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Know when to say send

Have we found *enough* relevance?

The knock on SMS at the outset was that it was intrusive. Slowly, though, over the past decade and a half (yup, SMS marketing has been around since the first decade of this millennium), we’ve warmed to those disruptions vibrating our pockets and purses.

While email still carries the load of known marketing messages, the share of known marketing messages coming into our phones is increasingly short (sms). Salesforce tells us that email’s share of marketing messages has dropped from 93% at the beginning of ‘21 to 85% in the most recent quarter, Q2 23 - and the biggest winner has been SMS.

There are lots of similarities between the golden days of email’s rise (2000’s), and what we’re seeing now with SMS. Early shopper adoption drove commercial success, which led to a burgeoning clump of providers. The mixture of greater program demand and revenue expectations helped drive per message costs down (remember, market rates for SMS were still 2-3 cents as recently as 2020), which has led us to the next step in SMS’ evolution.


SMS may have found its way to relevance faster than email did. The higher per message costs, and greater intrusions meant that many brands began with triggered messages as a proof of concept for the channel.

And just like email, the performance of those triggered messages (flows for the Shopify-era crowd) far outpaces the batch 'n blasted.

The usual suspects - abandoned browse ($2.28 RPM), carts ($9.22), and checkouts ($5.33), along with welcome messages ($4.80)- see an order of magnitude better productivity than broadcast campaigns (and of course audience sizes are tiny, comparatively).

So, our job, as marketers, is to find more moments of engagement AND to bring this same relevance-first thinking to those broadcast campaigns.

Yes, the tried and true SMS playbook  - a derivative of email’s successful playbook - spells out many of these moments. But, there are always unique moments to you, or underutilized moments lurking for you to fill (abandoned search! Buyer birthday! Brand birthday!).

The secret to success at scale is the AND. Launch those triggers AND work to make your broadcast campaigns a bit more segmented, and a bit more personal. There’s massive opportunity waiting inside your program.

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