If you’ve ever watched the popular MTV series Catfish, you’ve witnessed complete strangers fall in love via SMS.
SMS enables people to overlook superficial distractions and connect directly.
According to a study on virtual relationship formation, people foster connections faster through written virtual communication than they would in real life because they are able to overlook superficial distractions and open up to each other more directly and deeply.
But what exactly causes these deep connections? The majority of Catfish participants said they felt like the other person understood them intimately, and were there for them through an emotional time. All “catfishing” hoaxes aside, this proves that people can form deep connections, sight unseen, through messaging.
Similarly, if you want to form a deep connection with your customers, you need to know them intimately. You need to know what they’re thinking and feeling. Then you can craft messages that will capture their hearts and minds – for how we feel about a company determines our buying decisions.
Begin with Empathy
In Emotional Value: Creating Strong Bonds with Your Customers, authors Barlow and Maul say that “getting close to customers’ emotionality requires empathy.”
Empathy is the ability to understand and vicariously experience the feelings, thoughts, and attitudes of another.
Your customers need to know you get them. You know what they want. You know what they’re thinking and feeling.
How do you figure out what your customers are thinking and feeling?
In a podcast of The Lede, hosts Jerod Morris and Demian Farnworth suggest starting with an empathy map. Take a poster board and draw four quadrants that you will label:
Then ask questions for each category, like: “When they see our text messages, what do they think?” or “What do they feel when using our product?”
If you’re still struggling to understand what your customers are thinking or feeling, try conducting an SMS customer survey. Examine your customers’ answers and look for language you can use in your marketing campaigns.
Empathy Marketing via SMS
Using FireText’s keywords feature, our skateboard shop owner might use the keyword “broken,” to which he’ll craft an auto-reply:
“Hey Sean, I heard about your broken board. I got your back, homie. Stop by ProBoards and show promo code GRIND to get 20% off your next purchase. Ride safe.”
Imagine receiving that message after the frustration of breaking your board. You might feel like this company understands what you’re going through – and that’s an emotional connection.
Messages That Speak to the Heart
What are some other creative ways you can form a deep connection with your customers via SMS?
Welcome them with open arms. When a customer opts in, send a warm welcome response to let them know that they belong and are in the right place. A sushi bar might say:
“Irasshaimase! Welcome to the family. Visit Awesome Sushi and try our tasty new Volcano Roll for free with this message. We look forward to seeing you!”
Keep the conversation going. Brands can benefit from ongoing conversations. In 2009, Walkers crisps ran a giveaway of an iPod every hour to customers who texted a code they found inside their bag of crisps. Walkers congratulated prizewinners, but they also replied to contest losers with messages like, “Did you know that 34% of the winners yesterday came from Barbecue Beef?” By empathizing with those who didn’t win, Walkers won the support of their customers and increased sales of that flavor by 78%.
Celebrate life’s joys. Birthdays, anniversaries and holidays are an opportunity to make your customers feel special. But coupons and freebies aren’t the only ways celebrate life’s important events.
How can you celebrate your customer’s most precious moments?
The NHS set up a messaging service for expectant mothers who want to receive information and support throughout their pregnancy. Couldn’t a baby store do something similar? They could include tips on planning a baby shower and suggest products for when baby arrives.
Nurture them. You want your customers to be successful, and gentle reminders are a good way to help customers save time and money from missed appointments.
“Hi Michelle, Ready to be pampered? Bliss Spa Appointment Reminder: 3pm Friday, April 3. Reply 1 to confirm, 2 to cancel, and 3 to reschedule. Thank you.”
Speak to their worldviews. Your customers are passionate about issues, and if those issues relate to your business or you are a nonprofit, you have a magnetic opportunity to connect on a deeper level.
PETA created a campaign for its “Animals Don’t Smoke” initiative that they featured at the Warped Tour. By texting BUTT to a short code, you received an “instant win” message for a free button, sunglasses or bag at the PETA booth, and were encouraged to tell the FDA to ban cigarette testing on animals. Over 25,000 people opted in at the event.
And much more.
There is no limit to the creative messages you can craft once you know your customers intimately. Nurture the whole person, appeal to their hearts and minds, and you’ll cultivate a deep connection with your customers that is rooted in love.
Angela Mackintosh is an editor for WOW! Women On Writing, a site that allows her to make deep connections with women writers, editors, agents, publishers and readers. She blogs at WOW’s daily blog, The Muffin.