SMS. Intrusive or Effective Marketing Tool?

17 January 2012

People use text every day to communicate with their friends and family. So much so that it has generated its own language. Currently over 5.3 billion people globally have a mobile phone which highlights the volume of exposure you can get by capturing current and potential customers mobile phone numbers and using them for marketing purposes. However, is SMS going down the same route as old fashioned email spamming? Or are people receptive to being targeted wherever they are via their mobile phone?

If targeted in the right way and with an intelligent strategy, you can convert SMS into sales.

Remarketing and Reengagement.

There are several strategies and platforms to help advertisers reengage with customers. For this first blog I have looked at SMS, but will visit email, display and social as well as strategies for integrating all media platforms to create a full marketing plan.

Let’s start with the basics:

What is SMS?

Short Message Service or SMS is the process of sending text messages to mobile handsets. It can be used in multiple marketing strategies from simple alerts and reminders through to integrated campaigns with click through and call tracking. As more and more people are using there mobiles for searching the internet, playing games, checking emails and even making calls, SMS is a channel of marketing that can effectively engage with a user on a very intimate level.

How does SMS marketing work?

It is all about utilising data you already have to reengage, remind and communicate your message with individuals. In the same way as email can be spammy, it is important to plan an SMS campaign well to ensure that users will want to engage back, and that they don’t simply opt out.

Think about what you are saying to that individual in the message? As with any platform of marketing you need a goal, what call to action is there? What are you expecting or wanting from the user?

For example, a user visits an automotive website, they sign up to the site where their email address, mobile number and any other relevant data requested is captured. This data is then stored ready for marketing; But what now?

Well, dependant on how sophisticated the strategy, advertisers can target that user with a personalised message. Details may be known about the vehicle purchased in the past or one they are interested in now. By using the profile of that individual you can tailor a message to tap into what would be an added value for them, what will make them receptive? It may be a discount on their servicing or MOT? It could be informing them of a discount on a particular model that they are actively interested in? Or on another level it could offer an incentive for gaining feedback or interaction with the advertiser.

Isn’t it seen as intrusive marketing?

If SMS is not planned and compiled with a goal in mind for what you want those customers to do, then yes bad SMS marketing can be intrusive. However if done effectively to the right people at the right time and offering relevant insights/offers/updates etc. then it can be very effective.

Let’s take another example. A consumer purchases flowers from an online florists, that customer’s data is captured. When you capture the data ask the question, would they be interested in offers for mothers’ day, valentines or Easter? This is when you can break the data down specifically and target based on feedback from the customer. You could possibly send those who opted into offers for Mothers day:

  • ‘Don’t forget Mothers day. Next day delivery nationwide. Make your mum feel special. Text ‘mum’ to get a voucher code for £5 off –’

Does SMS messaging put customers off?

Not every customer will be receptive to SMS, but many will. Even if they do not respond or engage if they don’t opt out then it shows they are potentially interested in what you are saying (that or just lazy). Be careful how many SMS’s you are sending users, they will get put off by spammy messages that look like bulk texts. If it isn’t personal to them or offering them something of interest then yes you may well put them off. Pick your wording well. We all know what puts us off, and irrelevant content is one of those high on the agenda.

What do I need to set up an SMS campaign?

SMS can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be. From sending individual targeted messages through to personalised messages which are integrated into your CRM system. From pushing our SMS campaigns through to premium text numbers and response management.

All you need on the most basic level is an opted in list of contacts and an SMS delivery platform and a marketing strategy.

SMS can be a cost effective platform to help get instant responses from customers. If used correctly the conversions and cost per acquisition can be extremely positive.


We have seen our clients achieve lower cost per acquisitions than PPC and SEO marketing. When potential customers are responding or calling back on receiving an SMS that is an extremely hot lead. The cost of sending an individual SMS is tiny in comparison to a Cost per click or CPM, so although the conversion to actions can be lower the effectiveness and cost per response can be one of the lowest marketing platforms.

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