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Niels Bohr, physicist, father of the atomic model and Nobel Prize winner, is quoted as saying, “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future."
Fair enough. Instead of trying to predict the future of business, let's examine the present. In this article, we'll explore using text messaging as a tool for sales success. Get ready for some trends and and tips to help you close more deals!
1. Covid Hurts Texting
As we wrote about in our last post, text messaging has become the primary way people communicate because it breaks through the noise. Rather than having to deal with junk mail, SPAM, and robo calls, texting is generally free from encumbrances (at least for now…)
In a “normal” world, this is important; standing out is vital. However, as the world has slowed down, texting’s differentiation (vs. email for example) is decreasing. If you’re not on the go, texting just doesn’t matter as much.
There’s a fascinating article from The University of Syracuse about how the upward trend in screen use has resulted in a public health problem of eye strain from the use of digital devices.
The pandemic caused people to be working and learning remotely, online entertainment and using makeshift home offices that aren’t optimized for health. Nearly two-thirds of Americans report symptoms of digital eye strain.
We all know that we’ve looked at our phones way too much in the last year. When we get back to having things other than devices to distract us, we expect texting to bounce back.
2. The Return of Phones
So if texting isn’t as effective, what’s replacing it? Remember when phones were used as, well, phones? Ah, those were the days. Hearing actual voices from actual people. Sounds like a quaint relic from the past these days. But looking at the decline in texting over the last year made us think that perhaps the phone is making a comeback.
Forrester recently surveyed marketing decision makers to learn about the challenges they faced last and this year. One of the major shifts in consumer behavior and expectations they found was the increased importance of the phone call as part of the customer journey.
With limited in person interactions in 2020 due to covid, the phone call became an even more pivotal touchpoint for customers to engage with businesses, and that’s why inbound call volume is up across industries. The pandemic has forced us into a mobile and contactless world, and frankly, people took (and still take) their personal connection wherever they can get them.
Here’s the YoY increase in call volume in September–November 2020 compared to September–November 2019:
Healthcare -- 23%
Financial -- 27%
Insurance -- 15%
Retail -- 9%
Automotive Services -- 8%
In addition to seeing an increase in inbound call volume, 87% of marketers share that phone conversion rates have increased by at least 10% over the last year.
3. Is Texting Already On Email’s Trajectory?
It’s also possible the decline in text messaging effectiveness is following a similar narrative arc that email has followed the past twenty years. When email first popularized in the eighties and nineties, nobody had it. If someone had your address, it’s because you wanted them to.
The network effect came into full swing in the middle of the nineties, where the value a user derives from a good or service depends on the number of users of it. And then Blackberry came out in full force in 2002 to tip email over. That device supported push email, mobile telephone, text messaging, internet faxing, web browsing and other wireless information services.
Email was suddenly everywhere. And businesses realized its power, and started spamming customers with messages. At first it didn’t feel like spam, but consumer inboxes soon filled. For the next ten years, email continued to decline in use. Email soon became not the best way to get in touch with people.
Will texting experience the same shift? It’s buzzing in your pocket in real time with lovely notifications. Predicting the future is a great way to make a fool of oneself, so we won’t say with any degree of certainty if texting will become the next email. But we’re keeping a close watch.
Now that we've explore these trends, let's look at two recommendations to capitalize on them...
4. Test Your Text Messages
We’ve demonstrated in the past that little changes in message can make a big difference. We recently rolled out a new feature on FranFunnel calle Text Message Testing (TMT). You give us (at least) two messages to experiment with, and we will take care of the rest.
After just a few weeks, you’ll know which message is performing better, and from then on your sales process will be stronger. Then we can do it all over again. You can read more about this feature on our blog post.
5. Remove Calendar Links In Introductory Texts
As we explained in our video tutorial, the more links you send, the more likely you are to be flagged as a text spammer which could impair your ability to send messages in the future.
Similar to email, getting a reputation as a spammer is incredibly harmful. You may think that putting a calendar link is more effective and saves time, but our experience proves just the opposite. You're much better off ending your introductory texts with questions like "What time are you available for a quick call?"
Ultimately, if you want to continue using text messaging as a tool for success, make sure to look at your average contact rate, see how it measures up, and take actions accordingly. Either double down on what’s working or make improvements.
Eli Rosenthal is Platform Lead at FranFunnel. He has successfully predicted the future winner of the Ultimate Frisbee Tournament Championship since 2015.