What Type of Text Messaging is Right for Your Business?


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What Type of Text Messaging is Right for Your Business?

Show Notes

  • Many business owners wonder whether they should use short code or a regular phone number to contact their customers.
  • Regular phone numbers have been around for a long time and were intended for one-to-one communication.
  • As cell phones have taken over the marketplace, people now have voice and text options, which are meant for one-to-one communication on one number.
  • There are more cell phones in the U.S. than there are people as some people have multiple numbers.
  • Short codes were created by phone carriers so companies could broadcast a text message to a large group of people in a short period of time.
  • Short codes are 5-6 digit numbers that are only used for texting with no voice capability.
  • As time passed, small businesses wanted to be able to send text messages as their customers were not always reading their emails.
  • The short code is generally expensive, ($1,000 - $1,500/month). A business would have  to be able to rent a short code from a carrier and then follow certain rules such as:
  • Securing permission from customers to be able to send out mass messages to them.
  • After permission is granted, a business would need to share how often you will be broadcasting to the customers.
  • Short code is extremely effective at sending out a mass message to large groups of people.
  • If you are in a business where you need to communicate a small amount of information to a large group of people in a short amount of time, then you might consider using short code.
  • Most small businesses do peer-to-peer marketing and have no need for a short code.
  • Most marketing that is effective is not broadcast-type marketing where you talk to people and they can’t talk back.
  • Social media has allowed peer-to-peer marketing where people can communicate with each other.
  • A one-to-many approach is not effective, you will need to take massive leverage in broadcasting to get results.
  • In no situation does a person ever interact with a business; they always interact with a person. There is always a person to person interaction in any business transaction.
  • We want all of our marketing to be from a person-to-person standpoint.
  • If we use a phone number for marketing, we have to use it as we would with an individual, not as a tool to broadcast something to a mass audience.
  • The difference between using short code and a normal phone number is understanding the experience you would like your customer to have. Ask yourself:
  • "How do I create a personalized experience?"
  • How can my prospective customers have a positive experience with me?
  • How would I interact if was contacting them individually?
  • Sales is about initiating a customer relationship.
  • You want a long-term relationship with a customer because then they will be more likely to refer your business, which is one of the most powerful ways to initiate new business beyond your own marketing.
  • Your messaging should be one part education, but also, investigation by using questions to evaluate your customers needs.
  • Ask yourself, "How do I use SMS as a peer-to peer communication?"
  • By using SMS you will avoid regulations that pertain to short code.
  • How do we ask open-ended questions that will allow people to communicate their needs back to you? If you can meet their needs then ask, "What are the next steps they will need to take?"
  • The short-code doesn’t allow for back and forth interaction, but a regular phone number does.
  • If you want your marketing to be successful, you will want an SMS platform that will allow for automated, live back and forth, in order for you to facilitate moving someone from an interest stage to a conversation stage to a customer relationship stage.

Transcription of Episode

[00:00:00] Hey, this is Ryan Chapman with Fix Your Funnel and in today's episode, I'm going to be talking about a common question that people have, simply because they have seen both options, but they're not sure which one is best for them. And that is, the short code or the normal phone number for text messaging?

To get into this, we need to have a little bit of history about where both of these came from. With normal phone numbers, you probably don't need much history. Normal numbers have been created and designed for peer-to-peer communication, meaning one to one individual communication. Ever since you were a child, you probably had access to a telephone. Depending on your age, that telephone may or may not have had a cord, and you may or may not have a home phone number. Today many people don't have a home phone, so that's a little bit different than it was a while back.

This normal number is something that we've had for a long time, we've used it for telephone calls primarily. As cell phones have taken over the marketplace now, in the United States, for example, there's 103% penetration of cell [00:01:00] phones. There's more cell phone numbers than are people in the United States. This is in part due to people who have multiple numbers, meaning they have their personal number and then they have a business number. That's how we're able to get over the current population of the United States in active phone numbers.

For most people now we have cell phone numbers as their primary method of communication with the normal number that means we also have text messaging on that number. So we have voice and we have text messaging on that one phone number and so this is intended primarily for peer-to-peer meaning one to one communication now, I want to many communication. Now that's where the short code came into play.

The short code was created by carriers to allow big corporations like American Idol or Pepsi or Coca-Cola to be able to broadcast out text messages to a large number of people in a very short period of time. With that, there were certain rules that they put [00:02:00] into place to control how the short code would work and they also got the price the short codes. Short codes are five to six digit phone numbers that are used only for texting. There's no voice capability with them, and the reason there's no real voice capabilities is typically they were meant just for texting and they were principally used by a large corporation.

As time went on, small businesses said, hey, we want to be able to send a bunch of text messages to people because people aren't reading our emails. And so we started to see this introduction of the short code for small business. Because the short code is so expensive, it generally runs anywhere around $1000-$1500 a month to be able to rent a short code from a carrier, and if you have that, then you have to follow certain rules.

Some of the rules that you have to follow is if you're going to be sending out mass messages to people, you have to have their permission. This is a really good thing because personally, I don't like receiving unsolicited messages from anybody for any reason. [00:03:00] That's number one.

Number two is, if you are going to get permission, you need to let them know how often you're going to be spamming, I mean, broadcasting, to them. That was a big deal with short codes. Because of these rules, there became laws and those laws then helped enforce those rules that were created by the carriers to make sure that their media wasn't being abused and their networks weren't going to be overloaded with unsolicited messages and that their subscribers weren't going to be upset and then wan to cancel their cell phone numbers because they were getting so many spam messages. This is why the short code was created.

The short code is extremely effective in about one area, and that area is sending out massive numbers of messages to a whole host of people for one-way communication. When they were created, they were initially intended to be machines disseminating information to large groups of people. If you're in a [00:04:00] business where you need to be able to communicate a little bit of information to a massive amount of people in a very short period of time, you're definitely going to want a short code.

For most small businesses, we actually end up doing what we call peer to peer marketing. In that case, the short code doesn't really have any advantages for us. In fact, it has a lot of disadvantages.

What do I mean by peer-to-peer marketing? Well, most marketing that's really effective is not broadcast marketing. It's not something where you just talk to people and they can't communicate back. In fact, that's why you've had this whole surge of social networks. People want to interact with each other. They want to be able to communicate with each other and not have these kind of boundaries where they can do that communication. That's what we call peer to peer marketing. It's a person to a person.

If you try and approach your marketing as a small business as a one-to-many, [00:05:00] what you're going to find is it's highly ineffective. You're going to need to take massive leverage in terms of broadcasting in order for you to actually get results. If you want to get real results, then you got to recognize a truth, which is that in no situation does a person ever interact with the business. They may blame a business or recognize a business, but they always interacting with people. There's always a person-to-person interaction in any business transaction.

If we recognize that, then we want to approach all of our marketing for person-to-person standpoint. This is where the use of a normal phone number for our marketing comes into play. When we use a normal phone number for text messaging, then we have to think about using it like we would with a person and not as a broadcast medium. For people that come from the world of short codes, this is very foreign to them. Because of that, they have a hard time accepting and believing the way that we [00:06:00] will approach text messages, when you start using normal phone numbers the way that we do it at Fix Your Funnel.

You think about, how do I interact with an individual? Not, how do I get my information in front of people? How do I you know cram my message down their throat? That doesn't actually work. But, how do I interact with people as individuals? How do I create a personalized experience, but at the same time, allow myself some leverage so that I'm not having to do a bunch of manual labor to be able to accomplish that? That is at the center of this whole question of what's the difference between a short code and a normal phone number in particular when it comes to the topic of marketing.

When you're looking at, what do I need to do with my business with text messages in order to be able to have a positive experience with prospects and customers so that they'll want to interact and communicate with me? You have to leave this concept of broadcast alone.

Does that mean that you'll never send out [00:07:00] a number of messages to a group of people? No, it doesn't. You may do that when you have permission from people to do that, but what it means more is that as we're interacting with people via text message, we're thinking about, how would I do this if I were to do this personally, individually, and communicate with them? That usually will mean, I would probably want to initiate some sort of conversation with them. And if they responded back, I would want the ability to continue that conversation.

Sales, if we come down and look at the definition of sales, at the end of the day, sales is about initiating a customer relationship. The terminology we commonly might use is to close the deal. As you look at business in maybe a more progressive way, you're going to be looking at initiating a customer relationship. We're not looking for a single transaction. We're looking for a long-term relationship with a customer who will want to use our services or product on an [00:08:00] ongoing basis for a long time unless our product or service doesn't warrant that. Either way, we want to create a good relationship with them because then they'll be more likely to refer business to us, which is one of the most powerful ways to get business beyond your own controlled marketing.

This being the case, as we start to interact with people, we want to think about how do we initiate conversations with people that can then lead to a customer relationship. When you start being able to think that way, it changes your messaging. Your messaging is in one part education, but in the second part it is investigation.

I think of it more like, if you're going to a doctor, the doctor doesn't just start prescribing pills. The doctor does some investigation. They do some questions. They do some tests. They evaluate what your needs are based on your answers, then they're able to determine what they would prescribe as a recommended way to address the problems that [00:09:00] you're having. Understand that, in almost every scenario, when somebody's doing business with somebody, it's because they have a problem they're trying to solve. At the end of the day, they're going to believe that you know how to solve that problem.

When you're looking at SMS and you're looking at, how should I be using it, you got to think about how do I use as a peer-to-peer communication. One, you're going to avoid all the necessity of dealing with all the regulations because the regulations are all created for one-to-many distribution of information through the text message. When you're doing peer-to-peer, it's just a matter of interacting with a human the way that you would interact with humans. Hopefully you're cool human, so it will be a pleasant experience for them to interact with.

We're thinking about, how do we initiate conversations?How do we ask open-ended questions that will allow people to be able to communicate back to us what their needs are and allow us to evaluate, can we serve them with our our product or service? If we are able to actually meet their needs, then what's the next steps [00:10:00] they would need to take? And guide them through that process.

If you think about your Marketing in that context, then you'll see that there's a huge difference between the short code and the long code or normal number because the short code doesn't allow for back and forth live interaction, but a normal phone number does. In order for you to build with the actually do marketing in a way that works, you're going to need to have a back-and-forth communication that happens. You're going to be looking for a situation where your SMS or text messaging platform allows for you to have a live back and forth.

When you find that, by the way, I happen to know a place, if you have questions I can tell you where it is, but you need to find a platform that allows for automated, but also allows for live back and forth in order for you to facilitate moving someone from a interest stage to a conversation stage to initiating a customer relationship stage.

That's the difference between short code [00:11:00] and normal phone numbers. Hopefully that will help you as you're trying to figure out how to integrate text messaging. Hopefully you've also picked up on the idea that when you get a cell phone number, you open up a lot more doors in terms of communication and marketing opportunities then you do with any other media. This is Ryan Chapman with Fix Your Funnel and I encourage you to keep moving forward.