Instant communication is an enormously helpful aspect of modern life that many people take for granted. Two centuries ago, even the most urgent messages could take weeks or months to be delivered. Now, you can send hundreds or thousands of daily text messages to as many people as possible. Instant communication is cheap, easy, and in the hands of nearly everyone. This relatively new technology has changed several industries and fundamentally altered the marketing field.
Earlier Instant Communication
The telephone was a long-standing version of instant communication. One person could call another and talk in real-time over hundreds or thousands of miles. The telephone was built from the earlier telegraph but was more influential because it was located in nearly every home. In the last decade of the 20th century, the telephone was supplemented by the rise of electronic mail (email). The email helped to facilitate instant text communication and allow for messages to be sent to other people as quickly as people could type and click the send button.
The Rise of Text Messages
Information from telephones and email did not always work as intended. Phone calls require synchronous conversation and the intended recipient to be home during the call. Emails were often ignored, and phone calls could be missed. Voicemails were a temporary solution but were also ignored, and mailboxes were allowed to fill up.
Despite these setbacks, email marketing became the gold digital marketing standard and helped prompt a substantial shift in the industry in the 1990s and 2000s. The importance of email helped push marketers to embrace new technology and tailor their models to fit these concepts.
Text messages became a new and exciting update to this process. These messages started to become ubiquitous about ten years ago. Around this time, smartphones and other cell phone plans stopped charging people for every text message they sent or received. Due to this reduced cost, marketers began to see the many benefits of communicating with potential customers via text.
A text message followed the user wherever they went. It would be checked because people check their phones much more often than their email or voicemail. The text message made a noise like a phone call but did not have to be “answered” right away and could be checked when a person had free time.
Governments started to embrace text messages about ten years ago to make the public aware of emergencies such as severe weather or child abductions. These alerts replaced the phone trees and television crawls that used to inform the public about various topics, from town meetings to school closures due to snow. Companies also began sending texts to inform users of deals or new products. These alerts have been one of the most successful marketing approaches of the past decade.
The best way to implement a text alert strategy is carefully and in a way that remains relevant to the customer base. Companies must balance the benefits of instant communication with the potential drawbacks of alienating their audience through constant updates that buzz in their pocket and do not offer anything of value to them. They must tailor their messages and find the right mix of events shared in the alerts.
Companies should focus on informing customers of sales, new products, and any significant changes to their catalogs. They should also make it easy for customers to opt in and opt out of the service. Careful implementation will help reduce opt-outs and improve users’ chances to read and act on their texts.
Any company considering marketing through texting needs to do a considerable amount of market research into their products and demographics. They need to know what exactly they should convey in their text alerts and who they should convey it to. Companies must design their alerts and marketing strategy to avoid being mistaken for spam and blocked. If companies take these steps, they can ensure that text alerts will be integral to their marketing approach.