In a mobile-first world with short attention spans, Globale Media’s Bhavesh Talreja explains why text marketing is a personalised, fast and effective way of interacting with customers.

In an age when putting down the phone does not come naturally to us and digital marketing enthrals us through various apps, text marketing still holds importance. And why not?

Text marketing is a personalised, fast and simple way of interacting with customers. From promotional text to upcoming deals and delivery statuses, text messages provide a suitable medium for companies to reach out to their customers. Text marketing gives marketers the perfect opportunity to rendezvous with the customer just where they want – when they are home and have convenient access to their phone screens. Text marketing is a widely used form of marketing in several sectors, such as e-commerce, service, entertainment, hospitality, media, etc.

Now, text marketing is not just limited to an SMS; marketers are exploring different avenues to reach their customers with platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram that exceed their counterparts like Facebook, Instagram, email and LinkedIn.

SMS marketing’s open rate vs. email marketing

According to a recent report by Hubspot, the average number of emails are opened is anywhere between 28% and 33%. Now compare that with SMS, where within 15 minutes of delivery, text messages are opened 97% of the time!

The most likely reason for that could be that even if the text messages were pushed by brands, they still felt personalised and less intrusive. And yet, there is a disclaimer to it. You cannot bombard the customer with a hoard of text messages.

SMS is also easy to read. They are shorter, giving them a click-through rate of about 19%. As far as emails are concerned, marketers have to push much more volume to get read or have a chance of getting read. Digitally native firms typically do not have the benefits of a strong physical presence, such as in-person customer care and hospitality. SMS offers an opportunity to level the playing field and encourage dialogue between the brand and the customer.

SMS is more personalised and feels more unique to people than other forms of advertising and marketing which are more impersonal. Text messages are simple, ubiquitous and convenient to the end consumer. The experience is a deep engagement with the consumer and is highly effective in the brand engagement strategy.

Some noteworthy examples that showcase customer engagement are brands such as Myntra, which keeps messages short and to the point, conveying upcoming/ongoing sales, introducing the latest brands, and a seamless order tracking and delivery system.

On the other hand, travel companies such as Goibibo effectively use SMS and WhatsApp marketing by sharing flight and booking information, tickets, booking status, cancellations and refunds, and trip reminders to ensure its customers are updated at every step of the way.

Dive deep into customer insights for better text marketing strategy

While SMS looks like a fairly easy tool, it definitely reaps benefits for marketers if coupled with a sound marketing strategy that is thoughtfully designed. Using consumer insights to personalise data and send out conversational messages can give your customers that unique personalised experience that they seek. SMS strategy needs to be able to influence engagement that can help create lifelong customers.

A couple of decades ago, life was simpler, phones were simpler and SMS was among the few channels that were making inroads into our lives. Today, customers are bombarded with messages from all around them, through different channels and sources – be it TV, radio, social media, OOH, etc. This overexposure has made it necessary for marketers to consider the frequency, channel and effectivity of their platforms. Of course, there are many ways to get information about the most effective times to send out messages, preferred languages and elements such as call-to-action, all of which create a personalised and wholesome experience for the customer.

Any text marketing strategy can be successful if it is based on deep customer insights and an understanding of the customer’s requirements. Marketers must give their customers the freedom to opt out or unsubscribe. With shorter attention spans and options just a click away, marketers need to adhere to the customer’s convenience, preference and experience. SMS sits in a customer’s inbox. Hence, sending out messages with names and other details could give a sense of engagement and personalisation to customers, thereby increasing the chances of readability. The biggest reason why text messages are successful as a strategy is because they are concise and give a sense of not being too intrusive. If marketers need to send out more information, they can follow up the SMS with emails that carry more information.

When it comes to the Southeast Asian region and especially India, text marketing of any kind, be it SMS, WhatsApp or even Telegram, is most effective due to multiple reasons. Mobile penetration in India reached from 2.75% in 2010 to approximately 66.21% in 2022, balancing the urban and rural markets with equal opportunities. The initial phase of Digital India gave rise to telecom companies introducing pocket-friendly data and SMS packs, giving users 24/7 access. This ultimately provided a broader spectrum for marketers to explore by experimenting with local languages, personalised campaigns and faster click-through rates at a lower cost.

Instant messaging apps facilitating effective text marketing

They have a higher open rate compared to any other form of communication. Marketers can send coupons and other promotional codes easily via SMS, which is more convenient than emailing them or printing them. Another reason to use SMS is that customers love SMS. As a tool, it helps to build customer allegiance and better brand engagement. It is also one of the most cost-effective ways of communicating and reaching out to potential and existing customers.

Companies are also sending messages via WhatsApp, Telegram and other such platforms which are now used as primary SMS/text marketing channels rather than traditional SMS. WhatsApp, which started its journey as an SMS platform, has slowly grown gargantuan, as companies are adopting the platform as per their requirements and marketing priorities. It is a great platform for brands to interact with consumers, both existing and potential. With WhatsApp business, it is even easier for marketers to target small groups at a time, send out personalised messages, share catalogues and brochures, and guide the customer to the brand website. In fact, WhatsApp now plays a double role of being a mobile marketing platform with opportunities for personalisation and a chatbot for customer care. A study shows that 53% of customers say they would trust a company that they can reach via a chat app.

Another platform that is gaining popularity is Telegram with almost 400 million monthly active users. It is a cloud-based platform that has an advantage, in the sense that it does not limit the way marketers can interact with their customers, which allows companies to create public or private channels to notify customers about upcoming deals and promotions and provide a free-flowing interactive space.

Telegram is also one of the most ideal ways to increase user engagement as it allows organisations to create polls, chatbots and share links to landing pages to drive traffic. Before these came into the picture, messengers such as Kik, WeChat, etc were also some prominent marketing platforms.

In a mobile-first world, where consumer attention is short, divisive and flickering, marketers are having to act doubly hard to hold on to that attention and grab the consumer’s eyeballs. Vying for attention and getting a speedy response to every marketing spend is the most important prerogative and text messaging takes the cake when it comes to meeting that objective. A simple tactic that comes loaded with the most effective results is going to become the most preferred communication now and in the future.