10 Common Myths about SMS Marketing
Do you know what people use their smartphones for the most?
Spoiler alert: it’s not social media, games, or checking the Internet. The number one feature people use on their phones more than anything else is texting.
Up until now, you might not have considered the idea of using text messages or SMS Marketing (an abbreviation for Short Message Service) as part of your marketing mix, but this often-overlooked tool can be a powerful and low-cost addition.
There’s a lot of confusion surrounding SMS Marketing, and several myths, including:
- It’s spammy
- It doesn’t work
- It’s hard to do
- It’s expensive
Debunking 10 Common Myths About SMS Marketing
You may have heard some of these myths, and you may still even believe some of them. If you are ignoring the potential marketing power of business texting, you will definitely want to read on.
It’s Just for Millennials
While it’s true that the younger “millennial” generation is known for favoring text over voice or face-to-face interaction, just about everyone texts these days. Over two-thirds of adults over 50 own a smartphone, and of those, 92% use it for texting.
It used to be that texting was perceived as a personal communication method for quick and easy message exchanges between friends and loved ones, but businesses are now turning to text as a way to communicate with their audience. It’s no surprise that customers have embraced this trend, with 81% of consumers agreeing that it’s frustrating to be tied to a phone or computer for help.
The number of smartphone users continues to grow, and, before long millennials will be approaching advanced age, too. The sooner your business adopts SMS marketing and other forms of text-based communication, the more competitive you’ll be.
It Doesn’t Perform
Most people assume that email is the best way to reach customers with a message. After all, if you have someone’s email address, you can send them messages whenever you want, and you can segment them based on demographics and past actions.
The problem with email is that it doesn’t always get opened. Companies are lucky to get a 10 to 20 percent open rate, and even the best email campaigns to targeted lists aren’t likely to get anything higher than 30 or 40%. Contrast that to text message open rates, which are currently at 98% with an average CTR or click-through rate of 45%. Email, on the other hand, gets a measly average click-through rate of around 6 to 7%.
The moral of the story is that for a marketing campaign to perform well, it has to be seen. And, if you want your message to be seen, texting is your best chance.
It Requires that Customers Have a Smartphone
Texting existed long before smartphones, but some marketers forget that fact, and they are concerned that an SMS campaign won’t reach their flip phone-carrying audience. Though not every American has a smartphone, more than 95% of the population does have some type of mobile phone.
This means that you’ll be able to reach just about everyone in your audience with an SMS marketing campaign.
You Need a Special App or Expensive Software
While you can purchase a fancy software program to handle your text marketing function, it’s not a requirement to get started or run your campaigns.
If you have a small list of subscribers, you can manually send messages and track responses using a simple spreadsheet, email database or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool.
Another option for smaller lists is a free version of numerous text marketing systems. Weave has templates for several types of SMS marketing messages, including appointment reminders and birthday notes.
It’s Intrusive and Impersonal
Savvy marketers put themselves in their customers’ shoes, and their hesitation to interrupt someone by invading their smartphone is a legitimate concern. However, it’s smart to keep in mind that anyone on your list is there because they want to be.
Remember, before you can send marketing messages to your customers and prospects, they would have had to agree to get your correspondence. This is a legal requirement and part of the CAN-SPAM Act and The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
The good news is that you can rest assured knowing that anyone on your list has consented to hear from you, and as long as you follow basic texting etiquette rules, your messages will be welcome.
Further, text marketing is less intrusive than several other types of advertising. It’s not a loud ring during dinner. It’s not an advertisement that pops up in your Facebook newsfeed when you’re trying to look at pictures from Sally’s housewarming party. Instead, it’s a short message with an irresistible offer that you can review at your convenience and choose to take advantage of or ignore.
We also recommend sending messages that have a conversational and friendly, yet professional, tone. In today’s digitally dominated world, phone conversations are becoming increasingly rare as people turn to text for immediacy and convenience. While there’s nothing wrong with adopting new technologies and using them to the advantage, we also believe that you should work to maintain a relationship with your audience.
For example, instead of impersonal robotic messages, add some personality into the content and use merge fields that allow you to insert a customer’s first name and other details about the specifics of their situation.
It’s Too Expensive
This marketing channel is one of the least expensive options available. First, the fact that it is primarily text-based means that you’ll save on fancy graphics created by a professional designer. Though you can add multimedia elements (which is considered MMS or Multimedia Messaging Service), this isn’t required to get your message across.
Also, because the messages are short and to the point, they won’t usually require copywriting services. You or someone on your team can easily draft something that resonates with your audience, and a simple once over from another staff member to check for typos should suffice as quality control.
And finally, considering the higher open rates, as well as an estimated conversion rate of 32%, this type of marketing could be one of the least expensive in your tool kit and the one that provides you with the highest return on investment (ROI).
It Only Allows One-way Communication
When people think of SMS marketing, they often assume it’s only for one-sided communication like blasting customers with coupons, discounts, and other offers. However, there’s more to SMS marketing than that, and it can inspire dialogue and relationship building with subscribers.
To accomplish this, there is some planning required. For example, some messages with coupons and offers don’t allow for any follow-up questions. If a customer does reply with an inquiry, they’re likely to get a failure notification.
The same thing happens if there are only a set number of responses a customer can enter, and anything different results in failure. An example would be if you ask a Yes or No question and only allow the responses Y and N. If the customer types something else or wants to open a dialogue, getting a “fail” message makes the entire experience feel impersonal.
To have a two-way conversation, we suggest implementing a two-way messaging or inbox feature that directs any response to your messages to a staff member’s phone or an email inbox. When this happens, someone on your team can take over the correspondence and have a real conversation.
It’s Best for Big Companies
Small and medium-sized businesses tend to think that advanced technological tools are best designed for larger enterprise companies, but when it comes to SMS marketing, nothing could be further from the truth.
This technology is well-suited for the little guys, and it can even help them compete with companies that have larger budgets and better economies of scale. One of the reasons it works so well is that it encourages the one-to-one communication and relationships that smaller businesses are better at nurturing. This allows a small team to deploy customized messaging multi-million or billion-dollar companies can only dream about.
There are several types of campaigns you’ll be able to deploy, and chances are you or someone on your team will know everyone on your list. This allows for further customization and more personal responses. Some of the types of campaigns you can start with include:
- Appointment reminders
- Coupons and offers
- Personalized tips
- Exclusive events
- Friends and family benefits
SMS Marketing Feels “Spammy”
Several years ago, it seemed like every business was sending promotional texts, and it got overwhelming. People gave their phone number to restaurants to get a free appetizer, and before long, they were getting bombarded with text messages from that restaurant and any other business they shared their contact details with.
Smart marketers have dialed down on the persistence and gotten more strategic with their messaging. Thankfully, consumers have taken note, and now about 75% of people in a recent survey welcome receiving offers and messages via text from companies they do business with or plan on working within the future.
Something critical to remember is that a customer must opt-in to receive messages from you. By law, you can’t send texts to a list of prospects that you purchased from a brokerage firm or people who have visited your office but haven’t agreed to receive promotional messages. What that does mean is that the people who are on your list are open to getting messages from your office.
Other tips to follow to prevent being labeled as spam are:
- Keep messages to a minimum. Don’t bombard your audience daily. Two to four times per month is an ideal frequency.
- Provide valuable tips, information, and offers. Avoid texting just for the sake of texting.
- Include options in each message for your subscriber to opt out.
- Maintain a professional yet conversational tone in the messages. Typos and informal abbreviations can hurt your legitimacy, but you don’t want to sound robotic, either.
- Send your messages from a number your customer would know, preferably your office, not a random 800 number.
Still not sure how to make your message sound authentic and be actionable? Take a look at these examples for inspiration:
- Hi, Steve! Happy birthday month! We’d love to offer you the gift of half-off frames with any new pair of glasses this month. Reply now to book your appointment.
- Hey, Sherry! We’re offering a family VIP event this month. For the month of September, any child teeth cleaning is free when you schedule a cleaning for someone else in your family. Click to call and schedule your appointment.
- Hi, Jessica! Did you know that Food Allergy Awareness Week is right around the corner? How about coming in for a complimentary skin sensitivity test? You can text back to let us know you’d like to schedule something or click this link to call our office and book your appointment now.
It’s Hard to Do
Yes, anything new is bound to have a learning curve. However, SMS marketing is easier to learn and manage than other types of marketing. Once you learn the basics, you’ll be able to work with templates and experiment with different messaging to see what resonates best with your audience.
One of the most common questions we encounter is this: “Is text message marketing right for my business?” This question usually comes from a concern about a client base that might respond well to texting or a company that thinks this type of communication won’t apply to the kind of business they’re in.
What we can say unequivocally is that SMS marketing can benefit any organization, regardless of the niche, size or someone’s “tech” experience. You can start with a small campaign to test the waters. Something like a birthday wish or VIP offer is a fantastic way to test the waters, experiment with different messaging to see how your customers respond.