Look to E-Mail to See What Will Happen to Texts

On an IFA webinar I hosted last year, I was asked a question I believe designed to catch me off guard – “Is text messaging the answer? Or is going to go lose its effectiveness as marketing vehicle as other vehicles have?”

And it surprised the audience when I said matter of factly that text messaging would, in fact, lose its efficacy over the course of time. There will be diminishing returns. And I stand by that.

That being said, avoiding sales and marketing strategies that will be diminished in the future is a terrible idea as it would cause you to avoid sales and marketing altogether! Investing in text messaging is a necessity as it is the order of the day. And as long as consumers are using it as a primary form of communication (which seems to be true for the next years at least), it’ll be necessary for marketers.

I will, however, begin to posit how text messaging will evolve as time goes on. And as the title of this article alludes to, I think e-mail lends fantastic clues to what’s in store for text messaging.

Here are four predictions about how things will change:

Unsubscribing

You probably don’t realize it, but simply responding “STOP” to many business text messages will disallow that company from sending you messages in the future. Just like unsubscribing from e-mails, SMS is going to develop a sophisticated and transparent system by which users can opt out. This will be the easiest way for users to keep their text inboxes clean. (You may add blocking numbers as a stronger way that this occurs as well…)

SPAM Reports

There is going to be better ways for users to report when messages violate the rules in terms of subject matter of subscription tactics. It’s one thing for you to unsubscribe – it’s something much stronger to tell your wireless / data provider that those messages are unwanted. This will allow these arbiters to do a better job deciding who is a legitimate sender and who isn’t. It’s not that far of a reach at all to imagine a menu with a “Report SPAM” button in your iMessage app.

Priority Inboxes

With these reports and other factors like open and reply rates, your smartphone and app makers will be able to allow you to segment your messages for you. This may come in the form of surfacing messages from contacts in a more obvious way vs. businesses. Or it may end up going as far as Google has with its promotions and other tabs in your inbox.

Multiple “Accounts”

One major way that consumers handle the e-mail overload today is by creating extra e-mail accounts, thus allowing them to segment the various subscriptions themselves. Quite a few friends in my network have a “junk e-mail address.” Why can’t the same be true for phone numbers? You have your one number that you give out to people you know and a separate number to give out to companies.

Whatever the future holds, the same truth will hold true for SMSers as currently as true for e-mailers. The secret to success is sending people things they want to read. Want to respond to! Be someone that people want to interact with, and you’ll be just fine.

Eli Robinson is the General Manager of FranFunnel. He uses the "STOP" feature A LOT.

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