Will SMS marketing in the form of bulk text messages make email marketing obsolete?
The biggest charm of SMS is incredibly high open rates: Most of the statistics I’ve found cite figures as high as 98 percent are read within two minutes of receipt. This is not altogether surprising, since text messages carry a sense of urgency that is lacking in email these days. A lot of people forgo email message alerts on their mobile phones, but many, if not most, enable alerts for text messages.
All this is likely to change, which is why dumping email marketing in favor of SMS could be a rash decision with long-term negative consequences. Here is some food for thought.
- In the early days of email, when getting a message was a novelty and the medium wasn’t soaking in spam, people tended to open marketing emails more diligently and read them with genuine interest. Once SMS is littered with spam, text users will start behaving like email users: Filters will be set up, senders will be blocked, messages will be auto-deleted and messages will be opened but not read.
- Because SMS is now widely perceived as a more personal and more urgent communication medium than email, users may have very strong negative reactions to SMS solicitations despite high open rates. Think about it: Nobody gets mad because they’ve gotten a marketing email, but I’ve seen people go completely ballistic after getting a marketing text — even if it’s from a sender known to the user. People view their mobile phones as fundamental and crucial work tools and means of entertainment — and SMS marketing falls into neither of these categories by a long shot.
- To be effective, text messages must be short and sweet. This may be fine for some marketing campaigns, but certainly not all. To communicate the complex, to educate, to ignite meaningful responses, longer messages far more suitable to email are required. It’s hard to imagine SMS ever becoming as versatile as email for communicating a broad range of content.
- It’s possible that if everybody jumps on the text-marketing bandwagon, email marketing will recapture the novelty (and effectiveness) it once had. Accordingly, it would be wise to keep all the channels of communication open and not overdo any one of them.