Insights & Resources

Improving User Engagement with Programmable SMS

The reach of SMS and the ease of customization mean that SMS goes beyond generic batch messages and notifications.

Josh Whitaker
Salesman texting banner
SMS boasts impressive open rates of over 90%, which is a far better engagement rate than email and one of the most effective customer engagement tools on the market. The strength of SMS is the massive user base and the minimal effort required from the user to access the message.
The reach of SMS and the ease of customization mean that the potential for SMS goes far beyond generic batch messages and simple notifications.

SMS connects people with people

When it comes to customer support, people want the immediacy of automation, while also being able to interact with a real person when they need one. SMS is an easy way to bring automated efficiency to your customer support and other customer-facing resources while retaining the feel of a natural conversation.
Messages like this can be sent using automated triggers, but they feel like a conversation and allow interaction between your team and the customer:

“Hi, this your account manager, Jaclyn. Your subscription is up for renewal in 3 weeks. Is there anything I should look into before we chat?”
“This is Brandon on the support team, and I received your bug report. Do you know offhand which browser you were using?”
“Our new reporting feature just launched. Reply with some of your reporting objectives, and an onboarding trainer will set up a few example dashboards for you.”

SMS adds value to the user

Let user behavior drive your SMS strategy and deliver messages that are relevant to a users’ needs at the time. One problem with generic batch SMS is that a lot of users who don’t need a message get one they don’t want.
If you limit your SMS interaction to these pieces of information, you won’t abuse your user’s attention:

Information that your user needs to get the most out of your app.

If there are parts of your app that users may need help setting up or getting used to, trigger a message to provide help links.
Snapchat recently implemented a major update to their application’s user interface. To reduce user abandonment, they sent a message to their users with a link to their updates page so users could see how the new interface worked before they opened the app.

Time-sensitive information.

Here’s a good example of a time-sensitive SMS from Airbnb. Note that they specify a timeframe and include a link for the call-to-action:
[Airbnb] Reminder: Reply to Hope’s inquiry. To maintain your response rate, reply within 18 hours:”

Information needed to meet user expectations.

If there’s information you need in order for your app or service to meet user demands, SMS is a way to prompt users for it.
PayPal uses this SMS to notify users if a credit card attached to their account expires, and provides a link to the user’s credit card management page.

Use SMS to increase security.

SMS is the best channel for providing two-factor authentication, which provides more account security than a password alone. On the other end of the spectrum, companies like Slack, Medium, and WhatsApp have started using SMS for password-free logins.
Either way, SMS is an outstanding tool for increasing account security without negatively impacting user experience.

SMS engagement best practices

  • Personalize SMS messages by including the user’s name, and a friendly call-to-action.
  • Trigger messages based on user behavior to ensure users only receive relevant SMS interaction.
  • Provide links for users to take action within the SMS.
  • Provide sample responses such as, “Yes/No,” so the user knows how to respond.
  • Specify how long the user has to take action if there’s a deadline.
  • Keep messages shorter than 140 characters. If you need to send a longer message, break it into two messages so that the SMS doesn’t get split in the middle of a sentence.
Share on Social

Get Started for Free!

Create a free account to set up voice, messaging, IoT, video & more.