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User EngagementNovember 11, 2016Written by Alex Debecker

Why Text Message Marketing Makes us Jump Into Action

What is it about receiving a text message that makes someone jump to attention?

Why do we respond to it so much quicker than when our email, social media (and sometimes my wife) talks to us?

According to Techipedia:

  • 98% of sent SMS are opened by the recipient, and
  • 83% are opened within 3 minutes.

Unlike any other communication channel, text message marketing allows marketers to reach and engage at scale [Tweet this], in a way that is real-time and personal.


What makes us act on text messaging marketing?

There is lots of good content around how businesses interact with consumers through text message marketing. But I want to answer why does text message marketing work so well?

In 2017, there is expected to be 4.77 billion mobile phone users around the world and forecast to pass the five billion mark in 2019 (source: Statistica).

In 2014, nearly 60% of the global population already owned a mobile phone (source: Statistica).

Regardless of location or resource-setting, it is safe to say; humans are addicted to mobile communication.

We use our mobile devices to order a taxi, read the news, communicate with friends/family and everything else in between. To understand why text message marketing works I initially want to dig into the communication bit a little deeper.

Digging in to why text messages work

OpenMarket compiled a survey and found that 75% of the younger generation (call them Millennials if you must) would rather give up talking on their phone than texting. Over half (53%) stated they prefer to text over talk.

The survey suggests their reasoning as:

Texts are more convenient because they can be dealt with when they want to, and texts are less disruptive than phone calls.

Critically, this survey only considers Millennials. As they have recently overtaken the Baby Boomers as the largest living generation in the USA, I think it is safe to use in this analysis.


ubisend why text message marketing works

Source: Pew Research Center

So. Texting in. Calling out.

Friends and family

Now let's think about who we tend to talk to on our mobile phone. For me at least (and I think the majority of everyone) it is predominantly friends and family.

The little phone devices in our pockets are ours. Few people get to look inside and see who we talk to and what we talk about.

It is our browsing history, our call history, our messages and they are ourapps.

I even get twitchy when my wife uses my phone, and I have nothing to hide (or I'm good at remembering to clear my history?).

Needless to say, our mobile phones are personal to us. We customise the home screen, we move the app icons around to get them just right, we change the background colour. We carry them in a protective shield, nurture them and worry when they go offline to get their updates. And the weeiirrdddnesss when we leave them at home. ***shudders***

Our mobile phone is our inner sanctum. It's our space. Space where we have control and few others ever peer into.

How we use our little friends

Because our little phones are always with us, they have changed how we consume content.

According to research from the IDC, 79% of smartphone users have their phone near them for all but two hours of their waking day (errrrr, who leaves their poor, scared little phone all alone for 2 hours?!). Interestingly, 80% of smartphone users also check their phone within 15 minutes of waking up.

One of our mobile messaging customers has a whopping 86% mobile browser traffic to their website (we're talking 100,000+ unique visitors per month).

People consume articles, videos, slideshows, podcasts, infographics, video games, and anything else you can think of, using their mobile phone. More importantly, they consume it when they want it and not necessarily when somebody tells them to.

Content is becoming bite-sized. Consumers dip in and out, forever scanning, pinching and scrolling their way through it on their phone.

Permission based marketing

When we consume something, we may give signals to the publisher that we like it and want more. We might spend a lot of time on their website and perhaps return to read something else they create. Sometimes, we even go so far as opt-in and give them permission to let us know when they have something new.

Traditionally, the opt-in is done with email. There might even be a mini-opt-in where we give a lesser-important, and more spam willing, email address. Sometimes, and rarely, we proceed with the holy grail of all opt-ins. We provide them with our telephone number.

Oh! The honour. The privilege. The pride.

Someone has given a company direct access to their little phone. They have given permission to disturb them in a way only their friends and family can.

It takes a long time to build the trust and rapport needed for a consumer to give access to their inner sanctum. But boy, when they do. What a signal.

Historically, the only businesses who receive access to the special place are the ones critical to that person, at that time. We're talking doctors with appointment reminders, delivery people with oh-so-important packages (and errrrrr, Domino's Pizza with discounts, or is that just me?).


Final thoughts on why text marketing works

Over half of the global population has a mobile phone. Half of those people prefer text over voice and typically message friends and family. They habitually keep their phone with them for the majority of the day and use it to consume all types of content. They permit few people to use their phone and giving someone permission to talk to them through it is the holy grail of social signals.

No wonder 98% of us open the message.