texting, texts, SMS, Marketing, Pappa Jon's, O2, mobile, omnichannel, Conversation, What'sApp, Viber, Facebook, Twitter, BBM, Total Customer

Text Message Marketing: A Dying Horse?

In Customer Engagement, Featured on App, Marketing and Sales, Technology, The Mobile Customer by Vaughn Highfield

texting, texts, SMS, Marketing, Pappa Jon's, O2, mobile, omnichannel, Conversation, What'sApp, Viber, Facebook, Twitter, BBM, Total Customer

Can the lowly SMS message compete with the likes of social networks and instant messengers?

Text messaging has been the cornerstone of communicating with friends on mobile phones for years, but 20 years on it’s hit a slump. And it’s likely that it’ll keep on falling year on year.

In 2013, the number of text messages being sent hit a decline for the first time in the message medium’s lifetime, dropping around 7bn to 145bn. Deloitte estimates that the number will fall to 140bn in 2014. Judging by the amount of text messages I receive from Papa John’s and O2, a lot of those could well just be annoying marketing twaddle (they obviously aren’t). Now it seems that the text is dying, largely in favour of tech-savvy smartphone users making the most of things like Viber, What’sApp, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, etc., what does that mean for marketing campaigns promoted by text message?

Standard Messaging Service (or SMS) texts are far too cumbersome for many, especially in an era where messages come thick and fast through group chats and instant messaging services, and in a world where having unlimited data in your mobile contract is far more precious than unlimited texts or minutes. It’s no surprise then that Deloitte reports that 160bn instant messages were sent in Britain alone in 2013, and this is only set to rise in the coming years.

But what does this mean for marketers? Especially those who use text messages still, and is there really a way for it to be replicated on instant messaging services?

Well, in a rather annoying and roundabout way, yes – and no.

Now, I’m guilty of being horrendously gleeful that SMS could potentially die. It’s woeful stuff, wholly unintuitive and feels rather invasive sending a text to my phone rather than an email. Although, I am guilty of succumbing to a cheeky Pappa John’s when they send me a well-timed text…

Still, what else can a marketer do now the text message is seemingly starting down its slippery slope to nowhere? You can probably find your way into many of the instant messaging services that exist within the ever-growing app space on Android and iOS, handily marketing your products in largely the same way as before – after all, What’sApp uses mobile phone numbers to link friends together. You could also start pushing your way into Facebook messaging, as the folks over at Facebook look to squeeze more money out of each user, this could be a viable avenue in the future for the social network.

It’s really a hard thing to predict, especially as nothing can really replicate SMS marketing in the modern age – many would find instant messaging far too intrusive. But remain content that in the MINT countries of Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey will still be making use of SMS for a few more years, so don’t forget to turn your sights onto them.


[Image:  {Andrea} – Flickr]

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