How SMS Marketing Became Crowded (& What to Do About It)

Anna Johansson

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You've probably noticed an increase in the number of marketing-related SMS text messages you've received in the past few years, and that's no coincidence. Millions of companies have entered the SMS marketing space with the hopes of seeing a higher return over traditional marketing tactics and have managed to find success.

But for new companies considering entering the SMS game, this tactic is somewhat problematic. Competition is so high that we can now consider SMS marketing as "crowded." So how did this form of marketing get so popular, and is there any way to penetrate such a dense competitive landscape?

Why SMS Marketing Became So Appealing

Let's start by exploring how SMS marketing became popular in the first place.

Volume

SMS texting is one of the most popular communication channels in the world, and its popularity in the United States has grown significantly in the past two decades. In June of 2000, Americans sent 12 million messages each month. In 17 years, that number jumped to 781 billion—over 65,000 times as many messages. If you're curious, that's more than 301,311 messages every second.

Cost

SMS is also a profitable strategy because of the costs involved. It costs carriers next to nothing to send text messages, so they're built into most plans. Even large-scale campaigns cost little to execute—especially compared to high-cost media placement strategies or long-term investments like SEO.

Open Rate

Email marketing has been a dominant marketing force for the past 20 years, but the open rate of emails pales in comparison to the open rate of SMS texts—over 90%. Customers are also more likely to respond to texts, which is important if you're looking for higher customer engagement.

Identity

Email accounts are easy to fake, and a single user can have dozens of email addresses with no barrier to their creation. However, mobile numbers are much harder to copy or create. You can be assured you're reaching the correct identity.

Immediacy

Most people check their emails periodically throughout the day, but are instantly notified when they get new texts; this reduces the time between sending a text message and having it read, making it a more immediate form of marketing.

Is It Too Late?

Is it too late for your company to start SMS marketing? Of course not. There are millions of companies competing currently, but there are also millions of companies doing things wrong.

If you learn the fundamentals and advanced strategies from a reliable source, you'll instantly put yourself ahead of the majority of your competitors. Plus, because SMS is so integrated and accepted in our daily lives that it's unlikely to wane in value or significance in the coming years.

How to Compete

What can you do to compete with the corporate juggernauts already heavily invested in the SMS space?

Be Engaging

Flat text messages that don't encourage customers to take action or respond aren't going to be effective. You need to be engaging with your customers and make them feel like they're involved in the process.

Know What Your Customers Want

You also need to perform enough market research to know what your customers want. Are they interested in discounts and promotions or do they just want to be kept in the loop with new updates?

Choose Your Messages Tactfully

Quality is better than quantity, so avoid spamming your customers with too many messages. Choose your texts carefully, and only send a message if you're certain it's valuable.

Understand Timing

You should also consider the timing of your messages. There are some standard "best practices" for when to send texts, but this isn't good enough if you want to stand out. Investigate to determine when the best time is for your specific audience.

Collect & Interpret Data

Pay close attention to how your campaign is going, including your open rates, engagement rates, and other metrics. If you see one of your tactics isn't working as well as you'd hoped, scrap it and try something new until you get the right fit.

Despite the fact that SMS marketing has become crowded over the past decade, it remains one of the most appealing (and easiest-to-enter) marketing channels in the modern era.

As long as you invest the time necessary to learn the ins and outs of the strategy or partner with an expert who's already familiar with them, you'll not only stand a chance to compete—you'll reap significant returns.

Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, Forbes.com, and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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