Text messaging has long since been one of the most common modes of communication, so it’s not surprising that it’s rapidly becoming a popular tool for marketing too. It is an incredibly useful way to interact directly with users and create clear calls to actions. SMS marketing is very different to most other more traditional marketing tools though, specifically because of its short-form, text only nature. This certainly shouldn’t put you off though. We have put together our guide to both the best things about SMS marketing and some of the potential problems, and how to work around them.
Pro - Your Recipients Must Opt-In to Receive Messages
In order to receive SMS marketing messages, users must have at some point opted in to the service – you want to be compliant, right? But yes, this is a positive; essentially, this means that you have an audience who has already acknowledged some level of prior interest in receiving the communications that you are sending out relating to that specific product. This can be much more effective than trying to market to a blind audience, such as may happen in magazine or television (outbound) marketing, and your conversion rates are likely to be higher as a result.
Remember, marketing success isn’t measured by how much you shout, but by how many people listen and then act.
Pro - SMS Marketing is Both Personal and Expansive
Other forms of marketing largely fall into two categories. On the one hand, you have very personal offerings such as telemarketing, where each person is called individually. This gives the opportunity to engage on a very personal level but can be hugely time consuming. On the other hand, you have mediums such as a television advert. This allows you to reach a large audience with one message but it is largely impersonal, with no individual engagement or personalisation. In a lot of ways, SMS marketing strikes a happy balance between the two. You can send the same message out to all recipients (and can personalise the content), whilst still directly receiving individual feedback back from them, which leads us on to our next point…
Pro - SMS is Highly Interactive Yet Non-Intrusive
Perhaps one of the main pros of SMS marketing is the way that you can obtain huge amounts of information and feedback from your customers. You can urge them to vote in polls, complete questionnaires and take part in surveys. The best part is how simple it is for your audience to actually respond to those calls to action though. Instead of having to login to a different website online, or complete a form on Facebook, or fill in and return a slip in a restaurant, they can simply text message you back like they would a friend. This can be done from anywhere – on the sofa watching TV, waiting in line at the supermarket, under the desk at work. SMS marketing is one of the simplest ways for your customers to interact with you without taking too much of their time.
Pro - Perhaps the Most Cost-Effective Channel Available
One of the big draws of SMS marketing lies in its simplicity. There’s no advert to film or long-form copy to write. It is cost effective both to produce and also to distribute, as you can send one message to all of your customers at a touch of a button.
With no subscription fees, lengthy contracts or commitments, you only pay for the messages you send meaning your SMS marketing strategy can be flexible and work around you. If you don’t run a campaign one month, it doesn’t cost you anything – meaning your ROI is always high.
Pro - Text Messages are Delivered in Real Time
The real time nature of text messages means you can keep your finger on the buzz and respond to wider events as they happen, rather than trying to preempt trends ahead of time. If you are a bar and suddenly there’s a heatwave, send out a message to your SMS mailing list offering them a free cocktail that afternoon. Real time means you can keep your content fresh and respond quickly in ways you can’t with lots of other marketing tools.
Con - It Can be Difficult Getting People to Engage
Although, as discussed above, the potential for interaction is high, it can sometimes be difficult to get users to engage via SMS marketing. The first hurdle you have is encouraging them to opt in and, even then, you can’t guarantee that somebody will open and read the messages. However, this is easily overcome if you add real value to your messages. For instance, lots of restaurants, especially food delivery services, send weekly reminders about their deals. These can be highly valuable to regular customers, who therefore continue to opt in to the communications. You need to give to receive.
Con - Limited Advertising Space
There’s no way around it: SMS provides a short form marketing tool. This is both one of its strengths and a potential hurdle to overcome if it’s something you’re new to. You simply don’t have the space to be vague or go into detail and communications need to be kept very to the point. However, this is where it is key that SMS marketing integrates well with your wider marketing campaign. It can be an incredibly powerful supplement to other more traditional methods of marketing. Create brand awareness elsewhere, then use SMS to create a clear and powerful call to action.
Con - You Can't Use the Same Content Repeatedly
With a print, TV or radio ad, you can repeat your advertisement over and over, whereas SMS ads must be worded differently each time or your users will almost certainly switch off and start to feel like they’re being bludgeoned with your marketing hammer – they might even start to consider the messages spammy and unsubscribe. However, on the flip side, it must of course be considered that the production costs and time investment of each individual SMS message, versus that of a whole TV ad, is considerably lower. Used correctly, SMS is an important tool in your marketing arsenal reserved for your most attractive offers rather than simple brand awareness.
Con - Your Audience is Going to be Smaller
The downside of having a niche audience, who has opted-in, is that realistically you are going to be reaching less people than you would with an ad in a newspaper for instance. However, this isn’t automatically a negative as it needs to be considered alongside conversion rates. If you reach only 100 people but have a conversion rate of 10% and sell to 10 people, then your sales are going to be the same as if you reach 1000 but a conversion rate of only 1%.
Ultimately, the majority of things that could be considered a con for SMS marketing are the same reasons it’s a must have for your overall marketing strategy – variety is key.
Still not convinced? Get in touch for a free consultation and we’ll be happy to discuss how you could integrate SMS into your marketing mix.