Adopting texting for business is an easy way to reach your audience and create strong relationships with them. Finding the right CRM with text messaging features to make it all happen, however, can be a little harder. How do you know what SMS features to look for?
In this blog post, we’ll help you get closer to finding the best CRM for texting to fit your needs. We’ll go over what to look for when weighing SMS CRM options, focusing on important features and functions that help your business get the most out of texting for business. We also provide an alternative (and highly flexible) option toward the end that allows you to simply add texting features to a CRM of your choice.
Evaluating a CRM with text messaging features and capabilities
You may be using a CRM right now that doesn’t have texting capabilities. Or maybe you’re already using CRM software with texting, but the features aren’t as advanced as you’d like them to be. This could even be your first CRM! Whatever the case, identify what you like and don’t like about your current setup based on your goals for texting with customers. With those in mind, determine whether the following features are available to you among the text CRM options you come across.
1. Using your existing phone number
It’s common for a text CRM to provide you with either a new phone number or an SMS short code to send texts. This means that customers will see an unfamiliar number when they receive texts from you. Having two numbers—one for texting and one for calling—is tedious for your customers and can confuse them.
For example, if you were to send texts from a different phone number, consider that customers may try to call back. If that number isn’t enabled for calls, your customer will hear a message that says something like, “Your call cannot be completed as dialed.” They’ll have to look for another phone number to reach you or they may just give up. You could be missing customer communications by not offering a single phone number to contact you.
Make the process seamless by choosing an SMS CRM that lets you text-enable your existing landline, toll-free or VoIP phone number. Customers can keep track of one phone number, and they’ll be able to receive texts from you on the same number they know to call.
2. Two-way texting
There’s another reason to choose an SMS CRM that allows you to use your existing phone number: two-way texting, also known as conversational texting. The alternative one-way messaging is an option among CRMs with text messaging, and it’s usually associated with short codes. With this option, however, customers can only receive texts from you without the ability to reply. This is common for programmatic texts, like alerts and reminders. The downside to this is that when a customer replies to your one-way text with a question, there’s no one on the other end to answer.
In your search, you’ll notice some CRMs do allow two-way texting, but many require you to use a different phone number than the one that your customer can call, which doesn’t offer a smooth experience as we mentioned.
Free e-book: The Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers
Customers can have a back-and-forth conversation when texting with friends and family (on the same number they can use to call them), and they expect the same option with business texting. According to a Zipwhip survey, three out of four customers are frustrated when they can’t reply to a business’s text message. To meet customer expectations, look for a CRM that lets you text-enable your existing phone number to allow for two-way text messaging.
3. Advanced features
Most CRM with text messaging options are equipped with only a few features, such as sending reminders or bulk messages. While these features are important, they’re only a slice of the texting-for-business features that could be available to you.
The features you’ll need will vary based on your business, but the following options should be considered.
- Auto-replies. An auto-reply text message ensures your customers always get a response. Assign a message to send outside of business hours, during lunch breaks or other times your team can’t respond immediately.
- Keywords. When paired with auto replies, keywords offer your business a seamless way to answer common questions, run marketing and promotional text campaigns and more. For example, the keyword JOIN could trigger an auto reply any time a customer texts the keyword to your text-enabled phone number.
- Templates. A text template houses a pre-written message to save time and convey consistent and clear messaging across all users. Templates can be used for scheduling appointment or payment confirmations, reminders and much more.
- Custom Fields. Templates and Custom Fields go hand in hand. Custom Fields are dynamic and will personalize text messages by automatically pulling a customer or user’s contact information, such as customer case number, product reference, etc.
- MMS. An MMS text enhances your messages with images. You can snap pictures of documents to verify information or add eye-catching graphics to a marketing message.
- Custom Signatures. A text message signature can be set to appear at the end of your messages without requiring you to type it out over and over again. Save time and let customers easily identify you.
Without robust options like these, you’re missing out on opportunities to build relationships with customers and streamline employee workflow.
4. A mobile app
Text CRM options don’t always come with a mobile app. If employees in your business are on the go, this feature is essential. For example, a mobile app would help a real estate agent reply to text messages from potential buyers while they’re out showing listings all day. A mobile app also allows users to separate business contacts from personal contacts on their phone.
Zipwhip: An alternative to a standard SMS CRM but with more flexibility
The reality is that most CRM with text messaging options don’t have many of the above features or capabilities in one package. You may come across a CRM that has solid SMS features, but it disappoints without a two-way texting option. Or you could find a CRM with two-way texting, but it falls short without the mobile app you need for on-the-go messaging.
Instead of settling for something that doesn’t tick off all the texting the boxes you want, a smart alternative is to use an SMS integration: Choose the CRM that works for your business and just add texting capabilities to it.
Visit the Zipwhip Marketplace to see other CRM partnerships.
If you don’t see your CRM on the list or want another way to add Zipwhip into your CRM workflow or line of business (LOB) app, you have a few other options.
- Zipwhip Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Edge Chromium. Text straight from your browser with extensions. When installed, a Z icon appears next to every 10-digit mobile number displayed on a webpage or web app (like Gmail). Just tap the Z to start a conversation and access texting features. Learn more about Zipwhip’s browser extensions.
- Zipwhip Embeddable texting widget. Embed a customizable, full-featured texting UI directly into your CRM or LOB app with a single line of code. The low-code widget brings the powerful texting features of our web and desktop apps into the end user’s workflow without disruptions. Learn more about the Zipwhip texting widget.
- Zapier integration with Zipwhip. Zapier is an online automation tool that connects your apps and services to one another. You can connect two or more apps to automate repetitive tasks without coding or relying on developers to build the integration. Learn more about Zipwhip’s integration with Zapier here.
As for sending high-volume text messages, consider adding an API (Application Programming Interface) to your CRM. You can send automated texts in addition to the two-way conversational messages that your customers want. An API can be used to send notifications, alerts, two-factor authentication, re-engagement messages and more. Learn about Zipwhip’s API here.
Ready to add texting features to your current CRM? Try it out for free with a Zipwhip trial.