Every so often, an event, trend or innovation comes along that revolutionises the way businesses and consumers interact.
First it was the telephone and business directories, then it was eCommerce and the internet, and now the pandemic has highlighted the immense value of another innovation: text messaging.
Long after it reinvented the way we interact with friends and family, it’s improving business-to-consumer communications too.
The pandemic will go down as a once-in-a-generation challenge for local businesses.
They’ve had to rely on every ounce of their determination, resilience and adaptability, but in many instances the results are savvier, smarter and more future-proof businesses.
With great challenge comes great opportunity, and Australia’s local businesses have treated the pandemic as the opportunity to innovate and provide the convenient, effective and memorable services that will become the hallmark of success for years to come.
Aussies are more reliant on their smartphones than ever before, using it to work, play and engage with businesses. Smartphone penetration in Australia is a staggering 80%, which presents opportunities for business owners cater to their customers.
Text messages offer consumers convenience
These consumers demand convenience, and our research shows that there is no better way to do this than through text messaging.
Text messages boast an open rate of 98% (five times higher than email), have a 209% higher response rate than emails, Facebook, and phone, while four in ten Australian consumers would switch to a business if it offered text communications.
One in five (19%) are already conversing – having real, two-way conversations – with local businesses via text, and of those that aren’t, almost half want to.
Evidently, text messaging should be core to local business communications. Your business could have the best products, but if customers don’t know that, it matters for little.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that small businesses who rely on traditional marketing channels or a physical location are in danger of being left behind.
However, presently only 12% of local businesses are harnessing the potential of text messaging, which makes it a genuine competitive advantage for those that are.
A key aspect of consumers’ preference for text communication is its capacity for a real, conversational feel. 76% Aussie consumers would likely text with a local business if they knew a real person was going to respond instead of receiving automated messages.
Text messages instrumental in daily business tasks
The benefits of text messaging can be felt by businesses, from real estate and retail, to construction and healthcare. Text messaging can be used to book and arrange appointments, send SMS campaigns, incentivise reviews, send invoices, and much more.
A dentist, for example. Across the entire customer journey, the business can use text to confirm an appointment, share updates and guidance regarding their COVID-plan and safety protocols, and send a one-touch link to leave a review after the check-up.
Rather than relying on them to engage in laborious email chains, seek out your COVID policies online then proactively search your business at a later date to leave a review, text makes every step of the process seamless and convenient.
Whether it’s through an online review or word-of-mouth to friends and family, you’re giving them a service that they remember and recommend.
A fantastic example of this is Cairns Precision Dental Group. A much-loved business that has been at the heart of Cairns community for over 17 years, the business prides itself on providing expert care and the best possible dental treatments. However, their exceptional service begins well before their patients arrive at the practice, and well after they leave it.
Having noticed a shift in their patients’ communication preferences – especially amongst the younger demographics – the practice decided to make text messaging their main form of communication. So it deployed Podium’s holistic communications platform.
Offering SMS quickly became an easy and convenient way for patients to contact the practice directly and made the process of scheduling an appointment infinitely easier.
Text also made it easier for its customers to ‘opt-in’ to receive promotions and offers that the practice runs monthly. Since implementing these processes through Podium, Cairns Precision Dental Group’s opt-in list has grown to over 3,000 subscribers.
Based on the success SMS had in transforming their communication channels, the team also decided to implement text as a solution to collect more online reviews.
By sending texts with a review link immediately after an appointment, the practice has quickly collected over 100 reviews and seen its star rating increase from 4.47 to 4.85.
Cairns Precision Dental Group isn’t an isolated success story; these benefits are being felt by thousands of savvy businesses nationwide. Whether you operate as a one-person band, have a local business or a growing enterprise operation, text allows you to give your customers more of what they want, when they want it.
As Australia reopens and industries become more and more competitive, a simple text could be the difference between a good business and an industry-leading business. With smartphone penetration only increasing, so too will the value of text, and the relationships, engagement, trust and conversions it drives.
Dave Schiene is the Country Manager at Podium