SMS marketing has quickly become a key part of the marketing mix for companies — both small and large — across almost every industry. It can be used to revive leads for B2B organizations or inspire immediate customer action for B2C brands. But like any ‘new’ way to reach customers and attract leads, the question remains, “Is it right for your organization?”.
To help you determine if bulk text messaging might be something your company should begin using as an engagement, sales, and customer service tool, here’s a quick look at the major SMS benefits and drawbacks.
Nine Benefits of SMS—Why Bulk Text Marketing is Good for Business
High Engagement—Opens and Clicks
Email and social media are great for achieving many marketing goals, but SMS is in a league of its own in terms of customer engagement. Good email open rates are around 30% or less and click through rates average 2.62%.
SMS sees much higher engagement. Most people open every text they get. As a result, Twilio believes the average open rate of a text message is above 80%. Others think it could be even higher, though nobody can currently measure open rates with perfect accuracy.
The point is this: Text messages easily see significantly higher engagement rates compared to other media. If you have an important message to get across — a text is one of the best ways to do it.
Another SMS benefit is the speed with which people respond to text messages. It varies by industry, but 30-50% of company text messages get responded to within 15 minutes of receipt.
That makes SMS the first and best choice for urgent and time-sensitive marketing — if you can cram it into the 160-character limit.
High Conversion Rates
Companies that use their SMS marketing lists well — meaning they don’t drive them away by over-texting or sending low-quality content — see conversion rates as high as 45%.
Direct Customer Engagement with Minimal Distraction
Phones are personal spaces. Text messaging is how people communicate with family and friends. In the 80s, teens and parents would argue about the teenager being on the phone and hogging the line all day. Today, instead of corded phones, they’re texting. That’s how most people communicate.
So when your company engages with someone through text, it’s much more personal than email. There are no ads on the screen to distract them. It doesn’t feel the same as email marketing. It’s direct customer engagement. If you do it well, subscribers will be okay with it because it feels like good service.
This is why offering customer service through text is so effective. Using SMS to send confirmations, shipping notices, abandoned cart reminders, and things of this nature is greatly appreciated and desired by customers. That’s why 55% of customers prefer SMS for appointment reminders, compared to 35% for email. And that’s not to say you should stop using email. Use both to engage more people, more effectively.
Surveys vary, but 75-85% of customers say they want to receive SMS messaging from companies they trust — meaning they’ve opted in to be texted by you.
That’s a lot. As long as someone opts in, you can be confident they want to hear from you, and not worry about upsetting them by sending an occasional marketing text. Just don’t abuse the privilege of the exclusive access they’re giving you.
You don’t need to create an app, build a new website, start a social media page, or anything like that. A major benefit of SMS is that it’s part of a consumer’s phone service, so the infrastructure to run SMS marketing is already in place on their end.
Trackable Data and Metrics
Unlike many forms of marketing media, SMS metrics can be tracked rigorously. You can easily track deliveries, clicks, and conversions. This is a huge SMS benefit because it’s not so easy in other marketing channels.
And if you’re using dedicated landing pages, coupon codes, and other methods unique to your company’s SMS texts, you can also track revenue generated, ROI, lifetime customer value, average order size, and dozens of other crucial metrics.
The Ability to Send Bulk Texts to Entire Lists or Segments
Most people text with one person at a time. But with tools like the emfluence Marketing Platform, you can send bulk texts to thousands of people all at once. And you can do this with your entire list or with segments based upon your customer data. The better your data, the more you can target specific types of customers with SMS marketing.
Beyond segmenting, if you have a good system for tracking and managing customer data that also offers SMS marketing (such as the emfluence Marketing Platform), you can incorporate that data into your texts.
Whether that’s purchase history, geography, personal details like names and businesses owned, or other data, you can engage with customers on a very effective level when you communicate with them via text.
These are some of the biggest benefits of SMS marketing that uses bulk text messaging to engage and convert customers and leads.
Six SMS Drawbacks—Know the Limits and Shortcomings Before You Dive In
Potential to Abuse Trust
Because texting is entering a more personal, familial space, even consumers who like shopping with your company won’t put up with constant texts. It’s not like email, where you can send several each week (or even one per day) without bothering subscribers. Sending texts every day is too much.
If you abuse the trust of the people who opt in to receive texts from you, they’ll opt out (at best), and you’ll lose all the benefits of SMS marketing. This is why you must tell them when they opt in how many texts they can expect to receive from you, and then keep your word.
With SMS, you’re limited to 160 characters per text. That’s not much. This prevents you from including very many details about any offer or other communication you send. And since you won’t be sending texts every day, you can’t get around this by sending multiple texts to flesh out the details a little bit at a time.
With so few words, clarity is a challenge, and you can only make offers that can be described and understood in very few words. This is not the place to dive deep into benefits, the pain of loss, or the fear of missing out. You can touch on those things, but you won’t be able to dwell there like you would with other types of marketing.
There is another texting method called MMS — multimedia message service — which allows for more characters as well as graphics. But this requires its own setup process and has separate costs. At this time, emfluence doesn’t support MMS.
You have an email reputation from ISPs, and you have an SMS reputation from phone companies. But the SMS reputation is much more tenuous. You can lose it fast, even with just a few complaints. A weakened SMS reputation will damage deliverability, and it’s hard to regain the trust of the carriers once you’ve lost it.
Strict Opt-In Rules
In addition to all of this, you need to keep a clear record for how each person opted in so you can prove it was legitimate should they ever decide to complain.
All of this is easily doable. But the point is, you can’t skip it and you can’t miss steps.
No Images or Graphics
SMS is a text messaging service. You cannot include graphics or images of any kind. With MMS, you can include those, though it comes with a higher cost. SMS thus limits you only to characters, links, calls to action, and keywords that are usually expressed in CAPS.
Not as Easy to Reply
If you send out a bulk text to 100,000 subscribers, what happens if 500 of them text you back? Texting is so quick and easy that many people who might not usually respond to an email will send back a quick text. What do you do with all of these responses?
You can’t start texting back and forth with hundreds of people all at once unless you have a huge customer engagement team. It’s possible to overwhelm your system with responses, and that’s why SMS isn’t really the place to try to start conversations if you’re sending mass bulk texts.
The emfluence Marketing Platform keeps track of replies so you can monitor engagement. And if you employ sales reps, they could log into the platform and see an individual’s replies, and then respond based on whether or not follow-up was warranted.
For most organizations, the potential upside of testing SMS marketing far outweighs any potential complications. emfluence customers can add SMS marketing to their existing plan by contacting support or reaching out to their account manager.