Texting & SMS Messaging – A Modern Way to Engage Today

Danielle Romano
Danielle Romano

How dealerships can use text messages to engage today’s consumers

It comes as no surprise that consumers are opting into text message marketing. But as a newer option, you may not have delved too deeply there yet. Text marketing is direct and immediate, can be integrated with other channels, and is more reliable than most.

According to research from Gartner:

  • Open rates for text messages can be 78% higher than for emails
  • Response rates for text messages can be 39% higher

Text is not a channel dealers should ignore.

TEXT / SMS MARKETING ETTIQUETTE

Consider Your Audience

Each text message you send is a projection of your business. Present your brand the way you want it to be perceived.

Communicate Clearly with Plain Language

Avoid jargon and complex concepts. Keep it simple, short and direct.

Respond Promptly

SMS is about timely information, so respond as soon as you can. Your response can always offer a future time when a complete answer can be provided.

Don’t Be Long Winded

Make your point directly. People should be able to understand what you are saying without having to do much reading.

Be Patient

Recognize that your message is likely less important to others than it is to you. People have other things happening and may not be able to respond immediately.

Know When to End the Conversation

Most people are not looking for continued text messages from you if they are not interested in the product or service. Constantly texting will likely lead to the other person opting out of your texts and perceiving your business in a negative light.

COMPLIANCE FOR TEXTING

The Federal Communication Commission has implemented strict rules that govern how business text messaging can be conducted. Large fines have been imposed against companies found to have improperly solicited customers and prospects via SMS.

Businesses are not allowed to require a user to opt into a text program as a condition to purchase products or services, and according to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, customers must give businesses “express written consent” before the business sends them any text messages at all.

You cannot buy a list of phone numbers and start texting.

Ways consumers can give you consent for text messages include:

  • Send a keyword you give them to your number
  • Enter their phone number in an online form belonging to you
  • Sign up in-person at a physical location

Regardless of how users signed up, the very first text must be a compliance message confirming opt-in. If you’ve signed up for a text message program before, you’ve seen these opt-in messages.

There are also specific guidelines for what your prompt, or call-to-action, must contain when your recipient’s opt-in to your text messages. You must let subscribers know what they are signing up for. Are they getting reminders? Coupons? Tips? Specify what is being offered so there are not any surprises.

Include the approximate number of text messages the customer should expect to receive in each week or month. Even though unlimited texting has become more common, some recipients may have to pay a small fee to receive text messages. You do not know which recipients will and won’t have to pay to receive your texts, so you must inform them that they could incur these charges if they sign up.

Finally, list the terms and conditions and privacy policy in full beneath the call-to-action or provide a link nearby to the following:

  • The identity of the company/brand/program
  • Customer service contact information
  • Description of the product people are signing up for
  • Opt-out instructions in bold type

WHAT YOU CANNOT TEXT ABOUT

There are four topics you cannot legally send communications about via business text messages. To remember these, use the pneumonic device “SHAFT.”

  • S EX
  • H ATE
  • A LCOHOL
  • F IREARMS
  • T OBACCO

If you text about any of these topics or even include communications about them in your call-to-action, you could find your business immediately banned by the CTIA, an association of mobile carriers who set rules and best practices for text marketing.

Always consult federal, state, and local regulations before planning a text campaign.

Regulations aside, text marketing can be an extremely effective channel for dealerships and dealer groups. If someone gives you permission to text them, that shows definite interest in your business. Text can be a direct line to your most engaged customers.

OFFERING EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE VIA SMS

Send helpful text messages that drive your consumers to your business and make them feel like you are watching out for them with service-centered text campaigns.

Uses for text communications:

  • Alternative to Chat
  • Instant Trade-In Value
  • Positive Equity Alerts
  • Anything & Everything Around Service

Most multi-point inspection tools have a text option that enables service advisors to text the results of an inspection directly. These texts include what needs to be done, the cost of doing it, and approval for the work.

Allow customers to schedule an appointment easily from their phone as soon as they receive a service reminder as well. Receiving coupons and offers via text is also often easier for consumers.

Work completion and payment services is a must-have for the modern dealership. This text functionality lets you show the repair order with final cost and an option for the customer to pay via their phone. Progressive dealers even have reputation management systems they use to help generate positive reviews and to respond to those that, for whatever reason, are not so positive.

Include a thank you note after a purchase, service appointment, or other meaningful engagement and ask customers to review and rate your dealership. Provide a link they can access on their phone and keep the process incredibly short with a single rating and space for review comments.

Asking for more than about 30 seconds of their time is likely asking too much.

This simple request can dramatically increase the number of positive reviews associated with you online and helps balance out the negative ones.

PLAN YOUR TEXT MESSAGE MARKETING PROGRAM TODAY

Get ahead of the curve and set up a text program for your dealership now. Your communications with text subscribers have a chance to be even more personal, effective, and immediate than those for many other channels.

Here are a few final tips to get started:

  • Assign a Compliance Officer who governs usage, storage, and permissions.
  • Create Rules of Etiquette – and WRITE THEM DOWN. Teach them to your team and monitor adherence to these rules.
  • Collect mobile numbers, in compliance with regulations, from your website or at the point of sale or service.
  • Define text strategies and campaigns. If you do not do this and document it well, decisions will be made without you. Make sure the right people make the right decisions for protocol and systems.

A compliant, effective text message strategy cannot happen on its own. Take the reigns — do not leave the fine details to chance.

HOW OUTSELL CAN HELP

With Text, a product collaboration between TruVideo and Outsell, you can leverage your first party data to text both sales and service content to your customers. If customers reply with interest, dealers can have one-on-one conversations and move customers down the funnel for sales or service. Functionality exists for full-lifecycle outreach. You can configure SMS messaging for the following content types:

  • Lease End
  • Positive Equity
  • Buyer Detection
  • Service Due Reminders
  • Lapsed Service
  • Service Thank You’s

Click here to connect with an Outsell representative and learn more about Text!

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