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 cell phone, and most use their phone to send and receive text messages, also known as SMS messages. More importantly, cell phone users are more engaged with SMS messaging than they are with other mobile marketing avenues, like email or social media. Most cell phone users allow their phones to alert them whenever a new text message arrives, and the majority of these 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, the best text message marketing services are affordable and easy to use and provide a ton of value. Here are some of the top reasons you should consider using SMS marketing for your small business today.
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 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 you won’t waste time or money bothering customers who aren’t interested.
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.
In small business affairs, competition is immense, and your customers bear some of that burden. Presumably, your company is far from the only one regularly contacting any given customer with ads, promotions and other content. Your customer can’t do much to escape this endless cycle, but they can opt out of your marketing texts. Like email marketing, most SMS marketing tools make it fairly easy for users to opt out.
Believe it or not, this is one of the key benefits of text marketing. A customer getting an onslaught of texts from your business might grow annoyed with your company and choose not to buy from you. In this case, accept the opt-out and, after some time away, try appealing to these customers by other routes. [Read related article: SMS Marketing Best Practices: Text Message Marketing Do’s and Don’ts]
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 of receipt. Consumers have grown accustomed to their email inbox being flooded with spam and unwanted advertising, and many consumers don’t check their email inbox for new messages more than once or twice a day. SMS inboxes, by contrast, 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. [Looking to make the most of your campaigns? Here are some text message marketing tips to guide you.]
Much of the appeal of SMS marketing is its brevity, both for the advertiser and the consumer. Unlike lengthy email promotions, SMS messages are generally just one or two sentences long, 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, requiring much less upfront planning than traditional advertising.
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 messages for just a few cents each. 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.
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 poll or survey encourages your target audience to read more closely and become active participants. 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 cell phone 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.
Pretty much everyone has a mobile phone these days, if not a smartphone, so text messaging casts a wide net. In that way, it resembles email marketing – almost everyone has an email address now – but texts often feel more urgent than emails.
Think about it – doesn’t a text directly to your phone number, which only so many people know, feel a lot more urgent than an email? This text-based urgency can help keep your company and its offerings on your customers’ minds. It also means that you’ll stand out from the pack, as promotional content is far less common in someone’s texts than in their email inbox.
Text marketing integrates seamlessly with other marketing software. These integrations can help you make the best of your other marketing tactics.
For example, if a customer visits your website and leaves an item unpurchased in their cart, you can follow up with a text that is sent automatically via your marketing automation platform. That text might be the reminder your customer needs to make the purchase.
Customers might be used to their email inboxes piling up with marketing emails. The novelty of delivering personalized content and discounts via text can help you build an especially strong bond with your customers.
Email inboxes are often divided into primary, social, and promotions tabs, with marketing emails getting lost in the clutter of that last section. Phones have no such divisions for incoming texts. This means that when you send a customer a text that starts by advertising a loyalty reward, they’re virtually guaranteed to see it. If the offer is something they value, you are on your way to gaining that customer’s trust, because they will recognize that you are only messaging them with content they deem valuable. This can lead to them becoming loyal repeat customers.
Studies have found that customers who receive marketing texts open them 98% of the time. No, this statistic doesn’t mean that customers click on the links in your texts every time, but it’s better than your marketing email getting lost to bulk deletion or clogged inboxes. It’s perhaps the most compelling benefit of text marketing.
Brett Nuckles contributed to the writing and research in this article.