Some tips for mastering the art of texting with clients and prospects.
Success in insurance depends on strong communication between agents and clients. For many agents these days, that means checking their smartphone and sending texts to clients.
According to Pew Research, 77% of Americans now own a smartphone. Only underscoring our reliance on these devices, Deloitte researchers found that 40% of Americans check their smartphones within five minutes of waking up. Americans check their smartphones 47 times daily, which leads to a whopping total of 9 billion check-ins per day, Deloitte further calculates. It’s safe to assume that smartphone users are reading text messages as they scroll down their screens, so if insurance agents want to reach clients and prospects, they’d better start texting them.
It’s not just younger people who live on their smartphones, however. It’s true that most millennials prefer texting to calling, but older Americans have jumped on the texting bandwagon, too. Indeed, Pew Research estimates that 74% of Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 now own a smartphone, along with 42% of Americans who are 65 and older.
Those statistics indicate that your texting strategy should cover every age group. What’s more, it clearly works. According to Velocify, conversion rates were 40% higher when sending prospects a text than they were when not doing so. Nevertheless, there are some guidelines to creating a successful texting strategy.
Establish a Relationship Before You Start Texting
Don’t text a client or prospect before making initial contact via another channel with or obtaining consent from them. For one thing, texting is governed by federal regulations. In the insurance and financial services industry, communications between consumers and business are tightly regulated, with federal law mandating that consumers provide written permission before a text can be sent to them, as an article in PropertyCasualty360.com points out.
The article also notes that new communication software programs integrate compliance management so that agents and advisors can text without worry. For example, when Prudential installed the Hearsay Messaging platform for its advisors, it reported that clients responded to texts within 2.5 minutes on average, no client opted out, and no compliance violations were uncovered.
Regardless of regulations, establishing a relationship either through a phone call, email, referral, or other type of contact before hitting send is a good idea. Prospects are less likely to open a text from an unknown source. In doing its research, Velocify estimated the chances of contacting a lead via text dropped by 39% when the prospect hadn’t received a prior phone call.
Make Your Texts Brief and to the Point
Text messages should be concise and purposeful. Sending a message to confirm or set up an appointment, notify clients of a billing date, or update a client on the status of a claim work best. Your clients and prospects may keep to their smartphones 24/7, but they prefer to read short, to-the-point texts about their insurance needs. Remember, the acronym for text messages is SMS -- Short Message Service. Adhere to that rule.
Conveying sensitive or detailed material through a text message is not recommended. Save those missives for an email, phone call, or face-to-face meeting. You should also find out your client's preferences for the content, advises Lisa Woodley, VP of Customer Experience and FSI Business Consulting at NTT Data, a global IT service company, in PropertyCasualty360.com. “Let them define what is urgent and what types of texts they wish to receive from you. Never assume.”
When done properly, texting can turn prospects into long-standing clients. Following some simple guidelines will make that happen.