Many U.S. businesses rely on SMS marketing to engage customers and drive business success, so much so that the market for SMS could be worth over $12 billion by 2025.
At the same time, advancements in consumer mobile technology and wireless infrastructure — including the introduction of 5G networks — have made it faster, easier, and safer for people to use their phones to shop, purchase, and interact with brands, including via text message.
But while SMS (short message service — or texting) is one of the most popular and effective marketing channels today, there are also a lot of myths and misconceptions about it that can cause business owners and marketers to wonder: Does it work? Who does it actually work for? And is it worth the effort?
Let’s take a look at some of the top SMS marketing myths that might be holding you back, why they’re wrong, and how you can move past them.
1. It annoys your customers
On the face of it, it’s not wrong to want to avoid annoying your customers. And it’s true that too much communication can turn off even the most avid fans of your business.
But think about it this way: Your customers won’t sign up for text messages unless they want to hear from you. That means if they’ve made the effort to opt in, they already like your brand or business and expect to get texts from you. In fact, almost half (48%) of consumers would rather receive communication from a business via text than through any other channel. And once customers are opted in, you could see an average response rate of 45%, compared to email at around 6%.
Of course, that doesn’t mean inundating your customers with every type of message under the sun. You still want to be deliberate about what you’re sending and to whom. To avoid wearing out your welcome, make sure to follow SMS marketing best practices. This includes listening to your customers, segmenting them appropriately, and sending brief, conversational, customized messages that speak to their specific preferences and needs.
2. It only appeals to younger customers
Most of your tech-savviest customers are probably going to be Gen Zers and Millennials. But it’s inaccurate to think they’re the only ones interested in or capable of using SMS.
Many people across generations own a smartphone: 85% of the total U.S. population does, and as of 2021, over 60% of adults aged 65 do too. Additionally, nearly everyone uses their smartphone to text, including 92% of people aged 50 and older. And interestingly, a recent study found that 75% of Baby Boomers and 76% of Gen Xers think of their phones as a necessity, which is slightly more than Gen Zers and Millennials at 71% and 68%, respectively.
The reality is that smartphones and texting are so ubiquitous that communicating with your customers via text isn’t going to seem bewildering (plus, the customers who might find it too challenging aren’t likely to opt in). So whether your customers are old, young, or in between, consider that many are on their smartphones every single day and very comfortable with using them. SMS marketing simply helps you meet them exactly where they are.
3. It’s hard to get customers to opt in
OK, so you don’t have to worry as much about annoying your customers, or that only 20-year-olds will be interested, but at the end of the day, people are still people, and what’s really going to convince them to actually take the step of subscribing to SMS?
One of the biggest misconceptions about SMS is that you have to dangle a big discount in front of customers to get them to bite. But while this is certainly one way to do it, it’s not the only way — especially if you’re worried about how giving away copious discounts will impact revenue.
Try offering special or “insider” access to something instead. You can entice customers to sign up for SMS in exchange for getting first dibs on a new product or service, invitations to private sales, or exclusive access to parties or events. The idea is to make your customers feel special without having to cut too deeply into your profit margins.
Guide to SMS Compliance
4. It’s too complicated to set up and use
You’d be forgiven for thinking that SMS marketing requires learning and managing complex software, or perhaps hooking together multiple software solutions. Of course that would feel overwhelming to anyone — especially if you operate a local business, single franchise location, or digital agency with a small team and don’t have an IT wizard on staff.
However, many texting platforms are relatively easy to set up and use, and they automate much of the marketing function for you by segmenting customers, running texting campaigns, and tracking how the campaigns perform — without making you or your team jump through a lot of hoops or earn a PhD in technology.
You can adopt a user-friendly customer experience platform like GatherUp, which offers full-service SMS capabilities that integrate directly with your customer data (names, phone numbers, recent feedback, etc.). With the data, you can create targeted SMS campaigns and then analyze and report on your results — all in one place, no complicated hassles necessary.
5. It’s not well-suited for small businesses
The last myth standing in your way might be this: Only large companies have the clout to pull off an SMS marketing strategy.
But here’s the brilliant thing about SMS: Texting your customers is an excellent way to nurture relationships with them and build customer loyalty. And because small businesses tend to shine in that arena, more than their larger counterparts, this makes SMS a natural and highly effective extension of small business marketing.
Further, most small businesses are local businesses that can take advantage of the flexibility in timing of SMS communications to target customers at peak times, holidays, or for local events.
You can really drive the success of your SMS marketing strategy by sending texts that enable warm interactions with your customers:
- Does someone have a birthday? Text them with well wishes and offer a coupon.
- Got several repeat customers? Announce and invite them to join a loyalty program.
- Does a certain question keep coming up among your customers? Answer it in a text that goes out to everyone, further establishing your credibility as a business and letting your community of customers know you’re there for them. That is, after all, what small businesses do best.
To learn more about how SMS marketing integrated into GatherUp can support your business, franchise, or agency, contact us today.