The average person sends 15 texts per day
, and 90% report that they read incoming texts within three minutes. Text is the channel many people — especially younger consumers — use most often to communicate with friends and family. And text can be a great way for insurers to communicate with customers and build relationships.
But, because the channel is so central to personal communication, it’s critically important for insurers to get customers’ permission and understand their communication preferences before reaching out via text. Managing consent has been a major focus for the past few years because it’s a privacy issue. Customers appreciate the chance to opt in and want to understand how you plan to use their number.
Managing permission is critical, but it’s just the first step. The text platform has specific qualities and limitations that don’t apply to other channels like social media or email. Texting has enormous potential if you understand the context and expectations people have around the messages they receive.
Here are three tips insurers can use to build meaningful relationships with customers via text:
1. Change up your messaging.
If you look at recent text messages received from a friend, you’ll probably see questions, statements, tips, links, photos, etc., all in one thread and all in a single voice. A text communication strategy from an insurance brand should look like that, too: The content should vary. It shouldn’t be a series of cross-sell pitches (though pitches have their place).
See also: 3 Ways to Build Digital Relationships
Customers don’t want to feel like a number when they’re dealing with any type of business, especially an insurer. You collect a lot of data on customers. Consider using it in a non-intrusive way to build relationships. If your customer has boat insurance, consider sending boat care tips. Above all, curate your text feed so that it’s interesting and valuable.
2. Limit the use of five-digit codes.
If you receive texts from organizations, you probably don’t know who it is until you click because it arrives on your phone under a five-digit code instead of a name. Some businesses use multiple codes to send out different types of texts: one code for sales, another for customer service, a third for claims, a fourth for renewals, etc.
Try to limit the use of five-digit codes to two or three at maximum, and, if you can, use only one five-digit code for all text communication. Your subscribers may add you to their contact list under your brand name; if you use multiple codes, you will dilute the impact of being in the contact list. Remember that customers expect to be able to reach you by responding to any of the codes you use to send texts.
3. Use centralized message control and analytics.
This is a basic tip, but too many insurers who are savvy about marketing and sophisticated about communication on other platforms make the mistake of not analyzing incoming text messages to see what customers are saying, and some fail to respond appropriately when customers text back.
Text analytics can be incredibly revelatory and serve as a valuable snapshot of customer sentiment. For example, if you send customers a notice about a new safe driver discount program and a customer responds with a question, you gain valuable insight about your message and an opportunity to respond quickly and consistently on the same channel — text.
Insurance is about being there for customers when they need you the most. Text messaging is a great way to meet customers where they are, using the same channel they use to communicate with their friends and family. It’s important to get customers’ consent for text communication and understand their expectations. Once you have permission, the success of your text campaign is up to you.
See also: How to Improve the Customer Journey
Insurers will continue to look for ways to strengthen their bond with customers and relate to them on an individual level. Texting can be an excellent channel for personalization. When you know what kinds of messages resonate on text and understand what customers expect in return, you’ll be texting your way to stronger customer relationships.