Find out whether or not inbound SMS are useful for your company.
When researching the details of sending SMS for your company, there are a couple of details to consider. You look for a suitable provider and compare services, prices and connection options. Some services are important to you right from the start, others may only attract your attention during your search. Sooner or later you will surely ask yourself the question: “Do I need an inbound number and do I have to be able to receive SMS at all?”
We would like to help you answer this question. Therefore, we will look at some application examples where inbound SMS can be used in a beneficial or even mandatory way.
In this article:
The question: Do I have to be able to receive SMS?
Obviously, the short answer to your question is: It depends on what you want to achieve.
The long answer is that in most technical use cases you only want to send notifications and therefore do not need a return channel. This also applies to use cases such as sending competition results in sports clubs or sending one-time passwords. In many other cases, however, a feedback channel is either urgently needed or at least brings you advantages. We would like to explain some of these cases in more detail so that you can better assess whether you need inbound SMS or not.
You cannot find your specific case in the examples or are still unsure whether you need to be able to receive SMS? Please contact us at email@example.com
Possibly necessary: Marketing SMS and the double-opt-in via SMS
If you have integrated SMS into your marketing, you send out current offers and other important information. For this kind of communication you do not need to be able to receive SMS per se. However, this is only the case if the consent of your recipients has been obtained.
If you would like to protect yourself with a double opt-in, it is advisable to have the future recipients confirm this via SMS, i.e. via the channel that is also used for sending in the end. In this case, we recommend that you have your own inbound number, as this can only be used by you. This makes it easier for you to prove that you have received consent.
Caution: You must be able to provide this proof. So if you do not have another secure system to obtain and manage consent, you need to be able to receive SMS.
Good to know
Consent is only one of the possible legal bases for sending SMS to customers. However, most companies use this variant because it is legally easier to prove than other bases.
The special case: Legally binding answer option
Are you sending SMS to other countries? If so, it may be legally binding that the recipients of your SMS can unsubscribe from your distribution list with a reply such as “STOP”. This also applies to some countries within the EU.
It is therefore essential that you educate yourself in advance about your recipients and the legal conditions in other countries. If you send marketing SMS and only one recipient lives in one of these countries, you must provide the reply option. You must also ensure that a recipient who has unsubscribed does not receive SMS after the opt-out. This also applies to German recipients.
Not mandatory, but advantageous: Answers as service and opportunity
In many other cases you do not necessarily need a return channel, but you can improve your service if you offer one anyway. For example, maybe you send booking confirmations or confirm reservations via SMS. Here, your customers do not necessarily need to be able to reply to these messages if you have another way of contacting them.
But especially if your customers do not know your company well, they will most likely choose the same communication channel for their reply if they want to change something about the booking or reservation. In these cases, misunderstandings and confusion can arise when your customers’ SMS messages do not get through to you. The same is true for appointment reminders.
Also consider what happens with invitations, such as to an open house. Especially if your customers are used to being in contact with you, it is likely that they will respond to this invitation in some way. They may be accepting, cancelling or even asking questions. This is where it becomes particularly clear why the feedback channel makes perfect sense. Through mutual communication, you establish a much more personal connection with your recipients.
In addition, you give away valuable information if you do not receive queries from customers. Keep in mind that every question and criticism from a customer is a chance for you to improve.
Indispensable: Conversational Marketing
This brings us to another important topic. Conversational marketing is on the rise and is becoming more and more relevant in the relationship between customers and companies. As the name suggests, it’s all about having a conversation with your customers. There is usually a need for conversation in all phases of the customer journey, either on the customer’s side or through yourself.
If you want to do conversational marketing via SMS, being able to receive SMS is, of course, indispensable. Furthermore, in this case it is highly recommended that you have your own inbound number. This will enable your customers to save your number and experience communication with you as consistent and trustworthy.
Investing in the future
You may have heard that the days of tracking via third-party cookies are coming to an end. In the future, companies will be much more dependent on zero and first-party information in order to be able to correctly assess their customers. This means that you will get relevant data in direct contact. If you are in dialog with your customers, it will be much easier to personalize your offers in the future.
Furthermore, younger people in particular are open to companies contacting them via text message. So if you are already actively talking to prospects and customers, you are well prepared for the future. If you’re not able to receive SMS, you’re missing out on these opportunities.
Whether you need a dedicated number for inbound SMS depends entirely on three factors. The purpose for which you are sending SMS, to whom you are sending SMS and the level of service you want to offer.
In any case, make sure you are well informed about your recipients, so that you can weigh up exactly whether a reply option is legally necessary under certain circumstances. However, you can hardly go wrong with being able to receive SMS. The dialog with your customers will greatly enrich your company in any case.
Also, if you choose your provider wisely, there is hardly any risk in experimenting. For example: If you realize that you do not want to use the inbound number after all, you can simply cancel your number with us on a monthly basis.
Do you want to book your own inbound number right away? Our helpdesk article will help you with the details.
Source of header picture: iStock.com/4zevar, edited to fit header section.