For years, click-to-call buttons have been touted as the key to turning mobile searchers into paying customers. But as millennials grow to become one of the most potent demographics for businesses — spending a collective $600 billion each year in the U.S. — mobile marketers are noticing a shift in the way online searchers connect with businesses. It’s pretty simple, actually: Millennials just don’t like to make calls.
Seventy-five percent of millennials prefer to text versus call on their mobile phones, according to a survey by the mobile engagement platform OpenMarket, and 76% prefer to receive texts from businesses because they say texting is more convenient and less disruptive. Businesses that hope to connect with consumers are adopting click-to-text technology, which customers can use to ask questions about store hours or stock availability on their own terms.
Here are six examples of click-to-text tools that businesses can use.
1. Instaply: A white labeled text messaging platform
Instaply has developed a white label text messaging platform for brick-and-mortar merchants and call centers. Merchants are prompted to add Instaply’s iframe widget on their websites and text-enable their existing company phone numbers. Consumers can then click on the website widget to text message the business. Instaply gives merchants the option to setup auto messages, and they can generate insights about what consumers are looking for by tracking the messages they receive. They can also integrate Instaply’s “TaaS” (text-as-a-service) with their existing mobile apps.
2. Zipwhip: Sending and receiving texts from landlines
Zipwhip is a texting application for small businesses. Zipwhip lets merchants text enable their existing landline numbers, so they don’t have to setup separate phone numbers to receive texts or use their personal mobile phones to respond to customer queries. Incoming and outgoing texts are viewable from a cloud-based dashboard, and Zipwhip offers a number of advanced features, like automated replies and scheduled texts, to help manage those interactions. Businesses can also receive and respond to picture messages, and they can access conversation histories from any device.
3. Duda: Adding click-to-text buttons to any mobile site
Duda offers a DIY website builder for small businesses. One of the features that merchants can add to the mobile websites they build with DudaMobile is click-to-text. Merchants can add the button to any page on their websites. When the button is clicked, the visitor’s default SMS application opens with the business’ phone number listed. Duda gives merchants the ability to design their click-to-text buttons exactly how they like, however it’s up to merchants themselves to figure out how best to manage the influx of incoming text messages coming from mobile site visitors.
4. TXT-A-Restaurant: Enabling more interaction between businesses and customers
TXT-A-Restaurant is an ongoing experiment from the website-building platform DevHub, which allows local businesses to experiment with click-to-text technology and connect with customers in an organic way. Although it’s still in the earliest stages as an experiment, available to restaurants in the Seattle area, TXT-A-Restaurant could ultimately enable more interaction between local businesses and their customers. DevHub enables texting through a business’ own website, allowing people to text businesses without having to download any apps. The company can also provide businesses with data regarding how many people tried to text the business in a given day or week.
5. flok: Chatting with customers to collect valuable feedback
A loyalty and engagement platform for local businesses, flok has a built-in chat feature that merchants can use to communicate with customers through the mobile app. The auto-chat feature gives merchants a way to send messages to their customers, like “Thanks for coming in today!” and collect feedback about each visit. Customers can also use the feature on their own to ask questions like when the business is opening or what products they have in-stock. Customers and merchants can use flok’s mobile chat feature through their smartphones and tablets.
6. MoFuse: Conveniently connect with mobile visitors
Businesses that use MoFuse to create mobile versions of their websites can add click-to-SMS buttons to their sites. Instead of browsing on a mobile site to find the answers to their questions, online visitors can click the click-to-SMS button to quickly send a text message to a specified number in whichever texting app they choose. It’s up to the business to manage that number and respond to incoming text messages promptly. MoFuse’s click-to-SMS feature includes analytics and action tracking, as well.
Know of other texting tools for local businesses? Leave a description in the comments.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.