The Gist Of SMS: Why It Works, And The Dangers Of Doing It Badly

Some consumers welcome text messages from brands. They also respond to them: 38% have purchased a service and 50% have bought a product after receiving a timely promotional ping or a reminder of an abandoned cart via SMS, according to a new international study by Validity. 

But text remains an iffy channel for marketers who use it badly. For instance, 96% of shoppers have at least occasionally been annoyed by irrelevant texts about products they have already purchased. And, of those, 28% have stopped doing business with the offending brands, and 14% have left negative public reviews. 

The problems are perceived lack of purchase history knowledge and blatant disregard for customer communication preferences, the company states.

“Marketers who’ve mastered the art of SMS are able to create campaigns that increase customer engagement and satisfaction, and ultimately drive revenue for their business, says Kate Adams, senior vice president of marketing at Validity. 



But Adams adds that “the findings of this report are also a cautionary tale because the opposite is equally true. When SMS is done poorly, businesses risk alienating large swaths of customers.”

Another problem is frequency — 49% feel excessive texting is the most annoying aspect of SMS. But 97% would welcome customized frequency, and 81% say it would make them more likely to buy from a brand. 

Email teams shouldn’t worry that texting is going to soon supplant email: only 19% rank SMS as their preferred communication channel, above email, social media, direct mail and app notifications. 

Privacy is another factor —70% fear texts might pose a data risk. And, of those, 66% worry about brands selling their data or fear clicking a link leading to a scammer. 

That doesn’t stop 66% of those who are concerned about a data risk from signing up to garner rewards, such as company updates, shipping notifications and free merchandise. Drilling down, 16% would like to receive these messages from brands 2-3 times per week.  

Adams concludes that “many marketers don’t know how to incorporate SMS effectively, and often attempt to apply age-old email marketing tactics--which aren’t effective in this medium.”

But, when complemented with email, text has enabled brands to reach an array of customers directly on their personal mobile device, the company notes. 

Validity surveyed 1,200 SMS, text, and WhatsApp users across the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.


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