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Is Text Message Marketing a Good Idea?

Text message marketing – not a new practice, but one that many companies have been apprehensive about leveraging. This apprehension is for good reason – people have a much lower threshold for text marketing outreach than most other marketing channels. We aren’t talking about appointment reminders or code confirmations – people widely use and appreciate these text notifications. We’re talking about sharing discounts, content, and updates – notifications with information similar to your email and social media outreach.

It’s can be an appropriate strategy to send out multiple emails a week – but if you tried that same frequency with text messages, you would be flagged as spam faster than you can say “check out this discount”. So how do you navigate the “magic secret weapon” articles on SMS marketing and understand if it is the right strategy for your company? And if it is the right strategy, how do you send texts that bring real value to your audience?

What some marketers say about text message marketing:

The open-rates are amazing!!

The average open rate for text message marketing is 80.2% while email open rates float around 24%. That seems like a no-brainer that the ROI should come rolling in the second you start sending.

But let’s add some context to that number.


  1. People will automatically assume texts are from friends, family, and colleagues… the people we physically give our numbers to. Text message marketing isn’t new news – everyone has had at least a few in their lives by now. But we get texts from unknown numbers, our thought process is “It’s probably an ad, but perhaps it’s my great aunt reaching out to say hello? Better check just in case”.
  2. On a psychological level, most of us have mild to severe addictions to our phones. Seeing a text notification come in releases dopamine (the pleasure-searching chemical) in our bodies – so it’s no surprise we act on that notification more than not. The physical reaction to receiving a text notification is up there with food, sex, and drugs.

Is it fair to base our marketing successes on the knee-jerk reactions of our audience? That open rate probably doesn’t give a well-rounded view of the value text message marketing brings.

However impressive the open-rate metrics are, you can gain more insight by looking at the second action taken. Maybe 80% of the viewers glanced at your message, but how many people clicked that second link or took that next action? That is the action that signifies the success of your text message campaign.

This text is so short, the text reciever may not understand it’s intent.

It takes minimal time to create a message because it can be short and casual!

Your message should indeed be much shorter than most communication formats, but this is a double-edged sword. Your message needs to be short while still engaging the reader. Writing a text message that warrants conversions takes effort. If you are not spending time on your copy, your reader may right the text off as spam immediately.

With other communication platforms, it is clear immediately who the sender is. An email has the sender and subject line, and social ads link to the social profiles. With text message marketing, you need to clearly state who you are, why you are reaching out, and how to act on the message in about 10-20 words.

If you fail to answer those questions, you aren’t giving enough context. And even if you manage to fit all of that information in, the message can still end up looking jumbled and suspicious.

So can text message campaign copy be short and casual? Yes. But does that make your job of creating an engaging message easier? Not so much.

This marketing campaign minimizes text annoyances by having the audience start the text communication.

Text message marketing can work when:

You explicitly receive permission to reach out via text message

Not only would it be spammy to reach out unsolicited with no opt-in, but it would also be illegal. You need to include in your initial outreach a yes/no option to continue communication, and can only grow relationships with the individuals who send back ‘yes’. However, even that first initial outreach can be viewed as spammy no matter what it says.

If you want to test SMS marketing without jeopardizing your reputation of trust, only send that initial message out to people that consciously opt-in to receive text message marketing. A phone number can feel a bit more intimate than giving out your email, so there is some level of trust in that channel of communication. You can easily break that trust through taking advantage of text messages, but if done right you can cultivate a more intimate form of relationship with a smaller group of people. But as they say: It is more valuable to have 100 true fans than 1,000 passive followers.

You reach out no more than a couple times per month

Once you build that audience for text message marketing, it is still a thin line between being helpful and annoying. The campaign frequency with text message marketing is different than other channels. With social ads, it’s acceptable to show a person the same ad a couple of times. Email is a bit less frequent, but you could easily send an email once a week or more without causing a landslide of unsubscribes.

But with text message marketing, the threshold of acceptance for communication is much lower before people opt-out. The max amount of text messages a company should send out is around 2 per month. This is because you don’t want to take advantage of the audience’s initial trust in you, and opting out of SMS marketing is so easy. One little “no” or “stop” text will permanently cut that line of communication.

This text does a good job of conveying value concisely without sacrificing the warm conversational tone.

You have something of value to offer

This is not the platform to reach out without a solid reason. Your message should convey  a deal so good that the reader would find it impossible to ignore. 

Offering a deal or incentive is also a great way to measure the success of your text message campaigns. If you are offering half-off or a different large discount and the reaction to the campaign is still minimal, that’s a good indicator that the messages aren’t well-received. If there is a large reaction, you know that the next campaign may not need to be as dramatic to get an ROI on your text message campaigns.

How do you create an SMS marketing lead list that wants you to reach out?

The first step to creating a list of actively engaged people is to only reach out to the individuals that can remember signing up to receive text notifications. This greatly maximizes the impact of your messages. Even if you have the phone number information for thousands of historical clients, consider continuing to build and strengthen your list through conscious text message marketing opt-ins.

Checkboxes on your forms with an incentive

Checkboxes on contact forms are an easy way to gain permission for text message marketing – for both you and the potential lead. With the right copy, you can maximize the number of opt-ins, and minimize any future unsubscribes.

Use details to pull people in.

Instead of saying “Opt-in to text message notifications for special deals!” use a specific inventive like “Sign up for text message notifications to receive 20% off your next purchase!” This makes the value of text message marketing more direct and immediate. Bonus – It will also boost the probability this customer will come back for a repeat purchase!

Don’t disguise marketing notifications as general notifications.

People are sensitive about spam. If an individual thinks they are signing up for appointment reminders and then start receiving deals and promotions, they could feel taken advantage of. Keep your message clear and that will minimize the number of quick unsubscribes.

Lead generation social ads with an incentive

Lead generation ads can be created in Facebook Ads Manager, and the incentive to get a phone number can be anything from gated content to an exclusive discount.

This is a powerful strategy because not only do people remember actively opting in, but they will also be looking out for your next message. This greatly increases the chance that this audience will take that coveted second action instead of just opening the text and ignoring it.

So in answer to the question “Is text message marketing a good idea?” the answer is you get out of it what you put into it.

If you are planning on using this channel with the same messages and frequency of your other marketing, you will probably get some backlash from your audience base and it could make your brand look spammy.

If you respect your audience’s personal space and information with infrequent, high-value messages, text message marketing could be an asset to your overall marketing strategy.

Want to discuss a text message marketing strategy for your company? Reach out to our team!

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