As we head into 2021, marketers are reflecting on how much consumer behavior has changed over the course of the last year. Isolation and physical distancing have forced us to embrace technology now more than ever; newfound importance has been infused into community building; growing support for local businesses has emerged.
These trends, likely to have a lasting impact on the way we do business, can be leveraged by organizations currently reevaluating their audience outreach, messaging, and relationship-building strategies.
We’ve indeed witnessed a digital migration over the last year out of necessity. But for brands to continue to be successful, it’s important these digital interactions remain human-powered; even more so for industries that previously relied on in-person transactions to grow their businesses.
Enter P2P texting.
If you weren’t familiar with P2P texting prior to the 2020 election, you likely are now. It’s a trend that caught fire when the Bernie Sanders campaign partnered up with peer to peer texting platform Hustle in 2016 to reach volunteers, with remarkable success.
P2P texting allows organizations to send one-to-one text messages at scale – for voter feedback, fundraising campaigns, or event attendance, for example – and then employ volunteers, text bankers, or a team of staff to engage in individual, personalized conversations with those that respond.
While email, social, and other digital marketing activities are still vital to a cohesive marketing and business strategy, P2P can be a massive asset to help your organization hone in on building those key relationships with your audience, users, or customers.
Check out these tips and trends on how peer to peer texting can be a true game-changer for your business.
SMS Marketing is One of the Fastest Growing Channels
The staggering numbers speak for themselves:
- 95% of texts are read and responded to within 3 minutes of being delivered. Your emails, by contrast, will likely only get read 20% of the time and responded to 6% of the time.
- 78% of people wish they could have a text conversation with a business.
- 85% of consumers not only want to be able to receive info but also reply to businesses or engage in a conversation via text.
Not to be confused with A2P (Application-to-Person) messaging, P2P is by definition incredibly personalized as it is required to be by law: messages have to be sent one-by-one, versus en masse via an A2P provider.
A2P texting serves an important function – especially for messages like appointment reminders, online booking confirmations, or critical alerts – but is not the optimal choice for businesses hoping to engage in two-way conversations with their customers.
The growth of P2P texting is unsurprising. The quick back and forth capabilities of text messaging, something hard to replicate via other channels, complemented by the technology’s scalability and data management capabilities, feels revolutionary; there’s nothing else quite like it.
Texts are both more convenient (says 76% of millennials) and less disruptive (agree 63%).
Plus, while phone calls can be easily screened (and voicemails left ignored), texts are associated with the people closest to you: friends, family, and coworkers. If done right, therein lies a golden opportunity for brands to gain some pretty incredible insights from their customers on a 1:1 basis.
A Prime Opportunity Within a Mobile-First Landscape
Brands are optimizing for mobile experiences. We’re seeing mobile gaming, shopping, payment capabilities, ad videos and more growing at an exponential rate.
We also know consumers are spending more time on their devices: over half of web traffic comes from mobile – a trend that’s been on the rise since 2015 – and this trend is projected to increase 25% by 2025.
Source: Smart Insights
Text message marketing is a prime example of meeting your audience where they are, serving to enrich your brand’s mobile experience.
Spending the time to make sure your websites, landing pages, and forms are optimized for mobile audiences will set your business up to achieve its best possible results from a peer to peer texting campaign. They’re also more likely to stay engaged if any links or information shared via text is mobile-friendly.
Plus, there are quick wins when it comes to growing your subscriber base – best practices with SMS opt-ins and website forms will help you make sure you’re staying compliant and building a list of people who actually want to hear from you.
P2P texting can also be integrated with other communications channels like direct mail and online promotions, increasing its reach and effectiveness.
Establish a Local Presence Within Your Community
Whether you’re running an event and want to confirm who’s attending, a public safety agency that needs to get out information quickly to its citizens, or a political candidate looking to get feedback on critical voter issues leading up to an election, P2P texting is an excellent way to engage your local audiences.
Small businesses, too, can establish their presence via texting with local customers.
P2P provides the opportunity to focus on issues, events, or opportunities to be involved that impact your audiences’ daily lives and those of their communities.
Pro-tip: Use a local phone number! Platforms like Hustle allow you to text subscribers using the same local phone number over time. This means your conversation thread will be preserved and recipients can save (and will then recognize) your phone number – a best-case scenario for when you launch your next campaign.
Organizations Are Already Seeing Incredible Results
Many organizations, seeing the efficacy of their emails, phone calls, or social media posts plummet, are turning to P2P texting. Those in politics, advocacy, events, public engagement, fundraising, and higher education, in particular, have seen incredible results.
Take Temple University, for example.
Founded in 1884, the university represents an athletics program that’s won eight National Championships, as well as athletes that have played at some of the top venues, including Lincoln Financial Field, one of the NFL’s premier stadiums.
Even with an incredibly loyal fan base, though, they found themselves struggling to sell tickets to games. Each of the team’s sales reps was making at least 80 cold calls a day – and on a good day, they were only reaching about 25 people. Ouch.
Once they nixed the multiple phone calls and emails and kicked off their P2P texting campaign with a simple introductory text, they saw some pretty astounding results: a 7x growth in sales revenue per hour, 8x more tickets sold, and $1,000+ sales per hour.
Check out how simple their text is:
Colgate University also found success with P2P texting. The liberal arts university in New York cultivates a diverse community of alumni and was looking for a much-needed revamp of their annual giving campaign. After seeing alumni unsubscribing from email blasts, investing in direct mail that produced subpar results, and publishing unseen social media posts, P2P texting provided the one-to-one human connection they were looking for.
They were able to reach over 10,000 students and alumni – significantly more than they were able to reach using their previous methods – and over half of those pledged their gift. Plus, 55% of gifts came from LYBUNTS (those who had donated the previous year, but not the current year) and SYBUNTS (those who had donated some previous year, but not the current year).
Their messaging was personal and friendly, but still maintained the voice and tone of their institution:
P2P Texting Platforms Are The Most Effective Way to Have Truly Personalized Conversations at Scale
P2P texting is the only technology that allows for the kind of one-to-one engagement brands strive for, paired with the simplicity of scale.
While each text message needs to be sent individually, your team can still send hundreds or thousands of texts an hour. While you want to be careful that your volunteers or staff aren’t slammed with an unmanageable number of conversations, it’s entirely possible to engage in hundreds of meaningful, individual conversations at once.
While your initial outreach text is a scripted response – and one that you should spend some considerable time fine-tuning! – all of your further exchanged messages will be contextual, based on what kind of initial response comes through. Identifying frequently asking questions allows text bankers to use pre-scripted responses where appropriate while responding to others on a case-by-case basis.
There are some easy scripting best practices you can follow to ensure success. Asking a question in your initial text, for example, leads to a 20% greater response rate!
The casual nature of text messaging also means there’s room to play with voice and tone: you can A/B test your copy, get creative with conversational language or use a friendly emoji to catch your recipient’s eye and confirm you’re a real human (not a bot).
See the Impact of Your Campaign in Real-Time (and Over Time)
If there’s a mode of communication that encapsulates instant gratification, it’s texting.
You can quickly capture data from surveys, identify frequently asked questions, and immediately begin to measure up against the goals you’ve set for the campaign as responses begin to come in.
Details about a voter’s response to a candidate, who of your institution’s alumni have pledged to donate, or who is interested in attending your event are recorded at the moment.
As text history is saved, each conversation is it’s own recorded history of customer sentiment, feedback, opportunities for follow up, and more.
You’ll also get pretty quick confirmation of your highest-engaged customers, and within a few days, you’ll know who your “maybes” are or who needs to be removed from your list.
It’s An Opportunity to Build Relationships & Humanize Your Brand
The brilliance of individual conversations powered by P2P texting is that it is incredibly easy to tweak your messaging as you go and show up for your customers as they’re asking you to. That’s how customer relationships are born!
The concept of humanizing your brand takes center stage here. The perfect mix of scripted responses, alongside taking the time to send personalized responses where they count most, is the recipe for letting your customers see your brand as a team of individuals that care about them instead of a faceless entity.
Your campaign will hopefully be overwhelmed by insightful, positive conversations, but in all likelihood, you’ll also run into some wrong numbers or negative responses. How you’ve prepared your team to respond to these situations is an opportunity to set your brand or campaign apart from the rest.
Always react warmly; you never know what “no” could turn into a “yes” next time. The door can be left open by saying something along the lines of: “I understand you’re busy. Maybe next time?”
You can also treat wrong numbers as opportunities. Instead of sending a generic opt-out text, ending the conversation, you could apologize and encourage them to still vote or encourage their friends to vote, for example.
Individual interactions are extremely powerful. Don’t underestimate the impact your messaging can have on a customer’s perception of your brand – leverage it!
Whether your social and email engagement rates are less than ideal and you’re looking for a new way to reach your customers, or you’re looking for a great addition to your marketing toolset, peer to peer texting is worth checking out.
Here are a few additional resources to help you get started: