Apps vs SMS: Why Your Marketing Messages Work Better via Text Message

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sms messaging vs apps

With the rise of the app, some marketers have been quick to sound the death knell for SMS. But reports of  SMS’s death have been greatly exaggerated. With over 76% of the UK population now dependent on their smartphones for everything from news to personal communication, SMS remains a great tool to directly engage with your customers.

Gaining Traction

With over a million apps currently available on both the iOS and Android platforms, new apps face a huge struggle to gain traction in a crowded marketplace. Factor in the statistic that 80% of the apps in the Apple web store are never used and you’ll begin to understand the uphill challenge you face if you focus on apps to get your message across. Unless you offer something absolutely unique, it’s difficult to gain traction.

On the other hand, 53% of customers are happy to receive information, particularly with a discount or special offer, via SMS according to research.

Limiting Your Market

Let’s come back to that statistic about smartphones. Figures for all mobile users run much higher, at around 92%. And those users are sending over 175 billion SMS messages a year. Why? Because it’s a user-friendly technology that’s available on all phones, smart or not, and is usually free. If you focus on apps for marketing, you’re eliminating nearly 20% of your potential audience. And with 70% of mobile users stating that a text message is a great way to get their attention, can you afford to miss out?

Simplicity, Trust and Engagement

When Loudhouse conducted global research into SMS use in 2014, they came to some startling conclusions. These were users highly engaged in smartphone use, with 20% checking them every 10 minutes or more frequently.

65% of respondents said that managing their smartphone apps was too time-consuming, and 68% said they had downloaded more apps than they ever used. Most interestingly, 81% said they’d prefer a simple SMS to a more complicated app, even if it didn’t have the same functionality.

The reason? SMS gives an improved experience that puts the consumer in control. Having multiple conversations across different apps becomes complicated and time-consuming, whereas SMS puts all those conversations in one place. That level of simplicity and ease of use from a familiar technology matters.

Opting Out of Push Notifications

How many times do you opt to receive push notifications from an app? If you’re like 60% of smartphone users, according to Kahuna research, you opt out because of privacy concerns. And that opt out kills your in-app marketing opportunities stone dead.

Now think about the 70% of users from the Loudhouse research who said they’d be happy to engage with a company via SMS. And the 39% who prefer communication through SMS for ‘peace of mind’ about their personal data.

Metrics for Engagement

Another bonus for SMS is that you can easily identify whether your message has been received and opened. We won’t bore you with the oft-repeated statistic that 98% of SMS are opened within 3 minutes – though it should always be front and centre in your thinking on SMS marketing – and instead remind you of all those apps that get downloaded, only to languish on a user’s smartphone unused.

Your download numbers may look good, but without opt-in for push notifications, you can’t communicate with your audience. And more than any other medium, SMS gives you accurate and usable data for user engagement. Plus, your messages won’t get lost in social media feeds or overfull inboxes.

Leveraging SMS Messaging for the Smartphone World

We’ve blogged before about just how ideal SMS is for small business marketing, but there are some creative ways you can leverage SMS for the modern marketing landscape.

  • By using SMS messaging as part of your cross-platform marketing, you can create coherent campaigns across social media and email
  • Use the power of shortcodes to run competitions and other interactive campaigns
  • Use scheduled messages for a smart drip campaign that users can opt into through a simple text message
  • SMS messaging is ideal for interaction with live events, by outputting the results of polls and text interaction to a big screen
  • If you want to use apps, then SMS marketing is a smart way to promote them – simply send a link to the mobile download page via text

Joined Up Thinking

We’re not saying that customers don’t enjoy apps – there wouldn’t be millions out there if they weren’t popular. But they may not be the best way forward for your small business, especially when only 17% of smartphone users say they find SMS intrusive. That figure is a lot lower than many might think, and every SMS interaction gives you brand-building opportunities, but you’ll need to be smart about the way you integrate your marketing strategy with your end user.

There is a real enthusiasm for the use of SMS messaging as a preferred means of mobile communication, but you’ll need to be sensitive to how SMS best fits into your customer’s brand interaction. For financial services, for example, SMS is the preferred tool for establishing security and peace of mind. For your cafe or bookshop, SMS is the smart way to offer discounts on services. If you drive interaction through social media, then SMS can help differentiate you from other social media based brands.

So Why is SMS Marketing Better than an App, again?

  • SMS has better traction vs apps
  • SMS reaches all mobile users, not just those with smartphones
  • SMS offers simplicity and promotes trust
  • SMS gets a higher level of engagement through a technology all mobile users are familiar with
  • SMS users opt in, app users opt out of push notifications
  • SMS offers great metrics for tracking customer engagement
  • SMS can integrate across multiple platforms

Now you know that SMS isn’t dead, isn’t it time you used SMS marketing for your business? Contact us to kick start your SMS campaign today.

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