Switchbird Solves Lead Nurturing & Client Communication for Agencies that Serve Home Services Clients, Professional Services Clients, Health Care Clients, etc.

Many home service business owners know that one hiccup in their day is handling lead volume and nurturing those leads into appointments and ongoing customers. If you're an agency that has or specializes in home services, retail, professional services, health care clients, etc. you're familiar with this conundrum. Is your time better spent on doing the work your business gets paid for or sales calls? How can you cope when you don't have full-time office staff to help you manage your lead volume? The team at Switchbird has moved towards solving those problems by creating a lead Capture & nurturing "switchboard" for 2020 and beyond.

What is Switchbird?

Switchbird is the text messaging platform for agencies and brands that powers business texting done right.

Their features are tightly focused on the revenue opportunities for businesses who embrace texting with leads and customers:
  • To never lose another lead or customer to a leaky funnel
  • To build a compliant SMS contact list on autopilot
  • To engage, re-market and convert contacts via text
While Switchbird is a full-featured texting platform (i.e. we do broadcast messages, scheduled messages, etc.) they focus a lot on inbound texts: capturing leads, handling contacts with conditional logic and keyword-specific automation, and converting voice callers and website visitors to opted-in text conversations.

Here you can see the dashboard easy to use dashboard setup to manage leads and conversations:

switchbird-screen1-inbox.png


Their platform integrates with partners such as Call Tracking Metrics, Zapier, and CallRail - and helps business owners create a compliant contact list. They even have the capability to help you request and accept payment via text messaging - creating a zero contact payment system that simplifies collections and employee/client interaction.

switchbird-screen4-payments.png

Their plans start at just $14 a month, but they offer a free trial with no credit card required - so you can try it out with just some time investment

If you're interested in trying Switchbird out - drop them a line at https://www.switchbird.com/!

This has been another installment in the Local Search Forum promoted post series.

switchbird-screen5-reporting.png
 

Jon Hall

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Thanks for the post, @CarrieHill! As the founder and one of the developers of Switchbird, I thought I'd jump in here and follow this thread.

I'm very curious if the Local Search Forum community has any thoughts. This group helped us launch and evolve GradeUs back in 2013.

I know business texting isn't about local search per se. But for us, it is about ensuring that our clients capture and convert all those leads that come from ranking well ;-)
 

JoyHawkins

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Hey Jon,

I'd love to know if you have any thoughts around the frequency of texts. I think this is where some SMBs are getting it wrong. Recently, I subscribed to a retail store near me but they were texting me multiple times a week about every sale they were having - which was a bit too much for me considering I only really go to that store a few times a year.
 

Jon Hall

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Thanks @JoyHawkins!

OMG yes! A familiar-sounding story and one of the reasons text marketing gets a bad rap. Moreover, your anecdote is exactly why we jumped into the space and focused Switchbird on *inbound* and *transactional* text messaging, not traditional text marketing.

Why? As marketers, we've spent too long comparing text messaging to other channels: "Near 100% of text messages are opened or seen." "90% of messages are read within 3 minutes of receipt." Etc. All that may be true, but text messaging is nothing like email or social. If I blast out mass text messages that are relevant to only a fraction of my audience, my "marketing" will soon have the opposite effect and I'll be seen as spammy and annoying. And I struggle enough as it is ;)

So, to answer your question on frequency, I'd point to a few "rules" that we champion at Switchbird:

1. First, methaphor-wise, let's use business texting to "build stickier funnels" rather than "cast wider nets". What I mean is: Businesses absolutely *do not* need to send mass texts to generate a ton of value from embracing business texting. If leads and customers can text your business 24/7 and get a reply with helpful info--and they easily *can* given a bit of automation--you're capturing their most valuable information upfront and engaging them before they move on to a competitor.

2. Then, opening up your use of business texting beyond just lead capture to more transactional stuff--sales, payments, referrals, etc.--can be a win-win for both your business and your customers. Before anyone rolls their eyes at the thought of inviting customers to text your business, remember that with the right tools, those conversations are managed in a dashboard that's shared with your team and jacked up with templates, automations, scheduling features, etc. that let you deliver efficient and repeatable sales and service success via text.

3. Finally, when it comes to broadcast messaging, segmenting your list is key. Adapting the old adage, we like to say, "If you don't have something relevant to text, don't text anything at all." But "relevancy" is, er, relative. So, with Switchbird we allow you to tag contacts with ad hoc labels and traits which you can then use segment your list when sending a broadcast. If we know that you last visited us 6 months ago or we know your birthday or we know that you've bought mostly cashmere from us in the past, we can text you *only* when there is a compelling match between *you* and some promotion we're running, which is going to be way less than "multiple times a week". Probably not more than 1x per month, and never more than 2x per month, if that much. (Again, I'll be deep-diving into some of the stats on this in a longer piece.)

Anyway, I hope this sheds some light. I suppose I could've offered the TL;DR version: "Probably not more than 1x per month, and never more than 2x per month, if that much." Ironically for a someone who's big on text, I have trouble being brief!

Jon
 

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@Jon Hall do you have any more literature on your HIPAA compliance? Do you sign a BAA? I serve several clients in the mental health field. Thank you!
 

Jon Hall

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Hey @brentstutzman, thanks for asking! Yes, absolutely. HIPAA compliance--and indeed, privacy/security in general--has been a big focus for us since Day 1 because we're handling direct, sometimes personal messaging.

And interestingly, this is an area of advantage over "big tech" products like Google Messaging or Facebook Messenger: consumers and businesses alike increasingly view *those* products as less private and less trustworthy than text. And good luck getting them to sign a BAA! :)

We do execute BAAs either as the "business associate" ourselves (e.g. if we are working directly with a covered entity, such as a large multi-location healthcare provider) or more commonly as a "subcontractor to a business associate" (e.g. if our relationship is with an agency or consultant whose clients are covered entities).

Either way, our responsibilities are largely the same. Switchbird encrypts all of the message content and contact information that passes through the system both in transit and at rest. All data stored in the application is secured under strict user access rules, and further protected by Switchbird's industry-leading privacy measures, including masking any personally identifiable information even in app notifications. These and other technical and non-technical measures (policies, employee training, etc.) allow us to satisfy HIPAA.

The one caveat is that, because of current limitations with Twilio, our telephony provider, you must disable MMS (picture messages) on inboxes intended to be used in HIPAA-compliant workflows. This ensures against any inadvertent exposure of the MMS image data. Disabling MMS is a simple toggle in the dashboard that we put in place for exactly this purpose 💪

Does this help?
 

Jon Hall

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And sorry we're admittedly a little light on "literature" etc. on our website. We're a small team of mostly software developers. But as Han Solo said of the Millennium Falcon, we've "got it where it counts" ;)
 

brentstutzman

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Hey @brentstutzman, thanks for asking! Yes, absolutely. HIPAA compliance--and indeed, privacy/security in general--has been a big focus for us since Day 1 because we're handling direct, sometimes personal messaging.

And interestingly, this is an area of advantage over "big tech" products like Google Messaging or Facebook Messenger: consumers and businesses alike increasingly view *those* products as less private and less trustworthy than text. And good luck getting them to sign a BAA! :)

We do execute BAAs either as the "business associate" ourselves (e.g. if we are working directly with a covered entity, such as a large multi-location healthcare provider) or more commonly as a "subcontractor to a business associate" (e.g. if our relationship is with an agency or consultant whose clients are covered entities).

Either way, our responsibilities are largely the same. Switchbird encrypts all of the message content and contact information that passes through the system both in transit and at rest. All data stored in the application is secured under strict user access rules, and further protected by Switchbird's industry-leading privacy measures, including masking any personally identifiable information even in app notifications. These and other technical and non-technical measures (policies, employee training, etc.) allow us to satisfy HIPAA.

The one caveat is that, because of current limitations with Twilio, our telephony provider, you must disable MMS (picture messages) on inboxes intended to be used in HIPAA-compliant workflows. This ensures against any inadvertent exposure of the MMS image data. Disabling MMS is a simple toggle in the dashboard that we put in place for exactly this purpose 💪

Does this help?
Very helpful @Jon Hall Thank you for taking the time to respond!
 

Jon Hall

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@JoyHawkins per your comments above, check this out: I just came across an interesting resource from Tatango, one of the mature players in traditional SMS marketing for big brands. It's their SMS Archives!

Basically they're keeping a running archive of all the "best" brands' (their clients?) text marketing campaigns. Some of these are hard to stomach: Dress Barn sends a message every 1.5 days?! That's a lot of shopping 🤮

Two things I'd like to suggest:
  1. Broadcast messaging has its place, but this ^^ is not at all what we're talking about or supporting at Switchbird.
  2. If as a consumer you find yourself on annoying brand's SMS list, see if they're maybe archived above and just get your promo codes there?!
 

Jon Hall

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For the record, here's an example of the kind of *real* problem-solving and value-creation small businesses are doing with text:

Problem: A local construction company receives a steady trickle of calls from new leads and referrals thanks to decent rankings and great service. But Jeff, the owner, is on the job site everyday and often unable to pickup the phone. Moreover, he wants to focus the business on bigger-ticket, higher-margin projects and not waste his time working up estimates for small or break-even jobs.

Solution: We setup Switchbird to automatically text new callers with an opt-in and a personalized note from owner Jeff. Accurate lead data is captured and confirmed with a proprietary reverse phone lookup and a few short, automated questions.

We use a few additional questions to verify the lead's interest in the types of projects Jeff wants to bid on. Based on their response, we use the opportunity to share a video walk-through of Jeff's recent work on just the type of project they're interested in, and provide a link to his calendar to schedule a site visit.

Outcomes:
  • The company is now much more responsive to new inbound inquiries
  • The owner is relieved of the burden of triaging every new call
  • The process for qualifying and estimating new projects is streamlined
  • Leads are engaged right away with relevant, high-converting sales material
acme-construction-32d3b2b03d0ae30dd8e5128f7dfef9e8.gif


This use case and some other examples here posted: Lead Capture Examples and Use Cases
 
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