Businesses that aren’t using SMS marketing to grow and connect with their audience are leaving money on the table.
Yes, that’s a bold statement. But once you understand how SMS marketing captures, engages, and converts more customers, we’re confident you’ll agree.
And if you don’t believe us, we have proof. But first, let’s explore some basics of SMS marketing.
1. What is SMS marketing?
SMS marketing is a way to reach your audience via text message. Most organizations that use SMS marketing rely on a platform that integrates with other systems to maintain a seamless experience for users across channels.
Unlike social media posts or emails, SMS marketing can reach anyone with a phone who has opted into receiving your messages, regardless of whether or not they are online.
As we’ll show below, text messages can reach further, connect more effectively, and provide more value than any other channel. Today, organizations use SMS marketing for touch points ranging from appointment reminders and time-sensitive sales to lead engagement and long-term follow-up.
2. How wide of a reach does texting have?
It’s important to differentiate between mobile phones and “smartphones” when you’re considering text message reach.
For example, about 85% of US citizens own a smartphone of some kind. But Pew Research found that 100% of US citizens aged 19-49 own a cell phone that can accept SMS messages — even if that phone can’t access the internet.
If you’ve been out in public in the last 5 years you’ve seen it for yourself – most people check and interact with their phones constantly. Research has found that on average, Americans check their phones once every nine minutes, or up to 160 times per day (which explains why my “weekly screen time” notifications are so alarming).
As you could have guessed, SMS messages are an integral part of our mobile phone use — so much so that more than four out of five people in the US send and receive texts regularly. And as a matter of fact: Americans send about 45% of the world’s total text volume.
3. Do people engage with texts more than other channels?
Now, sending and receiving messages doesn’t guarantee engagement.
For proof of that, take a look at your own Spam email folder. How many of those messages are you planning to open? My guess is exactly zero (and the one stray password reset email doesn’t count).
SMS messages, however, are different. According to Mobile Monkey, about 98% of people always open their text messages, and 90% open them within three minutes of receipt. Another survey found that five out of six millennials open SMS messages within 90 seconds.
What sets these messages apart? One differentiator is push notifications. Most mobile phones and smartphones have push notifications for SMS turned on by default and often keep text messages pinned to the top of the alert bar.
This incentivizes users to read and respond to text messages faster than other channels. For example, 74% of respondents to a survey reported by Digital Information World said they have zero unread SMS messages on their phones.
It’s obvious that one of the primary reasons why SMS marketing is so effective is the default push notifications. But if this means grabbing a customer’s attention, so be it.
4. Does SMS marketing actually work?
By now, the evidence is clear. People everywhere are comfortable with sending, receiving, and engaging with text messages.
But does that mean they’re open to SMS marketing messages too?
To quote the Magic 8 Ball, “all signs point to yes.”
One poll that quizzed customers about connecting to companies via SMS found that almost two-thirds of customers preferred texting to voice communications. And 77% of respondents said they have a more positive impression of organizations that offer text communications.
Engagement metrics show a similar preference for text messages among consumers.
One study of 10,000 SMS campaigns found a click-through rate (CTR) benchmark of 30%! That’s 6-8 times higher than email, and miles above Google Ads, Facebook Ads, carrier pigeons, door-to-door sales (probably), and any other channel you can think of.
Finally, the market for SMS marketing still has a lot of room for new entrants.
In a Gen Z survey, for example, five out of six respondents said they would like more text messages from businesses, and another study found that 64% of consumers think businesses should contact them via SMS more often.
5. What does SMS marketing have that other channels don’t?
If you aren’t at least considering SMS marketing at this point, here are a few more things to consider:
➔ Access & convenience
We mentioned above that there are still a lot more mobile phones than smartphones worldwide. The Ericsson mobility visualizer found that almost 35% of potential shoppers around the world can only access brand deals via SMS messages.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Not only can you reach more prospects with SMS marketing, a CallHub report showed that 97% of companies interacted with their clients more efficiently by opening up text messages as a communication channel.
➔ More personal than chatbots
It’s kind of an open secret in the marketing world that most chatbots… aren’t very good.
The idea of chatbots and AI taking over basic customer interactions is exciting, especially for companies that are looking to save a buck on customer support.
But even after almost a decade of widespread use, most companies feel like chatbots are still too limited.
That’s why more businesses are pivoting to SMS. More than half of customers in one 2021 survey said that they prefer text messages for customer support, and again, it takes just 90 seconds on average for a recipient to answer an SMS message.
➔ More effective than email
When it comes to response time, email is closer to snail mail than SMS messages.
Research by Gartner found that the average response time for email is around 90 minutes — and that’s for legitimate emails that are more likely to garner (sorry) a response than a marketing message.
SMS messages, on the other hand, get responses in an average of 90 seconds. If you’re trying to get users to take action around a time-limited sale, for example, which one do you think will work better?
➔ More engaging than cold calls
While some companies still choose to pursue leads through cold calls and telemarketing, these tactics don’t move the needle like they used to.
In fact, one study found that only 20% of people today answer calls that they don’t expect. And that’s “answer,” not “order from,” so the return on investment (ROI) from most cold- calling campaigns these days is likely to be… well, if not zero, than really close to it.
In contrast, if you have an SMS marketing list, you know those prospects have opted in. This automatically makes them warmer leads than the prospects you’re reaching with cold calls.
And as a marketer, doesn’t “warm leads” sound more enticing (and profitable) than “cold calls”?
In conclusion, the data doesn’t lie — and there’s a lot of data.
SMS marketing could be the sweet spot for your company to acquire and nurture new leads, build relationships, encourage brand loyalty, and much more.
And as we’ve shown, customers want to get text messages from you. So why aren’t you sending them?