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3 Challenges of SMS Marketing


November 7, 2014

3 Challenges of SMS Marketing

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How many marketing messages do you think you see each day? 100? 500?

Try 5,000.

Now how would you feel if some of those 5,000 messages were delivered directly into your pocket over text? It would be pretty annoying, right?

According to a study conducted by Yankelovich Consumer Research (no relation to Weird Al), the average American sees 10 times as many ads as they did in the 1970s. The study also found that over 60% of people feel advertising and marketing are out of control.

SMS marketing is powerful, but with great power comes great responsibility. Here are three challenges of SMS marketing you should think about.

It’s not as individualized

Most businesses use short codes for SMS marketing: these are 5-6 digit numbers designed to manage a huge amount of incoming and outgoing traffic. The downside to sending out a gajillion text messages is that you lose some of the personal connection you get from 1-to-1 text messages. According to research by DemandGen, 40% of consumers more likely to buy from retailers who personalize their communications across channels.

It’s not conversational

A lot of businesses use texting to keep in touch with their customers. While this is a great way to stay top-of-mind, it’s not a great way to create a dialogue. Without giving customers the chance to respond (other than in the form of a keyword), you’re basically just yelling at them to present this digital coupon for 20% off your next purchase. This is bad because instead of fostering a relationship and encouraging conversation, you’re overwhelming them with solely your content without getting any feedback. Having a reply strategy that supports automated or live responses will help facilitate the conversation that SMS marketing lacks.

It’s strictly regulated

Because of the near-unlimited sending power that comes with short codes, there are a lot of rules restricting how it can be used. For example, companies can only send marketing messages to those who have opted in, meaning they have to get permission from the user to send messages in the future. This rule is there for a reason: companies like Papa John’s have overstepped their bounds in the past, angering customers and finding themselves facing a $250 million lawsuit. If you’re worried about managing effective opt-in/opt-out, it might be time to start letting your customers text your company. Then, there’s no question about whether or not they’re cool with texting your brand.


If you do decide to use SMS marketing, keep these limitations in mind. You want your business to be noticed, but not for the wrong reasons and you want to be respectful not only of your customers but also the expectations around the channel you’re using. Don’t text people if they can’t text you.

To learn more about text-enabling your business, professionally designed or do-it-yourself, visit onereach.com.

Photo by Flickr user Markus Goller.

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