SMS Marketing: Is your greatest marketing tool hiding in your pocket?

Is SMS marketing the next big thing?

Like many marketers, I‘m always interested in new technology and what is going to be the next ‘big thing’. And it was with this in mind that I visited the Technology for Marketing event at the end of September 2016.

One of the presentations that I listened to was not only packed with delegates, but left a lasting impression on me. It was all about SMS marketing or more simply, text message marketing.

Cloud-based SMS service provider textlocal.com delivered a compelling case for adding SMS into your marketing mix.

In addition to case studies they presented research on the UK mobile sector that was conducted by mobilesquared.co.uk, the research and intelligence agency.

Why use SMS marketing?

Some of the statistics on mobile usage in the UK are startling:

  • There are 33.67 million mobile users in the UK who have opted in to receive text messages from brands and businesses in 2016. This is higher than the audience on Facebook
  • Consumers report that their preferred means of receiving information from brands is by text and email
  • Industry standards for text message opens can be as high as 98%
  • 78% of users claim they will read a text message from a company they have given their number to, compared to only 22% from a company they are unfamiliar with

Which industries would benefit?

A natural question from business owners is “Will this work for me?” Once you start thinking about the range of opportunities offered by SMS marketing, you realise that so many businesses would benefit – as long as the phone numbers have been gathered in an ethical way and you are not spamming people.

Here are some examples of how companies could use this technology:

  • Beauticians – confirming appointments, lapsed customer re-engagement promotions, seasonal promotions such as ‘get ready for summer’
  • Ecommerce stores – delivery updates, personalised vouchers/discounts based on previous purchases
  • Gas Engineers – Annual reminders for boiler servicing, appointment reminders

When to Send Messages?

People have a surprisingly intimate relationship with their mobile phone, so sending a business text at an inappropriate time could destroy the trust you are trying to build with a customer. Who wants to receive a text at 3 am in the morning? The research points to 9am to 5pm being the best time to send business texts, which makes total sense from the customer’s point of view.

The future for SMS marketing

If you are used to 30% open rates with email marketing, the lure of getting up to 98% open rates from SMS is enticing. I can see this being a channel that many businesses look to over the coming year.

But a move from email to text should be carried out sensitively. My only fear is we’ll start seeing more spam on our mobile phones, much like the amount of email spam we have now.

Marketers do have a habit of ruining good things, but if this can be avoided, SMS marketing has a bright future.

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