such a tool to show how your campaign performs, but it can also give you a single platform for all your agents to use.
- A CRM (like Blackbaud): This integrates with your SMS platform and enables you to map every response back to the lead. You can also use the CRM to segment your audience and send alerts and notifications based on user behavior.
And that’s it.
To be honest a CRM is strictly not necessary. You can still download the contacts from your database and upload them to your texting tool to get started. But I recommend having a CRM to refine your SMS marketing.
If you are looking to start immediately, with a low budget, just starting with CallHub is also perfectly fine. After sending out a few campaigns, you will have a better understanding of what tools you need.
Once you have the tools in place, you can send out targeted SMS campaigns to your contacts and keep them engaged.
How can B2B organizations use SMS?
B2B sms marketing is drastically different. Instead of sending out offers and promotional code, you send valuable content that helps them buy.
Here are two ways B2B organizations can use SMS:
- Lead generation – identifying prospects who are interested in you
- Engagement – encouraging ‘cold’ leads to buy later
Before you start working on either of these goals, getting consent from prospects to reach out to them via SMS is crucial. This exercise is called list building and serves as the starting point of your SMS marketing efforts.
How to build an SMS marketing list for your B2B?
As with email marketing, list building for SMS marketing takes time and a lot of patience. Here is how you can go about doing it.
Collect the user’s phone number in forms on your website. Make it very clear that by providing their number the user is willing to be contacted by you over the phone.
The latter is seen as implicit consent, and is crucial for meeting SMS guidelines. It signals an opt-in, without which your texts can get penalized.
To ensure that the phone number field in a form is filled, you can either make it mandatory. Or, have verify it by sending an OTP.
Remember, both the above strategy encourage users to break-off. So, use them with caution. Or only if you are absolutely sure that you can wow them using your SMS texts
Webinars/ marketing collateral
Capturing phone numbers via webinars and e-book is another great way to build your list.
The advantage here is that based on the topic of the webinar/marketing content, you have more insight into what the user is actually looking for.
This in turn, will help you segment your leads and send them targeted and relevant messages.
SMS opt-in campaigns (email, social media)
Essentially, you encourage leads to sign up to your SMS list, by providing them a keyword and a short code.
Eg. They can text “JOIN” to 33369 to get exclusive research briefings. Here “JOIN” is the Keyword and 33369 is the shortcode.
The SMS marketing tool (eg. CallHub) that you pick, will help you set up this keyword and shortcode.
Once you have set it up, circulate it across all social channels to create awareness about this new medium of communication.
If you get enough eye-balls on it and give the right offer, a lot of your leads will sign up to your campaign and your SMS list grows automatically.
Reach out to existing customers
Another great way to build your SMS list is by reaching out to existing customers. Inform them that they can now reach out to you faster (and easier) via SMS.
Send them the keyword and the shortcode (maybe via email), and encourage them to subscribe.
Remember that list building does not happen overnight. Give it a good two months before you have a substantial number of subscribers to reach out to.
Now that you have a list of people to send SMS to (and who are open to receiving SMS from you), what will you send them?
What kind of SMS can you send for B2B communication?
An important regulation of SMS marketing (even for B2B communication), is that the users should be able to unsubscribe by sending STOP to your shortcode.
Since this is not optional, a lot of companies (including CallHub), automatically unsubscribe those contacts who reply with STOP.
So, it is crucial that your audience like the content you are sending as texts. Unless your SMS is engaging and relevant, most of your leads will be quick to opt-out. This will mean:
- The SMS list that you have painstakingly put together will all be for naught
- If someone marks you as spam, the carrier will stop you from sending more texts
- The ROI for your SMS marketing will be quite depressing (try explaining that to your boss!)
Even if SMS marketing is an ideal channel for your B2B organization, you will not find it backfiring, simply because you are not using the right messages!
Let me help you there. Here are a few SMS that you can send your contacts in the list
SMS for appointment scheduling
Using peer to peer campaigns, you can have one on one conversations with your leads and setup appointments.
|Hi @leadname, Can we meet at 10:30 am tomorrow to discuss your requirements?|
Notice how the text reads as a conversation and not as an automated text. Based on the lead’s response, your agent can further customize the response. Here is how the whole conversation can go:
| Agent: Hi Mary, can we meet at 10:30 am tomorrow to discuss your pricing options?|
Mary: Sorry Noah, can we meet a bit later?
Agent: Sure! What time would work for you?
Mary: 14:30 pm suits you?
Agent: Yes! See you then!
SMS for reminders
Your leads are busy people with a loaded calendar. So SMS is the perfect way to remind them about your organization, without being intrusive.
|Hi @leadname, Stevens here from B2B. We are still good for tomorrow’s meeting right?|
The above example was a meeting reminder. You can use it for sending webinar reminders, payment reminders etc.
SMS for alerts on downloads
A critical part of lead nurturing (even for B2B business) is quality content.
To ensure that the leads don’t forget about content (say a whitepaper) that they have downloaded from your site, you can remind them with an SMS.
|Hi Mike, your copy of the White-paper on Fin-tech analysis 2019, is waiting for you in your inbox. Can you guess the leading trend in the market?|
These alerts can be set up as auto-responders. Or, you can manually import the list of contacts to your texting tool (CallHub) and set up the campaign.
SMS for sending useful content
Why wait for your leads to download content from the site? If you have their number (and consent), you can directly send them a text with an update.
|Hi Mike, Do you know which is the highest paid skill this year? We analyzed the top skills in the job market for 2019 and here is what we found: bit.ly2347li|
Just remember to segment your contacts based on interest before sending out such content. That way, you can always ensure that your texts add value.
SMS for data collection
Use peer to peer campaign (and customized fields) to get more information about your leads. Understand what kind of product they are looking for, the business problem they are trying to solve and also their budget.
|Hi John, This is Jessy here from ABC.com. You just requested a custom quote. Can you tell me what budget you are looking at?|
These details will help you segment and target your leads better. You can send them relevant content, based on their (say), budget.
Otherwise, you can also use SMS to build the lead’s profile. Eg. last name, company name and designation.
SMS for surveys and polls (know your leads better)
What do your leads think of you? What more would they want from your B2B? Is there a specific feature that you can build that can help them more?
The answers to these questions can be obtained from a survey. Instead of sending the survey only by email, you can also send it by SMS so that the chances of response increases.
|Hi John, As an active CallHub customer, can you tell us what more feature you would like? It takes less than 2 minutes to share your thoughts: bit.ly1234CH|
Or, you can send the survey by email and give them a heads up over SMS to increase the chances of their responding.
SMS for company announcements
Crucial company announcements (like downtime, new release, changes in pricing etc.) can be sent via SMS to give your leads a heads up instantly.
|Hi John, the latest feature in our SMS campaign will help you handle more SMS volume, a lot easier. Check out all the details here: bit.ly123LF|
These texts can be sent in bulk, reaching everyone on your list at the push of a button. You can also set it up so that the responses are handled automatically.
SMS marketing for B2B with CallHub
Now that you know what to send, let us see how you can go about sending it (I did promise you a complete guide after all!).
In CallHub, setting up an SMS campaign takes less than 15 minutes. Once you sign up, you are taken to the dashboard, where you can choose the kind of SMS campaign you want to create.
You will have three options:
A broadcast SMS campaign is where a single text is sent to an entire list of contacts, at the click of a button. You can of course include some aspects of personalization (eg. contact name). The responses you receive from the audience are handled automatically.
From your end, you will need only a single agent to handle this campaign. So it is not a big investment in terms of resources.
Company announcements, payment reminders, and targeted content can be sent using a broadcast SMS.
Peer to peer campaigns
Remember how we discussed sending appointment schedules via SMS? Such one to one conversations are handled by peer to peer campaigns. When a contact responds to your initial text, the conversation can be carried out using saved templates.
Your agent will simply have to edit a previously existing template to suit each conversation. An agent can start about 2500 conversations in an hour. So depending upon your contact list, you can choose to have one or more agent for the campaign.
SMS opt-in campaigns
This is what we use for list building. You set up a keyword and a shortcode and advertise it in your network. Contacts can opt-in to your SMS campaigns by texting you the keyword.
All this campaign needs is 15 minutes of set-up, where your agent creates the keyword, shortcode and the ‘thank-you’ responses to those who opt in. After that, it is pretty much runs on its own.
Once you start sending SMS campaigns regularly, you will have more agents handling a lot of responses. In such cases, CallHub allows you to assign specific contacts to certain agents – thus giving you more control over each interaction.
For instance if your agent Mark has 10 clients and another agent Betty has 15, then while setting up a peer to peer campaign, you can ensure that Mark respond to his client and Betty handles hers.
To see how it can work for you, I suggest trying out CallHub first hand. It is free and will help you make an informed decision.
Additionally, since CallHub also has call center tools, you can compliment your texting and calling outreach to convert leads better!