Marketing through television and radio broadcast messages is declining. Now, companies and organizations are developing strategies to reach individuals on their mobile devices. It’s nothing new, but there’s an effective mobile marketing channel that many companies haven’t tried. This channel is SMS marketing.
90% of text messages are opened within 3 minutes of being received. Additionally, the number of adults in the U.S. that have smartphones is increasing. As many as 64% of adults in the United States own a smartphone.
With this in mind, we wanted to find out how people use their smartphones to communicate and study their willingness to receive text messages from businesses. We polled 1,000 individuals about their phone usage and discovered:
People are most likely to communicate with friends and family members via text messages. 55.2% of those polled said they’re most likely to send a text message to reach their friends and family members—almost 20% more than those who are most likely to call. Only 6.9% of respondents said they were most likely to send a message to friends and family via social media apps.
Quote: “I’d say I send hundreds of texts a day between talking to friends, family, and coworkers.” – Cristina Trecata, Account Coordinator, 5W Public Relations
Takeaway: People are more likely to communicate with friends and family by text despite the billions of users who have social media apps on their phones.
With more options for communicating, we wanted to better understand if smartphone users were texting as often as they did a year ago.
We discovered that most individuals send and receive text messages at about the same rate that they did a year ago. Only 22% of individuals said they send fewer text messages than they did a year ago. A greater percentage of people—24.2%—said they text more often than they did a year ago. Overall, texting is marginally up.
Quote: “[Texting] is the main way to keep in touch with two important coworkers about our schedules and emergencies.” – Chris Grant, Analytics Director, Enlighten Agency
Takeaway: Though there are increasingly more options for communicating, the majority of people send and receive about the same amount of text messages as they did a year ago.
Our research also identified a person’s willingness to receive text messages from doctor’s offices, sports leagues, and churches. When asked if they were likely to share their phone number to receive text messages with these organizations, 45.3% of respondents stated that they were likely to share their phone number. 15.2% of respondents were very likely to do so.
Quote: “My doctor confirms all of my appointments via text, and I can cancel via text.” – Michael Bremmer, Telecomquotes
When segmenting respondents by gender, we identified that women are more likely to share their phone numbers to receive text messages than men. 54.2% of women polled said they were likely to share their number to receive text message notifications. Of these, 18% were very likely to do so.
Men, on the other hand, are not as likely to share their number to receive text messages. Only 40.2% of male respondents said they were likely to share their phone number to receive text messages. 12.4% were very likely to do so.
Quote: “If I’m attending an event that offers notifications, I subscribe.” – Stephanie Heacox, Founder and CEO, Shareagenarians
Takeaway: Both men and women are likely to share their phone number with businesses such as doctor’s offices, sports leagues, and churches, but women tend to be more willing to do so. More than half of women are likely to share their phone number to receive text messages from doctor’s offices, sports leagues, or churches.
We also wanted to understand how likely individuals are to share their phone numbers with businesses to receive text messages about sales, coupons, or upcoming events. 13.8% of respondents said that they were likely to share their number to receive text messages from a business.
While only a portion of individuals were willing to receive text messages from businesses, our research identified the impact a discount would have on their willingness to receive promotional text messages. We asked respondents how large a discount on a $100 purchase would need to be for them to share their phone number with a business.
57.3% of respondents were willing to share their phone number with a business if they received a discount of less than 40%. 23.3% of respondents were willing to share their number to receive promotional text messages for a discount of less than 20%.
When reviewing different segments of respondents, we found that ages 18–24 were significantly more likely to share their phone numbers than the average consumer. 72.2% of them were willing to share their phone number with a business to receive promotional text messages for a discount of less than 40%. Of those, 25.5% were willing to share their number to receive promotional text messages for a discount of less than 20%.
Quote: “Text message notifications are useful from businesses as long as they’re substantial…” – Leeyen Rogers, VP of Marketing, JotForm.com
Takeaway: While consumers are less willing to receive promotional text messages from businesses, providing a discount to customers will increase their willingness to share their phone number in order to receive promotional text messages in the future.
The results of the study show that text message usage remains high among smartphone owners despite additional communication options. Additionally, individuals are especially open to receiving notifications via text message from organizational and provider subsets such as doctor’s offices, sports leagues, and churches. While they are less comfortable with the idea of receiving promotional text messages, many individuals are willing to do so for a discount between 0% and 40% off a $100 purchase.
In addition, women and individuals between the ages of 18–24 are most comfortable receiving text messages from organizations and businesses.
The continued popularity of texting and the measurable group of individuals willing to receive text messages from businesses and organizations suggest that there is an opportunity for businesses to build their relationship with customers and potential customers through text message marketing.
Building a text marketing strategy and list can help businesses and organizations in many ways. For a much smaller budget than traditional mailers require, and a higher open rate than email, businesses and organizations can stay connected to their customers more frequently with the knowledge that their message is being seen. Text messaging provides a safe “arm’s length distance” interaction with customers that keeps them engaged with your organization—and, if done correctly, it can strengthen brand loyalty.
Here are some tips on when and how to communicate with your opt-in customers:
By actively using text marketing for businesses, marketers can help grow businesses or organizations, though it seems most businesses have not adopted this opportunity.
If you’re on the fence, or if you’ve got excuses as to why SMS is not a viable marketing option for you, just think of these types of companies that utilize the platform every day. Uber uses SMS to communicate with customers on each driver’s arrival time. Banks send account updates and balances via SMS. Airlines text passengers regarding alerts, flight delays, and gate changes. And large retailers send customers deep discount updates in real time. Organizations can even utilize SMS integrations to connect their existing software to better reach their target audience.
As we see in this study, individuals are comfortable with receiving texts from businesses and organizations with the right messaging and incentives. Based on your strategy, text message marketing should enhance any overall marketing plan as an engaging and more personal piece of the overall brand strategy. Like every good relationship, in marketing you give to get.