What Is SMS Marketing (And Why Do We Hate It)?

The SMS experience puts the “push” in “pushy”.

Not too long ago, the digital pundits were decrying interruption-based marketing tactics. Articles like Interruption Marketing is Dead and thousands of others touted the value of content that attracted and engaged users, instead of chasing them around with sticks like the neighborhood kids chasing the postal carrier.

But text marketing statistics indicate a rise in this super-annoying tactic, now conveniently assaulting your very own phone with bulk SMS and mass text messages.

Okay, I’m revealing my own personal bias. But I do detest text message marketing, and I wondered if I was the only person who felt this way. I reached out first to my Facebook network to get their take, so let’s not slap a Gallup Survey logo on the results.

  • People who receive SMS ads: 43%
  • People who opted in for SMS ads: 9%
  • People who purchased something based on an SMS ad: 12%
  • People who hate SMS text message advertising: 82%

What is SMS Marketing?

Ads sent to you via text message on your phone are known as SMS ads or text message ads. You may have given a company your permission (and your phone number) for opt-in marketing because you are interested in a specific company or product.

Or your phone number may have been acquired for mass SMS marketing purposes – like spam emails – by a company that has given up using strategy and common decency.

(Oops – there’s my bias again.)

Why Do We Some of Us Hate Text Message Marketing?

For many of us, text messaging is a very personal connection between real people. It’s a way for parents to check in on their kids, and it’s a way for kids to tell other kids how stupid their parents and teachers are. But it’s still personal.

In fact, today’s smartphone itself is so personal that many young people consider it “an extension of their body—or even like a lover” [source: The Atlantic].

I don’t know about you, but if a part of my body started offering me a 20% discount on my next purchase, I’d be a little put off.

Here are some unpolished responses from the unscientific survey I conducted in my specialized Facebook laboratory.


Real Facebook users comment on SMS Text Message marketingShould SMS Be Part of Your Content Strategy?

It’s true: some people love certain brands that they want to be blasted in the face with an explosion of tear gas on their phones. For those lifestyle brands (and, yes, I’m looking at you Coach Purses), SMS needs to be part of the mix. They have devoted customers dying for a digital coupon.

But don’t add SMS into the mix just because it works for some categories. You really need to understand your brand and your customers. Heck, ask some of your best customers if they want to receive your interruptive messages.

If a majority of your potential recipients absolutely hate the idea of text message marketing – regardless of how they feel about your products/services – you will damage your brand for the short-term gain of a small percentage of sales.

Yes, that’s my opinion.

What’s Your Take About SMS Marketing?

Let’s get more scientific. I’ve embedded the survey on this page so you, too, can offer your opinion. But if you’re one of the soulless SMS marketers, please refrain from skewing the results. Let’s let the end users decide.

Take the SMS Marketing Opinion Survey!

Text ads: Do you love ’em or hate ’em?


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