Would you use a medium that had a 98 percent open rate? One that’s guaranteed to reach people wherever they are and whatever they’re doing? How much effort would you put into a marketing medium like that?
That medium exists, and it’s been around for a while. Yet far too few companies take advantage of the boundless possibilities of this medium — I’m talking about text messaging.
Text messaging is an incredible tool in your marketing toolbox if you harness it right. 81 percent of Americans own a smartphone, and almost 100 percent own a cell phone. SMS marketing has the distinct advantages of brevity, immediacy and reach—you’re giving people a very low-friction message on a medium they’re basically guaranteed to check.
There are two main areas that text messaging can help you cover. Firstly, text messaging allows you to reach both current and prospective buyers with your message. Secondly, text messaging helps you stay relevant in the minds of your customers.
Reaching Prospective and Current Buyers
We have to get one thing out of the way first: sending text messages to people who haven’t opted in is both illegal and bad business. It will get you in trouble faster than just about anything else you can try.
Email marketing has been dealing with the same restrictions, though, and we all know how effective it still is. The opt-in method that email marketing uses works just as well for text message marketing. Give people something that they can use and ask them for their contact information so you can keep them up to date.
Dirty Lemon has used this strategy to great effect with their customers. The wellness drink company has used text messaging as the main platform to grow their customer base, and they’ve built their own in-house platform that allows their customers to use text messaging for everything from ordering to customer service.
They answer tens of thousands of text messages a month, using automation technology to help streamline the process. The capability to reach buyers directly in their pocket — and vice-versa — makes text messaging the powerhouse that’s driven Dirty Lemon’s success.
Ashley Furniture is another company that’s seen success with text message marketing. Through giveaways and a weekly shopping spree, they were able to build up a database of text message subscribers. Once they’d reached a critical mass, Ashley created a “Secret Sale” that was only promoted over SMS and email.
Ashley received $138,460 in revenue over four days. Over $85,000 of that was attributed to SMS messages. For every dollar they spent, they received $76 via their email campaign — but their text message campaign did even better, with $122 of return for every dollar spent.
Ashley had been a regular buyer of newspaper advertising, but when newspaper advertising began to go downhill, they had to find other avenues. SMS marketing, once derided by executives as “spammy”, now forms a central piece of their marketing mix.
Stay Relevant With Current Customers
After reading some of the statistics and case studies above, it’s clear that text message marketing is extremely effective. And it’s just as effective for keeping up awareness and relevance with your current customers.
Chipotle Mexican Grill was an early and fervent adopter of text messaging to stay in contact with its customer base. Its receipts have long had the SMS short code at the bottom, and they routinely run giveaways, contests and other activities that are centered around the text messaging platform.
There’s a caveat to that, though…
As explained by Fuzz Productions director of business development James McNally in a Retail Dive interview. “What becomes less ideal is maintaining the dialogue between brand and fan through SMS beyond that initial action. The text client is a ‘personal’ space — it’s where parents, significant others, friends, etc. reach us,” he says.
“No surprise that brands want in, but the risk of alienating fans is extremely high … if Chipotle wants to engage users via SMS after the contest, it needs to do so very carefully and tactfully.”
So far they’ve mostly hit the nail on the head. Chipotle doesn’t spam with its campaigns, instead focusing largely on bigger promotions that aren’t so likely to get screened out.
The company has also been smart about using cross-platform strategies for its SMS campaigns, combining email, web, social media and text into effective campaigns. Look at its Tough Mudder campaign for an example.
They offered a massive trip to a Tough Mudder event in Australia as a grand prize, with a year’s worth of free burritos as a runner-up possibility. A custom landing page and email campaign drove engagement through the web as well.
It’s useful for other purposes too. According to one report commissioned by Quiq in 2017, nearly two-thirds of respondents wanted to use mobile messaging to help with a purchase after the fact, not make one. Billing issues, delivery status, troubleshooting, reservations and bookings were among the uses customers wanted from text messaging.
Smart companies can leverage the brevity and immediacy of text messaging to create a quick two-way channel between themselves and their customers. It’s especially important in e-commerce, where you don’t necessarily interact with customers in person through a storefront. If they don’t see you in the physical world, text messaging can help keep you top of mind in a way that other mediums just can’t match.
The Power of Text
Text message marketing is an incredible tool, and it’s still underutilized by many marketers.
Probably because they’re afraid of screwing it up. Using a tool that has that much penetration carries a bit of risk for turning off buyers entirely. There’s a reason customers are so likely to open messages: because texting is still largely personal.
There also seems to be a little bit of a misunderstanding among small and mid-size businesses of the impact that SMS marketing can have, too. They may think that only large companies can afford to do it.
Or they may not realize how many services are out there focused on providing SMS marketing for smaller businesses. Whatever the reason, it’s a niche that hasn’t seen the degree of attention it should.
Are you using text message marketing?
If you haven’t explored the possibilities, it’s time to start. Establish communication with your customers. See what the incredible open rates and penetration of SMS can do for your business. You might be surprised.