Inbound vs Outbound SMS Campaigns: What Works Best

Creating your SMS and communication marketing campaigns with Infobip Portal is quite easy. We’re sure you have great programs designed to engage your targeted customer base. However, if you’re still undecided between inbound or outbound communications, we’re here to help. First off, let’s go over the difference between the two with some helpful stats to help guide you along the way.

Outbound SMS campaigns

The first thing you think of when someone mentions SMS marketing are outbound campaigns. You immediately think about various types of promotional content that can be sent out to customers. A general rule of thumb is that outbound campaigns aren’t meant to generate responses but rather, to get your users to take action.

And it works, and not just with SMS. According to Koupon, 39% of customers spend more if they receive a personalized mobile coupon or offer. eMarketer claims that more than nine in ten mobile coupon users will redeem a coupon or code via their mobile device for online or offline shopping in 2017. Loyalty360 states that 70% of U.S. consumers appreciate getting texts or emails from healthcare providers.

But, because of the personal nature of SMS, its high read rate (90% of all SMS messages are read within 3 minutes), outbound SMS campaigns are hard to get right and can easily be interpreted as spam by your customers. For example, outbound SMS in the sales process can lead to conversion gains of more than 100%. However, sending messages before establishing contact with a lead or prospect can adversely affect conversion rates.

If you don’t target your customers with precision or know how to properly engage over various channels available today (SMS, chat apps, voice, push notifications, email…) there is a good chance your outbound campaigns will result in a swing and a miss. And the consequences can be dire.

In an article for Rustam Singh writes:

“Every single time my iPhone makes beep sound of the annoyingly loud tone of an SMS, I am alarmed whether it’s a notification of my bank that someone’s been misusing my funds! Could it be someone from my family that’s not so familiar with technology and still uses SMS? Could it be some notifications from my private email accounts of an unauthenticated transaction?

“I, therefore, immediately jump to check my phone and immediately have a flush of emotions ranging from rolling my eyes to just frustration, because it’s usually an SMS announcing that the pizza place I ordered a pizza from 6 months ago has 10% off if I spend 1000 bucks.”

Sometimes [the SMS] is about some discount on properties in a part of the country that I have never visited (or plan to) or even heard of – yes, that bad!

Rustam Singh

Yes, the negative reaction is that bad. SMS is the most personal channel available today, so when people receive your SMS campaign you better make sure it’s something interesting, engaging and sent at just the right time.

To do this, you need to make sure that the consumer data you collect is put to good use. Deep analytics, audience segmentation, and proper targeting give you the option to send campaigns that actually inform people and streamline the process of getting to your product. The technology for appreciated engagement exists, but you’re the one that still has to use it to the satisfaction of your customer base.

Inbound SMS campaigns

Unlike outbound campaigns, the main goal of an inbound SMS campaign is to generate responses. With that in mind, to run an inbound campaign, you’ll need a number which your target audience can reply to. This can either be a virtual long number or a shortcode easily acquired over SMS API and the Infobip Portal. Once you get a number for your inbound campaigns and gather the opt-ins, sending is a breeze.

A solid use case for inbound SMS campaigns is support ticketing for your business. In 2013, just 14% of all calls made to businesses were being answered. Today, in an age where most modern services have completely automated their customer support getting a human being on the phone to answer your support request is science fiction for most customers.

Evan Aldrich, Head of Customer Support at Favor is collaborating with Zendesk to provide just that. For quick answers and easy updates, Favor’s support team uses SMS over Zendesk Text to increase customer satisfaction:

Text is an absolutely indispensable part of our support strategy. And with the Zendesk family of products, we have all our support channels, including email, phone and text, in one place.

But don’t just take his word on it, let’s look at some numbers. According to eWeek, over half of surveyed customers said they would be likely to text with a customer support agent. Similarly, 52% would prefer texting customer support over their current preferred form of communication.

With Infobip, you can easily acquire one or more mobile numbers for your SMS campaigns regardless of where you want to send them. You can use any number for multiple campaigns, to help cut costs and provide a consistent, instantly recognizable channel.

SMS campaign tips and best practices

Now, with the differences out of the way, it’s important to note that there’s no right or wrong type of SMS campaign, just your business needs and the type of communication that fits. Before sending SMS campaigns, businesses usually make the mistake of viewing their mobile strategy as a one-off, which doesn’t yield quality results.

When creating any type of inbound or outbound SMS campaign, start by assessing your business goals, as the campaign could have an impact on how people view your company and affect various aspects of your business communication.

For outbound SMS campaigns, it’s extremely important to gather opt-ins and update your contact lists on a regular basis to ensure maximum effect. But that’s just the start. Take concrete action by measuring, organizing and improving your campaigns in real time. The tools you’re using should provide fully customizable performance dashboards, performance overviews and give actionable data needed to boost campaign effectiveness and offer content tailored to each customer.

For all your inbound campaigns, analyzing delivery and response rates is key. Having a provider enabling you to configure responses for inbound SMS campaigns on both the keyword and number levels means you’ll be instantly communicating when it matters most to your customer. And that’s all that matters.

May 9th, 2017
5 min read