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If email is the darling of enterprise B2B marketers, let's call texting—short message service (SMS)—the scrappy underdog.

B2B marketers love to use email, and rightfully so: Email engagement was the most-measured metric of content marketing success during the first year of the pandemic, as 86% of B2B content marketers continued to track it, according to the MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute 2021 B2B content marketing report. For many marketers, email proves itself year after year.

But one thing email can't tout is the ability to get eyes on the message within seconds of sending. Using SMS, you can.

A full 83% of Millennials open SMS messages within 90 seconds of receiving them, according to research from OpenMarket. Moreover, 90% of all people read texts within three minutes of receiving them, and SMS boasts a 98% open rate, according to research from Gartner.

As more and more companies use texts as part of their marketing mix, is it time to take another look at the possibilities with SMS?

B2B businesses can use SMS in many ways. Keep in mind, however, that just as with email, there are regulations for texts. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) requires that people opt-in for messages, and they must also be able to easily unsubscribe, among other guidelines.

Here are five ideas specifically for B2B companies looking to communicate with their customers more successfully via SMS.

SMS Campaign 1: Status Update

Think of status updates as the equivalent of order updates for B2C companies. You can use texts to inform customers of upcoming renewal dates, product updates, or upcoming milestones related to their account.

This kind of message can be both informative and brand-building.

SMS Campaign 2: Request for Feedback

Direct customer feedback is incredibly valuable for marketers, but it can be difficult to obtain. Sending a text message after a business milestone (such as a sale or service install) is an excellent time to solicit feedback.

A quick text with a link to a survey (with details on how long it would take to be completed) can be effective. Even less time is required of a quick-feedback option that allows people to reply via text with their instant feedback.

Important: if feedback is requested and received, do something with it. Customers will likely be annoyed if their grievances are not quickly addressed.

SMS Campaign 3: Thought Leadership

Texting offers a quick, succinct form of communication. Advice is naturally suited to be delivered in such a way, so thought leadership via SMS simply makes sense. You might offer a piece of advice related to your product or service, and link to content marketing materials for more information.

It may also be an opportunity to share an update about industrywide situations. For example, if government-mandated regulations affect your industry and a new law is going to go into effect, it would make sense to text about it a few days in advance of the change.

SMS Campaign 4: Brand Awareness

Content marketing materials don't have to be shared solely through email and social. A text message with a quick link and short description may capture people's attention the moment they receive it, making them more likely to not just open it but also read it.

Even if the link is not clicked, if the text is opened—and it usually is—brand awareness can be strengthened.

SMS Campaign 5: Exclusive Offer

People like to feel like they are getting a deal, and texting can capitalize on that—even in B2B marketing. Send a text offering current or past customers a free template, early access to a new product, a one-on-one consultation, or another offer that is specifically relevant to your industry.

Doing so is an opportunity to build both brand awareness and brand loyalty, a win for marketers looking to strengthen relationships and build new ones.

An exclusive offer can also give an opportunity to warm up cold leads. If subscribers have been in the system for a long time but haven't converted, SMS may be a way to re-engage them and turn that cold lead into a hot one with a discounted signup or fee-waving text message.

Again, the people targeted must already be in the system for your company to use texting.

* * *

Regardless of the campaign you're sending, personalization is a great way to increase open and click rates. That doesn't mean just adding the person's name: Tailor the message to a recent milestone your customers have experienced, such as checking in after a recent service install, or thank them for a particular action they took, such as signing up for another year of service.

No matter what campaigns make sense for your business, SMS can be effective for B2B companies.

Text messaging opens up a new stream of dialogue with customers, leads, and past customers that can lead to renewed or strengthened relationships and an improved bottom line.

More Resources on SMS Campaigns

Top 3 SMS Marketing Considerations

How SMS Automation Bridges the Gap Between Your Sales Team and Customers and Supports Digital Transformation

Seven Tested Ways Texting Can Help Your Business [Infographic]

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Five SMS Campaigns for B2B Marketers to Try

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image of Tom Sheahan

Tom Sheahan is the CEO of Red Oxygen, a leading short message service (SMS) solutions provider.

Linkedin: Tom Sheahan