5 Ways to Use Texting to Grow Your Sales and Marketing Improving sales and marketing often comes down to speed and convenience, which makes text messaging a great asset for growth. Here's how.

By Kenneth Burke

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You need customers' attention, and text messaging is one of the best ways to get it. Most texts are read instantly, and typical response times are within a couple of minutes. No other channel has that kind of consistent engagement.

Once you have customers' attention, you can do myriad things to improve your sales and marketing and grow your business. Below is a breakdown of five:

1. Capitalize on inbound marketing and lead generation

You spend time and money driving people to your website or into your physical location. Make sure you can turn those people into paying customers.

Website viewers tend to have questions they need answered before they can purchase, and they'd often rather ask someone than do the research themselves. An SMS chat (web chat widget for texting) solves this.

The visitor starts a conversation on your site through the chat, and your response goes to their text messages. This gives you their cell phone number — ideal for future follow-ups — and also keeps the conversation going once they've left your website.

Aside from SMS chat, you can prompt customers to "Text us at this number." Providing a keyword customers can text to get some perk or discount also works well, both in-store and online (e.g., "Text FREE to number to get …"). This will bring you first-time customers and set you up for SMS promotions later.

Related: Which Growth Metrics Actually Matter for Startups?

2. Follow up before competitors to win more sales

Prospects tend to reach out to multiple businesses when trying to buy. The business that responds first wins most of the deals. Texting helps you respond first.

Ask for a prospect's cell phone number on any web form, and send an automated text confirming you got their request upon submission. This is a great customer experience and opens up texting as a communication channel for when your rep has a moment to personally respond.

Depending on your sales motion, you may be able to schedule an appointment, provide an estimate or close the deal entirely through text. If you need more info first, text to find a couple minutes for a phone call. Texting is also great for getting quick updates on prospects' decision-making process and for getting them to take action so you can finalize a deal.

Related: 3 Steps to Set Up Sales KPIs That Actually Work

3. Tap past customers with new, seasonal and additional offers

SMS promotions tend to give any company a quick boost. Use them to upsell existing customers, bring past customers back and to re-engage cold leads. New products, additional services and seasonal discounts are all great offers to promote.

Pull your list of customers or a particular segment of customers you want to reach. Your customer relationship manager (CRM) or texting service may already make this easy for you. Keywords, mentioned in point one, also help you build a subscriber list ongoing.

Send a message that spells out the offer and how to take advantage of it. Include an image or website URL to pack an extra punch. For instance, a retailer may say, "Hi [first name], we're running our end of season sale. Get up to 70% off summer clothes at www.ourwebsite.com! Snag your perfect fit before it's gone." A monthly campaign tends to bring the best balance of high ROI and minimum opt-outs.

Related: 5 Steps to Creating Successful Marketing Campaigns

4. Turn happy customers into online reviews to get more customers

Potential customers check out online reviews before purchasing. The companies with the most positive reviews stand out, and texting will bring you more online reviews. Simply text customers to ask for a review, and include a link to the review site of your choice.

To automate these requests, you need an action in your CRM, point of sale (POS) or other software system on which to trigger the request. That might be after a purchase or after a service is marked completed.

At any point, you can manually text customers asking for a review, either individually or through a mass text — like an SMS promotion mentioned above.

5. Collect more payments with fewer headaches

Every business needs contactless payments, and texting gives you two options. First, you can text a customer asking them to pay, and include a link to pay online. Text them a reminder if needed. This will speed up your payments process dramatically, compared to sending paper or email invoices.

Second, you can connect your business texting number to your payment processor for "text-to-pay." This way you can get paid securely, in real-time, entirely through text.

The first payment request asks customers to enter their payment info through a secure online portal. The following requests ask customers to just reply with a confirmation code. That confirmation code triggers the transaction. This also works when existing customers' credit cards expire, and you need to get updated info.

Start by using a texting service to text-enable your business phone number(s). This creates some work-life balance, so you're not always using your personal cell number, and it also gives you far more functionality — like mass texting, automations, payments, multiple users, and so on.

Pick one use case to lean into as you get going. Then layer on more as you're comfortable. Before long, you'll wonder how you ran sales and marketing without texting.

Wavy Line
Kenneth Burke

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Vice President of Marketing

Kenneth Burke has written over 1,000 articles on business growth and helped companies from pre-launch startups to billion-dollar businesses achieve their goals. He's also a champion for Chattanooga, TN and always open to a new book recommendation.

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