Why I may hate SMS Marketing

phoneAs an e-marketing strategist, I can’t help but recognize the up and coming SMS (short message system) marketing as a potentially effective marketing medium. I recently came across a white paper, presented by mobileStorm, explaining the history and nature of SMS marketing, entitled SMS or Die. This document provided me with a general overview of the history, current uses, and possibilities of the SMS technology in regards to marketing.

SMS or Die

As a self-taught expert in email marketing, I saw many similarities between email and SMS marketing. It seems SMS is simply the “second generation” of email marketing, in the sense that their very similar in regards to their beginnings. However, SMS compared to email marketing today differ drastically.

It can be argued (by others, not me) that email marketing is ineffective today, because of sites such as Mailonator, which offer disposable email addresses to those who do not wish to give their “real” information. However, if the email marketer is promoting relevant, interesting content, the subscriber will WANT to give the marketer their real information because they will want to get the information or value that the marketer is providing.

Same with SMS…a marketer advertises a special value that subscribers can receive by texting a short code (usually a word relevant to the campaign) to a four digit number. As a reward for their action, marketers will give the subscriber a ‘free’ piece of information, coupon, ring tone, or other incentive. However, this is where email and SMS differ…individuals don’t have “disposable” cell phone numbers they can give out to simply receive this free gift and not be available for future contact.

So, as you can probably tell by this unorganized jumble of thoughts on SMS and email marketing, I’m undecided about the newer technology.

The reason why I’m leaning towards a hatred for it is the two text messages I received at 7:28 and 7:33 am one morning before work from a 0000000000@mms.tsimms.com with the words “charts” and “applicant.” Yes, I’m aware that these messages are either: a failed attempt on the technology side of delivering me a marketing message that I did NOT opt in for, or a weak attempt at spam. I brushed it aside thinking it was some kind of error, until I got a few more messages, this time at 2:30 and 2:35 am, waking me up in the middle of the night. These were still weak, but still spammy marketing messages that made more sense “Claim your free best buy gift card…”

I don’t give my cell phone number to anybody, I just use my land line when somebody asks for my number. So, I’m a little bit scared. If SMS marketing does for cell phones what email marketing did for email addresses (created a mass amount of spam being sent out),numbers am I going to have to shut off my phone when I go to sleep?

I know there will be ways around this (cell phone provider creating spam filters), but right now, I don’t appreciate having my dreams interrupted so ten zeros @simms can tell me that I can get a free best buy card. So, until there is a way to get rid of text message spam, I fear I may remain reluctant to adopt this texting technology.

Achieving Competitive Advantage Through Wireless TechnologyIf you’re interested in SMS marketing, check out Mobile Marketing: Achieving Competitive Advantage Through Wireless Technology, a great book I found, about different ways cell phones, smart phones, and PDAs are being used as marketing tools in today’s world of new media. Although fairly old (Published in April 2006, the book is surprisingly still very relevant today. To learn more about SMS and other Mobile Marketing techniques, order this book through Amazon as soon as possible!

Also be sure to check out my other Recommended Web 2.0 Reads!

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10 thoughts on “Why I may hate SMS Marketing

  1. I too had similar experience. It was rather unpleasant to be awaken at 4:30am with “Buy XXXX now to get a 2nd one free” type of message. I believe this is why enlightened companies prefer to practice permission marketing.

  2. I get royally pissed off when I get a SMS spam. Unlike email which costs me (practically) nothing when using a hosted service, or nothing if I’m using gmail, text messaging is .15 cents a message. If I got the amount of SMS that I do in email spam, I’d be paying $15.00 a day easy. Needless to say I think SMS is a wasteful way to market unless a person explicitly and deliberately signs up to use that kind of service. I highly doubt its efficacy otherwise.

  3. Excellent topic Erica. Growing intrusion of privacy is one of my biggest fears for this century.

    Using SMS for marketing is just horrible. SMS is and should stay something private. An idea that mobile networks sell the marketing services is outrageous.

    I suggest some kind of movement and boycott of this kind of networks.

  4. Thanks everyone! I can see that I’m not alone in the late night spam texts getting on our nerves. But I can’t help but realize how effective the legit SMS marketing campaigns really are, especially when the subscriber gets something of value back, as well. I’m thinking about doing another post to defend the legit SMS marketing…

  5. Yes, another reason to be angry with the SMS industry! I run an SMS company that allows thousands of businesses to send SMS campaigns, but we have a lock that prevents messages being delivered after 10:30pm and before 8am. (this lock can be removed on request if you are, for example, an emergence alert service, a nightclub doing live promotions etc).
    I defence of SMS, if it is sent to an opt-in list (you publish a keyword and shortcode – “text WOLF to 60777 to join Erica’s text club!”) then it is perfect for sending very low cost, requested, targeted news and offers to people who want to receive them.

    Great article 🙂



  6. Al,

    I completely agree! Legit, opt in SMS marketing can be extremely effective, especially if their is a “lock” that you speak of on the delivery time. Thanks for the comment!


  7. Interesting. I’m in Denver. Anybody else in denver get this message lately? I had this weird experience with this message. I got it at like 4pm in the afternoon(while at work in a very visible lobby). Like at 7pm(same day) this little red car with a sign on top with “0000000000” on it. I couldn’t read the rest, because it was dark. My building is locked and has restricted access. They parked there and stayed there with the engine off. I was on the phone for the whole time. I couldn’t see into the car and wasn’t about to go outside. As soon as I gave the appearance of me getting up to leave the area, they started their car and left as I did. Am I being paranoid or what? Other than family three people know my number. I did post my resume recently on monster.com. I’m totally weirded out and am going to try and track down that car by way of message boards on the internet(with a junkmail email of course).

  8. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired me to start my own BlogEngine blog now.

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