★ Ultimate guide to sms marketing ★

What Makes SMS Marketing Different?


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Before we get into the how of SMS marketing, it’s important to note what sets it apart from other advertising platforms. While each form of marketing has its advantages and disadvantages, SMS marketing has a more specialized role than other media. SMS marketing is about driving customers to action through time-sensitive notifications. In this way, the relationship between marketer and consumer is distinct from their relationship in other forms of marketing.

Below are attributes that distinguish SMS marketing from other channels.


SMS is permission-based

Fundamentally, SMS marketing requires user consent. That is, the mobile user must opt in before you send them the first message. You can’t just import a list of phone numbers and start sending. Doing so will lead to two problems. First, users will immediately block your number because it’s an intrusive violation of their privacy. Second, it’s a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and you risk being fined $1,500 per unsolicited text.

The opt-in model is how trust is established between the business and the consumer. Because consumers agree to join and stay on the list, you can be sure that your customers see value in your messages.

Instant delivery

Text messages are delivered to customers almost immediately, even in cellular coverage areas without internet connectivity.

Further, once a message is delivered, its recipients are far more likely to view the message. According to a 2010 survey by Frost & Sullivan, over 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes, compared to 22% for email, 29% for tweets, and 12% for Facebook posts. This discrepancy is likely because the text inbox is much less saturated with marketing messages.

Always inbox

As other marketing channels become more and more saturated by spammers and your competitors, text inboxes remain relatively quiet. According to a 2009 Neustar survey, the average user receives 1,216 emails per month, but only 178 text messages. This contrast means it’s easier to cut through the noise with a text message.

Furthermore, there aren’t any spam filters to navigate, as there are on email programs and social networks. This feature lets you be sure that your message will reach its intended recipient.


High open rates

According to the same Frost & Sullivan study, 98% of text messages are ultimately opened. In this category, text messages trump emails, which have open rates ranging from 60% at best to 1% at worst. Simply put, your messages will be seen by everyone who knows how to use text messaging on their mobile device.

Mobile native

Because texting was originally built for mobile usage, users intuitively understand its benefits and limitations. In other words, there’s no learning curve or user interface problems with SMS marketing. In addition, the 160-character limit for all text messages ensures a brevity that’s designed for users on the go. Because the messages are short, the user will be more likely to read it.

High adoption rates

According to the most recent Pew Research Center data available, over 90% of adults in the United States have cellphones, while only 64% of adults have smartphones. Virtually all cellphones have texting capability, so almost all adults can be reached by text. Many places in the United States still don’t have reliable or fast 3G service, but virtually everywhere has basic cell service. These factors combined mean that texts reach more adults than any other mobile platform.

Trackable outcomes

Unlike older, more traditional forms of advertising, text marketing gives businesses a clearer view into the performance of their campaigns. Using coupon codes and link clicks, customer actions can be tracked during nearly every stage of the text campaign. With this data, businesses can track measures like response rate and return on investment.

These characteristics set text marketing apart. In the next section, we’ll hammer out all the necessary terms, basic features of texting, and types of text marketing campaigns.

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