SMS Marketing Podcast: Don’t be seduced by unintelligent text marketing solutions

SMS Marketing Podcast

In this episode of Left on Read, Nate and Drew discuss what is separating first generation SMS marketing from the innovation leaders in text marketing such as Chatitive. Terms such as “two-way texting”, “conversational SMS,” and “personalized mobile messaging” are confusing and can make it difficult selecting a text marketing platform for your brand. In this episode you will learn how to achieve more with your text marketing strategy by making it contextually aware.

 

Drew:
Hello and welcome to Left on Read. As always. My name is Drew and there’s Nate.


Nate:
Hey Drew.


Drew:
Hey, how’s it going today?


Nate:
It’s going alright.


Drew:
Good, good.


Nate:
Nice sunny day in Seattle.


Drew:
Yeah, I think it’s actually finally, actually no, it’s spring.


Nate:
It is spring, but I hear more rain is on the way.


Drew:
Really. Well.


Nate:
Sorry to ruin your enthusiasm.


Drew:
I was going to say it’s finally spring. Yeah. But I feel like I can’t expect it to be spring until June in Seattle. So in July I can say. Oh, it’s finally spring.


Nate:
Yeah. What’s the rule of thumb? It’s like after July 4th, you can declare summertime in Seattle. Absolutely.


Drew:
I wanted to plug our previous podcast on buy versus build. If you haven’t listened to that yet, I feel like it’s very informative. If you are either a product person or you’re on a dev team or if you’re in the C suite or out at the VP level, looking at potential SMS solutions for your brand. I also wanted to say that we are now on Apple podcasts as of Monday. So you can listen to us there. And today I wanted to sort of start off by just saying thank you to anybody that has listened thus far. We have a lot of really good content in the works over the next couple months and we’re excited to be doing this and we’re having a lot of fun. So today’s topic is about not getting gaslit by SMS marketing strategies that may say that they’re intelligent or conversational and what you can do to go through the leg, work yourself to demystify the space. And I want to sort of start out with a fact, Nate. F act, we operate in a noisy space. I’m talking about Chatitive here.


Nate:
Yeah. Yeah.


Drew:
Would you say that’s a fact?


Nate:
That is a fact.


Drew:
And myth, right after that, is that every vendor in that space is intelligent or conversational.


Nate:
Yeah. That is true. That is a myth. If you’re a marketer, your job is to come up with new innovative ways of communicating. Either a new product, new idea, sometimes an old idea to make it attractive in the marketplace. And as a consequence marketers are guilty, myself included over the course of my long career in marketing, have fallen into this trap. And that is, you know, what I call buzzword bingo, right? And it’s like there’s, there’s so many different words that are used to describe a certain things or technologies and for buyers of technology or just buyers in general it causes confusion. And I think there’s an opportunity for marketers to be sensitive to that and to peel that back. Where I see evidence of that in the broader text marketing space is to your point around this idea of conversational, right? Everybody says they’re conversational, but what does that really mean? And and what are the things that you as a consumer or a rather a buyer of technology, what are the things that go to the questions that you can ask to validate whether or not you believe something is a solution as conversational or not?


Drew:
I think that, well, first of all, this idea of conversational commerce or conversational marketing technology over the mobile messaging channel, which is to me effectively three channels, SMS, email and sort of Facebook WeChat. So, so when you say conversational mobile messaging, that’s an umbrella term that automatically loses you if you’re looking for more of an omnichannel approach to solving for your SMS. I mean solving for your marketing your marketing communications. Do you know, do you know what I’m trying to get at?


Nate:
Yeah, I do. I, you know, you mentioned email. I don’t know. I think that there’s, you know, personally I don’t think that there’s anything conversational about, about email marketing.


Drew:
Yeah. I was speaking more of in the lines of mobile messaging as, as a tactic to engage your audience, engage your marketing strategy. I guess, yeah.


Nate:
I think, you know, the way we view a conversational experience between a brand and a consumer is it really should be two ways. Right? It’s hard to have a conversation with yourself. And even then, we’re even the terminology and mobile messaging that is thrown around is two way. Well what does that really mean, right? So if you go back to the fundamentals of what it means to have a conversation, it’s an interaction between two human beings or more than one human being on a particular subject or topic. It’s not directed and driven by one person talking all the time. The hard reality is outside within the mobile messaging space, outside of, you know, whether you’re talking about a chat bot or you know, like Facebook messenger where you have a human chatting with another human being. There are some text marketing vendors out there today that do something similar over tax and in fact Chatitive is one that there’s a part of our product that can facilitate that. And there’s definitely use cases where that is important. The harsh reality is most SMS vendors in particular will say they are either two-way or conversational. And that’s a fundamental, that’s like, Oh, that’s just a bald faced lie.


Drew:
Yeah. And what do you mean by that then? Well, explain yourself.


Nate:
Yeah. So I’ll go a little deeper. So if I as a customer or a consumer want to text a brand and I, I say, I dunno, like go to 555-23. Yeah. I get a response. I get an automated response and telling me I’ve opt opted into that brand’s texting [channel] usually I’m then prompted with some sort of offer. Like, Hey, thanks for joining. Here’s 10% off and here’s the link. Yeah. If I respond to that message and say, you know, anything I’m getting, I’m going to get an automated response that says for help, click this link or text stop. That’s not a conversation.


Drew:
It’s not a conversation and sure. It’s two way, right? For that specific amount of time. It’s not two way throughout the life cycle of that conversation, that customer journey, that buying instance.


Nate:
So let me take this a step further. Let’s say I buy, I buy a product from this brand. I go online, I go to their website, I buy the product, I have a problem with the product, whatever it may be that it delivered damaged. It didn’t fit my needs. If I text to that number and I say, “Hey, I’ve got a problem with my product,” I’m going to get an automated response. It says we didn’t recognize what you are asking of us. If you need help, click this link. There’s nothing conversational about that experience at all. And in fact, as a, as a consumer, I expect more. We are entering into an era where the newer generations of consumers have a higher level of expectation for the types of relationship that they want from brands. And if brands are continuing to go down the path of old technologies that are fundamentally one way: email, you know, the sort of one directional text marketing communications, that’s not a relationship.


Drew:
It’s not, and that’s what marketing managers and VPs of Marketing are being tasked with from their C-suite now is let’s create these relationships. Let’s take a very nurture based and focused personalized strategy. But what I’m saying is that it is not, it’s not, it hasn’t been, yeah.


Nate:
There’s a, there’s a mandate that’s being driven down saying we’ve got across, you know, this isn’t just the whole personalization in idea of personalization isn’t, isn’t just about engaging with a customer over texting. It’s, it’s context, you know, what sort of philosophical or, or you know, socio-economic beliefs that you hold true. What are your values as a larger brand? It’s a much bigger issue. So there’s this corporate mandate, this being driven down to say, in order for us to sell more stuff to our customers and to reach more customers that we haven’t sold products to. We need to evoke a brand identity that’s new, and it’s different and it’s fresh and it’s unique. But we need to do this across a whole different area, a whole bunch of different areas. And really we need to get down to a fundamental personal relationship with each one of our customers. That is a crazy task to do today, but it’s, it’s accomplishable. It’s like it can happen and there are brands to do this very, very, very well. Today.


Drew:
I feel like there are some, there are brands that do it very, very well. There are also brands that see that and then they look at it sort of as a check box. Yeah, and if they’re talking at a customer or their subscriber list at scale, they say, “Oh no, it was personalized. We’ve personalized it down to the fact that we know that they want a promotion” and then it ends after that promotion or it just picks back up when there’s another promotion going on or there’s a holiday. Listen, I want to change the paradigm and I want to say timeliness is still very effective. Timeliness of messages that scale is effective, but as a marketer you should challenge yourself to think past a mother’s day of Father’s Day, Christmas, black Friday sale. Listen, it is really great that you can send like it is. It is such a good sign for the text marketing space that you can sign on and create a strategy with 100,000 subscribers and send them promotions and drive six to seven figures in revenue per month with that subscriber list. But what I’m saying, but what I’m saying is that there’s a veneer on that. There’s a, there’s, there’s a luster to that that’s going to wear off to your consumers once you, they realize it’s that they cannot text you back over that channel.


Drew:
It’s the same thing as getting a marketing email from the sender “do not reply.” It’s like you’re just going to throw something at me and I’m, I’m either going to click on it because they got lucky, right. Or or I’m gonna ignore it. And that you’re right. There’s a disconnect between what the corporate brand mandate is and how it manifests itself into mobile messaging. There’s a fundamental disconnect there. And so when an executive asks, you know, the marketing team, are we doing SMS marketing? They say yes. And they checked the box.


Drew:
They go and then all that also comes with everything: is it personalized, is it? Is it, is it conversational? They go, “yeah, of course it’s conversational.”


Drew:
Cause they’ve been sold something to believe that it is but it’s not.


Drew:
Or yeah, of course it’s conversational. They can reach us at our email address and we tell them to direct them there. But I don’t, I like find it so hard to believe that with vendors, especially vendors that are selling one to two use cases, right? Not solving for the lifecycle over the SMS channel. I find it hard to believe that those, that ROI that they’re, that they’re selling is going to cannibalize itself at some point for their customers. And because it’s because they’re treating the channel exactly like email, those customers are going to lose confidence in, in, in the, in the promotions that they’re sending confidence in the communications, the marketing.


Drew:
Right. And I think that that’s where two way, if you can instill confidence in, “Oh, I can reach this brand here whenever I want.” To the consumer that’s going to a nurture that consumer. B) increase their spend with you over and over and over. That’s right and it’s going to lead to a larger customer base in the end because you know, I’m not telling somebody about a sick deal. I got on some outdoor gear because of a SMS promotion that I was sent. Yeah, just not going to happen. Now if they send me an SMS promotion and they delight me through that buying process and then afterwards they remember what it is I bought and they share with me something that is similar that I might like again, to buy again. Guess what? They have a repeat culture.


Nate:
What you’re getting at is if you address the ability to handle responses and you are able to realize facilitating an interaction between the consumer and a brand over texting. You will have the fastest path to the consumers real time likes, dislikes, preferences. Then whatever your CDP or marketing automation or data source, you know, your, your data warehouse, whatever the source of truth is for all of the consumer data that you have on that one person. Yeah. Texting allows for you as a brand to ask that person through conversation. What they want at that particular time. There’s nothing more powerful than that out there. Email doesn’t do it. I got I was going through my inbox, my personal Gmail inbox the other day and from one brand over the course of February. So today is February 27th, I received 55 emails for different product offerings from that. Uh, from that, from that brand.


Drew:
That’s a lot of emails.


Nate:
I ignored every single one of them because now as I’m going through them, I don’t know which one to interact with. You know,


Drew:
What’s the latest?


Nate:
What’s the latest, right. Yeah. and what’s going to happen and, and I’m already seeing this with the, frankly what I will call the unintelligent SMS solutions in the market is a comparable experience or, or outcome over texting. I get it because I’m maniacal about understanding space. I sign up for a lot of things just to see what’s going on out there. So I get more inbound, you know, promotional offers from brands that don’t do business with us yet. That I’ll probably get like three or four or five a week and none of them are related to anything that I want. I can’t respond. Like I’ve tried breaking it and it’s very easy to break it. Right. The automated responses to where you’re like, and finally for those, for those types, I get so annoyed. I’m just like, I’m outta here.


Drew:
I signed on a customer quick customer story. It’s not known to a customer of a chatbot last summer, they were in the travel space. They were with a vendor that wasn’t able to handle replies. They saw the replies coming in. They didn’t know what to do with them. They didn’t know what to do with them because they couldn’t unlock them and feed them back into their data warehouse and make actionable decisions based on that data. B: They couldn’t respond in channel to those requests. So it was frustrating to not only them but their customers. And the one thing that they wanted was to be able to handle that reply. And it’s hard. It’s, it’s really simple to overlook that data and say, Oh, it’s not possible. But no, it actually really is. And you can only, you can only access that with a vendor like Chatitive. And I think that it brings me to my next point and I think we’re running low on time here. But what I really wanted to get to was, I don’t think and push back on me Nate if this is untrue, I don’t think that we’ve ever used in, in sort of a sales motion, at least “conversational text messaging.” And instead we tend to err on the side of “contextual text messaging” or “intent driven text messaging.” There is kind of, there is the thought leader behind this. So I wanted you to explain it.


Nate:
Yeah, no, that’s good. There like, look, there was a time where Chatitive in particular used the, the the notion of being, you know, facilitating “conversational commerce.”


Drew:
So we’re guilty of it too.


Nate:
We’re totally guilty of it too. And, and that’s okay. This is part of the evolution if you will. It’s not just the conversational aspect of it. It’s really what you’re getting to is the, the data that becomes available that isn’t, that is inherent to that conversation. So when you have to enable the conversation to actually happen and then once it’s happening that the information that occurs between a brand and one customer. Is rich with valuable data to the brand, for the lifetime of that relationship between those, those two entities. And so having understanding to have a technology that understands context of the history of that conversation yeah is super important. Right. Like,I’m trying to come up with a more recent example. Like we’ve got a, a customer in the food delivery business and if I order food and I’m a vegetarian they better know that the for the very first time, right? Like, I’ll tell them the first time and then going forward it would be just awesome if they knew that I was a vegetarian and not send me offers for, you know, for the meat lovers pizza or whatever it might be. Um,not only that, like they’ll know at what point I order routinely from them. So then they can be thoughtful in saying, “Hey, you know, I’m sure by now you’re getting hungry Nate like how would you like this vegetarian dish?” Right. That’s the kind of, those are sort of squishy examples, but they are sort of relevant. That’s the type of thing that brands need to be working towards. Stop. Like it’s great if you want to get on board and start sending offers daily to customers, that’s a good place to start. But don’t let it end there because that’s not the promised land. The promised land is getting the right offers into the hands of the right customers at the right time. That it’s driven off of the context of the relationship that you build with that customer.


Drew:
Yeah. And you know, these things might be harder to quantify at first, right? I’m thinking from a metric standpoint is, you know, you look at ROI, you look at open rate, you look at conversion rate, those sort of promotion style marketing text messages are great, they’re effective. We know that. Not many brands are taking it to that next level quite yet. So what I would say is the metrics that go beyond those sort of vanity table-stakes metrics, they’re ripe to be discovered. So if you’re an innovative marketer and you’re out there looking for ways to you know, hack into your marketing strategy and figure out exactly what points in the customer life cycle are extremely marketable and extremely ROI rich, I would say this is the perfect space to try do that in.


Nate:
Yeah. And today’s, you know, in the modern age of consumer, buying a lifetime value of a customer is huge, is the ultimate metric. And if again, if you initiate and enable a way for every single one of your customers, I don’t care if you have one or 20 or 300,000 to millions, there is technology today that can allow you to be very, very specific in the delivery of the communications that you send to those customers on a one-to-one basis that doesn’t require a human being. Yeah, and that is something that is not only unique in the market today, but fundamentally what I believe will be the future of the way brands sell to customers.


Drew:
Today’s Left on Read podcast was about not being catfished by unintelligent text marketing strategies and vendors. You can download our podcast from our website. That’s chatitive.buzzsprout.com you can also listen to where any of your other favorite podcasts are. That’s Spotify, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, and we’re working on Stitcher. Next week we will be discussing something that is very much back to basics and that is so you want to start text marketing, but you have no subscribers or maybe you have a list of subscribers and you’ve never sent them a text message. Where do you start and how do you grow that list? Thanks. My name was Drew, and as always I have Nate Odell with me and we will talk to you next week.


Nate:
Thanks a lot Drew.


Outro:

Conversational Messaging Evangelist at Chatitive