Is SMS Marketing Still A Thing?

Abstract of mobile device display with SMS talk bubble overlaid.

SMS, more formally known as Short Message Service — or more normally known as texting. It’s 2021, which means everyone uses a smartphone. In fact, according to Statista more than 80% of the world’s population owns a smartphone. That’s equivalent to approximately 6.4 billion people. What makes this question so interesting is that if we take a look at open rates for text messages compared to say, emails there’s quite a difference — 98% compared to a measly 20%. Even with these astounding stats, SMS marketing remains underutilized as a marketing tool, but why?

Perhaps a large chunk of SMS marketing’s demise is due to the creation and popularity of social media. Ever since Twitter started tweeting and updating your status became a muscle memory, marketers no longer had to rely so heavily on other tactics, because everyone was gathering in one spot on the internet. So, they shifted their focus to the big social media channels and boom — out came social media and digital marketing.

Even still, it’s hard to ignore stats as alluring as the ones mentioned above. I mean, a 98% open rate? That’s incredible. So why is it underutilized? Perhaps it has something to do with Canadian (CASL) and US anti-spam laws; express and implied consent as to whether a business is even legally allowed to contact someone via SMS; or maybe it’s simply been forgotten.

Whatever the case, numbers like this can simply not be ignored. There are ways to do SMS marketing ethically! Here are a few unwritten rules to abide by:

  1. Avoid spamming

First, and perhaps most obviously — avoid spamming. No one wants to receive a barrage of messages that they have no use for, and it may even turn them off of your brand. Think about the volume of messages that you’re sending out!

  1. Avoid sending SMS’s too early or too late in the day

If someone happens to fall asleep with their ringer turned on, the last thing they want to be woken up by is a piece of marketing content sent to their phone. Be mindful of the time that you’re sending out messages and make sure it’s appropriate and reasonable.

  1. Consider an introductory message of sorts, asking for consent to contact them

Beyond the legal obligations for SMS marketing, asking for consent shows that you care about your customer and builds trust. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do. Sending a short and sweet introductory message asking if they’d like to be contacted about offers or whatnot, makes them more likely to stay opted in if they choose yes.

So yes, SMS marketing is alive and well. But, if you want your brand image to remain uncontroversial, make sure you use it with a concrete set of ethics in mind!

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