How to Use SMS at Different Stages of the Customer Journey
The customer journey is a fixture in marketing; it establishes the common stages that your leads pass through from the moment they first interact with your brand to the moment they become loyal customers. While there are a few different variations of the hierarchy of stages that make up a customer journey map, the breakdown typically looks a little something like this:
Understanding the customer journey is critical to delivering unique, targeting marketing communications to prospective customers at the right time. After all, the types of messages that are valuable when a new lead is still getting acquainted with your brand are going to be a good deal different than the messages you might send after someone’s already converted. Planning your marketing campaigns around where in the funnel a customer is can help ensure that you get a higher return on your efforts.
Because of its directness and its ability to be easily customized and segmented, SMS marketing can significantly contribute to successful communication with your audience at every stage of their journey.
Read on to see a few examples of how to use text messaging to communicate unique messages to prospective customers as they move through your funnel.
This is the stage of the customer journey where new leads are still being introduced to your brand. Maybe they stumbled across a blog article that showed up in a Google search result, or maybe they came across your brand on their Instagram Explore page; however it was that they came in contact with your brand, the idea is that they’re still getting acquainted and learning more about who you are.
While this stage is mostly classified by discovery and less about follow-up, there are still instances where you might collect emails and phone numbers through a lightbox on your blog, for example. In these cases, you’ll have a chance to get a conversation going with prospective customers even before they’ve expressed any kind of interest in your actual product or services. At this stage, a valuable SMS play could be a message promoting a new blog post that a new lead might be interested in. This allows you to keep “warming up” the lead through relevant content that woos them over time.
This stage of the customer funnel where leads are slowly getting curious about what you have to offer as a brand; they want to know more, but they’re still not late in the decision-making process just yet. Your job at this point is to court them to help drive them towards a conversion.
During this stage, it’s a good idea to keep some of the similar content strategy that you had when your leads were in the awareness phase, but with some product- or brand-specific messages sprinkled in here and there. For example, in addition to an occasional SMS message driving users to new blog content, you might send out an SMS campaign that drives to your FAQs page. Frame the message around the fact that your brand gets plenty of questions about your products or services, and you’d like to share some of the common ones to help the user. This can help the user start thinking seriously about making a purchase by encouraging them to learn more, and it does it without feeling pushy or too pointed at this delicate stage.
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By now, your prospective customer is just about ready to strike! They haven’t quite made it over the finish line, but they’ve graduated from early interest to serious consideration. This is the stage of the funnel where a user might be finalizing their buying decision, but might be held back for any of a number of reasons. Maybe they're comparing you with a few other brands, or may they’re not sold on your price point; regardless of what it may be that’s holding a potential customer back, this is the part of the funnel where your communications should aim to nudge an almost-there lead into a converted customer.
SMS can tie into this communication goal in a few different ways. For starters, this is where you might consider sweetening the deal for a customer by offering an irresistible offer. Send a promotion for a certain percentage off or a free trial of your service. Putting a little financial incentive in front of a user could be just the thing to make them pull the trigger. Another option? Starting a conversation. Since you know that users at this stage of the funnel are in serious thinking mode, you can use SMS to reach out and ask if they’ve got any questions. Not only does this create an opportunity for you to convince them about the value of your product or service, but it lets you show value by demonstrating attentiveness and a more personalized layer of lead nurturing.
A purchase has been made — super! Now that your lead has officially converted, your immediate SMS strategy can be a pretty straightforward direct response to the sale.
First off, a “thank you” SMS is a great way to follow-up with a use directly after they’ve made a purchase. It shows that you’re grateful for their business and you can also add in a promo code to be used on a future order. You can also use SMS to give users updates about their orders, including shipping updates.
Another great SMS play at this stage in the customer funnel? Requesting a review. Using SMS to ask for feedback on a particular product or service is a great way to make sure that your customers feel heard, and it’s also a great way to get useful insight in a direct way. Whether you’re driving a customer to a review page online or allowing them to give their thoughts directly over text through a two-way conversation, SMS feedback requests can have a great follow-through rate and will go a long way for your brand.
Last but not least, we’ve got the loyalty stage. This is the where your goal is to help a user graduate from casual customer to repeat buyer and brand advocate.
As far as repeat purchases, the easiest way to keep people coming back for more, of course, is promo offers. When it comes to encouraging loyalty, though, it can be a good idea to go a little deeper to create a more meaningful relationship with users. One way to do this is pulling from your SMS strategy earlier in the funnel and using blog content to add value beyond your products. Being a source of information, education, and entertainment to your audience is a good way to keep them interested in your brand and can go a long way in fostering loyalty.
Another great SMS play at this stage of the funnel is promoting your loyalty program. Sending a quick, direct SMS to customers to tell them about loyalty rewards can be an awesome way to encourage brand advocacy. To that end, you can send a slightly longer text with the TL;DR quick facts of your program, or you can just send a short and sweet message that links them back to a more informational landing page.