The popularity of text message marketing

Mobile marketing takes over…

In today’s contemporary digital marketing world, it is noticed that the majority of brands that market their products with the aid of mobile technology usually make higher use of other channels of communication such as e-mail or social media marketing as opposed to using text messaging services.

Why is this so?

Actually, the text message marketing niche is not saturated, and there are salient reasons for this.

Two major factors have been identified as the key reasons for this relative unsaturation of the text message marketing niche. These factors are the complexities involved in text message marketing and the cost involved in starting and maintaining a text message marketing campaign.

From the point of view of a stakeholder who has the best interests at heart, these constraints that prevent the influx of every Tom, Dick and Harry into the text message marketing niche of the digital advertising world is a positive and amazing natural regulatory mechanism, as they help to reduce spamming through text messaging to the barest minimum, thereby allowing text message marketing to remain one of the few most viable and untainted niches of digital marketing.

SMS marketing niche is a very complex one to get into.

It is also pretty difficult to maintain a spot in this niche. Text messages are quite a serious issue that has attracted national concern more than once. At one  time, there were no regulatory mechanisms at all in place to protect the privacy of the general public from unwanted text messages. This led to a general outcry which led to the establishment of a set of regulations by the legislative arm of the United States, the Congress.

These rules generally are known as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which stipulate stiff penalties for brands and shortcodes that send useless adverts to members of the general public whose prior consent hasn’t been sought.

TCPA Violations are expensive!

If a brand is found guilty of violating a TCPA regulation, most likely by sending text messages to people without seeking their consents, such a brand is liable to pay statutory damages up to the tune of between $500 to $1500 per text message sent. This means that if a brand sends frequent recurrent text messages to a lot of people without their prior consent, such a brand may run into lawsuits that would eventually cost them millions of dollars in statutory messages.

Apart from the TCPA, there are a couple of other restrictions in the digital marketing industry. The CTIA is the trade union that unites all wireless carriers. They also set stipulated guidelines whose violation, though they will not lead to court action, ¬†might cause the suspension of a brand’s shortcode.

The regulatory mechanisms are only one phase of the complications involved in text message marketing. The second and perhaps most complex phase consists of the rigors involved in establishing a text message marketing campaign. As a matter of necessity in the United States, it is compulsory for a prospective brand marketer to use a specific short code to communicate its messages to its recipients. That means you cannot just buy a SIM card and a mobile phone and start terrorizing people with endless text messages about your products.

To be able to run a text message marketing campaign within the confines of the law, it is required for a brand to own a text messaging short code, which is a 5-6 digit phone number given to a brand by the wireless carriers. Shortcodes are pretty difficult things to acquire, and are even more tasking to maintain. While applying for a shortcode, you must state in lucid terms, exactly what you need the shortcode for. You must submit an application to all the wireless carriers, and your application must be vetted and approved by every single one of them. After getting your shortcode from the wireless carriers, you will still have to host your new shortcode on an SMS aggregator. So, it is a pretty tasking process to gain access to a short personal code for brand marketing.

Apart from the complex process of acquiring and keeping a short marketing code, the cost of actually starting and running an effective text message marketing campaign is another key factor preventing the saturation of the text messaging market, helping it retain its efficiency in the process. First and foremost, most wireless carriers request for upfront payments for providing shortcodes to marketers. The cost of setting up the software needed to run a successful SMS marketing campaign is also quite high. The most capital-intensive part of running an SMS marketing campaign is the per-message cost for sending each text message.

If all the regulatory mechanisms were absent and all the provisions needed to run a successful campaign were free, then the SMS marketing sphere would become overpopulated, and the extremely effective marketing strategy would lose its efficacy. Statistically, text messages have a 99% opening rate in the United States, and about 90% of text messages received by mobile subscribers in the US are opened within three minutes of receipt. This statistics would drop if the number of players in the SMS marketing industry increases without control.

(Inspired by Tatango)

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