Text messaging is a worthy weapon in any digital marketer's arsenal. Texting isn't a new invention; it's been around for about three decades and counting. And it has always been one of the most personalized means of communication between two or more parties.
This fact is probably what makes it perfect for marketing initiatives. For years, marketers have used SMS blasts to reach out to their customers with updates, promotions, product discounts, reminders, and everything in between. But recently, SMS marketing has seen a sudden and unprecedented upsurge. From 2015 to 2017, SMS marketing has burgeoned by more than 200% and has kept pace with its rapid growth well into 2020.
Some call SMS "personalized Twitter on steroids." This statement makes sense in more ways than the obvious. When you send a text message or a tweet, there are immediately noticeable similarities, such as their strict character limits. Still, the differences that reflect the many well-documented benefits of SMS marketing are visible to every marketer.
Text message marketing sits at a very effective spot in any marketing campaign and solves the gap in many other marketing channels. This assertion is especially true in real-time messaging personalization, customer retargeting, and customer retention.
Most marketers understand the significant benefits of leveraging text message marketing. Still, it hasn't been optimized since it became a thing decades ago, which begs the question: why now? What has given rise to the sudden upsurge in SMS marketing campaign efforts? Why is it suddenly trending?
There are a few factors that come into play here to explain this surge. But first, a few statistics:
- About 53% percent of digital
marketers incorporate SMS marketing as part of
their overall marketing strategy
- 75% percent of consumers are okay with receiving
text messages from brands that they opted into
- Between 2005 and 2017, the number of SMS messages sent in the US alone went from 7.25 billion text messages annually to 781 billion text messages.
We will be mentioning 3 (or more) significant reasons here that throw light on why SMS has suddenly become a massive deal in digital marketing. This will give you a greater appreciation for this marketing channel when you're integrating it into your marketing efforts.
The advent of smartphones boosted the use of SMS
Those who have lived long enough to experience the beginning and evolution of text messaging can appreciate the SMS journey. Neil Papworth sent the first-ever text message in 1992 from his computer to Richard Jarvis's cellphone, who was the Director of Vodafone at the time.
Then came the wave of cellphones with the grouped-letter keypads. Back then, cell phones assigned at least three letters of the alphabet to one button, so "a,b, and c" were all on one key, "d, e, f" were on another, and "m, n, o" on yet another one. So, to type a word as simple as a fan, you would have needed to press the second button three times, the first button once, and the third button twice. This was a cumbersome and time-consuming task.
Thankfully, the advent of smartphones and digital QWERTY keypads made the texting process much faster and easier. And to add to that, smartphones are in much more use today than they were a decade ago. In 2011, there were about 708 million smartphone users in the world. That's a far cry from the 3.5 billion users who own a smartphone in 2020.
The shift in browsing experience to favor mobile devices has also contributed immensely to the popularity of smartphones, and consequently, text messages, given that the average American checks their phone about 80 times every 24 hours.
With the power of SMS currently deployed for web-focused messaging solutions (think Messenger, iChat, WhatsApp, and more), SMS's reach and effectiveness have become even more powerful. The evolution of the cellphone and the change in the way users interact with their smartphones has put SMS front and center as the most used means of communication. Consequently, marketers now have a golden opportunity to mix the versatility of text message marketing with highly personalized messages to reach their current and prospective customers wherever they are.
SMS has the highest open rates of any digital marketing strategy
The first measurable metric for most marketing campaigns is the open rate. Marketers fret over their open rates because they understand what that means for their brand awareness and visibility objectives. Many have grown cold to online advertisement content of any sort because of the avalanche of information thrown at netizens every minute of every day. As a result, it isn't surprising to get low open rates for an email campaign or poor engagements for an ad campaign, and so on.
Somehow, texting has survived the scourge of abysmally low open rates. SMS marketing campaigns regularly achieve astronomically high open rates of 90% or above, sometimes up to 98%. This has to do with the nature of texting platforms and people's general perception of text messaging.
First, with emails, a person doesn't always receive notifications when an email hits their inbox. Plus, people can turn off push notifications so that they never receive email notifications, a problem SMS does not have. But with text messages, a person gets a notification instantly and almost without fail for every text sent.
Plus, in the United States, for example, people generally get more emails than text messages each day. In the US, the numbers stand at around 88 emails daily and 32 text messages daily. The apparent disparity here is a huge reason why text messaging stands out from email and other marketing channels. Smart marketers know to leverage SMS only when it is necessary and to provide value to their customers. Less is more with messaging, and SMS is currently winning that game by a landslide.
SMS carries with it an in-built urgency
When the average person sends text messages to a friend, that friend is likely to open and read those messages the moment they are notified about it. Thankfully, phone owners treat all SMS messages the same way, whether from a friend or a business.
So, texts do not just have high open rates; they also enjoy quick open rates. This assertion is driven home by the fact that 90% of texts are opened and read within three minutes of their receipt. For 83% of millennials, this time duration drops even further to an astonishing 90 seconds.
The reason texts enjoy such quick open rates is that they are a preferred means of communication, whether B2B or B2C. Plus, texts are concise and straight to the point, given their low character limit. Customers are more comfortable reading through a text quickly because they know it will be a short read. These realities make text messaging perfect for brands to reach out to their consumers about offers that demand quick response and engagement. It could be flash sales, clearance sales, limited-time discounts and offers, back-in-stock notifications, upsells, and more.
An extreme majority of customers will be able to see the offer in time. Plus, with 31% of consumers responding to brand messages in less than 6 minutes, marketers are reasonably certain that they'll start seeing measurable results in a short time.
For all the good things SMS marketing promises — and it usually delivers on those promises — it should not be a replacement for email. For one, the strict character limits that help to boost its urgency and engagement makes them ideal for quick offers but mostly useless when it comes to detailed and lengthier value messages and remarketing drip campaigns, two problems that email is designed to solve.
So, leverage your email, SMS marketing, and all other digital marketing channels to craft a robust marketing strategy. These channels are different for one primary reason: they are meant to complement each other. Use them where necessary and maximize the returns on your marketing initiatives.
Jamie Fry - Purposeful and promising author. At this moment he is working at Pick The Writer and enhances his blogging skills. He has a talent for writing original content. The main conviction in his life: «To be the best in the field in which you are developing». Always in search of fresh ideas.