Nomophobia and channel challenges: are marketers getting the message?

Perhaps it’s a sad reality of the modern age, or evidence of innate human addiction, but we really can’t live without our phones anymore. Tara Salmon dives into how smartphone separation anxiety is impacting marketers’ channel choices.

Tara Salmon 150 BWIt’s no secret Australians have become a smartphone-dependent, thumb-scrolling nation of people who rarely leave the house – or even their beds – without a device in hand. As more and more of our lives are lived in the digital world, the insatiable desire to feel connected is now even manifesting into irrational fears of being without mobile phone access, also known as ‘nomophobia’.

You needn’t look far for evidence of this behaviour. Whether it’s walking down the street or catching public transport, a smartphone is never far away.

Recent research from dscout suggests that we touch our cell phones 2617 times per day – through either a tap or a swipe. A study by Huawei also found that 26% of Australians find it hard to function properly without their mobile phones.

But what impact has this smartphone-first evolution had on the marketing mix and the battle for customer engagement?

The competition for consumers’ attention has never been fiercer, and mobile marketing, with social media apps, email, web browsing and video streaming (to name a few), is a major battlefield. But where does SMS fit in and can it compete in such a saturated market?

Channel considerations

Knowing where to reach consumers is only half the battle, and selecting the right channel is perhaps even more important. Of course, there is social media marketing, search marketing and a huge amount of investment in apps; yet email marketing remains the default method for many marketers. But with nearly 300 billion marketing emails being sent per day according to Campaign Monitor, many of which might be considered spam, consumers’ inboxes are increasingly cluttered, which could be leading to lower open rates and a general distrust of emails from brands.

SMS messaging doesn’t face these same challenges. While just as many business text messages (or more) are sent each year, SMS is less prone to spam, more trustworthy (according to itstillworks.com) and considerably more targeted than social media, search or app communications. The open rate of SMS is much higher than email at 98% and a text message is, on average, opened within 90 seconds of arrival. Compare this with a 20% open rate of all emails.

Text to action

New research from business messaging provider MessageMedia has found that 97% of Australians readily open SMS messages, 87% have opened an SMS from a business and 83% have clicked on an SMS link. The research is explored further in MessageMedia’s new ebook, Getting the message: Consumer attitudes to business SMS.

The research studied more than 3000 consumers from Australia, the UK, the US and New Zealand. It found that after clicking on a link within a business SMS, 59% then visited either the bricks-and-mortar or online store. Of that segment, 63% were Millennials. The study also showed that 60% of respondents made a bill or other payment they would have missed without an SMS reminder.

A further 78% of Millennials agreed SMS marketing is more likely to get their attention over email or an app – more than any other age bracket.

Millennials love screen time

As consumer attention span diminishes and young Australians become more reliant on smartphones, businesses should be tapping into the strength of SMS marketing for its ability to achieve cut-through and yield results.

Regardless of why Millennials are looking at their screens, whether it’s for work or entertainment, the drive to be connected at all times means they are simply more likely to check their phones. This desire to be always online is leading to an increase in the effectiveness of SMS marketing among younger Australians and should be a staple in the playbook of every marketing team.

Tara Salmon is chief marketing officer at MessageMedia

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Image credit:Owen Spencer