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The Rise of Text-Based Communication in the Tobacco Industry


The Rise of Text-Based Communication in the Tobacco Industry


Text-based communication is the most effective way to connect with your customers and community. Here’s why you should consider it.

Many business owners in the tobacco industry are facing a critical problem: building meaningful communication with their opt-in customers. Cigar shops and lounges have strong and dedicated communities, with members who are actively sharing social posts, news about events and even personal reviews of tobacco products. Your business needs to get involved in these conversations and to encourage communication between your business and your customers. To be effective, your communication needs to be:

  • Relevant and timely
  • Engagement-worthy
  • Regulation-compliant

Big tobacco companies have traditionally used marketing strategies such as direct marketing, mail, web, and email to increase customer engagement. However, open rates for emails are dwindling and customer service is challenging when using online contact us forms or worse—dreaded phone calling. With strict regulations on tobacco advertising, there are few communication channels available for willing, opt-in customers to communicate directly with tobacco businesses. As you likely already know, your customers are out there and looking for a better way to talk to you. 

What if your customers could reach you directly and immediately? And what if you or your team could respond in real time. And what if you also had the power to send marketing messages and ensure a nearly 100% open rate? Did you know there is a secret marketing channel that already exists and lives in the pocket of all of your customers: their phones.

Text-based communication is the future

While email continues to be a strong marketing channel, it can’t hold a candle to the success that companies are achieving using text-based communication. According to this Gartner article, your customers are prime candidates for SMS, or text-based communication. Reports show that SMS open rates are close to 98% compared to the low 20% industry-standard open rate for email. And even more startling is the 45% response rate that text-based communication encourages, versus 6% for emails. This means that your customers are nearly eight times more likely to respond to your text than reply back to your emails!

The low open rates for email may be a condition of the medium. Emails are easily ignored and can get lost in the stack of emails your customers receive every day. On the other hand, 90 percent of texts are read within three minutes of being received. Text-based communication can provide your customers with timely and relevant communication. For example, promoting a community event or sale. When minutes matter, text-based communication provides the opportunity to allow instantaneous communication to respond to a customer question or comment in seconds, rather than hours or even days.

Why your customers prefer to text

Texting has been a growing medium of communication for over 20 years. So much so in fact that people between 50-69 now rely on text messaging over email. This only goes to show that texting isn’t just for teens anymore, but has become the dominant mode of communication. This is increasingly relevant to businesses who have traditionally dealt with customers directly on the phone. Simply put, your customers likely don’t want to do business over the phone. If they have a simple and direct question, they would prefer to get an immediate answer. For example:

  • Your business operating hours or location
  • A specific question about stock inventory
  • An inquiry about an order update

Customer service is based on a number of factors, but the most important element is the speed with which it can be delivered. In many of the cases, your customers need a quick response. Phone calls are inefficient and can cause customer frustration if there is a delay in getting the answers they need—especially if they get sent to voicemail. Slow is no longer the way to go. Emails take time to get delivered and response times can vary. Phone calling requires a time investment that many people prefer to avoid. Conversations need to be immediate and continuous, which is why customers are turning to text-based communication to deal with business relationships. 

Texting in the time of Covid

Text-based communication is only going to become more important in the coming years. With the increase in concern over physical distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic, remote tools for communication have become a priority for customers and businesses alike. As rules and restrictions shift, many businesses are struggling to communicate ever-changing health and safety rules, shop hours, and customer limits. Your customers likely have many questions and concerns that you need to address on a daily basis. In this “new normal,” there will be an avalanche of customer communication that you’re going to need to address. This can lead to congestion and bottlenecks in communication where your customers are left waiting for answers.

Your customers can easily reach you through your existing phone number and at the same time, you can efficiently manage relationships, set reminders, and monitor team communication to ensure that everything is running smoothly. If needed, you can send out a quick text blast informing all your customers at the same time. Texting needn’t be only one-to-one. You can quickly add team members to your group chat to source accurate information. Your customers will walk away feeling that their needs are being addressed and they’re receiving the most relevant customer service.

If you’re facing numerous customer queries, now is a great time to explore the benefits of providing text-based communication to your customers. Texting will not only provide deeper levels of engagement and service, but it can alleviate the stress your team faces managing these critical communications.

Managing restrictions and regulations

Tobacco retailers face some difficult challenges when it comes to delivering marketing messaging. Problematic language can prevent your messages from being received. This is why it’s critical that you support your marketing efforts, including text-based messaging, with proactive strategy to ensure that all future communication is successful. Working with the right text-based communication vendor, you can better align your messaging to ensure that your texts don’t get flagged or blocked. 

Contact or text us at 757-818-8010 today to learn more about how text-based communication can work for your business. Together we can develop your strategy and provide you with a roadmap to delivering successful text-based communication to your customers.

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