Bots for Business, Conversational Marketing

How to Use SMS Chatbots for Customer Acquisition

SMS chatbots are the future of marketing directly to customers. These bots can help automate lead generation and customer acquisition.

By Hillary Black
December 17, 2019

SMS chatbots are quickly becoming the best new way to market to customers. You may be familiar with the automated SMS coupons you get from stores like Bed Bath & Beyond or hair salon appointment-booking confirmations.

It makes sense. Customers love to text, and text-enabling your business unlocks one of the most valuable things in your customers’ daily lives—their text message inbox. These stats illustrate only a few of the many reasons why you should add SMS to your customer-acquisition strategy.

SMS chatbots

Unlock customer acquisition with conversation

What we haven’t seen is conversational experiences on SMS, more than Stop or Yes. Creating a conversational bot on SMS, an experience that delivers value (just like bots currently do on Facebook and websites), is much more powerful. SMS chatbots can be more than notifications and coupons to your existing customers, and far more than just a link to your website. You could be qualifying new leads with SMS chatbots, too.

The strategy of customer acquisition is simple. You enable an SMS bot on your phone number. Then a potential client clicks on an ad (more about those later) or texts you from a button on your website, social media, business card, billboard, etc., and they’re placed into a conversation with your bot. By the end of that conversation, your bot should collect the information you need to turn this lead into a client.

SMS chatbots acquisition

Here's how the process works:

1. A lead initiates a conversation with your bot organically or through an ad.
2. The lead answers a series of qualifying questions through an automated conversation.
3. The lead finds out quickly if they qualify for your services, right in the conversation.
4. Once they become a qualified lead, you are notified to contact them and take the next steps.

This formula is a quick and easy way to supercharge your acquisition efforts. Instead of spending your time asking the same qualifying questions over and over, your bot will automate the process. Think of it as a member of your team that takes the tasks of educating, qualifying, and following up off of your plate. Now let’s dive deeper into the best ways to drive traffic to your chatbot.

How to advertise an SMS chatbot

With this process in mind, let’s focus on how to drive traffic to your SMS bot. There are many ways to advertise, and even organic ways that you can drive traffic—some that you may already be doing to share your business phone number.

Here are 3 key ways to drive traffic to your SMS chatbot SMS chatbot

1. Social media
Adding a text call to action on any of your paid social ads, local subreddits, and Facebook, for example, is a great way to drive traffic. You can also add your phone number or short code to the actual ad creative, so users could click the ad or just type the number into your phone—making your ad twice as powerful! There are also organic ways to drive texts, such as (similar to the previous example) you can add a Text button to your Instagram bio.

Lead generation billboard

2. Traditional media
In the past, it’s been difficult to measure the awareness of traditional media (like billboards, commercials, or radio), but with SMS short codes, you can add attribution to your ads with keywords, like WOW, JOE, or NYC. You can also add QR codes to direct mailers, print ads, and signage that will automatically populate your phone number and suggested text message in a user’s phone. Traditional media is often less expensive for more impressions, too, so you’re in luck if you can get creative here!

Google chatbot

3. Google Ads message extensions
Message extensions, like all other ad extensions, are eligible to show alongside your existing Google Ads, generally making them larger and more feature-rich, while increasing click-through rate (CTR).

As you can see from the previous image, message extensions give users the opportunity to click to text your SMS number directly from the ad. You can even include a pre-written text message to make starting that conversion easier for mobile users in a hurry. Read more about how to create a message extension ad.

*Bonus* Add “call OR text” anywhere your phone number appears! It’s simple to take advantage of any digital or traditional type of advertising and to engage in a text conversation with potential customers on channels you’re already using. A business card, your email signature—even a TV commercial—the opportunities to text-enable your business and start qualifying leads over SMS are endless.