The ability to send payment requests via text is growing in popularity. Savvy businesses are adding this payment method to their options as a way to appeal to a broader base of customers or clients.
But to take advantage of the ability to send text payments, you need to learn more about them. Take a closer look at how to set up a text-to-pay message program, as well as how it has become more prevalent in recent years. Then, learn how you can increase sales with text-to-pay and know the pros and cons to be aware of before you implement it.
What is text-to-pay?
As the name implies, text-to-pay lets your customers pay you via a text message. It is also sometimes called SMS payments.
With this method, you simply send customers a text message with a short link that leads them to an online page to pay their invoice. From there, they just enter their credit card information, or since they’re on their phones, use a mobile wallet like Apple pay or Google Pay, or even enter in their bank information for direct withdrawal. They can send you money in seconds.
One of the great things about using text messages to accept payment is that you aren’t limited in terms of payment methods. The best platforms will let customers pay with various methods, including:
This makes it a highly versatile method of paperless billing. It also means that most people will easily find a method they prefer. This helps you get paid on the correct date.
Text-to-pay in recent years
With the pandemic in the last few years, there has been a rise in contactless payment methods. Most families want to go out of their way to stay safe, so they prefer contactless payments. The lack of contact required is part of the reason for the recent rise in the popularity of text-to-pay.
Even before the pandemic, cash was declining in popularity. Contactless and NFC payment methods were becoming more popular, and few people would carry cash. Even the act of swiping a card had started to seem like a hassle to some younger customers. Paying over text embraces this trend, so let’s jump into how you can leverage text-to-pay to boost sales for your business.
A step-by-step guide to increasing sales with text-to-pay
The good news is that it is incredibly straightforward to get started with text-to-pay and start boosting your sales.
Step 1 – Make sure your business is textable
Start by ensuring that your business number can send and receive texts. You can text-enable a landline, but this will not automatically be the case. A service like Podium can set up text messaging from your landline for you and let you control the entire process via your computer or another device.
It is wise to set up your voice line for text messaging instead of getting a new number as it will allow customers to call or text you at one number instead of multiple. One of the benefits of this is that customers can save your number in their phones for future use.
Step 2 – Train employees to answer questions and make sales over text
Once you make your business capable of sending and receiving texts, start to make this a standard method of interacting with your clients. This will involve ensuring your employees are trained to answer questions and make sales over text.
This will help move at least part of your sales funnel to texts and make text-to-pay a natural extension.
Make sure also to train your employees to use your texting software. With the right service, the training will be minimal.
Step 3 – Offer alternative payment options
Before you set up text payment, make sure that you can accept several payment types via the link you send your customers. So, consider the payment methods your clients will want to use, such as direct deposit, ACH, e-check, Apple Pay, Google Pay, credit cards, debit cards, and more.
Ideally, you will get support for at least some of these before setting up text-to-pay. That will give your users more options without causing issues with your payment system.
Step 4 – Set up text-to-pay
Once you have at least one payment method that you can accept, you can go ahead and set up your text payments. With the right software, this will be intuitive and stress-free.
With some creativity, you can even set up this system to offer customers the option of making advance payments via text messaging.
Step 5 – Start texting customers for payment
All that is left to do is start text messaging customers for payment. Ideally, you will want to let customers know about this option before sending them the first text. For example, consider including a text message in your SMS marketing campaign announcing the new payment option. Don’t forget to include details about this method.
When sending an SMS payment, one best practice is to set expectations with your customers. Let them know how and when they will be getting the payment request, so they know to look out for it.
Sometimes customers just forget to pay an invoice. Following up via text is less awkward and more convenient than a phone call, and customers appreciate a friendly reminder before you begin to escalate an unpaid invoice.
The impact of text-to-pay
While text-to-pay makes sense for most businesses, you should be aware of both the pros and cons before you start offering it. As you will notice, there are many more benefits than disadvantages, both for your customers and your company.
Convenience for customers means getting paid for your business
Text-to-pay adds a high level of convenience to your customers. They can pay their invoice by choosing the method they prefer and get the payment link sent right to the phone, so they don’t have to look for it.
This is also a great way to maximize the chances of your business getting paid. After all, text messages have a 98% open rate.
Business customers and ordinary people alike prefer to communicate with companies via text.
This is also an incredibly efficient method of receiving monthly payments and one-time payments. After all, your customers likely have their phones on them most of the day, if not the entire day. From there, convenience means that they can pay in seconds or minutes instead of putting it off and forgetting. This also means that you get paid faster and that your customers are less likely to accumulate late fees.
Even one more benefit is to be able to scale a collections program without the costly overhead of mailing thousands of letters and making hundreds of phone calls. You could potentially set up your business to regularly go through and ask for past-due payments via text at varying degrees of escalation. You may even consider sending bulk payment requests for past-due collections.
Improved customer journey
Customers don’t have to wait in line for service or even visit your physical location. This benefits them by preventing the need to drive anywhere and interact with someone. They also won’t have to wait in a digital line on the phone.
Paying via text message will improve your customers’ experience. This is important for retaining customers, boosting customer loyalty, and getting positive reviews. Plus, when you have their number and are texting, you could potentially send them a review invite and a text receipt, keeping that line of communication open for other conversations and future marketing campaigns if they’ve subscribed to your marketing.
It reduces concerns about online fraud, as customers get a message from your official number and go to an official site with encryption. That makes most families and individuals feel more secure about entering their bank account information.
Meanwhile, you have to worry less about fraudulent credit card purchases or counterfeit cash with text payments.
Time is money
This type of payment will also reduce the time that your business has to spend manually processing payments. Everything occurs digitally, from the payment reminders to the link to pay. Your company also saves time by not having to call repeatedly, text, or email customers to remind them to pay, as they are more likely to pay with the first message.
Most people have unlimited talk and text plans, so sending text messages will not cost your customers anything. Similarly, many people have unlimited data, so they won’t have to pay to connect to the internet and pay from their bank account.
Stand out from the crowd
Especially for local businesses, accepting payment over text also helps you stand out from the competition. It is rare enough that businesses of any size accept payments like this, let alone small, local businesses.
The best platforms offer the ability to brand your invoices, helping reduce online security concerns and boost your brand identity.
Thanks to paperless billing, you reduce your impact on the planet and the costs associated with printed invoices.
Do more with a payment platform
The best service platforms let you accept multiple types of payment over text. Some even let you limit the payment methods for purchases. For example, maybe you only want to accept credit cards for some services or for loyal customers.
The best platforms will export to your accounting software and let you easily view the status of payments.
Card-not-present transactions may have a higher rate. This is important as your payment processor account will not count text pay as a card-present transaction when the client pays with a credit card.
There may be additional fees for paying by text. However, this may be worth it for your company if it increases your cash flow and the timeliness of your customers’ payments. Its ability to improve the customer experience can also make it worth it in terms of loyalty and lifetime customer value.
Smartphone and internet required
This method will only work with a capable device, so your customers must have a smartphone and an internet connection to pay via text. Again, setting expectations is crucial to find out if your customer doesn’t have a smartphone before sending the payment request. Requesting payments via your customer’s preferred method will increase the likelihood of getting paid and improve their experience.
The bottom line is that your business would be smart to start accepting text payments. You can do just that with a free trial of Podium. As a bonus, the free trial will also help you with SMS marketing, webchat, reviews, and more. You will soon notice customers paying on-time more frequently and reduced administrative costs associated with collecting payments.