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10 Digital Messaging Trends to Follow In 2021

Wondering whether you should be messaging your prospects in 2021? The answer is a resounding yes.

There’s no denying that digital messaging is a growing consumer trend. In fact, 85 percent of people say they’d prefer businesses to text them rather than call or email.

And businesses are taking the hint. According to Juniper Research, business messaging hit an all-time high in 2020, at 2.7 trillion, up 10 percent from the year before. But Forrester predicts there will be more brand messaging in 2021 than ever before. Companies are finally getting on board with customers’ long-preferred communication channel, which means they’re seeing better open rates, better response times and are able to convert more.

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In 2021, there are a number of digital messaging trends businesses will want to follow to keep up with the fast changes in consumer preferences:

1. Use SMS

SMS ruled in 2020, with 98 percent of all mobile business messages sent as SMS, and the trend is likely to continue. Emarketer reports that, though OTT (over-the-top) messaging services like WhatsApp and Messenger did continue to grow, growth was slowed during the pandemic, in part thanks to SMS. This widespread adoption is good news for sales teams looking to reach out via digital messaging. OTT often doesn’t support the kind of messages businesses are looking to send, and SMS is a much better option for ease, privacy and consistency.

2. Start messaging (if you aren’t already)

Unlike email, text messaging has a near-perfect open rate at 98 percent, and 90 percent of text messages are opened within the first three minutes. This is the year to get on board before the channel gets too saturated. That’s because 48.7 million customers opted into business messages in 2020, and that growth is supposed to continue.

Because the average American checks her phone 96 times a day, you have a pretty good chance of your messages being seen. Research also shows that SMS response rates are 295 percent higher than responses from phone calls. Plus, prospects who are sent texts convert at a rate 40 percent higher than those who don’t receive any text messages. So, prospective clients are more likely to see your message immediately, they’re more likely to respond to it, and they’re more likely to convert. What’s not to like?

3. Have 1-1 conversations

Did you know that 64 percent of consumers want brands to personally connect with them? Using digital messaging to contact your prospective customers means you can still own your own book of business and have personal conversations with your prospects. Because texting is already innately less formal than calling or emailing, once you get to know your prospect even more, you can count on that informality leading to a stronger customer relationship.

Digital messaging allows you to have a true one-to-one relationship with your own designated phone number and no generic inboxes that make the experience impersonal for your prospects.

4. Use digital messaging software

In 2021, it’s all about keeping all your digital messaging management in one place and routing potential clients to the right contact — be it customer service or the right sales rep. Digital messaging software that’s dedicated to helping you achieve more with your sales SMS means you can manage your own book of business with one-to-one messaging and your own personal business phone number. Plus, software helps you keep track of it all with the right SMS metrics and seamlessly integrate with Salesforce.

5. Focus on multi-channel sales

For the last few years, multi-channel marketing has been a buzzword. But multi-channel sales is just as important. In 2021, sales teams are going to be using a combination of email, calling and digital messaging to reach prospects.

You know that it’s essential for every business to consider its customers’ needs. Not every channel is best for every business. It’s best to try the combination that works best for you and focus on that, whether it’s live chat plus texting, texting plus email or phone calls and texting. Utilizing and making available multiple communication channels is key, but more doesn’t always equal better since your sales team needs to focus their efforts on the winning comms combination.

6. Message every generation

Millennials famously don’t like to talk on the phone, calling it “too time consuming.” Generation Z is king of the text, with 18–24-year-olds sending an average of 109.5 text messages a day. But Boomers are also getting in on the texting trend. They’re now twice as likely to text as opposed to call when they use their phones.

Of course, your customers’ receptivity to digital messaging and SMS are going to be subjective, which is why it’s critical to know your audience and their preferences. But it’s a promising trend that gives businesses trying to reach all generations another communication channel for selling.

7. Integrate messages with other platforms

As more businesses begin to adopt text messaging into their sales strategy, it will become important to be sure that the digital messaging software they choose integrates with Salesforce or other CRM. Integration means you can manage and reply to text messages without ever leaving the Salesforce instance. This kind of integration also makes it easier to automate messages with custom workflows.

Most critically, the integration of your digital messaging platform with Salesforce allows you to track every touchpoint, including your texts, live chats and phone calls, automatically logging them into each Salesforce instance for you, saving your sales and marketing teams the time and headache. Look for a native integration so you can sync contact data, transcripts and custom fields to new or existing records. It’s the only way to strategically tie text messaging into your sales approach.

8. Message B2B

B2B digital messaging is going to ramp up this year even more than it has in the past. B2B texting has already been on the rise for years, increasing by 197 percent between 2015 and 2017. However, B2B brands have been among the last to adopt this growing technology for sales, the general impression being that it’s not as effective as other channels.

Today, things are different: 61 percent of people say they’d recommend businesses contact them via text while they’re at work, and when 90 percent of text messages are read within the first three minutes, there’s a pretty good chance of reaching your B2B prospects when they have work on their minds.

9. Use live chat

Providing a live chat or chatbot feature on your website to catch inbound communications will be critical in 2021. With a live chat, customers can have their simple questions answered without too much time and effort on the part of your team.

Consumers today expect a place to reach you online. Live chat helps smooth out the customer experience, especially when it’s built into your digital messaging strategy. With live chat, your sales team can take conversations offline. For example, when a prospective client gets in touch with your company via live chat to ask for a quote, the conversation can be immediately routed to a sales rep. The rep can then provide the quote and answer and pre-sales questions via SMS.

10. Catch inbound sales

As of 2020, 74 percent of marketing teams globally were primarily focused on inbound marketing. Chances are, your marketing department is working hard to bring in inbound leads, and it’s up to sales to catch them. Contacting leads that reach out through your live chat, email or other marketing campaign through text allows you to capitalize on interest with a touch of familiarity. Research shows that sending a text message to a prospective client after prior contact has been made raises conversion rates by 100 percent. Digital messaging is a powerful way to capitalize on those precious inbound leads.

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