For many outbound call centers, it’s getting harder and harder to get leads on the phone.
Rampant call blocking and flagging are getting in the way of connecting with customers—even when they have raised their hands to say, “I’m interested!” Meanwhile, email open rates are at their lowest point in several years.
In the face of these headwinds, the SMS channel [text messaging] can provide invaluable outreach success for your sales or lead gen team. And the best part is, with SMS drip campaigns, that outreach can happen automatically, following a series and cadence of messages your team fine-tunes for peak performance.
Not quite up to speed on outbound text capabilities and campaigns? Use this quick crash course on SMS drip campaigns to learn how you can supplement your outbound dialing with automated text messages that engage leads—and encourage them to convert.
What Is a Drip Campaign?
A drip campaign is an automated series of messages sent to leads or customers in order to encourage a specific action. The messages in a drip campaign are sent according to a predetermined schedule, which can be optimized for maximum performance. They’re also usually coordinated with specific time-sensitive offerings or triggered by certain user actions.
For instance, a business might initiate a drip campaign each time a new prospect opts in using a form on the business’s website. In another scenario, automated drip sequences can be used effectively for setting up and reminding customers of upcoming appointments and events.
According to Zapier, drip marketing gets its name from irrigation: Just as a farmer or gardener might gradually feed and nurture their plants over time, drip marketers slowly develop a relationship with their leads and customers with drip messages.
While this term “drip campaign” often refers to email-based outreach strategies, more and more businesses are turning to the SMS channel to reach their customers with drip marketing. Using the best practices below, you can support your outbound dialing efforts with effective text message drip campaigns that drive your customers to convert.
SMS Drip Campaign Best Practices
With those “Spam Likely” labels on the rise for outbound calls, and email open rates on the decline, turning to text messaging can help keep your call center’s customer engagement where it needs to be.
Use these best practices to build drip campaigns for text messages that support sales and lead gen growth.
Text Messages and TCPA Compliance
Similar to outbound dialing, contact centers using the SMS channel need to abide by a wide range of both state and federal rules and regulations. Consequences can mean stiff penalties—or blocked messages.
According to Eric J. Troutman of TCPA World, triggered text messages are actually now the safest outreach channel (when you’re not reaching out to Florida residents). However, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s foolproof. Your texting campaigns and messages should always:
- Reach only leads from whom you have received express written consent
- Include a clear opt-out option
- Clearly communicate terms and conditions
- Respect state-by-state calling time restrictions
Of course, these are just a few of the things you should do to support TCPA-compliant messaging. For more, explore this guide to minimizing SMS risk from Contact Center Compliance. Meanwhile, consult with counsel before you move into the SMS space, and make sure you partner with a software provider who has their finger on the pulse when it comes to compliance changes.
Increase SMS Delivery Rates
While most of us are familiar with the impact blocked calls have on contact rates, not everyone is aware that text messages can be blocked as well. And that impacts SMS delivery rates.
To improve delivery success of your SMS drip campaigns:
- Register SMS campaigns with The Campaign Registry
- Limit texts to a maximum of about 250 messages per number per day
- Don’t send more SMS messages per minute than you are allocated by the telecom carriers (Campaign Registry helps with that)
Outbound call centers should implement caller ID reputation management best practices to benefit all of their outreach channels.
- Restrict volume per caller ID – around 50 per number per day according to Convoso CEO Nima Hakimi
- Rely on smarter calling strategies to avoid overdialing data. Your dialer software should be able to automatically rest leads after a set number of calls and implement an effective call cadence.
- Employ an omnichannel outreach approach to increase chances of connecting with leads
Use Audience Segments
Across your sales and lead gen ecosystem, your business is connected to a wildly diverse range of customers. Each of these people or organizations are driven by different motivations and are at different stages of the buyer’s journey. That’s why you can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to drip marketing—and that’s why segmentation is key.
By using your customer data to divide your customers and prospects into like-minded segments, you’ll be able to deliver a more personalized and targeted experience. Most importantly, you’ll be more likely to succeed in your efforts. In fact, personalizing your sales approach isn’t just a value-add, it’s what customers have come to expect. According to Epsilon data, 80% of customers are more likely to make a purchase when the experience is personalized—and 90% prefer that personalized experience over the alternative.
Set up and target your text messaging drip campaigns based on data points like where leads learned about your product or services, how long it’s been since they opted in, or the type of content that drove them to opt in in the first place.
Establish a Clear Campaign Goal
Audience segmentation will help you follow another best practice for text messages: Having a clear campaign goal.
By understanding where certain groups of leads are on their path to purchase, you can craft distinct automated workflows with the right cadences and messaging. Once again, the beauty of SMS drip campaigns is that they’re automated. Once you establish and dial in the parameters of your campaign, the software gets to work while you and your team monitor the results—or focus on other channels. For example:
Say you’re in the solar sales and lead gen industry. You might create a campaign targeting a segment of newly acquired leads with the express goal of driving them to schedule a consultation for new solar panels. Your drip campaign, then, might include a welcome message sent on day one with more information on your offerings. (Bonus points if that message syncs up with your dialing strategy and includes a head’s up that your representatives will be calling soon.) On subsequent days—maybe days three, five, and so on—you can ramp up the directness of your sales pitch while offering options to schedule an appointment.
SCHEDULING REMINDERS AND GARNERING FEEDBACK
In addition, you might craft automated campaign workflows for the post-conversion process. For instance, if your lead has scheduled an appointment, you can create a sequence of text messages to remind your prospect in the days leading up to it. The campaign goal, then, would be to ensure that they keep their appointment (or can easily reschedule). Separate campaign sequences can in turn be designed to target leads once they have had their appointment, with messages that encourage a final purchase or solicit feedback in order to improve other customers’ experiences.
Measuring Results and Improving SMS Drip Campaigns
As the saying goes, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. That’s why you need a reporting dashboard that enables close measurement of drip campaign performance.
As your drip campaigns unfold, monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your campaign goal.
- Keep an eye on open rates to ensure your texts are successfully being delivered—and delivered to the right people.
- Analyze engagement rates to see whether your messaging is driving people to click any links you have included.
- Monitor conversion rates by message to see which stage of your drip campaign is driving the most success.
- Monitor the impact SMS drip campaigns are having on your inbound volume, as these campaigns are likely to drive more inbound traffic
With reporting insights in hand, you can take action to improve your campaign workflows. Even if existing campaigns are successful, use reporting data to develop A/B tests that experiment with potential improvements. Once you optimize existing campaigns, you can iterate across your sales cycle—and use state-of-the-art outbound SMS solutions to take your performance to new heights.
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