The Psychology of SMS & Dopamine Texting: Why Texts Work

January 19, 2024 | By Sam Pelton
Texting psychology

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Your phone buzzes.

And it's not another email lost in the abyss of your email inbox.

It’s not a notification from a social media app vying for your fleeting attention.

It's a direct message, landing softly in the palm of your hand, demanding your immediate notice.

This is the magic of SMS marketing, a channel that bypasses the digital noise and taps straight into the psychology of human connection.

In this article, we’ll do a brief sweep over a few concepts of the psychology behind SMS marketing—so that you can better understand why and how it can be a huge benefit to businesses like yours.

Texting and Dopamine

Dopamine is the “wanting” chemical in our brains. This chemical drives us to want to “seek” something that triggers our “opioid” system when attained, leading to a feeling of temporary satisfaction.

Some experts suggest that texting induces a dopamine loop, which drives us to continually want to check our phones so that we get the opioid rush of responding to texts. This would explain why so many people are constantly checking their phones.

One result of this is that texting someone is one of the more effective ways to reach them—since it’s a channel they’re constantly checking anyway.

Curiosity and Excitement

Since texting may be associated with dopamine, it makes sense that curiosity can be a major factor in why we check our phones so often.

When we hear that “buzz,” our brains want to see what that text message is all about. And that curiosity can be very difficult to resist.

Businesses should keep this in mind but should also strive hard not to send texts that cause disappointment. If someone is curious about who has messaged them, due to dopamine, they may then feel disappointed or even annoyed after seeing it’s from a business—so you want to tailor your messages in such a way that your recipients find real value and actually feel excited when they see your message.

Emotional vs. Logical Persuasion

In regards to marketing in general, there are at least 2 different types of persuasion: emotional and logical.

We tend to think of ourselves as logical decision-makers. But in reality, we tend to be more emotion-based—and then we use logic to justify our emotional decisions.

While you don’t want to be manipulative or dishonest, since SMS is a more personal and brief method of communication, you may do well to lead with an emotional appeal to help your prospect or customer feel the value they’ll receive from your offer right away. But logical appeal is involved as well.

This type of persuasion via SMS marketing often comes in the form of scarcity—for example, “Don’t miss it! Save 50% when you order today. Get your savings here: [link]”

The emotion is that you don’t want to miss the deal. The logic is that you save money.

How Are You Implementing Psychology Into Your Marketing?

Understanding human behavior and thinking can go a long way toward helping you have effective marketing, and specifically SMS marketing.

Again, the point is not to be manipulative but to simply understand how the human mind works and use that understanding to inform how you go about marketing.

So how can you tap into curiosity, excitement, emotion, and logic to help your prospects and customers see the benefits your product or service can provide for them? What changes could you make in your marketing processes and messaging today?

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