Why Text Message Marketing Works on Millennials

By Rieva Lesonsky, for AllBusiness.com now syndicated on Fortune

It’s no surprise that Millennials love texting on their smartphones, and a recent survey by OpenMarket reveals just how much they love it: A whopping 75 percent of Millennials would rather give up the ability to talk on their smartphones than the ability to text. More than half (53 percent) say that, in general, they prefer to text rather than call. Why does this matter to you as a business owner? Because Millennials’ preference for texting versus talking extends to the way they want to communicate with your business.

If your small business isn’t trying to capture Millennial customers, you probably should be. This age group accounts for nearly one-fourth of the U.S. population, and while the popular stereotype of Millennials as ditzy college students may persist, many of today’s Millennials are full-fledged adults, with the jobs and kids to prove it. If your business isn’t marketing to Millennials in a way that speaks to this generation—in other words, if you’re not using text message marketing—you could be left behind.

Why do Millennials prefer receiving texts rather than phone calls or voicemails?

  • Texts are “more convenient” because they are on the recipient’s own schedule (76 percent)
  • Texts are “less disruptive” than phone calls (63 percent)
  • They never check voicemail (19 percent)

Even among Millennials, the preference for texting has grown compared to a previous OpenMarket survey two years ago. But most businesses are lagging far behind when it comes to how they communicate with this demographic. Fewer than one-third (30 percent) of Millennials say they get texts from companies with which they regularly do business.

That’s the case even though 75 percent of Millennials say text reminders for appointments, deliveries, payments, promotions, and surveys are helpful. Specifically, they say text reminders are “less disruptive than a voice call” (63 percent), “one less thing to have to remember” (57 percent), and “the most convenient way to be reminded” (55 percent).

Reminders aren’t the only way you can use text messaging to communicate with Millennials, of course. Here are some other ideas for reaching out to your Millennial customers via text messaging:

  • Send product offers, discounts, and coupons. You can even use technology called “geo-fencing” to ensure these messages are delivered when customers are within a certain radius of your business.
  • Send notices of upcoming events or sales.
  • Send an alert when a product is shipped and/or when a delivery is scheduled.
  • Use text messages to enhance security, such as alerting customers when there is activity on their account.
  • Send reminders when a payment is due and/or acknowledgments when payment has been made.
  • Send customer satisfaction surveys.

Before starting any type of text message marketing campaign, be absolutely sure to obtain written consent from customers to put them on your text message marketing list. This is required under federal CAN-SPAM laws enforced by the FTC, and if you don’t do it, customers may report you. Also be sure that you immediately remove from your list any customer who asks to stop receiving texts from your business. Finally, make sure that customers understand that charges from their mobile carrier may apply to any texts—you don’t want someone with a limited texting plan to get the unpleasant surprise that your texts are costing them money.