Almost half of consumers are annoyed by constant SMS marketing from brands

New research uncovers a fine line between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ SMS marketing, with purchase opportunities abound for effective use, but also the threat of losing customers if poorly executed.

Poorly executed SMS marketing deters customers from buying and can even lead to abandonment of a brand, according to a new survey of more than 1,200 SMS, texts and WhatsApp users across the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand.

The 2023 State of SMS Marketing Report, from data quality and email deliverability solutions provider Validity, surveyed over 1,200 SMS, identified that almost half (47%) of respondents reported being constantly annoyed by SMS marketing, with 28% of those saying they have abandoned a brand due to this irritation.

UK respondents had an average of eight brands sending them regular SMS marketing, despite just 10% of those surveyed in the UK saying SMS is their most preferred method for receiving marketing messages.

SMS marketing has become a widely adopted practice as it enables brands to reach an array of consumers directly on their mobile devices. Often sending timely promotional pings or reminders of an abandoned ecommerce cart, SMS messaging attempts to drive purchasing from customers.

But as identified in Validity’s report, poorly executed SMS marketing can have the opposite effect.

According to the study, 38% of consumers have been influenced to purchase a service and 50% have been influenced to buy a product because of brand messages they received from a text or WhatsApp, indicating plenty of scope for successful SMS marketing.

Kate Adams, SVP of Marketing at Validity remarked: “Marketers who’ve mastered the art of SMS are able to create campaigns that increase customer engagement and satisfaction, and ultimately drive revenue for their business. But the findings of this report are also a cautionary tale because the opposite is equally true – when SMS is done poorly, businesses risk alienating large swaths of customers.

“Unfortunately, many marketers don’t know how to incorporate SMS effectively, and often attempt to apply age-old email marketing tactics - which aren’t effective in this medium. It’s crucial that businesses invest in training for their marketing teams so they are able to effectively adjust how, where, and with what frequency to employ SMS messaging tactics.”

Creating purchase opportunities

Not only does SMS marketing influence buyer decisions, but when done well it can create opportunities for further purchases. 77% of respondents said they learned of an interesting sale or promotion they wouldn’t have known about otherwise due to a text or message they received from a brand.

These insights indicate that effective SMS marketing is reliant upon several important factors, namely, keeping communication relevant and informative without falling into the trap of bombarding potential customers with irrelevant information and incessant updates. The importance of avoiding overuse of SMS is reflected in the fact Vitality’s study found that 96% of consumers have become annoyed, at least occasionally, by marketing messages.

A potential strategy to mitigate annoyance is personalisation. Brands should consider giving consumers the ability to customise the frequency with which they receive messages. The study found that 97% of respondents would prefer this feature and, of those, 81% believe it would make them more likely to purchase from or do business with a brand.

The data trade-off

An additional point of concern among consumers regarding SMS marketing is what brands are doing with their data, with 70% of customers reporting that they fear receiving texts from brands may pose a data risk. Of those concerned, more than two thirds believe companies may be selling their data or sending links corrupted by scammers.

The majority of consumers are willing to risk the exposure of their data if brands make the opportunity cost worthwhile. 66% of survey respondents reported that they continue to sign up for texts, SMS and messages from brands because of the potential rewards.

Things like company updates, shipping notifications and free merchandise were cited as reasons consumers accept the potential data risks.