Getting to the point quickly with an effective message is critical when marketing in the age of decreasing attention spans. Today’s targeted marketing is “on the go” as organizations try to reach their audience wherever they are. Speed of response and the ability to reach a large audience quickly is why text messaging (SMS) has grown in popularity and should be an important addition to your communication mix.
While text messaging has been around since 1992 (androidheadlines.com/2017), its adoption rate in marketing has been slow.
There are several reasons: 1) Heavy Regulations. The proper use of email has already come under scrutiny and spawned legal battles. Text messaging takes it to the next level as it is more personal and akin in many ways to Do Not Call type contact. Marketers have become apprehensive to pursue after reading governing rules and regulations. 2) Lack of Contact Information. After Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act was enacted in 1999, organizations struggled to collect name and land address to associate customers with purchases. Email address is now the more popular contact collected at Point of Sale (POS) with telephone number a distant third. Even if a phone number has been collected, it is difficult to know whether it is a land line or a mobile number. 3) Negative Option Doesn’t Work. While email addresses can be easily purchased thru append and a negative option permission pass, SMS requires an actual Opt In before you can communicate. Marketers need to incent customers and prospects to text to a short code in order to participate. As a result, most customer databases do not contain mobile phone numbers or the permission needed to contact.
The benefits of text messaging outweigh the concerns companies once had.
The number of people with smart phones has greatly increased. As the population of consumers with phones grows, so does the ability to reach a significant audience. Consumers will be conducting product research wherever they are. Mobile marketing means more than just text messaging. It also means modifying your website to be responsive and easy to view on any device.
It’s fast and easy to deploy. Targeted emails take an entire team to design creative and populations are often too small to warrant individual messages. SMS requires minimal resources to implement and a campaign may only be 1-2 sentences long.
More likely to be read. How often do you check your phone? When was the last time you ignored a text message? It’s easy to delete emails or throw out mail. There is no spam filter for text messaging… yet. In the time it takes for you to decide whether a text is “junk” or not, you have already read it. The average text message is responded to within 90 seconds vs. 90 minutes for email (connectmogul.com/2013/03/texting-statistics). All of this translates to quicker response to your campaigns.
Greater response potential. The audience for SMS is hand raisers who have elected to receive your text messages. They are receptive to your brand and receiving communication. They will be more likely to be “called to action”.
Get with the times. The younger generation does not really use email (or Facebook for that matter). It’s all about text, Instagram and Snapchat right now. As Generation Z customers grow in influence, you need to communicate with them in their preferred mode. If grandparents have figured out that they need to text their grandchildren in order to get them to respond, marketers need to go there too.
Key Considerations when Launching a Mobile Program
Allow the consumer to Opt Out. Even if a number was opted in to a program, there is still an obligation to make it known how one can stop receiving messages if they choose to opt out at a later date. For re-occurring messages, allow recipients to reply with the word “Stop”, in order for messages to cease.
Disclose, Disclose, Disclose. Be clear as to “what” and “how often” those who opt in will receive communication. Let them know if additional carrier costs are applicable. Direct them to the website for full terms and conditions.
With great power, comes great responsibility. Proper use of text messaging is important. Contact cadence is not the same as email. It is still considered a more personal form of communication, especially by the older groups, Gen X and Baby Boomers. While some companies feel free to email 1 or more times per day, that frequency could be too much for text. Start off slowly with special offers and messages that support your direct mail and email programs (i.e. check your mail box for our Fall Look-Book). It is important to comply with your own promised frequency terms (i.e. we will contact you weekly). Unlike email, a text message is more likely to cause the phone to send an audible alert. As a result, be respectful of the time of day that you send your messages.
With faster and greater open rates, text messaging is a very attractive mode of communication. Even if you have been reluctant to try it in the past, this may be the year to start with a modest program. The low cost of entry coupled with a high return on investment make SMS the next frontier in target marketing.