Data show that Americans send more than 2 billion text messages every day and on average 98% of marketing text messages are read compared to just 20% of emails (Anthony, 2022). While most of us know “SMS” stands for “short message service” what you might not know is that SMS is the fastest growing marketing channel for ecommerce.
What is SMS marketing?
At a time when many people have simply given up on their inboxes SMS is starting to be seen as a more personal, more manageable and more impactful form of communication. SMS marketing is simply the act of sending business communications by text message. This can include campaigns, news, promotions, updates or more to customers who’ve opted in.
In marketing language, SMS refers to how a brand communicates with customers through text messages about campaigns, promotions, news, updates, and more. Like email marketing, SMS is an owned channel. This means you have complete control over who receives an SMS marketing message, what content you share, and when you decide to send it.
With text marketing, you also have ownership over the experience you create for your customers across this marketing channel from start to finish. Besides SMS messages, you can also send your customers MMS (multimedia message service) messages. These messages allow you to send pictures or GIFs (and other animated images) over text.
What are the types of SMS marketing?
While SMS marketing is growing and evolving quickly, there are already several established SMS marketing models. The best way to set up an effective SMS campaign is to decide whether you need to send you audience promotional or transactional messages.
Promotional text messages
Promotional SMS marketing does what it says on the label: it helps to promote you, your product or organization to your audience. The goal might be to increase sales, raise awareness around a launch or existing brand, or simply advertise. Promotional campaign can be one-off or have their own associated workflows using SMS automations. The core logic behind workflows might look similar to email marketing. The basic idea is close to how you can send campaigns versus flows when using email marketing (Riedy, 2022).
The best kinds of promotional campaigns will, of course, adjust the content format for SMS but they’ll also tweak a workflow based on the different styles and personalization of an SMS versus an email campaign. The impact of a promotional campaign is relatively easy to measure. You can track link taps and conversions in a relatively one-to-one way.
An especially effective promotional SMS tool is an event-triggered message. These are customer communications that get initiated by actions they take on your website. For example, if a customer signs up to receive text messages from you after booking an appointment or requesting a follow-up, you can send a welcome text. If they initiated an action that isn’t completed, your SMS tools could send the customer a reminder message with additional, personalized information that you build into your workflow and know from experience might help with conversion.
Transactional text messages
Transactional SMS marketing is centered on providing customers with valuable information through SMS updates that contains information customers need. For example, an appointment confirmation text with date, time and location for an appointment might include other helpful information such as a link to their online profile or pre-screening forms that can easily be filled at their convenience to save time and avoid friction at their appointment.
It’s important to note that customers who share their information for transactional text messages cannot be targeted with marketing information unless they give explicit permission.
SMS healthcare marketing strategies
With these two types of SMS marketing messages in mind, there are several SMS marketing strategies that are especially impactful in healthcare marketing. Here are some of the latest, most effective strategies to bring healthcare marketing into your toolkit today (DialMyCalls, 2021):
Taking Appointments via SMS
Any healthcare system looking to welcome new patients might be engaged in a multimedia marketing strategy that includes significant investments in advertisements, signage and mail campaigns. By offering quick, convenient and desirable services like appointment scheduling and management by text, you can significantly improve the patient journey.
Many health care service providers still only provide appointment scheduling by phone or in-person. While more are offering online scheduling, being able to text for appointment scheduling can help attract new clients to your system and improve satisfaction for existing customers. This kind of streamlining can improve business process for both the consumer and provider.
The latest scheduling platforms can typically integrate into many scheduling services. After a new or current patient has opted-in to SMS marketing in healthcare texts, you can easily use links to manage the scheduling process. The process itself can also be managed directly via SMS, usually via automation.
Text Appointment Alerts and Reminders
With our lives getting busier and our growing dependence on smartphones to stay on schedule, text reminders are a great way to help customers keep their day running smoothly and avoid costly late or missed appointments.
Like appointment scheduling, shortened links can be used in reminder texts to help customers who might need to reschedule. Not only does this make for a smoother patient journey but it avoids last-minute phone calls and creates an easier way to manage system capacity for urgent or other last-minute booking needs. Similar messages can be used to help patients with reminders for follow-up appointments, medication refills or lab work requests. These nudges help clients take greater control of their health.
Text appointment reminders can help to lessen the burden on front office staff and are an excellent SMS marketing in healthcare application. Like many healthcare marketing tactics, the core of this strategy being effective involves integrating your system’s marketing into daily operations.
Providing Health Information to Patients Through SMS
The public health crises over the last two years have shown how critical it is to have timely, accurate, and reliable healthcare information easily available to everyone who uses your system. SMS marketing in healthcare tools like SMS can be the perfect way to keep patients up to date about extended hours during flu season or introducing a new provider or service in your system. Text message is also a great way to help spread the word for new services like health education classes and therapy pets. Providing clients with the right information, exactly where they want it, is more likely to lead them to forward that information to others.
You can keep clients better engaged with your practice by sending useful health information by SMS marketing approaches. Appointment follow-ups including lab work can be easily prepopulated into certain workflows. Similarly, patients can be conveniently notified of new results or important information being provided in a secure portal.
Receiving Feedback from Patients Through SMS
Good feedback is essential for healthcare marketing success. To continue building your reputation as a trusted, reliable provider you should be soliciting feedback, reviews and input from customers at every appropriate opportunity. SMS is where people like to be for their communications so where better to ask them to share their views?
Requesting feedback in the way that’s most convenient for your clients will help to nurture long-term relationships and is more likely to prompt meaningful responses. It’s important to be prepared for all the feedback you might receive. If requesting SMS feedback for your healthcare marketing strategy, make sure systems are in place to triage and use that feedback properly.
By leveraging the more personal and direct aspects of SMS marketing, your organization should be prepared to respond to clients accordingly. While detailed, private health information cannot be managed or addressed in this way, SMS is an ideal way to get clients back into the system for follow-ups and problem solving.
Notifying Staff Via SMS
SMS marketing in healthcare doesn’t have to only be for clients and customers. Healthcare organizations can benefit from internal communications via text messages. Sending meeting reminders and organizational notifications through SMS can help members of the organization feel more connected and appreciated through personalized communications.
SMS notifications might also help on the treatment side of the patient journey. Delivering the right information or links to relevant material at the right time can minimize time consuming administrative tasks for providers and help center the patient in your system. Even small details like birthday reminders or kudos texts at certain workflow milestones can be a way to create a culture of positivity and care.
The Bottom Line
Americans are spending more time than ever sending texts. For many, SMS is a more personal, meaningful and manageable way to process important information than email. By leveraging the power of SMS marketing in healthcare, providers can take their significant efforts creating patient-centered design to the next level. Combined with the latest trends in omnichannel marketing and other healthcare marketing best practices, SMS can help drive the next level of client conversion and customer satisfaction.
Anthony, J. (2022, January 14). 48 SMS Marketing Statistics You Must See: 2021/2022 Market Share Analysis & Data. Financesonline.com. https://financesonline.com/sms-marketing-statistics/
Text Message Marketing for Healthcare | SMS Marketing Guide. (2021, October 11). DialMyCalls. https://www.dialmycalls.com/sms-marketing-guide/sms-marketing-healthcare Riedy, E. (2022, May 13). What is SMS marketing: The ecommerce industry’s fastest growing owned marketing channel. Klaviyo. https://www.klaviyo.com/blog/what-is-sms-marketing