Have you heard the news? According to a survey by Aimia, “people feel bombarded on their mobile phones by growing volumes of text messages and excessive notifications from apps”.
That’s awful news for anyone who has invested in SMS marketing. But let’s not be hasty. When I look at the survey details, the picture isn’t so gloomy – but there is a lot to learn from the data.
First, let’s look at what the survey says about the people feeling “bombarded”. The following is quoted from the press release about the survey:
It’s worth noting that the above mentions app notifications and social media too. So while some percentage of Brits think they have too many SMS messages, the overall feeling they present is likely due to all sources.
So if you connect with customers on multiple channels, it may be worth your time to see if you’re overdoing it – even just a little. That’s because they aren’t afraid to block you, unfollow or unsubscribe if they do feel they’re hearing too much from you.
Why are such large percentages of people getting so annoyed? The answer is in another statistic – probably the most important one out of this survey:
“The majority of messages received are not applicable to individuals’ needs and interests, with just 17% describing the communications they receive as very relevant”.
That’s a horrible statistic for marketers. But also very enlightening.
It means that the issue isn’t with the channel, it’s with the marketers. If only 17% of customers feel they are getting very relevant offers or communications, then a huge number of us are just getting bombarded by blatant advertising on their mobile. And they clearly don’t like it.
According to Jan-Pieter Lips from Aimia, “Never before has there been such a direct way to communicate with customers and it’s a channel which will continue to grow. However, if used incorrectly, brands will damage customer relationships rather than strengthen them”.
He was speaking of mobile in general. But SMS messaging is the most direct way brands can interact with their customers – even more so than notifications and social media.
People, myself included, consistently call SMS messaging a personal form of communication. But it’s hard to convey why that is in a few words. I’ve developed an analogy I think will help make it clear for marketers.
Imagine a neighbour you exchange friendly waves with each morning, but you’ve never actually spoken to before, knocks on the door of your house and asks to come inside. As you stand there in the door, you have to decide if you want to let this person in. You like them well enough from your morning encounters, but do you know them well enough to let them into your house? Into your personal space? Would you let them in knowing they were intending to sell you something?
Chances you’re at least a little hesitant, if not leery, of someone you don’t know that well trying to come into your house. Now if you have some relationship with them – like a friendly neighbour – the decision to let them in might be easier.
But if you do let them in, how they act determines if you’ll ever let them in again. Do they become a welcome friend, or an unwelcome, obnoxious houseguest?
In this analogy, your brand is the neighbour, and the door is the customer’s mobile number. When they sign up for your messages, it means they consider the relationship they have with your brand good enough to open their door to you. More than that, they open their life to you via their mobile. You’ll be able to enter any time you like, simply by sending a message. You never even have to knock again.
And if you take advantage of that, or worse, just don’t understand you’ve entered their personal space, then you’ll likely end up on the blocked or unsubscribed list.
If those survey numbers still concern you, don’t worry. Making sure your customers stay on your list is as simple as providing value and staying relevant. While segmenting your lists can help with that, you’re going to have to get personal at some point. Knowing your customer is the only way to do that.
There are numerous ways you can make your messages more personal. To read about them in more detail, visit these two blogs on the subject: Use All The Data You Can When Personalising Your SMS Messages and Personalising Your SMS Marketing.
And next time you run an opt-in campaign, remember you’ve just asked to enter someone’s house. If they let you in, act accordingly so you’ll be invited back.