It’s Not Too Late to Add Text Messaging to Your Marketing Strategy
“Text messaging is still in the early-adopter phase at most companies,” Reid acknowledges. “Although many companies are starting to use text messaging, I would estimate that only 15 percent to 20 percent of companies presently have a well-developed text messaging strategy that they use in their marketing.”
But while many companies don’t know how to leverage the technology or how to incorporate it into their marketing strategies, the bigger issue with text messaging from a corporate standpoint is a mistaken belief that customers really don’t want to receive text messages and a misplaced desire to respect the privacy of their customers.
To the contrary, there is now a wide body of research that shows customers—especially younger ones—actually want text messages. Research by Zipwire, for example, found recently that more than two-thirds (71 percent) of consumers ages 30 to 44 would communicate with businesses by text more frequently if they had the opportunity, while 65 percent of those 18 to 29 years of age said they would do the same. More than half of all consumers reported a preference for text messages over phone calls, while one-third prefers text messages over email.
“The key is to use text in a respectful way with customers,” Reid says. “Companies must ask themselves how to do that.’”
Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach, Fla., offers several etiquette recommendations for companies looking to use text messaging. Among the most important are knowing your audience, communicating clearly, responding promptly, and not being long-winded.
Providing a path for customers and prospects to opt in to receiving text messages is also highly advisable—as is allowing customers to opt back out if they change their minds. The latter is important; too many companies fail to honor opt-out requests, and this can create bad feelings.
MAKING THE CASE
Meanwhile, the case for using text messaging in marketing and communications is building. Banks, financial institutions, healthcare providers, retail stores, travel companies, and restaurants have been among the top industries to benefit from sending service-related text messages. In healthcare, appointment reminders are the most frequent types of messages communicated, followed by instructions for upcoming procedures.
Many schools now use text messages to inform parents and students about school closures, safety concerns, and upcoming events.
In the retail space, Reid recalls a home improvement store that wanted to try turning warm leads into hot leads and sales by using text messaging. More than half of its warm leads responded to text messages, and these communications resulted in almost $100,000 in new business.
In the fast food market, companies like Jack in the Box, Texas Roadhouse, and Taco Bell moved to text message promotions instead of email and saw coupon redemption rates skyrocket. At the same time, their customer databases grew by thousands, and many of their online subscribers continued to maintain their subscriptions long term.
Although there are still concerns about consumers getting inundated with messages or being offended when they receive text messages from anyone other than family or friends, the number of arguments in favor of companies getting involved in text messaging as part of their marketing strategies far outweigh the downsides. Ultimately, companies that don’t adopt text messaging face the very real danger of falling behind their competitors.
Consider the following survey findings to support this notion:
- Eighty-five percent of consumers expressed a preference for text messages over email or voicemail, according to an AT&T survey.
- Millennial open rates for text messages are at around 98 percent. This compares to an open rate of around 20 percent for standard email, according to MarketingProfs data.