Text Message Marketing Is Still a Thing

Consumer interest on the rise...a little

If you compare mobile marketing with TV networks, text message campaigns would be PBS. They’re not sexy, and they’re not enormously popular, but they’re still kicking around, somewhat. According to a survey of 2,262 adults conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of location-based marketing firm Placecast, only four percent of mobile users receive marketing text messages.

But there’s hope, the report argues. Thirty-three percent of those surveyed who don’t receive the marketing texts said they’d be somewhat interested in receiving them; that number is up five percentage points from when Harris Interactive put the question to consumers in December 2010.

“Somewhat interested” is far from a resounding endorsement, but more encouraging to advertisers is the sentiment from those consumers who have opted in to receive marketing texts. The survey found that 32 percent of those consumers are more likely to visit a store because of a text and that 38 percent are more likely to visit a brand’s website.

The survey didn’t report whether text campaigns led to increased purchases from mobile devices, but it did indicate an opportunity there for mobile commerce merchants. Harris found that 20 percent of adult mobile phone owners made a purchase through their devices last year, and that number rose to 34 percent when limited to adult smartphone owners. Additionally 44 percent of smartphone owners surveyed said they had visited a retailer’s website from their devices, and 34 percent said they had downloaded a retailer’s app.

It’s not insane to imagine some kind of revitalization of text message marketing. Marketers who use the channel often do so for its immediacy, but that immediacy has taken on a new form with the adoption of GPS-enabled smartphones. Brands such as REI and JetBlue Airways have used Placecast to trigger text messages when an opted-in user enters a geofenced area, such as a ski resort or airport terminal.

And geofencing is part of PayPal’s strategy with the rollout of its mobile wallet. At the company’s Shopping Showcase in New York, PayPal has set up a pretend coffee shop and demonstrates to visitors how a PayPal user can opt in to receive alerts—something like ”Hey, you’re one coffee away from earning a free one”—when they walk by the retail location.

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