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The New and Now: SMS Marketing is on the Rise

Posted to Questline Digital in the Digital Utility Group
image credit: Questline
Maureen Mierke's picture
Marketing Manager Questline Inc.

Marketing Manager at Questline - a digital agency that provides content marketing and program promotion solutions to energy utilities who want to build long-term relationships with their customers.

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  • Dec 12, 2022
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As energy utilities continue to develop marketing strategies for platforms like email and social media, a new channel is making waves: SMS marketing.

SMS messaging is already one of the most popular channels for personal communications, with 16 billion mobile phones being used worldwide. However, SMS marketing is quickly catching on for brands. In fact, 48% of consumers prefer text messaging over other communication methods, including email, apps and direct mail.

Many brands and companies are turning to SMS marketing to promote sales and nurture customer relationships. In fact, SMS is the fastest-growing marketing channel for brands around the world. Research shows that 68% of consumers find SMS messages from a company valuable versus only 46% with email communications.

Multichannel marketing at its finest

SMS marketing aligns with the goals of multichannel marketing: to connect with customers in their preferred channel. For utilities who currently utilize email and social media, text messaging only makes sense to be next. It’s quick and direct. Research tells us that 98% of all text messages are opened (and read!) and one in three consumers check their text notifications within one minute of receiving a text.

SMS marketing also drives eight times more engagement than emails. Customers are clearly telling us how they want to be communicated with. It’s time to listen.

Additionally, SMS marketing builds customer satisfaction. “We do outage text alerts and we find that those increase customer satisfaction a lot,” Nina Cummins, Questline Digital Account Director, explained during a recent webinar. “We know that we send out text reminders when bills are due, and although those aren’t necessarily fun communications, they’re helpful and, again, build customer satisfaction.”

Text messaging may have once been a luxury, but it’s now quite common. According to worldwide text messaging statistics:

  • Adults 18-24 send and receive over 128 texts per day
  • Adults 25-34 send and receive over 75 texts per day
  • Adults 35-44 send and receive over 52 texts per day
  • Adults 45-54 send and receive over 33 texts per day
  • Adults 55+ send and receive over 16 texts per day

As text messaging took over as the go-to method of communicating with friends and family, users began wanting this same experience from brands as well.

When it comes to different generations, SMS marketing is widely accepted. During a recent study, 47% of responding millennials said they liked being contacted by brands via text messaging, while 44% of respondents from Generation Z agreed.

As these younger customers continue, or begin, their relationship with your utility, it’s important to understand and respect their preferences.

“To make a successful leap to non-transactional SMS, it’s absolutely critical to get your customers to opt-in,” says Susan Kownacki, Questline Digital’s VP of Account Management. “It’s important to first ask your customers, ‘What do they want to hear from you about?’ then make it easy for them to opt-in to their preferred channel.”

The capabilities of SMS marketing

Yes, some use cases for SMS marketing are clear for utilities, like sending bill reminders or outage alerts. But the real benefit of SMS marketing comes when you think beyond simple transactional messages. How can your utility incorporate SMS marketing into every facet of your engagement strategy?

The sky’s the limit.

Nine out of 10 consumers want to communicate with businesses through text messages, including alerts, reminders and back-and-forth communication. In fact, 48% of customers want special offers sent to them via text messaging, and 50% of consumers prefer text messaging for support rather than phone calls.

SMS marketing isn’t just reserved for retailers, beauty salons and other “fun” industries — it can be integrated into numerous departments and promotional strategies for your utility.

Consider:

  • Allowing customers to text your utility when an outage in their area occurs
  • Letting customers choose if their preference is to pay a bill over text messaging
  • Enrolling customers in time-of-use plans or other services via text
  • Sending educational videos and gifs to customers through text
  • Texting for customer support rather than calling your utility’s call center
  • Providing surveys and follow-up feedback through text
  • Distributing coupons, rebates or other offers through text

Keep in mind, your utility can gain a lot of valuable information from customers enrolled in text notifications, like what topics they’re interested in learning more about. Plus, it’s another touchpoint to further develop your customer relationships.

Texting: Not just a trend

Ultimately, SMS marketing will continue to be a pivotal tool in reaching and connecting with customers. As email inboxes become inundated and social media channels become hectic, text marketing can cut through the clutter.

A widely accepted method of communication across generations, SMS marketing is quickly becoming the most efficient form of marketing. Utilize this direct communication channel to build relationships, target audiences with messaging and learn more about customers’ interests. Text marketing isn’t just a trend — it’s here to stay.

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Questline Digital
Questline Digital is a marketing and technology agency that builds engaging experiences throughout the utility customer journey, boosting program participation and overall satisfaction.
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