Text messaging isn’t just a convenient way to chat with friends. It’s also a powerful mobile marketing tool for small businesses. The vast majority of Americans own a cellphone, and most use their phone to send and receive text messages, also known as SMS messages. More important, cellphone users are more engaged with SMS messaging than they are with other mobile marketing avenues like email or social media. Most cellphone users have programmed their phone to alert them whenever a new SMS message arrives, and the majority of messages are read within a few minutes of delivery.
Still, some business owners are hesitant to adopt SMS messaging as a promotional tool, believing the platform to be ineffective. In reality, SMS marketing is cheap, easy and highly valuable. Read on for five reasons you should consider using SMS marketing for your small business today.
1. It's opt-in
Many traditional modes of advertising rely on the law of large numbers to succeed. By blasting your marketing message to as wide an audience as possible, you stand a better chance of reaching prospective customers. This type of advertising requires you to spend money on marketing messages that many consumers will quickly forget or simply ignore.
SMS marketing, on the other hand, relies on consumers to opt in. That means your target audience must first sign up to receive messages about deals and promotions before receiving them. Opt-in marketing has big benefits for businesses. One is that consumers who receive your messages are already heavily invested in your brand or product; otherwise, they wouldn’t have signed up. Another is that the opt-in model also means you won’t waste time or money bothering customers who aren’t interested. Just like with email marketing, most SMS marketing tools make it fairly easy for users to opt out.
Of course, you'll need to get consumers to sign up to receive your messages in the first place. For this reason, it's almost impossible to divorce SMS marketing from traditional advertising because you must first rely on Web, email and social media ads to build your SMS contact list.
2. It's engaging
If you're like most consumers, you probably can't wait to read a text message when it arrives in your inbox. In fact, the majority of text messages are read within just a couple of minutes after receipt. Consumers have grown accustomed to their email inbox being flooded with spam and unwanted advertising. Furthermore, many consumers don't check their email inbox for new messages more than once or twice a day. SMS inboxes, by contract, are largely reserved for messages that demand to be read right now.
This phenomenon has obvious benefits for business owners. Not only are the consumers on your SMS contact list willing participants in your promotional campaign, but they're almost guaranteed to read your message right when you send it. SMS marketing won't get your promotion in front of as many eyeballs as other modes of advertising, but by delivering your messages directly to engaged consumers – and getting them to read those messages quickly -- it delivers great bang for your buck.
3. It's quick
Much of the appeal of SMS marketing is in its brevity, both for the advertiser and the consumer. Unlike lengthy email promotions, SMS messages are generally just one or two sentences in length, sometimes including a link to a website with more details about the promotion. Consumers are very likely to read entire messages, simply because they are so short. SMS messages can also be read at the consumer's convenience, so they aren't as intrusive as Web pop-ups or telephone calls.
The brevity of SMS messages also benefits the small business owner who is short on time. Planning and deploying a promotion via SMS is quick and easy, and requires much less up-front planning than traditional advertising.
4. It's cheap
Small business owners in particular can benefit from SMS marketing because it is affordable. Sending an SMS message is much cheaper than placing a full ad in front of a potential consumer. Prices vary, but many platforms allow your business to send each message for just a few cents. Meanwhile, bulk packages allow you to send hundreds or thousands of messages each month for a relatively low, flat rate. Considering the power of SMS marketing to directly target engaged consumers, it delivers a good value proposition for small business owners on a budget.
5. It's interactive
Planning an interactive SMS promotion is a good way to make your message fun and engaging, and there are plenty of ways to do it. Posing your message as part of a questionnaire or poll encourages your target audience to read more closely and become an active participant. Offering up a toll-free SMS reply option is an extra incentive for users to engage with your brand. Meanwhile, including a link to an entertaining video or images with more details about your promotion encourages users to investigate further. Not every cellphone has the ability to connect to the Internet, but as smartphones become nearly ubiquitous, business owners would be wise to consider including visual and interactive elements in their SMS marketing efforts.