There are many marketing tools at one’s disposal these days, from TV ads and print ads, to bulk mailers and billboards. However, one of the newest of these tools is SMS marketing, which is a marketing campaign sent out via text messaging.
With the prevalence of cell phones and people’s reliance on these communication devices, it makes sense that people and businesses looking to promote themselves or sell their goods and services would turn to SMS marketing. It is what some might consider the wave of the future. Craft a short and compelling text message and send it out to hundreds or thousands of people in an effort to gain their favor. It seems easy enough.
The problem lies in understanding the pros and cons of this form of marketing campaign, and what the consequences can be for not doing due diligence prior to engaging in this form of advertising. As Beto O’Rourke, the democratic Senate candidate from Texas, can attest to, there are certainly some drawbacks to going with SMS marketing. Considering O’Rourke and his campaign are being sued by a McKinney, Texas man over the text messages he received on behalf of the candidate, anyone who is interested in this form of marketing needs to weigh out what works best in terms of reaching people without alienating them.
Too many texts being sent out and one risks annoying people or in extreme cases, like the situation with Beto O’Rourke’s campaign, possible lawsuits. However, if done properly and in a manner that actually snags a person’s interest, SMS marketing can be a positive tool in a business arsenal.
Among the benefits of using SMS marketing are its ability to be personal, the convenience of sending a text, and making it easier to quickly get a message across. In general, text messages are a form of communication that is highly personal, which means that reaching out to customers or other interested parties in this manner can vastly improve on engagement. At the same time, there is a sense of convenience to this form of marketing because people are carrying their cell phones with them, and in turn this means that they can always be reached via text.
Of course the other benefit of SMS marketing is its ability to get a message across quickly and easily. By forcing a business or campaign to simplify the message they want to get across in order to fit into a text, it allows the consumers more of an opportunity to read the marketing material.
There are also some downsides to choosing SMS marketing, including not having a lot of characters to get a message across (a standard text should be no more than 160 characters), having the option to opt out of receiving these messages, not being able to include the all important call-to-action, and in the case of Beto O’Rourke’s senatorial campaign, the dreaded lawsuit over what amounts to harassment.
While consumers will likely have given a business or campaign permission to reach out to them via text, they can still choose to opt out of receiving further messages. This defeats the purpose of SMS marketing, as now the consumer is not even getting the message.
Another drawback is the amount of characters the marketing team has to use in order to craft their message. With 160 characters, simplicity is required. However, this can also be time-consuming as it requires more thought in order to get everything across in a shorter text. This shorter text will also mean that often the call-to-action is not included in SMS marketing campaigns. Typically a call-to-action is considered the motivator that draws people in, and with a shorter message there simply is not the room necessary to include one.
Finally, there are the legal ramifications of choosing SMS marketing. There are laws that govern the use of phones to disseminate information, and the Federal Communication Commission’s 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act was designed to cut back on telemarketing calls, which in turn seems to also apply to text messages. With a marketing campaign via text, consent is the key, or else a lawsuit is seemingly inevitable because of perceived harassment.
While SMS marketing is gaining favor as the go-to marketing tool for people looking to reach more individuals, it is still important to understand what it entails, where the benefits are, and of course what is negative about sending texts to get a message across. For many businesses, organizations, and even individuals, text messaging might seem like the right choice, but for others it could be more trouble than its worth. It is up to every business to weigh out the pros and cons and decide for themselves if this is the right tool for the job (whatever that job might be).
Written by Kimberley Spinney
Dallas News: McKinney man sues Beto O’Rourke campaign (for a lot of money) over unwanted text messages
Canoe Media Services: The Pros and Cons of Text Marketing
Life Wire: Mobile Marketing – Pros and Cons of SMS Marketing
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