With phones being such a ubiquitous part of daily modern life, we can’t help but use them as portals to the larger world.
Enter text marketing.
Text marketing is texts that we receive on our mobile phones and internet-connected digital devices. It’s highly likely you’ve both sent and received text messages in your life. For most of us, it’s become our primary mode of communication with others. It’s convenient, flexible, and can be a lot of fun and drive our interest and engagement high.
With such a heavy cultural reliance on texting, it’s no surprise marketing has turned to the power of texts to engage, keep, and convert customers. Texts are very similar to email marketing in that they have a particular design and a specific focus: customer retention. Both email and text marketing require the customer to opt in, which means they’re already primed to engage with the material they’re sent.
Common texting types include:
- SMS (Short Message Service)
- MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service)
- RCS (Rich Communication Service)
Types of texting vary from device to device, and SMS has limited characters whereas MMS is texting for files such as pictures and videos.
What makes text marketing better than other types of marketing?
For one, a very large number of people are more likely to read a text message than an email or a blog or any other piece of marketing material. The open rate for texting, which is 99%, is one of its core defining benefits. Texts have the drawback of needing to be designed quicker, smaller, and more to the point than other ads, and often feature less design work and simpler features or links than emails and longer ads. Some of the biggest uses for text marketing include:
- Appointment reminders
- Order information
- Time-based promotions or advertisements (seasonal ads are popular)
Texts for marketing are all about timing. Sending texts, for example, in the middle of the night is a recipe for disaster and more or less guaranteed to get a text back saying STOP. Sending promotional texts after a promotion has ended or out of season mean the text is wasted, and the customer is likely annoyed and possibly considering their marketing relationship with you. We get a lot of texts during the day—we don’t need extra that clog up our phones and fill up our inboxes.
There are a few other hurdles for text marketing. The largest is privacy. Asking a customer to give their phone number can feel invasive. The trust they’re giving you with their number is larger than an email or an ad delivered online. Be mindful of the relationship your customers have to your brand, and consider the nature of the texts and the use of their private numbers. Be transparent and proactive about your data collection methods and capacities. Let your customers know their data isn’t for sale to others, and texting is to keep them informed and educated but not pitched to.
Texting has another drawback: it can arrive at the wrong time without us knowing it. When someone is struggling or facing a daily challenge, a sudden text can be an annoyance. Whereas email sits in the inbox and video or online ads aren’t controllable by us, texting feels immediate and responsive. Be aware of events going on in the world around a texting campaign, and put yourself in the shoes of your customers to imagine how they’d feel receiving your text and what might help or hurt them respond to your texts. Ensure cultural sensitivity and clean, concise writing that gets to the point quickly and isn’t pushy or misspelled.
Texting in marketing is like texting with friends or family: it’s a relationship. It’s about building trust and reliability. It should feel conversational and friendly, and it should provide the customer with a use they can’t otherwise find outside your brand. They should, first and foremost, be excited to receive your text, and they should read it all the way through and want to take action from what they’re reading.
Text marketing has many advantages:
- Smartphones are widely available and used. Texts reach customers where they are
- Texts have high engagement rates. People open them, people read them
- Texts are cheaper than many other marketing avenues and channels, and can be tailored to different data plans
- Functions like email and complements it
- Makes the company brand feel like a person, conversational and present
- Texts are inherently shareable. When we check our phones around other people, we can easily show them our texts and what we’re offered. This helps build word of mouth for the brand and the service
SMS and text marketing can fit into most business plans, provided it complements and works alongside other marketing tactics and initiatives. For instance, text marketing is likely not enough to replace an email campaign for customer retention, but working alongside it can make the message heard more clearly and pique the customer’s interest. Text messages that build on digital ads can reinforce the ubiquity of the deal and the availability of services. It can take us multiple exposures to material to learn, understand, or connect with it. Text messages help reinforce the message and cement the customer understanding of offerings.
Texts aren’t right for every business, and there are many where they are more effective than others. For instance, ecommerce companies can use text marketing to great effect. Any businesses that rely on appointments can use them to send reminders and encourage customer reviews and feedback. Text messages can also be used internally in large companies to communicate to all employees at once.
Texts work wonderfully for:
- Churches and social organizations
- Anything retail
Smaller growing businesses can take advantage of the lower cost nature of text marketing to grow and retain their audience while cutting back on costs.
Texting has many great upsides and only a few smaller downsides. What really matters is determining what’s right for your company and your marketing goals. Think about how your brand functions and what you want it to do. Examine the ideal relationship you have with your customers. If texting fits into your company vision and budget, it’s a strongly recommended avenue.