Brand trust: Hard to earn, easy to lose.
Smart marketers know that brands need solid communications strategies to retain their customers’ trust. But as communication channels grow and change, sometimes it seems overnight, how do we ensure we’re consistently delivering on our brand promise? And what new opportunities to develop the customer relationship are available when we do? Let’s look at these questions within the context of mobile messaging, specifically SMS.
“May I have your permission to communicate with you?” Permission marketing’s relevance gets a big boost with text.
“The goal of the Permission Marketer is to move consumers up the permission ladder, moving them from strangers to friends to customers. And from customers to loyal customers. At every step up the ladder, trust grows, responsibility grows, and profit grows.”
Godin wrote these words about permission marketing 23 years ago (!) for the shiny, new digital communications channel of email. We’ve added exponentially to our digital comms toolkit since then, but the premise remains true. I’ve always maintained that engaging via the mobile device is the most personal form of A2P (application-to-person) communications. Landline phone usage continues to freefall (over 60% of US consumers use only a mobile phone), so even voice calls are mainly taken on mobile. This means asking and receiving permission to connect via these “always on, always available” devices is paramount.
OPT-IN is your friend. OPT-OUT is your enemy.
When a customer opts-in to receive text messages from your company, they’ve given you their permission to use the very intimate channel of text—once open only to friends and family—to converse with them. Since most mobile phone numbers aren’t published, they’re essentially gated touchpoints that act almost as a hotline to your customers.
That’s quite a privilege. And a huge responsibility. Your message may be sandwiched between a text from their partner that the dog ate something at the park and is being taken to the vet and an eagerly anticipated message from DoorDash that their dim sum is finally only minutes away. (If only the dog had waited for the dim sum 😀) Your message, if irrelevant, of no value, or disruptive, may prompt an immediate opt-out. And with that opt-out went your access and more importantly, brand trust. Interruption marketing may make sense over some channels, but it has no place in the realm of SMS.
UX is at the CRUX of brand trust via text
So how do we avoid becoming the interruption marketer who risks a customer’s loyalty and erodes their trust in your brand? With text messaging, there’s no room for a learn as you go approach. You’ll need the know before you go methodology so that the customer experience is enhanced and trust grows.
- Build customer relationships – text is a valuable communications tool to be used thoughtfully, carefully and respectfully. Don’t rush it.
- Lead with value – give your customer a reason to opt-in, whether it’s information on their account, early access to a special offer, or even some information you know they’d be excited to share.
- Have a dialogue – two-way conversations add value to the customer experience, so make sure your messaging is sincere, appropriate, and transparent.
Increase efficiency – your customers will appreciate the increased convenience of text messaging, but don’t sacrifice your brand’s value with errors and missteps. For example, make sure you’ve taken steps to ensure that if you’re asking for a response, you have one to give in return.
- Protect the number – it’s the responsibility of your company to protect the mobile numbers entrusted to your care. Utilize 2-factor authentication and make sure your messaging provider is compliant with all regulations for A2P texting (there are a lot!).
As brand trust grows through text, so do new business opportunities and better customer experience. Once your brand has delivered on its promise via text communications and proved that the channel is trustworthy, customers will be more likely to opt in—and stay that way—for additional services enabled by text. Put the next stop in the customer journey squarely in their hands: conducting business and building long-term brand trust at the speed and convenience of text.