August 7, 2013

SMS Marketing Isn’t – and May Never Be – Practical for Small Businesses, Says Company CEO

“You heard me right: SMS marketing just isn’t practical for small businesses (1-50 employees),” said founder and CEO of text message marketing provider Tatanga, Derek Johnson. “I know this sounds completely crazy coming from one of the biggest advocates in our industry during the last six years for small businesses using SMS marketing, but it’s true, and it pains me to admit it … after six years of trying, I’m giving up, and have conceded to the fact that text message marketing wasn’t, isn’t and most likely won’t ever be practical for small businesses.”

Johnson said that although there are exceptions to the rule (or small businesses whose text message campaigns have proved to be effective), but overall, Johnson’s experience suggests that running SMS campaigns for small businesses “just isn’t practical”:


  1. There has to be a marketing budget, on top of the budget for SMS marketing. “The problem for small businesses (between 2-10 employees), is that the majority of them (65%) don’t ever spend more than $1,000 per year, and 40% of them spend somewhere between $0 and $499 per year. See Vistaprint’s Small Business Survey. If the majority of a small businesses marketing budget is spent on just the SMS marketing software, there’s hardly any budget left behind to advertise and promote the campaign.”
  2. The rules and regulations surrounding text message marketing have become too complicated. “While the TCPA is pretty clear regarding what is required to send a text message to a customer, the CTIA has made it near impossible for any small business to run an SMS campaign that complies with all of their rules and regulations … If a small business owner actually read, comprehended and then implemented an SMS campaign that complied with the CTIA rules and regulations on their own, I’d be so surprised that I most likely would hire that person on the spot to come work at Tatango, as it would be that rare.”
  3. 90% of SMS marketing success is due to a well-planned strategy. Over the years at Tatango we’ve tried to help businesses create their own SMS marketing strategies by providing them with free guides, videos, etc. but lets be honest, that’s just not enough to launch and manage a successful SMS campaign. The worst part is that even if we wanted to spend the needed time to help small businesses develop a well planned SMS marketing strategy, the economics when a small business is paying an SMS marketing provider $49/month just doesn’t make sense.
  4. You can’t track what you can’t measure. “Most small businesses don’t have the point of sale technology, or aren’t willing to pony up for the software needed to integrate their point of sale system with an SMS provider. This means that most small businesses are flying blind when it comes to measuring the performance of their SMS campaign … I think any marketing expert would agree that if half a businesses marketing budget is going toward one marketing channel, you better damn well be able to track the performance of that channel. With small businesses and text message marketing, this just isn’t a reality.”


This post was adapted from the original post by Derek Johnson, published on Mobile Marketing Watch. Photo credit: Reuters.

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