Like I’m sure many people feel, I have quite the love-hate relationship with text messaging. While it is so convenient to just shoot a quick note rather than getting caught in a phone conversation or disturbing a friend with a call at the wrong time, texting has also caused a lot of confusion. Tone has been taken out of context; I’ve texted the wrong person; auto-correct wants my friends to think I can’t type; and I could probably write an entire post about the joys of texting and dating…
But despite these #firstworldissues, text remains my #1 preferred communications channel. I read every text as soon as I can (whether I respond right away is another story). It’s how I stay in touch with my friends and family. It’s how I’ve learned about several friends’ engagements and baby announcements. The Messaging app is the most important one on my phone.
And the stats back this up for not just me, but for society as a whole. For instance, did you know…?
- 98% of text messages are read – and 83% of those within 3(!) minutes according to Techipedia? (Keep that in mind next time someone says they didn’t see your text.)
- The average adult spends a total of 23 hours a week texting (USA Today)
- Over 350 BILLION texts are sent each month around the world (Open University)
With numbers like these, it’s no wonder that brands – including my own – have been trying to use this channel to connect with their customers and potential customers. While it may be consumers’ favorite channel in their personal life, I don’t believe the same is true for texting with brands…in most cases. According to a study from Forrester, email remains consumers’ #1 preferred channel for communication with brands. And from my own experience, I tend to agree. Why?
Story 1: One time, I went to an event at an unnamed club in Boston that required me to sign up ahead of time. One of the required fields was my phone number; there was nothing about opting in for text messaging from the company running the event or the club. Three plus years later, I am still getting text messages about DJ-Whoever playing at the club – and there’s no option for me to opt out. Grr. Never going there again.
Story 2: I think Grub Hub and Door Dash are the greatest apps ever created because not only am I too lazy to make food at home sometimes, I’m also too lazy to pick it up at a restaurant. So when I use these services, I receive text messages about where my food is in its journey to me. Super convenient. Allows me to prepare for my food angel’s arrival.
Texting is so personal; so for me to allow a brand into the same app that I’m using with my friends and family, there better be a really good reason. And if I do think there’s a good reason, I want to have control on whether and how that brand gets let in. In the case of the club, 1)I didn’t give them permission to text me and 2) they are sending me blast messages that have nothing to do with my interests. Compare that with Grub Hub, I gave them permission to message me and the texts are super relevant to my life because they are keeping me up to date on a service that I have purchased.
Now, if Grub Hub starting sending me text messages about deals or promotions, then I would start to get annoyed. For me, that’s what my email is for. I love promotional emails from Banana, Panera, really any brand. It may be filtered to the promo category when I’m on Gmail on my work computer, but on my phone, the email comes in the same as my emails from my friends.
If brands want to go down the path of adding text messages to their channel mix, they should really consider the content that they are looking to push out. I think where texting messaging should come into play is with those transactional messages from brands that I want to know immediately: reminders about an appointment, shipping information, alerts that your deposit was made. Dominos has also done something really cool with texting where you can text them the pizza emoji and your favorite pizza will be delivered right to your door. Super convenient especially late night on the weekend.
What about marketing messages and promotions? Think about using email instead. I don’t believe the rumor that email is dead. I just think that marketers need to be smarter about how they use it. Have snappy subject lines; give me real value in the email based on what you already know about me as a consumer.
So what are your thoughts? Have you received text messages from brands? If so, what were they and what did you like/dislike about it?