Text messaging has become a ubiquitous form of communication over the past 15 years. It’s the modern equivalent of sending a postcard at warp speed.
These short, personal messages are delivered instantaneously from one device to another – offering a frictionless alternative to more time-consuming methods like phone calls or emails.
Though they’re often used for frivolous purposes – like sharing GIFs or making weekend plans with friends – text messaging can actually serve as a foundational pillar for marketing and customer support.
But before you go “all in” on texting, you need to understand the pros and cons so that you can generate maximum value with minimum resources.
The technical name for text messaging is Short Message Service, better known as SMS. And while it’s only just become a popular mode of communication over the past couple of decades, it was actually invented in the 1980s.
SMS messages are sent over a cellular network and can be sent between any two devices with an active wireless plan. As you know, they allow one user to send a short-form message to another user.
These messages are limited to 160 characters (hence the “short” in Short Messaging Service). For many years, messages longer than this character limit would be split into multiple parts. Today, carriers automatically chain longer messages together so that they appear as a single message.
Before we dig into the power of SMS as a business tool, let’s zoom out and look at the bigger picture. Here are a few data points that may surprise you:
There are dozens of other statistics just like these, but you get the idea. SMS is not just a communication tool that people use in their personal lives. It’s also a viable option for business communication. As more businesses realize this, the SMS marketing industry will explode.
SMS is an extremely flexible mode of communication and can be deployed in a variety of ways. This versatility makes it the perfect tool for any brand’s growth “toolkit.” Here are a few of the most common options:
As the statistics above show, consumers want to interact with businesses via SMS. However, just 7 percent of businesses actually take advantage of text-based customer support.
SMS is ideal for customer service situations where a customer needs to share a picture in order to describe an issue. It’s also great for scenarios where the customer wants to remain fairly discrete and/or avoid waiting on hold for long periods of time.
By now, most customers have received an SMS-based appointment reminder from a doctor, dentist, or other service business. Even HVAC companies and real estate agents now send appointment reminders as text messages.
In addition to serving as reminders, these messages often offer additional options like canceling the appointment and/or tracking the appointment status. (The latter scenario is common for contractors visiting a property. Depending on the company’s native SMS integration, you may be able to pull up a map with the service professional’s GPS location to pinpoint when they’ll arrive.)
All major ecommerce platforms now offer customers the option of opting in to receive shipping notifications. These notifications can be used to track progress and even make changes to the order or delivery.
SMS shipping notifications are particularly powerful in situations where the customer has to be present in order to receive the delivery. These up-to-the-minute notifications make it easy for the customer to plan their day accordingly.
In a day and age where cybersecurity is vital to the integrity of all businesses, SMS can add an additional layer of security to your strategy. It’s commonly deployed as an airtight method of verifying/confirming passwords.
SMS works as part of an advanced two-factor authentication strategy. Instead of simply requiring a password to log into an account (which can easily be compromised), the user also needs to have their mobile device on hand. A short four- or five-digit pin code is sent to the device, which must be retrieved and then inputted as part of the login process for two-factor authentication.
SMS can be deployed as part of an internal communications strategy and leveraged at scale to provide HR updates, building and facilities alerts, staff scheduling updates, company meeting reminders, and even project management updates. It’s the perfect tool for reaching a large number of people with speed and efficiency. And, as we’ll discuss momentarily, the impressive open rate of SMS instills confidence that the message will be seen.
Did you know that email survey response rates tend to fall below the 25 percent threshold? By adding SMS to your strategy, you should be able to generate better results and hit your feedback targets. (The key is to keep surveys short and simple.)
When running a promotion, you want as many eyeballs on the promo as possible. And depending on the nature of the promo, there may be a very concentrated window of time where customers can take advantage of the discount, sale, or offer. SMS provides a fast and convenient way to reach customers at scale. When utilized alongside other traditional methods, it’s highly effective and engaging.
As you can see, SMS can be used for much more than GIFs and emojis. When integrated as part of a larger strategy, it has the ability to support other initiatives and endeavors. Here are a few of the pros:
SMS has clear potential. It’s all a matter of how you use it. When intentionally implemented with your budget and target market in mind, it can provide a rather impressive ROI. Having said that, it comes with a learning curve.
While SMS has plenty to offer, it’s not perfect by any means. Here are some of the drawbacks and limitations that are worth considering:
Hopefully these drawbacks don’t totally push you away from SMS. However, we’d be doing you a disservice if we didn’t at least mention some of the main challenges. Keep them in mind as you consider how to proceed.
When you contrast the pros and cons, you’ll most likely find that SMS has the potential to be a net positive for your business. And if you do decide to go this route, you’ll need a plan to get started.
With so many different SMS marketing platforms on the market, we recommend carefully analyzing each based on a few factors. This may include:
With dozens of different SMS service providers to choose from, you’ll have to spend some time analyzing and comparing options. At the end of the day, choose the one that offers the best potential for scaling with your business over time.
As an SEO company, we believe in modern digital marketing solutions that are cost-effective and easy to implement. We accomplish this through a variety of avenues, including link building, content marketing, and premium public relations.
If you’re looking to develop a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that combines a variety of modes and mediums (like SMS), we’d love to chat. Contact us today, and we’d be happy to discuss the power of the content and how it can help your business grow in a sustainable manner.