Blog/Beyond Texting

Now’s the Time for Your E-commerce Store to Create a Text-an-Expert Hotline

Don’t just talk at your audience. Give them a voice by setting up a Text-an-Expert Hotline.

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Most businesses still rely on 20th-century technology to communicate with 21st-century customers.

Online forms, email inquiries, and follow-up sales calls don’t provide the immediacy that modern consumers expect.

Then COVID happened. It’s transformed the way we interact in our personal and professional lives.

People can no longer wander into a local shoe store to try on a pair of sneakers or go to the drugstore to ask questions about the best skincare products.

It’s the main reason for the 450% surge in conversational commerce since the pandemic hit this past spring. (By conversational commerce, we mean calls, texts, and Facebook messages between customers and businesses.)

People have questions, and the brands that answer them are winning. So if conversations now lead to conversions, your e-commerce store needs to give customers a voice. 

It’s why there’s never been a better time to create a Text-an-Expert hotline and add it to your e-commerce text marketing strategy.

COVID Is Changing How People Buy

McKinsey wrote back in July that “the period of contagion, self-isolation, and economic uncertainty will change the way consumers behave—in some cases for years to come.”

COVID-19 has taken the trends that might have seen wider adoption over the next decade and compressed them into a period of months.

One area everyone is talking about is the dominance of online shopping. The first seven months of 2020 saw $434.5 billion in e-commerce spending, which is $93.9 billion ahead of January forecasts for the year.

As a result, in-person interaction has decreased, customer contact has gone through the roof, and retailers have had to reimagine their entire operations.

Despite all of this change, people still like the immediacy and connection of shopping in real time. 

Businesses need to pay attention to buyers’ and sellers’ fundamental need to connect, chat, and enjoy the social value that makes transactions fun.

That’s what a Text-an-Expert Hotline introduces into your customer experience. Next, we’ll take a look at some examples of them in practice.

Examples of Text-an-Expert Hotlines

There’s been a lot of debate around the accuracy of the modern marketing funnel. Back in 2014, the Harvard Business Review even declared it dead.

In that article, the authors conclude that you “need a model that informs marketers how to enable and empower, not just persuade and promote.”

This approach is at the essence of Text-an-Expert Hotlines like Equal Parts Text-a-Chef program.

It paired every Equal Parts customer with a cooking coach to help troubleshoot dishes and build their intuition in the kitchen.

It was a way for the brand to form a deep and personal connection with its customers. The team also discovered that their customers were more skilled cooks than they expected. 

Because of this insight, they built a one-stop-shop for home cooks with new recipes, tips, and techniques served up every week.

There are also pre-sales examples like the skincare brand Versed. The brand developed a special hotline to answer consumers’ questions about all things related to their beauty routines. 

It’s an excellent tactic that builds Versed’s credentials in the skincare space, providing value to its audience along the way. 

Even major brands like Clinique are now giving customers the ability to ask questions via SMS. 

How to Set Up a Text-an-Expert Hotline

If you want to create a Text-an-Expert hotline, the good news is that it’s easy to implement. You’re going to need a SimpleTexting account to follow the below steps. (You can sign up for a 14-day free trial and test out the process.)

1. Decide on Your Area of Expertise

The first step in setting up a hotline is deciding your area of expertise and its relation to your brand. If your reaction is “well duh” to this piece of advice, bear with me.

Let’s say you sell training gear to triathletes. You might set up a hotline where people can ask you questions about training programs. The problem is that your audience doesn’t have any questions because they’re experienced athletes. 

What they want is the ability to text in questions about their training gear.

Even if you think you know your customers inside out, you’ll want to spend time reading through forums, Quora, and Reddit threads related to your industry. 

2. Advertise Your Hotline

Once you’ve signed up for a SimpleTexting account, you get a complimentary toll free number. 

The next step is to advertise this number and your new Text-an-Expert Hotline. You might consider adding a section to your homepage like the emergency kit brand Judy does.

You could also add a Click-to-Text button to your website. 

It’s important that wherever you advertise your hotline that you clearly state your availability. For smaller DTC brands, it’s unrealistic that you’ll be able to respond 24/7. Here’s how Versed handles this. 

3. Set Up Your Away Message

With SimpleTexting, you can send an automated away message each time someone texts you. It’s a great way to let customers know when they text you outside of your hotline hours when they can expect to hear back from you.

4. Manage Incoming Questions From the SMS Inbox

Our SMS inbox lets you prioritize incoming texts, make notes and set up templates so that you never have to rewrite the same message twice. In this two-minute video, we cover the basics of how it works:

Turning Conversations Into Conversions

It’s easy to get a Text-an-Expert program up and running. The best part is that you’re collecting phone numbers to send SMS promotions to. With SMS conversion rates as high as 45%, it’s the most straightforward way to turn these conversations into conversions. 

If you still have other questions about setting up your own hotline, our team of experts would love to help. We’re available seven days a week. Text or call us at (866) 450-4185 or use the chat at the bottom of your screen.

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