Worried your text message response rates are lagging? SMS is a powerful, affordable marketing tool for businesses, but if your strategy isn't quite hitting the mark with subscribers, you'll find your SMS response rates will decrease.

In this article, discover why some customers might not be responding to your text campaigns as much as you'd like – and get insights and tips on how to turn things around.

What's the average SMS response rate?

The average SMS response rate is around 45% – very high compared to other marketing channels. Email, for example, has about a 6% response rate. However, rates will fluctuate depending on the business sector and customer type.

How to enable responses for business texts

To receive text messages from customers or clients, you need to check you have two-way messaging set up with your SMS provider. Enabling this option allows you to send and receive both regular and multimedia SMS.

If using Messente for two-way messaging, you'll need to contact us for an inbound phone number. Then, your developer can configure our SMS API to set up inbound texts. Instructions can be found in our developer's documentation.

Eight ways to improve SMS response rates

Low SMS response rates happen for various reasons, many of which are simple enough to fix. Sending blanket texts to your entire subscriber base, not offering personalization, and sending texts at inconvenient times are just a few examples. Take a look at the steps you can take to improve the effectiveness of your campaigns...

1. Check subscribers have opted in

Getting text marketing permission from each of your subscribers is a legal requirement. And it makes total sense - texting people who haven't opted in will only put your company at risk of spam complaints and huge fines from regulatory bodies.

Making sure your customers/subscribers are actually expecting you to contact them by text is the first thing you should do to increase SMS response rates. Get them to sign up at the point of submitting their phone number. You might include a sign-up section during online checkout, via a data capture landing page or by texting a shortcode number.

Related: Read 7 must-follow rules for business texting etiquette.

2. Segment your audience for better targeting

Use data insights to divide your subscriber list into different groups starting with the level of entry and interaction. You may have subscribers that have signed up to your newsletter but haven't yet made a purchase, along with a mix of customers – some that have only purchased once, plus loyal customers that drive repeat business.

You can also go deeper and segment using demographics, personal preferences and customer lifetime value. Knowing who your subscribers are (and what they want) will help you engage with them.

3. Personalize messages

Each message you send should be personalized as much as possible, so your subscribers pay attention to them. Address the recipient by name and include relevant details. For example:

  • E-commerce businesses might mention order numbers, items purchased and personalized special offers or resources relevant to buyer behaviour.

  • A service-based business, such as a beauty salon, could reference treatments booked, appointment times, loyalty points, etc.

Concept of service-based business booking appointment

4. Create interesting, valuable content

Targeting and personalization are key in ensuring your campaigns are as relevant as possible. However, if you've already carried out these steps and you're still getting low SMS response rates, the chances are your subscribers aren't interested in (or aren't getting value from) the content you're sending them.

Feedback is essential in this case, so send out surveys and ask for review requests to get a good idea of customer perception. Consider why people use your business and how you can enhance their experience.

Related: Read 5 text message writing tips for SMS that resonates.

5. Create interactive content

To encourage users to respond, create content that relies on a two-way flow of information. For promotional texts, start by asking subscribers what products and services they'd like to receive offers for, or set up a text-to-win competition to drive engagement. You could also encourage RSVPs by text if you offer online or in-person events.

For transactional texts, such as order confirmations and delivery notifications, why not encourage customers to click a link to change their order online or to reschedule a delivery? And if you send appointment reminders by text, you could allow clients to reply to cancel or rebook.

6. Use a personal tone

We're all familiar with SMS – we tend to use it most for messaging friends and family. Getting a formal text from a brand (or what seems like an automated chatbot) via this fairly personal channel can stand out for all the wrong reasons!

Humanise your content – write directly for the reader, keep the tone friendly and include a signature so subscribers know who's texting them.

7. Monitor SMS frequency

Low rates can occur if you send too many campaigns – some subscribers will get bored or frustrated and start to ignore your texts (even if they still open them).

Avoid this from happening and reduce your risk of opt-outs by continually testing the frequency of campaigns while observing responses.

8. Send SMS messages at the right times

Avoid sending during 'Do Not Disturb' hours (before 8am and after 9pm), but also consider the preferences of your specific target audience.

Try to gauge when leads or customers tend to interact with your business – web traffic, social media analytics and order history details are good indicators of this. Schedule your campaigns at times when recipients are likely to respond.

Clock face showing the time

Refine, test and review your SMS strategy

If your SMS response rates are falling, following the tips we've set out above should help increase campaign performance. Testing and analysis are a vital part of the process, so you can see what's working and what's not. Regularly check your open rates, click-throughs and deliverability stats to ensure you can quickly react and change your strategy if needed.

If you're using Messente, you can track the performance of all text message campaigns under the 'History & Statistics' section in your dashboard.

Not yet signed up with Messente for business messaging? Get started with a free account, or contact us here.