The Disadvantages of SMS Marketing

By Melissa Healion, March 04, 2013

Last week, we gained an understanding of the advantages of utilizing SMS marketing and provided examples of several successful SMS marketing campaigns.

However, as with any marketing strategy (or really anything at all), SMS marketing is not 100% fool-proof and has its share of downsides. Marketers must thoroughly understand their company's SMS marketing strategy in order to avoid this platform's downsides and achieve maximum effectiveness.

What Are the Disadvantages?

  • Short and Sweet. With a lot of SMS messages being limited to around 160 characters, it's often difficult to create an effective message within such short character limits. Additionally, in order for a business to successfully promote their product, marketers have to be aware of the various differences among today's smartphones, such as operating systems, navigation, and mobile screen sizes. One example of an SMS marketing campaign that was unsuccessful due to mobile phone's operating systems was from iLoop. The company sent a SMS message with a hyperlink that was unable to be recognized by mobile phones. Companies should always send a test message before sending out their SMS campaign to their target audience.
  • Opt-in Lists. Companies must follow strict opt-in/opt-out participation guidelines. One of America's favorite pizza chains, Papa John's, was accused of sending 500,000 SMS messages to its consumerswithout their permission. Their direct marketing campaign, that was meant to be simple and efficient, violated state and federal law. Papa John's was ultimately faced with a $250 million class action lawsuit that was taken very seriously. SMS recipients must always be given the choice to stop receiving a company's messages at any time. Furthermore, it would be unethical of your company to send a promotional SMS to any mobile numbers that are registered with a Do Not Call Registry.
  • Spam Messages. SMS marketing must be controlled for system abuse. While consumers are accustomed to receiving a certain amount of spam messages on their emails, a mobile phone is very personal and therefore, spam isn't tolerated. Ford's SMS marketing campaign several months ago, sent to recipients who had opted-in to SMS marketing from the company, was accused of spamming. Recipients claimed to receive multiple text messages that were not only vague, but also lacked a call-to-action. Due to consumers being unable to learn more about Ford's products and receiving multiple pointless SMS messages, consumers began ignoring the messages. It can be tempting to companies to send too much, too often, ultimately, leading to negative attitudes developed by the SMS recipients towards the company.
  • Delivery Failure. Unfortunately with bulk SMS marketing, service interruption occasionally occurs. Thus results in delivery failure. SMS is simply not as reliable as email yet, regardless of the provider.
  • Privacy Issues. Lastly, privacy issues are an area of concern for SMS marketers. If SMS marketers are obtaining the location of or sending an SMS message to their recipients, then they need to first acquire permission from them. Many customers are more hesitant to give out their phone number than their email address. Mobile marketers need to understand and respect recipients' privacy; otherwise their companies could be prosecuted.

Is SMS Marketing Worth It?

Just like pretty much ANY marketing tactic, your company's success with SMS marketing will depend on execution, content, and target audience. While there are some disadvantages, SMS marketing's level of reach and cost effectiveness make SMS marketing a worthwhile option to at least consider. Mobile marketing is not only cheaper and faster, but also portable, more personalized, and establishes a good customer relationship. Therefore, for most SMS marketing campaigns, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages for a lot of marketing strategies.

Consumers have grown somewhat immune to the amount of marketing that's presented to them on a daily basis, ultimately, ignoring almost every advertisement they encounter. Until SMS marketing, this has been an impossible challenge to overcome.

On average, 94% of SMS messages sent are read and 39% of US consumers prefer text messages to radio or TV advertising. With all of these statistics in your favor, it's not hard to see why SMS marketing is a great tool to add to a business' marketing strategy. SMS marketing is going to continue to grow and target consumers. Companies small and large have integrated SMS into their marketing strategies in creative ways and now your company can too.

After reading about both the advantages and disadvantages of SMS marketing, do you agree with our opinion of its effectiveness? Share your opinions in the comments.

Tags: Mobile

Melissa Healion

Melissa Healion

Melissa is a New Jersey native brought to Delaware for college. She started with eZanga as an intern and we liked her so much, we decided to keep her! Melissa graduated from the University of Delaware in January 2014 and has past experience as a PR Assistant for a marketing communications company. Melissa is a member of Alpha Phi Fraternity, loves to run, spend time with friends and family and go to the beach. More Articles by Melissa Healion