More than half of the top 1,000 online retailers used text message marketing in 2019—and text messaging was the only large emerging technology marketers planned to increase investment in during 2020. Yet this channel is still new enough that some marketers remain unsure of how, when, and if to adopt it—or how to integrate it into their marketing technology stacks.
If you’re not already using personalized text messaging to connect with your target audience—or need more data to show your team why you can’t miss out on it—we’ve pulled together a comprehensive guide to the top 10 text message marketing myths.
And the data doesn’t lie. Text messaging has evolved into consumers’ preferred channel for personalized, 1:1 interactions—giving you the opportunity to engage shoppers where they already spend their time.
Marketing myth 1: Text messaging isn’t effective
As marketers, we’re always looking to optimize our strategies and put more spend behind channels we know deliver results. For some marketers, text messaging is still the new kid on the block, and they need to feel more sold on its effectiveness for their brand.
But text message marketing doesn’t just deliver results on par with other marketing channels—it’s actually more effective.
With 99% open rates and 30%+ click-through rates on average, our customers can expect a 25x+ return on their investment when launching a text message marketing program—last year our customers surpassed that by generating an average of $71 for every dollar spent.
Attentive drives 20.5% of total online revenue for our customers on average. Our customers routinely tell us that text messaging is one of their top three revenue channels, and brands such as Dorsal Bracelets and Skatie attribute nearly 30% of total revenue to sales from text messages.
Marketing myth 2: Text messaging is only effective for younger consumers
Younger generations typically adopt and use technology at a higher rate than older consumers, leading some businesses to believe text message marketing largely appeals to Millennials and Gen Z.
But the ubiquity of mobile devices (95% of Americans own a mobile phone) helps text message marketing cross generational lines. In fact, Baby Boomers engage in more branded text message interactions than any other group.
According to the results of our recent survey of 2,000 consumers, shoppers aged 39-75 are more likely to connect with your business via text message than social media or website chatbot—and 56% said they’ve already signed up to receive text messages from businesses.
Brands like Carol Wright and Dr. Leonard’s, which appeal to 55-and-older consumers, use text messaging to alert subscribers to new products, top-sellers, free shipping, and limited-time sales. Both see high engagement from their target audiences, helping them achieve a 120x+ ROI on their text message marketing programs.
Marketing myth 3: Text messaging is intrusive
Text messaging is inherently personal—it’s often a primary channel for communicating with family and friends. So a quick assumption might be that it’s not the right place for brands to connect with consumers.
Yet results from our consumer survey indicated that more than half of shoppers already use text messaging to connect with businesses, and over 90% said they’d sign up to receive text messages from them. Consumers said they want to receive marketing text messages from brands they signed up to hear from at least once per week, and nearly 19% want to receive marketing from brands via text message once per day.
Big Blanket Co sends subscribers a minimum of three-to-four text messages per week—highlighting back-in-stock items and early access to sales events—that generate five figures in revenue per campaign.
Obtaining clear and compliant opt-ins for your text messaging subscriber list should be a top priority when launching your program. Attentive offers a wide range of list growth solutions, all built with compliance in mind. Text messages aren’t intrusive if your subscriber has opted in to receive your messages, and if you’re sending valuable, relevant content.
With click-through rates above 30%, it’s clear opted-in subscribers are an engaged audience with high intent. After all, you wouldn’t subscribe to a brand you didn’t care about knowing that text messages will be more visible than other channels.
Our platform also offers quiet hours to prevent subscribers from receiving any automated messages during specified times (like the middle of the night), delaying delivery until the window is over. Default quiet hours are 9pm to 12pm, based on the subscriber’s time zone.
Subscribers are reminded they can opt out of receiving text messages at any time by replying “STOP.” Our solution also enables you to manually opt out subscribers, and automatically scans for variations of language associated with opt-outs, such as “CANCEL” or “UNSUBSCRIBE.”
Marketing myth 4: Text messaging is a one-way channel
Because the majority of marketing channels operate as broadcast mediums, some businesses are under the impression that text message marketing is only suitable for one-way communications. What they may not realize is that text messages have a 209% higher response rate than phone, email, or Facebook.
Our consumer survey showed that 55% of shoppers already connect with businesses via text message, and nearly one-third use text messaging to interact with brands for customer service—demonstrating how text messaging enables two-way interactions.
Nearly half of our retail and e-commerce customers integrate Attentive with helpdesk software, empowering their customer support teams to directly respond to customer inquiries sent via text message. All text messages received from a customer are automatically forwarded to the brand’s customer support team queue so they can provide personalized, timely responses on consumers’ preferred channel and engage in two-way conversations.
Marketing myth 5: Text messaging & email marketing don’t mix
Sending text messages to subscribers appears similar to sending emails on the surface, so you may worry that text messaging will eat into your email marketing performance—or replace it entirely. But it’s not an either/or. Text message marketing provides brands with an additional communication channel to drive incremental revenue that might otherwise be lost. Developing an effective messaging strategy for your brand means using these channels in tandem to engage consumers across the entire customer lifecycle—not necessarily choosing one over the other.
Both channels have their unique strengths, and naturally complement each other. While email works better for long-form content that isn’t time-sensitive, the fact that text messages are generally opened faster than emails make them ideal for succinct messages designed to drive immediate action. This immediacy is what makes text messaging a great fit for providing consumers with sneak peeks—such as an eye-catching graphic and a link back to your website—whereas emails can be used more for storytelling and offering in-depth information. By using both channels, you can segment and test your messages to optimize performance based on customer preferences.
What’s more, text messaging can actually help strengthen email marketing efforts. If you’re using Attentive, our “Email First” sign-up technology enables you to collect 3x more email subscribers on average while also growing your text messaging subscriber base, powering both email and text message marketing programs. Nearly all of our retail and e-commerce customers leverage Attentive’s two-in-one email & SMS sign-up unit.
WebEyeCare and Urban Outfitters are two great examples of brands effectively using text messaging in tandem with their email marketing campaigns. The latter tested the impact of text messaging across subscribers who were only signed up for text messages vs. those who were also active in other marketing channels. The incremental increase in demand was significantly higher among subscribers who were also active in email marketing, proving text messaging doesn’t cannibalize email subscribers but maximizes their value.
Marketing myth 6: Text messaging is too expensive
When you compare the ROI of text message marketing to other channels, the practicality and effectiveness of spend on this channel becomes clear.
While the average open rate for text messages is 99%, the average email marketing open rate for retail businesses is approximately 19%. And not only is text messaging the most popular smartphone feature across age groups, it drives 10x more revenue per message than email, proving its profitability.
Additionally, Attentive offers robust, built-in segmentation and A/B testing features to optimize subscriber growth, message engagement, and revenue generation in order to support smarter spending.
Our platform also offers advanced analytics to help you see the revenue driven from each message, demonstrating ROI efficiency.
Marketing myth 7: Text messaging is difficult to execute
We completely get it—we’re marketers, too. Adding a new tool to your stack is always fraught with worry. Will it be complicated and time-consuming? Will it require a major resource change for the team? Will it take time away from activities you already know are working?
The good news is you can relax here! Incorporating personalized text messaging into your marketing strategy is not a heavy lift. Many brands—such as Dorsal Bracelets and Big Blanket Co—are able to get their text message marketing programs up and running in only a handful of days. Thanks to the immediacy of text messaging—90% of text messages are opened within 3 minutes—you can start analyzing results and optimizing future sends based on performance right away.
And with automations that utilize real-time behavioral data, you can effortlessly send triggered text messages to subscribers at every step of the customer lifecycle, maximizing engagement based on the actions consumers take.
Brands such as PAWZ use Journeys—our tool for sending triggered messages—to automate text messages based on subscriber behaviors, such as opting in to a text message marketing program, abandoning a cart, or completing a purchase. Automated welcome messages, as well as cart and browse abandonment reminders, helped PAWZ drive more than $3.5 million in revenue from text messaging alone.
Marketing myth 8: Text messaging limits creativity
More so than emails or social media posts, text messages are designed to be brief. And with a smaller canvas to work on, you may wonder if text message marketing eliminates opportunities to capture consumer attention with creative content.
Fortunately, every aspect of your text message marketing program can act as a thoughtful extension of your brand—from sign-up forms on your website and Instagram account that feature customized imagery to individual messages spotlighting specific products and services via eye-catching motion graphics.
Attentive-powered Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) text messages enable you to send your subscribers a wide variety of multimedia content, including pictures, GIFs, emojis, custom short-links—and even videos!
Nearly all of our retail and e-commerce customers use Attentive to send MMS messages, helping them engage subscribers with visually appealing content. Based on our consumer survey results, 51% of shoppers are more likely to complete a purchase if a text message includes images or media.
Marketing myth 9: Text messaging only works for bigger brands
Without major name recognition or expansive budgets, some small-to-medium-sized businesses may believe only big brands can achieve significant ROI using text message marketing. But how well you can drive subscriber sign-ups is the most important indicator of your expected text message marketing performance.
Our platform is trusted by brands of all sizes—from household name legacy retail brands to up-and-coming direct-to-consumer startups. If you have a strong volume of monthly website visitors engaging with your brand and the right solutions in place to capture their interest, you can support healthy subscriber growth and increase incremental revenue.
Brands of all sizes can experience the results for themselves sooner than they may think. Newer brands, such as Skatie, see exceptional results from text message marketing in a short period of time. Using paid ads, Skatie drives traffic to their website, where visitors are greeted by an Attentive sign-up form. Within only 10 months of using Attentive, text messages generated 29.8% of total revenue for the brand, contributing to an 826% increase in revenue during the same time period.
Marketing myth 10: Text messaging is a fleeting trend
As with any new development in digital marketing, there’s always a question: Will it last? Industry trends and consumer behaviors suggest that text message marketing is here to stay—and will only grow in sophistication and impact over time.
Some experts forecast mobile will account for nearly three-quarters of all e-commerce sales in 2021, illustrating the value of appealing to mobile-first shoppers. And our consumer survey showed that more than 50% of shoppers said they became more interested in signing up to receive text messages from businesses in 2020.
Attentive’s retail and e-commerce customer base expanded by approximately 332% over the past year. Still, long-time Attentive customers, like Rainbow Shops for example, continue to see strong year-over-year performance with continual promotion of the channel and optimization of messaging strategies.
Trade marketing misconceptions for text messaging success
As the shift to e-commerce and mobile shopping continues to accelerate, consumer expectations regarding personalized experiences on their channel of choice will continue to grow.
The brands that take advantage of text message marketing sooner rather than later by investing in and developing this channel will position themselves to reap the rewards: better brand awareness, stronger customer connections, and increased incremental revenue.
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Explore Attentive Outlook 2021 for more actionable insights on the state of text message marketing.