SMS, or text message marketing, is the world’s simplest way to stay in touch with your customers. It’s the classic email marketing model but it’s even more effective because you send your messages straight to people’s phone rather than their email inbox. While some marketers swear that this is a fool-proof marketing channel, others call it a huge waste of time. The truth is that it all depends on what you want to do with it. Before you get started, you should know the pros and cons.
Straight to the Phone
The most obvious advantage of SMS marketing is that your messages go straight to people’s phones, which they have with them 24/7. You can offer them deals in real-time that they can use instantly. It gives your messages a much more personal, customized feel.
You can reach your customers when they’re on the go, which is exactly what you want. You can create location-based apps which they install on their phone. These apps send them the coupon or promotions right at the point of sale. For example, if you’re offering coupons for a coffee shop, you can use GPS to send your message when they’re walking on the same block as the shop.
Mobile users love to interact with their favorite brands on their phones. Desktop computer web surfers are much more passive. You can take advantage of this and create mobile apps that get your customers engaged with your brand. This builds better brand loyalty and customer retention rates.
Email Marketing: The Text Message Precedent
Finally, email marketing to mobiles is effective because people are already accustomed to receiving emails on their desktop computers. Most people are members of at least a few lists, so there’s nothing new about it. The precedent is already in place.
One of the downsides of sms marketing is that your messages have to be short. We’re talking around 160 characters, not words. That’s about as long as a Twitter tweet. You have to say it fast and get to the point. This is a tremendous challenge if you’re used to writing email messages or sales pages.
There are plenty of federal regulations about bulk text messaging and they’re strictly enforced. If not done right, email marketing to mobiles is considered spam. While we’re used to getting a certain number of spam messages a day in our computer inboxes, this isn’t tolerated with mobiles. You have to make sure people opt-in and you’re not sending too many messages. It’s also trickier to get people to opt in since most are more wary of spam on their phones than on their computers.
Unlike computer email campaigns, delivery failure is a fact of life with bulk SMS marketing. Even with quality providers, some of your messages simply won’t go through. SMS is simply not as reliable a transport system just yet.
How to make text marketing work? The answer all lies in how well you know your target market. Just like any type of marketing campaign, you need to know exactly what your market likes, what they want and what they do with their phones in order to reach them. This is the key to making mobile work for you.