SMS Marketing – can it still convert in a crowded market?

SMS Marketing
SMS marketing

Back in the early 2000s, the mobile phone market was booming as consumers still race to pick up new devices. Whilst saturation points have reached new highs, SMS marketing is still a unique way to get your brand out there. In the smartphone age, is there any call for SMS marketing and how will it impact your business? 

To kick off this article, we thought we would ask Surya Maneesh, Brand Strategist with SMSwarriors who says: “The best affiliate marketers are innovative and always find a balance between what’s booming and what’s working. Being an affiliate in an iGaming vertical is challenging due to restrictions but it is also very profitable. Often it can be overwhelming, with multiple marketing channels draining the budget quickly. Social media has been tough on affiliates. Email is not as effective as it used to be with lower CTR and conversions, in fact 49.1% is considered as spam. At this juncture, SMS, with its short and crisp nature, stands out as a great option for affiliates to deliver their promotions right into their target’s inbox with a 98% open rate and 36% average CTR. That is 40x more than social media advertising and 10x more than email marketing.”

These are interesting statistics for affiliates to think about, especially if you’re getting a poor open rate on emails. At the very least, these will be seen by your target audience and opened. The rest of the conversion funnel is up to you. 

According to data collected by Instagiv, 90% of SMS messages will be read within 3 minutes. Opt ins within this market are huge, with 37.2 million opting into promotional messages from companies as of 2016. These users are active and 52% stated that they would either click on the link or forward onto a friend. 

So can you use SMS marketing to drive leads?

Many affiliates and operators rely on a database of phone numbers to drive leads into their site. A clean database with data authentication is a clear way to keep costs down only using active users.  The sheer cost of a large database can put many affiliates off, as they don’t want to spend money on each and every text message. Although the cost for each is small, if you have a lot of data then you’re going to spend a lot of cash. Starting costs for these can be around 2p per send, however using a larger database can eat into your marketing budget. 

There are alternatives out there, like messenger bots and push notifications. However, these may be free but they will incur other charges. For example, you’ll have to implement notifications on your site and to get your users to consent to this intrusion. Many of these users will say no to these notifications, as they feel this intrudes too much on their experience using their own smartphone. SMS platforms cost money too, so factor this into your budget. Think about how many leads you would have to drive to a partner to generate enough commission to cover these additional costs. 

Exploiting the niche in the SMS market

For affiliates, it seems that SMS marketing is a bit dead in the water, which means few are choosing to use it. As some fall away from this form of marketing, it makes it easier for others to thrive. This kind of thinking benefits affiliates that are savvy enough to spot niches where they can insert their brand and win a little leverage. 

Content, SEO and PPC are now the hot ways that affiliates bring in their traffic. With a heavy emphasis on content, it seems that every niche has been explored and the same content is often regurgitated. Perhaps SMS marketing offers something a bit different that other brands aren’t really paying attention to. 

We all know what some brands put out there via SMS and it’s spammy. If you want to be successful in marketing over this channel, then you can’t afford to tarnish your reputation with the same kind of spam messaging. Doing so will just lead to people unsubscribing and never actually taking you up on your offer. Be aware and cast an editing eye over everything that you aim to send out – be clear concise and professional. 

Although there’s some scope left in this market, it seems there is still some real value to be had from innovative marketing. Whilst Messenger and AI Chat Bots will soon probably overtake push notifications, SMS remains vintage and pretty effective when used in your marketing mix correctly.

Don’t forget to register FREE as an affiliate to attend this year’s AffiliateFEST Bootcamp. We’ll be talking about mobile and ASO with Nick Duddy from Award Winning Agency Miratrix around how you can get the best out of this channel.