“Would SMS Marketing be useful for my business?” This is my most recent reader question and it is one that needs some discussion.

Rieva Lesonsky is president and CEO of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, has some good advice.

First, know that “SMS” stands for “Short Message Service” but you may know it by its more common name -- text messaging. Have you incorporated text marketing into your overall marketing strategies? Not all companies have yet because many small business owners aren’t familiar enough with the benefits.

B2C (Business to Customer) text messaging is growing rapidly, according to eMarketer, citing statistics from Juniper Research showing global mobile business messaging traffic hit 2.7 trillion last year, up 10% from 2019.

EZ Texting, which offers SMS marketing solutions for small and medium businesses, recently released its 2021 Business Texting Trends Report, which provides critical insights about text marketing best practices.

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Retail is the leading industry when it comes to embracing text marketing. According to EZ Texting, retail and e-commerce companies account for 20% of text messages sent through their system, followed by nonprofits (13%), health and wellness companies (10%), professional services (10%), and software and technology (8%).

Lagging are repair and maintenance services, manufacturing, and hospitality businesses which accounted for less than 1% of all messages sent.

Most people are attached to our mobile phones. A survey, also from EZ Texting, shows, however, that Americans feel “conflicted — anxious, disconnected, out of touch, and stressed but also present, relaxed, free, and relieved — when they don’t have their phones” — especially millennials.

“This survey underscores why texting is such an effective way for businesses to communicate with current and potential customers. Our data shows that most customers read and respond to texts within an hour,” said Norman Happ, CEO of EZ Texting.

According to the survey, 88% of Americans say their phones are usually within reach, including 58% who say their phones are always with them, partly because they don’t like to miss text messages.

  • 70% check their phones at least once an hour; 23% check them every few minutes.
  • 79% read text messages within 15 minutes of receiving them.
  • 72% respond to text messages within 15 minutes.

When they receive a notification of a new text message, Americans say they mostly feel curious, happy and excited.

Happ says text messaging can be used in multiple ways to engage and interact with different people on various topics. The majority of text marketing messages offer customers promotions and discounts (56%). This is followed by general notifications and alerts (13%), customer support and follow-up (11%), payment and appointment reminders (9%), lead generation follow-up (6%), and operational notifications (4%).

2021 SMS marketing statistics from SMS Comparison show an even faster response, with 98% of all text messages being read and responded to within three minutes of being received. They also report:

  • 48% of consumers prefer direct communication from businesses via text messaging
  • SMS texts have a 19% click-through rate (CTR), compared to 4% from emails, and 1% from Facebook
  • 75% of customers want special offers sent via text
  • 90% of customers have “gained value” from SMS loyalty programs

SMS Comparison adds that the average consumer today is 64% more likely to perceive a business in a positive light when they are directly communicated with. And while you may think that’s a phone call — not so much anymore. When given the option between receiving a phone call or a text message from a business for customer support, more than 50% of consumers prefer text messaging. And overall, Americans are five times more likely to send and receive text messages than phone calls.

The EZ Texting business trends report says:

  • It’s better to text later in the week. Based on click-through rates, engagement was lowest at the beginning of the week and increased steadily through the weekend.
  • Text before work and after dinner. Engagement was twice as high before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
  • Be clear about your call to action. Messages with a distinctly positive or serious tone and a specific call to action had up to three times more engagement than messages with a neutral tone.
  • Keep messages concise. Concise messages also achieved significantly higher engagement. The optimal length for text messages is 20 to 30 words.

If you haven’t yet developed SMS marketing strategies, the time is now.

Dean Swanson is a volunteer Certified SCORE Mentor and former SCORE chapter chairman, district director and regional vice president for the North West Region.