The Psychology of SMS Marketing
In marketing, everyone wants to be more influential and persuasive in order to build loyalty and return custom. To gain the highest ROI, businesses want their marketing campaigns to speak to every individual in such a way that makes them feel connected. Yet, with every will in the world, an SMS marketing campaign is only going to achieve this high conversion and success if it manages to tap into consumer psychology.
Persuasion, particularly, speaks to this need for longing, creating a personal connection and the stealth approach of timing your messages just right to speak to your customer base. For example, triggering an SMS to suggest getting a new haircut might not be best scheduled at 3 in the morning, and suggesting a new pizza topping at 8am is unlikely to yield the best response!
The primary objective for an SMS marketer is to get into the head of the target audience and understand what makes your recipient open your text. What makes them follow the links within a text and respond positively to the calls for action sent? If you’re working on your company’s marketing, you are likely to be able to monitor, replicate and improve posts which get the highest engagement on social media. Similarly, there may be an element of trial and error involved in getting the responses you’re looking for from your SMS marketing efforts. It requires understanding your consumer, patience and adaptability.
Furthermore, it actually requires an insight into the psychology of marketing in general and specifically the psychology behind successful SMS marketing campaigns.
With the advent of Whatsapp, Messenger, Snapchat, Tinder and myriad other communication apps popularised by the smartphone, it’s somewhat surprising that SMS is still a highly popular method of communication and, furthermore, of successful marketing efforts. In fact, it’s commonly become accepted that people are now spending far more time on their mobile devices, meaning SMS marketing is more effective than ever before. So, looking at some basic consumer psychology principles, we have come up with a guide to help you strategise your SMS efforts.
Don't Be Too Friendly
Yes, marketing is based on creating a sense of belonging and yes, it is cringeworthy to see heavy marketing speak in any marketing effort. It’s equally ‘icky’ seeing overly friendly messages too. Yes, create high-value products and services and yes be assured in your delivery of them but also consider that you are doing this to ultimately drive sales. Your customers are generally smart enough to realise this too.
Gain Some Reciprocity
Subtly, we are all slaves to the social commitment to reciprocity. For example, someone you didn’t expect to happen to be there to help you out when you needed something. You now feel indebted to them and wish to reciprocate their kindness in some way. This is actually a psychological principle at work that speaks to our need to treat people fairly and to be accepted. As such, it is a positive social convention that can be used in SMS marketing. If over time you send several informative and relevant messages and make generous offers to your customer base, they will hopefully find themselves choosing your brand first out of a sense of familiarity and loyalty, subconsciously wishing to pay you back for all your efforts.
Expect The Unexpected
Largely, marketing theory works on the premise that if you say something confidently enough, it will strengthen people’s attitude. This can be achieved by sending some messages which are different to others. So, if you’re messaging your customers to tell them about your upcoming system malfunction or letting them know about a problem the site is going to encounter, add something funny to throw them off course. This builds rapport, and will hopefully soften their attitude to the inconvenience; it also helps them to see you as approachable rather than corporate.
Influencers and Their Loyalty
You ultimately want to drive sales and repeat custom in any marketing effort and as such you will need to make sure you are looking after influencers’ needs. To ensure the success of a viral campaign, you’ll need to send it out to influencers. These are likely to be people who are loyal to your company and as such their conversion rate is naturally high. Many other people may follow a successful campaign because it’s funny, clever or offers a great incentive, but these are not necessarily the highest quality leads and your efforts need to appeal to the group who are most likely to purchase. These people subtly influence others anyway, so securing their buy-in will strengthen chances of further buy-ins.
In all sales and/or marketing, this is a leading method of tapping into consumer psychology. Our nature predisposes us to favour something which seems to be scarcely available, rather than something we can access at any time. It’s the reason why many people put off visiting attractions in their hometown because they can ‘go there anytime!’ So, just as supermarkets do, putting a finite limit on any offer will increase consumer sign up. Add the line ‘OFFER ENDS AT MIDNIGHT’ or ‘MUST END ON 31st’ to create an urgency based on the scarcity principle.
Ultimately, you should base all SMS marketing on an understanding of your target audiences, which may vary. As such it will pay dividends to mix and match the content and styles, just as you do in natural SMS conversations in order to reflect real life and keep engagement and appeal to the most diverse range of customers, from loyal influencers to those catching a trend.
Just for fun, I asked people in a marketing focused Facebook group to share the worst SMS marketing messages they’ve ever received. I was expecting a deluge of responses, but actually only a few trickled in. But those horrible SMS marketing messages are out there…the comments on my post proved it even if no one wanted to share (I guess they’re all shy).
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