The following is an exclusive guest contributed post from Joe Brannon, CEO of textLIVING.
Smartphones are quickly becoming the digital gateway for consumers, replacing desktops and laptops as the preferred way for people to get online. Consequently, there’s a lot of hype around smartphone apps as a mobile marketing tool for retailers. But the growing preference for smartphones doesn’t mean apps are the best choice for mobile marketing. In fact, the evidence shows that text messaging is a far more effective choice.
A retail marketing strategy built around apps is dependent on users downloading and using the app. But a recent Comscore study referenced in Time found that 65% of smartphone users don’t download a single app during a given month. And while it’s true that people spend a lot of time interacting with their installed apps, it turns out that most of that time is spent focused on the user’s favorite app – Comscore found that users spend 42% of their total app time focused on their most-used app, e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.
Another strike against apps as a mobile marketing tool is that users have to download the app – the marketer is asking users to add the app before receiving the message. Surveys suggest users aren’t highly motivated to download apps in the first place and tend to use only a handful of the apps that do get screen space, so how likely are they to go through the steps necessary to download and use the app that delivers the marketing message?
Text-based marketing campaigns are a much better alternative. According to Pew Research, 90% of American adults have cellphones while only 58% have app-enabled smartphones. That means a text marketing campaign has greater reach right out of the starting gate. Plus, apps have to be customized for various platforms – iOS, Android, etc., which adds considerable cost and development time to an app marketing campaign.
Text messaging is universal, and the messages have a 98% open rate, which means that mobile marketers who use a text-based marketing campaign can get their message in front of more people. One of the key advantages of a text campaign is that the marketer doesn’t have to ask the customer to change their habits: People already interact via text messages, sending and receiving an average of around 40 a day, according to Pew Research.
So what does a successful text marketing campaign look like? For many retailers, it comes in the form of a digital loyalty program. With the right text marketing solution, mobile marketers can set up an iPad kiosk at a retail location and enable customers to sign up for the program with their cellphone, which takes less than 20 seconds.
Then, customers can receive text messages offering discounts, special promotions, information on upcoming events and much more. It’s fast, easy and intuitive for the customers, and it’s simple to operate from the marketer’s perspective too, not only driving new business but also generating valuable analytics that mobile marketers can use to optimize campaigns.
The advantages of a text-based mobile marketing campaign are clear: greater reach, lower costs, superior message open rates and easier onboarding for both marketers and users. For these reasons, text marketing beats app-based marketing, hands down.