SMS Alerts Best Practice Guide

Best practices and real world use cases of businesses using SMS text alerts and notifications to connect with customers on urgent matters and timely offers.

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SMS Alerts Best Practice Guide

When you hear the word “alerts,” what comes to mind? The sound of the emergency broadcast system across the airwaves? An amber alert about a missing child? A list of inclement weather businesses and school closings? Likely something that you pay attention to immediately. With the rise and use of mobile phones—5 billion worldwide and climbing—alerts in the form of a text message are quickly becoming the preferred way for today’s modern businesses to make instant connections with their customers and employees.

SMS alerts, also known as SMS notifications or text alerts, are messages sent automatically to subscribers who have indicated they wish to receive text messages from a business. Employing a text alert system enables businesses to send both urgent and non-urgent messages to large groups of people simultaneously.

As a mass communication tool, SMS notifications offer many definitive advantages to businesses looking to disseminate time-sensitive information. Here are several real-world examples of how companies have successfully used SMS notifications to communicate with customers succinctly and effectively, in one simple send.

Provide Financial Transaction Statuses

From managing an online bank account to conducting real-time money transfers, customers are highly receptive to receiving text alerts from the financial services companies they do business with. Getting confirmation that a deposit was made, a transaction was completed, or, in a worst case scenario, an alert that fraud may have been attempted, is the ultimate in customer service. Customers appreciate these simple notifications sent via text messaging to their phones or devices.

Xoom, a digital money transfer provider and member of the PayPal family, helps consumers send money, pay bills, and reload a family member’s prepaid mobile phone from anywhere in the world. With the use of SMS messaging, Xoom sends both the sender and the recipient an event confirmation in the form of a real-time transaction notification, which in turn, provides peace of mind to the customer and eliminates the need for additional follow-up between parties.

Share Estimated Time of Arrival

Arrival alerts, like all notifications, rarely go unnoticed, with an open rate for SMS at 98%. With SMS messaging, e-commerce businesses can share real-time tracking and transit information so customers know exactly when their order will arrive. ETA alerts are extremely useful for on-demand retailers who are providing quick fulfillment of everything from groceries, dry-cleaning, pet food, and just about anything else you can buy online. The familiarity and deliverability of text messaging provides a comfortable back-and-forth of interaction with their customers.

Uber, who operates a global ride-sharing network, offers a mobile experience that allows customers to request a pickup at a specific location, and by a specific type of vehicle. Uber employs text messaging alerts to keep customers up-to-date by sending pickup arrival estimates, as well as driver and vehicle information, all via SMS-based alerts.

Instacart, an on-demand grocer, connects their customers and employees over mobile phones as well. SMS notification services are used to manage order confirmations, and customers are alerted when the Instacart personal shopping courier has finished selecting their groceries and orders are on the way. Phone numbers are 'masked' at all times to ensure user privacy.

Update Customers of Order Status

Order notifications give businesses the ability to inform customers of the status of their order, which could include confirmations, pricing adjustments, delays in fulfillment, or delivery scheduling. By integrating SMS notifications within your CRM, whether you are an e-commerce retailer or a local pizza shop, alerting customers throughout the entire process via text-based messaging enhances the business-customer relationship.

Dell, for example, keeps customers informed of the status of their Dell.com purchases, including order, payment, and shipping information by using SMS alerts.

Enhance Safety and Logistics Communication

Text alerts have become an essential way of communicating public safety announcements, including police activity, fires, or natural disasters. SMS is also often used as a backup channel in the event that primary means of communications fail. SMS notification systems also have a pivotal role in logistics which can include sending event updates, keeping participants apprised of shifting schedules, and coordinating complex operations involving multiple individuals, facilities, or supplies.

Deputy is a web-based automated employee management solution that frees employers from cumbersome administrative tasks so they can focus on strategies and milestones that drive the business. By incorporating an SMS notification system within Deputy’s workforce management platform, employers can now send instant notifications to employees about shift changes or job availability with a simple text alert.

Increase Conversions with Lead Alerts

Text alert systems are revolutionizing the way leads are passed to sales teams. Sales reps no longer have to sift through sales portals or email inboxes to move to the next prospect. With lead alerts, they get new, qualified leads delivered instantly.

Trulia, an online residential real estate site connecting home buyers, sellers, renters and real estate professionals, realized that the odds of successfully contacting an online lead are 100 times higher if the prospect hears from an agent within five minutes of submitting an online form. Using programmable voice and SMS, real estate agents are instantly connected on a call with a new lead, or sent an SMS with lead details.

Connect Sales and Marketing with Customers in a Whole New Way

Text marketing is a favorite among marketers because of highly receptive audiences, unmatched open rates, and promotions that succeed because they’re delivered to customers and prospects on the mobile devices they carry with them all day. Marketers rely on text-based notifications to alert customers to exclusive sales, reward loyalty with deep-discount coupons, drive traffic to social networks, or direct shoppers to a physical retail location.

Walmart, the world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer, uses SMS to deliver special discount offers that Walmart shoppers can redeem for a limited time. In addition to traditional marketing methods, such as in-store announcements, customers are encouraged to opt-in to receive these deals directly on their mobile devices. Walmart sends these “Value of the Day” notifications via bulk text message to all subscribing customers, providing each with a new incentive to visit their local Walmart store daily. It’s a simple, but smart way to increase sales while rewarding customer loyalty.

While we’ve explored the real-world uses of text alerts and SMS notifications, consider these five mandates as you look to integrate these services within your organization.

1. Be authentic.

Seek out a ‘best practices’ guide for tips on how to get customers to opt-in to your programs, craft an engaging message, and design a comprehensive workflow. Above all else, keep in mind that texting is personal and permission-based. Don’t abuse the privilege—you have a better chance of having a long and successful relationship with your customers if you only send text message alerts that are relevant to each recipient.

2. Prioritize deliverability.

If you are using text alerts for an urgent or timely offer, be certain the user actually receives the message at the right time in the right time zone. Make sure your SMS provider can guarantee delivery and can adhere to ever-changing telecom logic and carrier specific rules to ensure your message reaches its destination. And, if some messages remain undeliverable, inquire about the ability to fall back to a voice call to ensure that customers receive the notification.

3. Be compliant!

In this era of highly regulated industries and permission-based marketing, your service must be secure and comply with security rules to protect your customer’s data. Many cloud communication providers have designed their platforms with these safeguards in mind so you can rest assured that messaging your customers meets these regulations.

4. Empower your front line office.

You’ll want to enable your staff with easy to use tools to manage your SMS notification system. That starts with cloud-based APIs that allow your developers to easily integrate SMS within your internal customer communication platforms. Also, look for a service offering a WYSIWYG tool to provide your marketing and customer service staff with the ability to design, edit, and send alerts of all types.

5. Rely on the cloud to power your alerts.

When employed correctly, text alerts help businesses improve their communication and customer service while building brand loyalty and increasing sales. When you decide to employ a mass communication SMS service, you’ll want to choose a leading cloud communications platform with a proven track record for reliability, security, and operational excellence. Your platform should offer global connectivity, giving you the ability to reach nearly anyone in the world right from the get-go. Make sure it handles all of the logic and intricacies, like user segmentation, privacy, and security, so you can focus on what matters: your messages to your customers.

The Definitive Cloud Communication Platform

As you look to build your SMS Text Alert and Notification service, consider the benefits of working with Twilio’s cloud-based communication platform. Our intelligent cloud software includes a comprehensive suite of developer-friendly APIs, a superior global carrier network, and a robust suite of messaging applications. Best of all, adding new user features is easy: your customer's experience can be progressively upgraded without the need to invest in more developers, purchase new software, or replace old hardware.

Ready to see how Twilio can help make your SMS Text Alerts and Notifications efforts successful? Talk to us or learn more with the recommended resources below: