Text Message (SMS) – Why it’s a marketing paradise (and my nightmare)

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sms logo, digital marketing paradise, The Myndset brand strategy

When looking at the ever evolving improvements made to the Gmail interface (my primary email client), I shudder when I think about the unprotected SMS inbox.  As a consumer, we are basically defenceless.  As such, the text message could become a digital marketing paradise, compared to the email.  Yes, there’s a cost to each text message, but the empty inbox should provide a tempting space for marketers.  All the more so because the SMS inbox is a more personal space on my smartphone.  And we all know how hard it is to change mobile service providers (and how very inconvenient it is to change telephone numbers).

Primitive SMS inbox

texting, digital marketing paradise, Myndset brand strategy

Gmail and most email clients provide ways to sort and prioritize incoming email.  The spam filter stops endless pleas from Nigeria and other unwanted harrasments.  Moreover, it learns from the way you deal with certain senders.  There is usually a (more or less circuitous) way to unsubscribe to an email newsletter.  SMS, on the other hand, is as primitive as it was when it first appeared — no matter the operating system you might use.   Admittedly, the volume of SMS on my phone remains reasonable (no more than 10 per day).  Compared to my email inbox, that’s virgin territory.  But, when you hear about 18-24 year olds who send on average 2,022 per month, you know that the inbox could become much more crowded.

SMS client: new functionalities required

Why is it that there is no extra functionality in the SMS inbox other than reply or delete?   I’d be all the more upset about the horrible interface if I were sending and receiving 80 messages per day on that small screen.  About the only interesting thing I have seen come out of the SMS space is the ability to cross over between my mac and iphone thanks to iMessages.  Otherwise, the SMS inbox feels much like it has since its inception.  I would love to have a way to indicate spam, unsubscribe or file incoming messages.  Wouldn’t you?  {Click to tweet if you agree!}  If you hear of any such services, do let me know.

Digital marketing paradise (or nightmare)?

SMS received, digital marketing paradise, Myndset brand strategy

Until such functionality arrives, the SMS would seem like a digital marketing paradise, and potentially a consumer’s nightmare.  Obviously, there is the question of the ROI and the conversion rates, about which I remain ignorant as I have never delved into SMS marketing, personally.  On the other hand, without spam filters and no easy way to unsubscribe, I can imagine that, in the wrong hands, some marketers will find ways to pollute our SMS inbox.

One of the big benefits of the text message these days is that, like Twitter, the message must be short form.  And because it arrives more often than not on a smartphone, a link is clickable.  With geofencing options growing, the SMS may be a handy device for retailers on the high street.  Some businesses are using the text message more regularly and some with good effect — I cite a clever hairdresser chain in Brighton who sends useful reminders for appointments.  What is clear for me is that, in order to be successful over the long haul, SMS or text messaging marketing should be careful to respect the personal nature of one’s SMS inbox, otherwise, one may be quick to feel like one’s space has been invaded.  In the meantime, don’t you agree that we should get some new functionality to protect ourselves?

Your thoughts and reactions, please?

8 Comments, RSS

  1. I absolutely agree! SMS can be really useful, but most of the time the people that hit it hardest seem to be the hard-sales companies who have bought a list and aren’t offering anything relevant to 99% of the people they send to.

    As a result of your post I did a search on Google’s Play Store and found there are some apps that are trying to solve this problem: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=block+sms+… – however, to make marketers more cautious about sending SMS this feature should be a standard on every phone.

  2. I absolutely agree! SMS can be really useful, but most of the time the people that hit it hardest seem to be the hard-sales companies who have bought a list and aren’t offering anything relevant to 99% of the people they send to.

    As a result of your post I did a search on Google’s Play Store and found there are some apps that are trying to solve this problem: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=block+sms+… – however, to make marketers more cautious about sending SMS this feature should be a standard on every phone.

  3. SMS marketing is expected to continue and dominate the advertising scope. This is simply because this is one of the most efficient tools out there. SMS marketing allows advertisers and business owners to reach their exact target audience on a channel in which the distance between the promotional message and the actual purchase is probably the shortest.

  4. SMS marketing is expected to continue and dominate the advertising scope. This is simply because this is one of the most efficient tools out there. SMS marketing allows advertisers and business owners to reach their exact target audience on a channel in which the distance between the promotional message and the actual purchase is probably the shortest.

  5. Callum Finlayson

    Interesting post Minter, though I think there are a couple of things that
    weigh against the likelihood of a significant increase in spam SMS
    marketing messages.

    In the UK the Privacy & Electronic Communication Regulations of
    2003 and 2011 are much easier to enforce against SMS than email due
    to the role of the network operators. You mention that SMS is
    perceived by the user as a much more personal/intimate space than
    many other communication channels and I think you’re quite right —
    but while this may mean that an SMS is getting “closer” to the
    recipient than a corresponding email, I think it also means that the
    recipient may be more likely to respond negatively (eg complain to
    their network) to SMS they perceive as intrusive.

    Masses of spam email is often perceived as normal, and even if it
    gets hidden away by the email client’s spam filters we’re aware of
    it — and reminded of it as the message count next to the spam
    folder climbs inexorably higher. Spam SMS however feels much more
    transgressive — precisely because it’s both less ubiquitous and
    unfiltered.

    SMS will remain a useful medium for many purposes — primarily I
    think for the sort of B2C communications you mention in the final
    paragraph, in particular for highly targeted marketing. For many
    heavy messaging users, particularly those in their teens and early
    20s who’ve had smartphones their entire lives, the medium they
    communicate by is an important aspect of their messaging — while
    Blackberry flourished with teens for a while because of it’s cheap
    messaging offerings, ultimately it succumbed to cross-platform
    channels, and in particular messaging apps.

    SMS’s cardinal virtues are its simplicity and ubiquity, yet in the
    eyes of the heaviest messaging users the latter counts for little
    (they can use the same messaging app as their friends whether
    they’re on iPhone, Android, Windows, or whatever) and the former
    actively counts against it (Twitter is the paragon of brevity, and
    that provides all multimedia capabilities they want while
    integrating seamlessly with the other technologies in their life.

  6. Callum Finlayson

    Interesting post Minter, though I think there are a couple of things that
    weigh against the likelihood of a significant increase in spam SMS
    marketing messages.

    In the UK the Privacy & Electronic Communication Regulations of
    2003 and 2011 are much easier to enforce against SMS than email due
    to the role of the network operators. You mention that SMS is
    perceived by the user as a much more personal/intimate space than
    many other communication channels and I think you’re quite right —
    but while this may mean that an SMS is getting “closer” to the
    recipient than a corresponding email, I think it also means that the
    recipient may be more likely to respond negatively (eg complain to
    their network) to SMS they perceive as intrusive.

    Masses of spam email is often perceived as normal, and even if it
    gets hidden away by the email client’s spam filters we’re aware of
    it — and reminded of it as the message count next to the spam
    folder climbs inexorably higher. Spam SMS however feels much more
    transgressive — precisely because it’s both less ubiquitous and
    unfiltered.

    SMS will remain a useful medium for many purposes — primarily I
    think for the sort of B2C communications you mention in the final
    paragraph, in particular for highly targeted marketing. For many
    heavy messaging users, particularly those in their teens and early
    20s who’ve had smartphones their entire lives, the medium they
    communicate by is an important aspect of their messaging — while
    Blackberry flourished with teens for a while because of it’s cheap
    messaging offerings, ultimately it succumbed to cross-platform
    channels, and in particular messaging apps.

    SMS’s cardinal virtues are its simplicity and ubiquity, yet in the
    eyes of the heaviest messaging users the latter counts for little
    (they can use the same messaging app as their friends whether
    they’re on iPhone, Android, Windows, or whatever) and the former
    actively counts against it (Twitter is the paragon of brevity, and
    that provides all multimedia capabilities they want while
    integrating seamlessly with the other technologies in their life.

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