Megan Trinidad of R/GA: Tapping Into the Power of Text Messaging To Deliver a Better Digital Customer Experience
Written by: Satta Sarmah Hightower
“To be on someone's phone is a great privilege, and brands have had varying success at using that privilege for good. — Megan Trinidad, Vice President (VP) and Executive Creative Director, R/GA
By now, we’re all accustomed to texting back and forth with family and friends, but when a brand drops into the chat, it can feel spammy — especially if the messages they share are more promotional than value-add.
Text messaging allows brands to deliver timely messages to consumers, but they must earn the right to do so.
“To be on someone's phone is a great privilege, and brands have had varying success at using that privilege for good,” Trinidad says.
Brands often have used this channel for their gain rather than consumers, Trinidad adds.
But this is starting to change, and a more positive value exchange is taking place on two main fronts. First, brands are leveraging texts to provide timely, relevant messaging to consumers. These messages often give consumers updates on their orders and inform them of when their packages will arrive.
Brands are also using text messaging to drive instant loyalty. These messages encourage consumers to respond to a brand’s text to get a coupon to join their loyalty club, creating a value exchange where the brand can begin nurturing a relationship with the customer through text and a consumer chooses to opt in to get free perks in return.
Text messaging isn’t only valuable for conversions, it also can be helpful for brand building.
It’s crucial for companies to truly understand their brand personality and use texts to express it in the best way possible, Trinidad says. Tone and voice are just as important on this channel as they are on the other channels brands might use to share their message.
Many direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands are showcasing how this is done.
Lashify, an eyelash company, uses text messaging to educate consumers about its innovative eyelash application technology. The company has created a nurture campaign using SMS, where it starts by offering a discount to consumers on their first order followed by how-to videos and delivery status updates.
Once a customer receives their order, Lashify sends messages that educate them about how to properly apply the lashes and troubleshoot any potential issues they may have with the application.
“They just really understand where you are in the journey with the brand and they keep you going along that,” Trinidad says. “And with that, they have an amazing tone of voice. Every single text is full of humor. It's full of joy. There's sort of a wink to it. They really know who they are, and it's fun to read as much as it is powerful and valuable content for you. That combination is really powerful.”
How Often Should Brands Text?
While there isn’t a clear-cut answer to this question, Trinidad says a good rule of thumb is only to text when you can add value — and not just when you want to get consumers to buy.
She says brands should use text messaging to deliver timely updates, offer exclusives, or inform consumers about new product releases.
Some brands, like Zales, are sending customers quizzes via text to personalize jewelry recommendations. The company then sends a follow-up message, too, if a consumer purchases one of the recommended items.
“That kind of stuff creates a reason to have a conversation, and I think that's key. You shouldn't just be pinging people to ping people, because that's not what consumers are looking for or expect.” — Megan Trinidad, Vice President and Executive Creative Director, R/GA
The Importance of Authenticity
Whether it’s via email, social media, or texts, a brand must be its authentic self and then align this to where the consumer is on the path to purchase. Doing both simultaneously will help them create a better digital customer experience.
“That kind of thinking through where the consumer is at with you versus where you want them to be at with you is very important with text messages and makes all of those messages feel all the more relevant,” Trinidad says.
It’s also important to be considerate of your customers’ time, Trinidad adds. Don’t waste their time with messages that are akin to spam or that operate on the false assumption they’re always interested in talking to you.
Brands need to pinpoint what’s most valuable to customers based on their purchasing journey and deliver that message at the right time. This likely will require a bit of testing and learning, but it’s well worth it if it keeps consumers from texting back that dreaded word: “Stop.”
“Brands need to be very honest about who they are in consumers' lives,” Trinidad says. “This is a place for a lot of self-reflection if you're not a brand [that] immediately understands what value you’re going to provide.”
To hear more of Trinidad’s tips for how to engage consumers with text messages, listen to the full episode.