SMS Marketing: Short Form, Big Return?

Is Short Message Service (SMS) dead? This idea has been gaining ground over the past year, with some experts claiming that free and for-pay text apps will soon replace SMS marketing.

According to Light Reading, however, there is life in those old bones yet. Despite losses in the person-to-person SMS market, application-to-person SMS marketing is enjoying a 6 percent compound annual growth rate.

If you are a small company trying to make a global impact with SMS, can you still get the message across?

Go Mobile, Stay Global

It’s no surprise that mobile ad spending continues to rise. As noted by recent research analysis from mobiThinking, video and audio ads will see significant global growth this year. It is worth noting that Asia continues to dominate this market with 33.6 percent of total mobile ad spend this year. Gartner, meanwhile, estimates a worldwide total of $20.6 billion spend on mobile ads this year, and ABI Research says this number will hit $24 billion by 2016. Put simply, mobile advertising is big business and shows no signs of slowing down.

Hail the King

So, where does SMS fit into this picture? Despite doom and gloom predictions, SMS remains a powerful force in the world of mobile marketing. According to SlickText, SMS messaging produces engagement rates that are six to eight times higher than email and are read within an average of five seconds after being received. SlickText said that 57 percent of consumers said they would be interested in opting into an SMS loyalty program. However, the big takeaway is that 90 percent of users who participated in an SMS program felt it offered value.

Tapping In

The mobile ad market is growing, and SMS is far from dead. In fact, business-to-consumer messaging is on the rise. A recent Forbes article has some good advice for companies that want to tap in. Start with service, then carefully add promotion. While 64 percent of consumers think that organizations should be more willing to communicate via text, the most important aspects of a text service for customers include peace of mind (39 percent) and quality service (36 percent). In other words, a marketing-heavy campaign won’t get the messaging across. Companies need to start with regular, open communication and work their way up.

Your business also faces the challenge of marketing to a global audience. Since text messages can’t be wordy, you have a limited amount of space to make a great impression. As a result, localization is key to having a worldwide impact. Quick translations run the risk of over-simplication or missing the mark altogether. The worst-case scenario is that you end up offending potential clients with poor word choice or imagery, and they spread the slip-up to their friends via social media.

With great SMS reach comes great responsibility. It’s a powerful force and brand advocate so long as you focus on service and don’t skimp on localization.

Image source: Bigstock

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About Doug Bonderud

Doug Bonderud is a freelance technology writer with a passion for telling great stories about unique brands. For the past five years, he's covered everything from cloud computing to home automation and IT security. He speaks some French, is fluent in Ancient Greek and a master of Canadian English — and yes, colour needs a 'u'.