Short Messaging Service (SMS), or text messaging as it’s better known, can offer more than just a quick and easy way of communicating with friends and family. In the right hands, and properly applied, it can be a powerful marketing tool for smart business owners. It allows companies to interact more directly with their customer base, promoting products and services while building brand identity and consumer trust.
Unfortunately, too many small businesses fail to integrate text message marketing into their overall advertising campaigns. Which is a shame. Considering the sizable return on a minimal investment, the benefits of SMS marketing are hard to ignore. So let’s take a look at what text message marketing has to offer, and why it should be a part of your digital marketing strategy.
Higher Open Rates Compared to E-Mail
SMS has an impressive open rate, especially when compared with other digital marketing techniques. While e-mail has largely taken the place of direct mail promotions, the majority of marketing e-mails go unopened or languish in the user’s spam folder. Text messages, on the other hand, have a staggering 98% open rate with 90% if messages being read within 3 minutes of their arrival.
This is largely due to the unique relationship people have with their smartphones. Most people keep their mobile within arm’s reach, and when they hear that tell-tale buzz they’re quick to check their messages. Ultimately, that means your marketing message is being seen by it’s intended audience and not shuffled off into cyber obscurity.
Fast and Reliable Deliverability
One of the key advantages of digital marketing is speed. But here again SMS trumps both e-mail and social media campaigns. It takes less than 7 seconds for most mobile carriers to successfully pass a text message from sender to recipient. This ensures that your promotional message is being disseminated as quickly as possible to your subscribers.
Text message marketing also beats e-mail and social media promotions when it comes to reliably getting your message in front of the target audience. As we know, e-mails can easily end up in a spam folder, never to be seen by the intended recipient. Social media campaigns have similar obstacles to overcome. If your customers are cruising Facebook or Instagram at just the right time they may never see your posts and your company’s message goes unnoticed.
A More Personalized User Experience
Bulk messaging no longer works as a marketing strategy. Today’s consumers want to be seen as more than just a number, and they’re demanding a more personal and rewarding user experience from the companies with which they do business.
A large part of modern marketing is the collection and collation of customer data. This information helps to inform all of our promotional campaigns, allowing us to better tailor both digital and real world marketing to the needs and desires of individual customers.
SMS marketing is uniquely positioned to leverage the data that you’ve collected into more effective promotional campaigns. Text message marketing makes it easy to target specific groups of customers by demographic, personal interests and purchasing history. This helps to create the personalized experience that consumers crave. For example, a carefully targeted digital coupon, informed by customer data and sent via text message, directly engages with the customer at an immediate level. This kind of personalized interaction validates the customer while boosting sales and promoting brand loyalty.
Higher Conversion Rates
The success of any marketing strategy is ultimately determined by consumer conversion rates. After all, the purpose of every promotional campaign is to engage with customers and hopefully have them respond positively to your call-to-action.
SMS marketing has one of the highest conversion rates of any digital marketing technique. Studies have shown that 32% of text message recipients respond positively to SMS marketing techniques. The same studies have also shown that texted coupons have a 10 times higher redemption rate than traditional offers.
Easily Shareable Content
Word of mouth is still the most effective form of advertising. People inherently trust their friends and family more than they do businesses that are actively competing for their attention and their hard earned dollars. SMS allows people to easily share your marketing messages with friends and family, broadening the reach of your promotions to consumers who are not already a part of your customer base. That’s the type of growth potential that builds successful businesses.
Easy to Track and Analyze
For any marketing campaign to be truly effective you need to be able to accurately track and analyze its performance over time. Otherwise you have no real way to adjust and improve your campaign strategy so that it reaches its full potential.
SMS makes tracking and analyzing consumer data extremely easy. This is particularly beneficial for those smaller businesses who may have a reduced marketing staff on payroll. Most SMS platforms allow you to quickly and accurately track deliverability, open, and click-through rates. Critical metrics to pay special attention to include:
- Redemption and Click-Through Rates – measuring how many recipients followed through on your texted offer
- Opt-Out Rates – tracks how many text recipient choose to unsubscribe and opt-out of further SMS campaigns
- Response Rates – tracks how many recipients respond to specific inquiries and how many choose to ignore the request
- Return on Investment – indicates which marketing channels are bringing the best results and will benefit from further investment
SMS is Highly Cost Effective
When it comes to allocating money for marketing and advertising smaller businesses often have to contend with rather limited budgets. That’s one of the reasons SMS marketing is such a good fit for independent business owners. It doesn’t cost much to send a text message, and even with a growing list of subscribers SMS is more affordable than most other forms of advertising. Small business owners may struggle to find the advertising dollars to run a comprehensive schedule of social media ads or direct marketing ventures, while a well planned SMS campaign fits perfectly in their operating budget.
A Caveat in the Conclusion
There are a couple of points worth considering before you embark on a concentrated SMS marketing campaign. Take care to avoid sending out unsolicited text messages and remember that customers always have the right to opt out of the service at any time. SMS is a permission-based activity and it is governed by the rules and regulations of the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). These rules are designed to prevent spamming and protect personal privacy. While we can debate the efficacy of these guidelines, as well as their enforcement, the last thing any independent business owner needs is to be hit with a violation.
Having said all that, SMS is an extremely cost effective marketing tool for entrepreneurs looking to grow their business, promote customer interaction, and boost sales. It’s fast, responsive and affordable, making it a perfect fit for smaller businesses with limited advertising budgets. Properly utilized it can be a boon for your business, and can help you develop your brand and promote your products and services all while courting your customers’ trust and loyalty.