Project Reach

Project Reach Episode 5: Outreach – Boosting business with broadcast texting

We’re always working on features to help busy entrepreneurs save time and earn more money. So far in our Project Reach journey, we’ve shared with you our plans for a feature called the Action Panel. Now, we’re excited to share plans for another feature set that’s coming soon. We’re calling it Outreach, which is designed to make business communications even more automated.

One Outreach feature we’re testing is Broadcast, a messaging tool that makes it easy to send marketing texts, appointment reminders, and business info to separate contacts at once. Broadcast and other Outreach features will eventually be part of a premium tier of service called Sideline Pro.

We’ve been listening to the feedback from some early beta testers to help us iterate and build a truly useful tool. If you are an iOS user and are interested in testing out Outreach, sign up to join the beta.

“The Outreach marketing was great. The customers that love our services came in because they were excited about the text they got from me.” — Becca, Sideline customer

All about Outreach

With Sideline, one of our goals has always been to help people streamline their business communications and generate more business. Our popular Auto-Reply feature was the first automation feature we built to help do that. Users who’ve turned on Auto-Reply close three times more business with new customers than they did before turning it on.

We wanted to do even more to help small business owners easily re-engage their existing customers. We know that existing clients convert 60% – 70% better compared to new prospects, according to Marketing Metrics.  And boosting retention by 5% can increase profits by 75%, according to Bain and Company. However, we know most small businesses don’t have the time to invest in regularly re-engaging their existing users.

Existing clients convert 60% – 70% better compared to new prospects.— Marketing Metrics

While there are plenty of complicated and expensive CRM tools designed for larger companies, small businesses are really underserved in this area, especially on-the-go entrepreneurs who do most of their work from their phones.

Outreach fills this gap for small business marketing, turning your phone into a marketing platform. With the Outreach feature set, it will be quick and easy to reach out to all your customers on a more regular basis to re-engage them and generate more business.

All about Broadcast

One of the Outreach tools we’re testing first is Broadcast. With Broadcast, you will be able to:

  • Send broadcast-style text messages
    Contact a large number of people without the use of group text, allowing you to engage your existing customers on a more regular basis with ease.
  • Create a branded experience
    Upload your logo to send as a part of your Broadcast messages. You’ll look more professional and people will always know who’s contacting them.

While broadcast-style text messaging does exist, it’s also typically only been available to large businesses. Broadcast in Sideline makes it available to anyone with access to the Sideline app.

Customer feedback

As with the Action Panel, we’ve been enlisting the help of some current Sideline users as we develop Outreach. An early testing group was given a prototype version of the Outreach tools to try out as a part of their day-to-day routine.

One of the users who helped us with the testing was Becca, the owner of Body Bronzing by Becca in Savannah, Georgia. She has been using Sideline to help manage customer appointments and communications for nearly two years. One of her favorite things about Sideline is being able to communicate with customers in a way that they prefer: via text message. Becca was excited to participate in testing a new feature that would expand the ways she could use texting to engage with customers.

“The marketing feature worked better than I had hoped. It definitely reminded customers that our business was here.”— Becca, Sideline customer

The results

Becca and other testers used Outreach in a number of interesting and unique ways, including:

  • Sending requests for reviews or referrals
    Testers asked customers to share some of their experiences with their business with others.
  • Sending valuable information about their business
    Testers sent messages about upcoming events, specials, sales, tips specific to their industry, and any other information customers might find valuable.
  • Sending appointment reminders
    Testers sent messages to everyone who had an appointment coming up.
  • Sending follow-up messages
    Testers sent thank you messages with business info like store location, hours, or website, to everyone they had conversations or transactions with that day, week, or month.
  • Sending re-engagement messages
    Testers sent texts to check-in with customers they hadn’t interacted with in a while, with reminders to get in touch if they need services or products again.

The feedback about the Outreach prototype experience from real Sideline users was overwhelmingly positive. Users liked how sending text messages to their customers has a more personal feel. Testers said it felt more like they were starting a conversation with their customers, rather than sending marketing messages that might come across as spam.

When those businesses’ existing customers received Outreach messages, on average, 21% of them responded, leading to an increase in business generated. We’re excited for you to try Outreach for your business!

Follow the Project Reach journey on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to find out when new features are added to the beta and are available to try out.

About the Sideline Pro Beta

We hope you’ll follow along throughout our Project Reach development journey or even contribute your thoughts, ideas, and help us build a product that solves your problems. What’s in it for you? We predict you’ll get more new and repeat customers. With more customers, we predict you’ll be more successful. Sign up below to help prove these theories right.
The beta version of these new tools will only be available on iOS initially. But don’t worry Android users, we’re working on developing this for you also and we’ll keep you updated on our progress. The new features will be free to test out while they are still in beta. Once we’ve perfected the product, we will offer them as a premium tier of service within the Sideline app, at which point you’ll be asked if you would like to choose to upgrade to keep using the new features.

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