As we move out of 2020 and into 2021, one of our favourite marketing tools has begun to see a bit of a resurgence – SMS marketing. In the age of social distancing and virtual connection, we’re all now more than ever glued to our smartphones.
According to a 2018 statistic, SMS messages (or text messages, as they are more commonly called) have a global open rate of 95%.
95%! That rate blows any other form of direct-to-consumer marketing, including email newsletters, social media etc., out of the water entirely.
So, why did SMS fall off the digital marketing radar for a while, and why is it now back stronger than ever? In this article, we’ll be discussing the benefits and drawbacks of SMS marketing for your business.
This article will cover:
A company email newsletter can give your brand a boost and help cultivate meaningful connections. Learn how some businesses have implemented this successfully in “5 Company Email Newsletter Examples That Inspire and Motivate.”
What is SMS Marketing?
SMS marketing, or text message marketing, is a strategy that utilizes direct to consumer text messages to communicate with customers or clients. This marketing technique can be very successful if your messages are optimized for mobile and you have the infrastructure to ensure the messages reach your consumer’s inbox.
Just like emails, text messages can end up undelivered as spam. In many ways, SMS marketing follows its own set of digital marketing rules, making it an investment on behalf of your brand to learn how to leverage this tool for your gain effectively.
The value of SMS marketing as a digital marketing tool is the personalized element of the information you are sharing. For the consumer, SMS marketing can be extremely valuable, offering a personalized “inside track” to exclusive offers and sales.
The options for brands are endless, and convenience for the consumer should always be top of mind.
What are the Benefits?
SMS marketing is a powerful tool that is unique in its versatility and multifaceted application.
In this way, it allows you to establish a clear line of communication between you and your business’s target audience by streamlining the process and sending any company updates and special offers, deals, or promotions, directly to them.
As such, there are multiple benefits for utilizing SMS marketing, including:
It is a Direct Channel to Your Audience
Traditional digital marketing efforts like email marketing and social media advertising have a far less effective engagement rate than SMS marketing. Granted, SMS marketing requires some additional front-end leg work to convince your consumers to “opt-in” to see your text message alerts.
However, once they are subscribed, SMS marketing is by far the most direct channel to your audience with a highly successful (and immediate) open rate.
You Can Build a More Engaged Database More Easily
As we mentioned above, one of the primary benefits of SMS marketing is the direct ROI associated with this form of direct to consumer marketing. Emails can sit unread for days (or are deleted without ever opening), social media is easy to scroll by, and phone calls can be ignored.
However, the open and engagement rates for SMS messages continue to rise. For many of us, text messages are one notification on our phone we can’t seem to ignore, with many brands having successfully leveraged this consumer psychology to ensure their brand is front and center in their audience’s inbox.
This technique allows them to share news, exclusive sweepstakes or sales, and drive traffic to their stores or eCommerce website.
It Integrates Well with Other Marketing Efforts
Another excellent advantage of SMS marketing is the ease with which it can be added to existing and future marketing strategies. SMS marketing, although practical and useful, often doesn’t stand up well on its own and provides the best results when combined with other forms of marketing.
Think of SMS marketing as an extension of your existing omnichannel marketing strategy, albeit an extension that deserves thought and consideration in its own right.
By adjusting your marketing tactics to fit the mobile-friendly version of SMS marketing, you’ll be able to capitalize on consumer interest on all fronts.
Omnichannel marketing targets customers across multiple different sales channels. Find out why this comprehensive digital marketing approach is essential in “Omnichannel Marketing and the Benefits for Business”
It Comes with Thorough Analytics to Let You Know if You’re on the Right Track
Another way that SMS marketing adds value is through its extensive analytics and data reporting. Due to its highly regulated nature and the need to protect privacy, analytics on SMS marketing is very thorough and often incredibly detailed.
With this insight, brands are able to adapt their SMS marketing strategies to ensure they are hitting the mark when it comes to texting their consumers. As well, because of the opt-in requirements of SMS marketing, you are able to track who is seeing your SMS content, how they are engaging with this content and how it is driving sales and or engagement.
In many ways, the ROI on SMS marketing is very easy to calculate compared to other digital marketing forms.
What are Some of the Drawbacks of SMS Marketing?
Like with most other marketing activities and forms, SMS marketing inherently perfect. For the sake of transparency, there are some potential negatives for harnessing this digital marketing approach, including:
It Can Very Easily Become Spammy
As with many things, too much of a good thing can spoil it. Too many SMS messages to your audience and you will be labelled spammy rather than engaging. For many consumers, tolerance for more intrusive forms of marketing like SMS marketing is at a different threshold than say advertising they see on social media.
When developing any SMS marketing campaign, this shift in expectations should be kept top of mind for business owners and digital marketing specialists.
Simply put, it’s an entirely different ball game. As part of these different rules, SMS marketing is best used sparingly and with a very direct purpose. Have a massive sale you want to share? SMS marketing is a great option to drive sales and boost traffic online and in-store.
Want to share insights into your brand? SMS is probably not your best option. Without a direct call to action or specific offering, text messages can appear spammy and, in some states or countries, can even be breaking the law.
There are Legislations You Must Follow
In almost every country and state, there are specific legislation and regulations that SMS marketing must abide by. As the originator of any sort of SMS marketing, it is your job to thoroughly research and understand these rules before embarking on any sort of SMS campaign.
Failure to do so can result in hefty fines and even criminal charges. The primary rule to remember with SMS marketing is that no matter where you live, it is neither legal or ethical to send unsolicited text messages to individuals without their consent.
Without the option for folks to opt-in or opt-out of your message, it is intrusive to individual privacy to send SMS marketing messages.
Consumers Must “Opt-In” and Continue to Engage
Another potential drawback of SMS marketing is the need for consumers to “opt-in” to your message. This factor will require more strategic engagement on your part to entice a consumer that opting into text messages is to their benefit. The opt-in process is relatively simple, and most consumers have become adept at recognizing an opt-in text message when they see one.
There are two basic components of an opt-in text message: the shortcode and the keyword. An example would be: “Text ICE CREAM to 99999 to receive our weekly list of flavours!” ICE CREAM would be the keyword, and 99999 would be the shortcode. Both are vital in any form of opt-in SMS marketing message.
Once customers have opted in, they can engage with your brand directly by either clicking the links you provide or using sub-keywords to receive additional automated messages. For example, say your consumer wants to know the hours of your business. They could text your short the sub keyword HOURS to receive an automated text message about your store’s hours.
In order to be compliant with federal and state legislation, each SMS marketing message must come with an opt-out option. That way, an individual can decide at any point that they no longer want to receive your automated text messages. This can be intimidating for brands. One misstep in your SMS marketing strategy, and you could potentially lose a large number of subscribers due to the opt-out feature. This is all the more reason to be tactful in your use of SMS marketing.
As with most digital marketing tactics, it often takes a lot longer to entice subscribers to “opt-in” than it does for them to “opt-out” or unsubscribe. An opt-out prompt is very similar to the opt-in prompt we shared above. To opt-out, individuals must text a keyword (for example STOP) to a shortcode (this would be determined by your SMS provider).
Despite its drawbacks, SMS marketing continues to evolve, adapt to the times, and take into account some of the past criticism it has received.
With mobile messages, you can rest assured that it is most likely read by the recipient immediately, so businesses don’t need to dedicate time to worrying about unread messages getting lost in email inboxes. However, SMS marketing does not come without its drawbacks, as we clearly outlined above.
SMS marketing does require an initial investment of planning and infrastructure but once you have built a healthy subscriber list you can begin to see your ROI grow.
SMS Marketing is best utilized in combination with other digital marketing strategies to boost brand awareness and sales by directly establishing a direct line of communication to consumers and sending them new offers, updates, and promotions.
In this way, it serves to help increase sales, extend your reach, and develop a deeper, more personalized relationship with your customers. It’s a win-win-win!