Is Text Message Marketing Dead?
Some make a ping, others a ding. The sound of a text message is loud enough to draw the attention of every person in a room. It is one of billions of messages received on American cell phones every day. Five billion SMS messages were sent each day in 2015. No wonder we’re constantly buried in our phones!
Out of this communication came SMS marketing—a brand message sent to customers on personal devices, delivered almost instantly. Three seconds after a text is received, it’s read by 90% of people. Dynmark, a SMS software company, found an even more staggering final read rate for texts at 98%.
Which begs the questions, is text message marketing really dead? Absolutely not! Throughout this post, we’ll get into the nuts and bolts of sending branded messages to smartphones.
The Basics of Text Message Marketing
Text message, or short message service (SMS), marketing is permission-based text messaging to customers or anyone who signed up to receive a company’s communications.
As with all marketing, the messages customers receive are created by a brand. In 2015, text messaging had an above 90% usage for every age range surveyed by Pew. Younger generations like Gen Y and Gen X clocked in at 100% and 98% usage, while Baby Boomers said they text at a rate of 92% during the week.
So why doesn’t every business at least attempt to reach out via text?
Some do, while others aren’t sure if it would be worth the effort. As with any marketing channel, companies have to weigh the costs versus return-on-investment (ROI). For businesses with smaller budgets, any marketing effort is scrutinized.
But what if text message marketing is akin to one you’re already using? (Or we really hope you are).
Let’s consider text message and email marketing—the goal is to create and foster customer loyalty. Surprisingly, these two forms of marketing are nearly identical, except text message marketing is limited to 160 characters per message. Obviously with emails, you have a few more characters to work with. Both channels arrive to a customer’s personal devices, and if done well, both can give the company a human touch.
Going beyond the restriction on writing length, text message marketing can be repurposed as email. Maybe the weekend warriors in your audience appreciate reminders of special sales, according to your email segments. Others said in a survey they check their texts daily whereas emails can be a week or more old before they see them.
If your company data shows signs text message marketing can be effective, use it. Just don’t abuse it in the process. Texts are governed by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) along with CAN-SPAM Act in the United States. However, laws may vary in other countries.
The best rule of thumb we can recommend is if you wouldn’t want a particular text being sent to you from a company, your customers don’t either, especially if permission hasn’t been granted.
YouTube Marketer Kylie Smiley interviews Greg Hickman on “How To Use SMS Marketing For Small Business.”
Text Messaging Marketing in a Mobile World
You would think that if everyone is shifting to mobile marketing, the pool is awfully crowded. Surely there isn’t room for another person. Yet, the catch is, most small-and-medium size businesses don’t use text message marketing. Large businesses and brands have for years, leading it to be seen as a large business only marketing tactic.
But why let the large businesses rake in the leads and customers?
Tips and Tricks for Using SMS Marketing
- Remember, not every customer owns a smartphone.
Sure, they have a cell phone, but several times a year they’re asked by friends and family when they’re going to ditch the flip phone.
- Texts are received on any cell phone. Yes, even your Baby Boomer father’s flip phone. An appointment reminder or 20% off coupon will reach them. Knowing your customer segments weighs heavily into how you reach each customer.
- Sending a text or two is useful in nurturing leads and prospects.
You’ve already received their permission to contact them on a personal phone, don’t waste the opportunity with a one size fits all approach. Being limited to 160 characters isn’t an excuse to skimp on personalization nor hit send at 2 a.m.
- Learn how to embrace the automation.
UK marketing automation company Force24 found up to 30% more engagement when messages were sent with “real life” delivery times. But you don’t have to hire an intern to watch the clock and send out texts by hand at optimum times.
As with most things in marketing, automation is there with the winning assist. A quick Google of ‘text message marketing automation’ brings up eight page one results for automation software plus a handful of lists. Currently, some of the highest-ranked software for iOS and Android devices are:
Spending time researching how your company could use text message marketing and comparing automation software could be well worth your while.
Cell phones aren’t going away, even the ageless flip phone. And with that, neither is text message marketing. If your company has the data to prove SMS marketing can work, go ahead and give it a try!
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