8 Frequently Asserted SMS Text Marketing Misconceptions (and the Reality Behind Them)

June 6, 2024 | By: Guest Author
Woman texting

Since the 1990s, people have been using SMS texts to communicate. It’s great for pinging a quick message to friends—but many companies are still reluctant to incorporate it into their marketing strategy. Why? As with everything new, there are a lot of misconceptions knocking around. And that means many businesses are missing out on this popular communication channel.

So, in this article, we'll set the record straight by challenging eight common misconceptions about SMS marketing:

  1. It's an obsolete form of marketing
  2. It's intrusive and impersonal
  3. It can't reach older age groups
  4. It's too expensive
  5. It's not as effective as email marketing
  6. It only works for large companies
  7. It only works one way
  8. You need a cellphone to do it

Let's get started.

  1. It's an obsolete form of marketing

These days, there are many ways to reach people, from social media to smart call center solutions and instant messaging. So it’s tempting to dismiss SMS marketing as obsolete. After all, people have predicted the demise of texting for some time. But the SMS ad market is expected to show an annual growth rate of 2.15% between 2024 and 2028.

Graph of global sms marketing increase

Image sourced from databridgemarketresearch.com

Why hasn’t SMS marketing fizzled out? One reason is its convenience. For instance, if you want to tell customers about your remote support system, sending a text is much quicker than writing an email. It also means you’re immediately reaching your target audience: people with mobiles.

So, far from being obsolete, SMS marketing is here to stay. And not only stay but flourish.

  1. It's intrusive and impersonal

Another myth is that SMS marketing is intrusive, spammy, and lacks a personal touch. But SMS is actually less intrusive since customers have to opt in to receive it. And customers opt in because they want to hear from you: SMS messages have an open rate of 98%.

Of course, just because a customer opts in doesn’t mean they want you to bombard them with texts. It’s good practice to only send one or two texts a week, and some brands send as few as two a month. Providing value to customers is also important. So do some research to find out what your customers really care about.

That’s not to say you can’t personalize SMS marketing. For instance, you could include people’s first name at the start of the message. People also respond better to a conversational, friendly tone — as long as it’s still professional.

  1. It can't reach older age groups

There’s still a belief that texting is only for younger age groups. It isn’t. In fact, smartphone ownership accounts for 85% of the world’s population. In the US, this figure is even higher—almost the entire population of America is capable of sending and receiving SMS messages. And that includes messages from businesses.

Graph of US Mobile phone ownership

US mobile phone ownership

Image sourced from consumeraffairs.com

So the question businesses should ask isn’t “Can I reach my target audience?” but “How do I keep my target audience engaged?”. That’s where market research comes in. Find out who your target audience is and get to know their preferences.

  • Where do they like to shop?
  • Where do they spend the most time online?
  • Who spends the most money at your business?

Answering these questions can help you tailor your SMS marketing campaign to appeal to your unique customers. And that, in turn, will help maximize your customer lifetime value.

  1. It's too expensive

Many businesses avoid SMS marketing because they think it’s too expensive. But it’s actually very cost-effective. You don’t need expensive software or specialist technical knowledge to get started. You could start with as little as a phone and a phone plan! Just make sure you keep track of customer responses in a spreadsheet.

Of course, if you have a large subscriber list, then manually sending a text to each one would be time-consuming. But you can buy software that lets you send one message to many recipients without breaking the bank. Some of it’s even free. You also won’t need to spend money on copyediting or expensive graphics. You may want to explore ways of implementing AI in communication industry tools to help plan and produce your content.

SMS marketing can also boost revenue across your other marketing channels. For instance, if you notice a customer has stopped engaging with your emails, sending them a text can encourage them to start engaging again. And that could lead to more sales.

  1. It's not as effective as email marketing

Many people think emails are more effective than SMS marketing. But it’s actually the opposite. Many customers simply delete emails without opening them. The click-through rate (CTR) for email is even worse. So if you want customers to click on your link, you're better off sending a text.

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Graph of average click-through rate and conversion rate of email vs sms

Data from MailUp.com, eMarketer.com, and Barilliance.com

That's not to say email and SMS marketing can't complement each other. They can. Emails are good when you want to send a more detailed message with images, while SMS is good for sending short, attention-grabbing messages. And, as we've discussed, you can use SMS to re-engage inactive email subscribers.

  1. It only works for large companies

Another misconception about SMS marketing is that it only works for large companies. But smallest businesses shouldn’t shy away from SMS marketing. That’s because it works! SMS marketing is perfect for fostering the kind of one-to-one relationships small businesses are known for. It's affordable too, so you don't need the vast budget of a big company to use it.

Whatever size your company is, there are many types of campaigns you can run. For instance:

  • Personalized offers, discounts, and tips
  • Appointment reminders
  • Invitations to special events
  • Friend and family bonuses
  • Order updates and booking confirmations

The possibilities are vast! So think about what your business offers and how SMS marketing could work for you.

  1. It only works one way

In some cases, this is true. But you can make your SMS marketing messages two way. Some software lets you route customer responses straight to your phone, inbox, or direct message app. This makes SMS marketing great for gathering feedback. You can use information like this to improve your customer journey, from informing cold call scripts, to fine-tuning the online checkout process.

Many businesses even use SMS for customer support. For example, if a customer has questions regarding product information, such as troubleshooting instructions and warranty, they can simply text a customer support agent. This simplicity appeals to customers, but SMS customer support still lags behind other customer service channels.

Pie chart showing customers preferred channel to receive messages from brands

Image sourced from enchant.com

But businesses are beginning to realize the possibilities of two-way SMS messaging. And it could help address some common customer service pain points that harm a business's efficiency, such as:

  • Not having enough customer support staff
  • Not having enough efficiency tools
  • Long wait times

8. You need a cellphone to do it

The final SMS marketing misconception we'll tackle is that you need a cellphone to do it. In fact, most businesses use computer-based software to send their SMS marketing messages. One option is a virtual number.

A fixed VoIP number has a fixed address - like your business address. It's assigned to a user rather than a device, so you make calls or send texts over the Internet. It has several advantages over traditional texting, including:

  • Scheduling texts in advance.
  • Sending a text to tens or even hundreds of customers at once.
  • Organizing your subscriber list into different categories so you can send personalized messages.
  • Setting up auto-responses with predetermined triggers.

The cost of a VoIP plan can also be less than a traditional phone plan.

Reality check

Despite its advantages, there are many misconceptions floating around about SMS marketing. But SMS marketing is resilient. More and more businesses are adopting it, and its popularity is showing no sign of waning.

In this article, we've looked at eight common misconceptions about SMS marketing and provided a reality check. So if you’re looking to expand your marketing campaign, why not consider the humble text message? You may see your sales skyrocket!

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