SMS Phycology

SMS Marketing and Psychology of Buyers

Texting is so popular because people need some form of gratification to survive on an emotional level. When we are starved of emotional rewards from work, relationships or pastimes, we need to find a fix from somewhere else. So, we turn to the digital realm. Each successful interaction, be it a reply to a text, a like, a comment or a share, releases dopamine which is associated with reward and motivation.

The Dopamine(dopamine is a type of monoamine neurotransmitter. It’s made in your brain and acts as a chemical messenger, communicating messages between nerve cells in your brain and your brain and the rest of your body) make as curios ‘case text messages are typically associated with rewards, we just can’t resist opening an SMS.

Dopamine determines our behavior and actively makes us seek gratification. Essentially, dopamine is the driver of addictive behavior. The neurotransmitter that rewards us with satisfaction is an opioid and works alongside dopamine. Once the gratification is satisfied, we stop looking for gratification.

Furthermore, dopamine makes us curious. Because text messages are typically associated with rewards, we just can’t resist opening an SMS. This is why SMS marketing is so effective. 

Marketers that are successful in generating curiosity or pulling the emotional strings of desire can, therefore, gain a significant advantage in mobile marketing platforms.

So, when you take into consideration the addictive nature and the dopamine release of opening an SMS, it’s not hard to see why the open rate is as high as it is.

The powerful combination of effective SMS

♦️ We get fewer SMS messages than messages from other platforms ♦️ Receiving an SMS offers greater satisfaction than with other platforms ♦️ 69% of users claim they can’t live without SMS ♦️ People check their SMS messages instantly

SMS isn’t as popular as a P2P channel anymore. We use Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, WeChat or some other OTT platforms for daily interaction, and SMS has, for many of us, become a tool that businesses use to communicate with consumers. Hence, we get fewer messages and when we do, it’s more of an occasion. Thus, the feeling of satisfaction is greater, and the speed with which we open the SMS increases too. This is a powerful combination.

There is something incredibly powerful about SMS when 69% of users claim that they need it or couldn’t live without it. While it may evolve to incorporate new features and provide new services, people are clearly attached to text messaging. This is mainly due to its ease of use and the fact that it can reach anybody, on any phone. People tend to check their text messages instantly, which doesn’t necessarily happen with other services.”

The research comes at a time when more and more people are turning to the broadband-enabled services for communication but highlights the reasons why people still rely on and love SMS. We are at the stage in the messaging market where many end-users and businesses are trying different messaging platforms. In fact, text messaging is now being integrated into many applications to enable functionality, such as notifications, which adds a new dimension to communication with users. 

However, as messaging technology continues to evolve, there is still no single contender to SMS – we are firm in our beliefs that text messaging will continue to be the most trusted, most popular platform around the world for a long time to come.

How can you get a strong emotional response

♦️ SMS marketing is about emotional responses ♦️ Teasing with titbits of information is one of the most powerful triggers ♦️ The need for instant gratification makes SMS a great marketing tool

The truth of the matter is that while we tend to think that we make decisions that are rational and driven by a thought process, more often than not, we rely on our system 1 (emotional, instinctive and fast) to make most of our decisions as well as feed information into system 2 (rational, analytical and slow) for the decisions we take our time with.

“Emotions drive our actions, so that’s what SMS marketing is trying to achieve – an emotional response, not a resonating message.”

Emotions drive our actions, so that’s what SMS marketing is trying to achieve – an emotional response, not a resonating message. In short, use SMS to prompt the dopamine effect.

Emotions drive our actions, so that’s what SMS marketing is trying to achieve – an emotional response, not a resonating message. In short, use SMS to prompt the dopamine effect.

Because curiosity triggers dopamine, teasing consumers with titbits of information they want to know more about is recognized as one of the most powerful triggers in marketing. This is why using SMS as a stepping stone to drive customers to a landing page is so effective.

Furthermore, as we discussed before, SMS is instant. Around 90% of text messages are opened within the first three minutes. And it is this need for instant gratification that makes SMS a popular and acceptable marketing channel.

We want information we’ve grown tired of ads

♦️ Diversify your SMS content ♦️ Use SMS additionally for customer service and feedback ♦️ Drive customers onward in their journey ♦️ Be flexible in your strategy

As such, sending offer after offer isn’t an effective strategy, especially considering mobile marketing is an opt-in process. Bombarding customers with non-enticing and dopamine-lacking generic promotional offers leads to a rather quick case of losing inbox hospitality.

Brands are beginning to recognize the value of using text messaging services to conduct customer service and gather consumer feedback. Consumers prefer to communicate with brands through digital means rather than on the phone, and more likely to reply to a text than an email.

Sending customers reminders about appointments, upcoming events and news about your brand is appreciated more by customers than being targeted by sales ads. Create high-value messages, and you improve emotional bonds with customers, ultimately building loyalty. 

“It is important to understand the beliefs and emotional values of your customers to get the most from your SMS marketing campaigns.”

This keeps up the inbox hospitality, and you can also sneak in a few offers that have a high conversion rate.

The idea of using SMS in marketing is utilizing the strengths of the channel (reach, open rate, conversion rate) to drive customers onward in the journey you have created for them in becoming a brand loyalist.

It is important to understand the beliefs and emotional values of your customers to get the most from your SMS marketing campaigns. Texting can be used effectively in numerous ways, so be flexible with your strategy and take advantage of the psychological versatility SMS offers.

Understand the value and strength of habits

♦️ Experiment with different levels of reward ♦️ Understand what would create the habit of engaging with you ♦️ Introduce concepts that are easily associated with the brand

We are, perhaps above all else, creatures of habit because habits are incredibly efficient: we don’t need to think to get something done when it has become habitual. Habits happen when we find a task that we can repeat and get a degree of reward from.

Some research has suggested that the unpredictable nature of the reward – sometimes we don’t benefit, at other times we do – creates more powerful habits. One good example of this is the frequency with which people check emails: many aren’t rewarding, but occasionally we receive something that makes us feel great. Marketers should experiment with different levels of reward rather than keeping their marketing at a consistent psychological level.

This can mean switching between the use of SMS in generating future benefits for the recipient vs immediate discounts and rewards, or tackling the variety of use-cases within #sms to make replying to you or engaging with you a regular and easy-to-do task for the customers.

The key thing to understand is what would create the habit of engaging with you for your customers. What triggers lead to engagement and do so continually?

When considering the investments of time and money that clients are willing to make, the principle of “What you see is all there is” has a place in describing the thought process. This theory states that when the mind makes decisions, it deals primarily with Known Knowns, phenomena it has already observed. It rarely considers Known Unknowns, phenomena that it knows to be relevant but about which it has no information. Finally, it appears oblivious to the possibility of Unknown Unknowns, unknown phenomena of unknown relevance.

The author of Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, explains that humans fail to take into account complexity and that their understanding of the world consists of a small and necessarily un-representative set of observations. Furthermore, the mind generally does not account for the role of chance and therefore, falsely assumes that a future event will mirror a past event.

In the context of #smsmarketing , this means that each step of the journey of guiding your customer to conversion, the known knowns are what you should aim for and educate your clients of. 

This means that introducing concepts that aren’t easily associated with the brand or contradict previous knowledge, are out. You only have 160 characters, so new concepts can’t be fleshed out. Creating impactful yet straightforward messages that fit within the existing narrative, expand upon it and leave room for more, are key in driving SMS marketing to maximum conversion.

Understand how you frame your message and create triggers

♦️ Consider loss aversion in your strategy ♦️ Think about the long-term relationship with your customers ♦️ Find the balance between different tactics

 Loss aversion is another psychological heuristic to take into consideration when framing your message and more importantly, the call to action you are looking to trigger.

Loss aversion implies that one who loses $100 will lose more satisfaction than another person will gain from a $100 windfall. In marketing, the use of trial periods and rebates attempts to take advantage of the buyer’s tendency to value the good more after the buyer incorporates it in the status quo. In past behavioral economics studies, users participate up until the threat of loss equals any incurred gains.

Recent methods established by Botond Kőszegi and Matthew Rabin in experimental economics illustrate the role of expectation, wherein an individual’s belief about an outcome can create an instance of loss aversion, whether or not a tangible change of state has occurred.

Note that whether a transaction is framed as a loss or as a gain is very important to this calculation: would you rather get a $5 discount, or avoid a $5 surcharge?

The same change in price framed differently has a significant effect on consumer behavior.

This can, however, have an opposite effect on the long-term loyalty of the client if you use scare tactics or play on a customer’s tendency for loss aversion to boost the conversion. A $5 surcharge might make people move more and take action more readily, but the negative impact creates a feeling that they were forced to choose an option they would have liked to avoid. As such, you can harm your long-term relationship with your customer in favor of making a quick buck.

So, it’s important to find the balance in the message you send out, taking advantage of the various aspects of our behavior to tailor a message that is both well received as well as acted upon readily.

Key takeaways in building a message

We’ve covered a fair bit of ground and psychology in describing what good old SMS can do and how it can be used to its full effect. As with any tool, there are positives and negatives. The success of the channel is very much dependent on the time and effort you put into understanding it, mounding it to fit your desired outcomes and how well you understand the fit of the message conveyed in the lives of your customers

  • Make the message elicit emotion
  • Share information, not offers
  • Build habits upon existing habits
  • Keep to known concepts that fit with the brand
  • Be aware of the framing of the message
  • Think of the long-term value of the customer vs quick cash