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Word on the Future

April 2019 | ~ 4 min read

Welcome to the seventh edition of Word on the Future. Thank you for being here with us.
Keywords: Texting; messaging; conversational marketing; WhatsApp

One in a billion: the magic of texting

Texting has become a natural part of every-day life for a majority of people today: more than five billion globally use a mobile phone, the Digital in 2019 reports from Hootsuite and We are Social reveal.
Text messages open up a fast lane to human attention as they can be sent and read on virtually all types of mobile phones, not only smartphones. Marketing departments are advised to tread carefully, though. Because an ‘audience of one’ is the holy grail of omni-channel customer experience, the text message inbox is regarded as a sacred space: explicit opt-in and easy opt-out are required not only under GDPR, but by regulation in numerous countries, including the Americas. And mandatory opt-in seems to pre-validate rather than block the conversation that follows: almost every text message gets opened.
The rise of text messaging in digital marketing can be seen as a side-effect of an increased sensitivity against email noise. Texting feels personal, and its ubiquitous user interface offers low-friction enrolment in campaigns with incredible potential for enterprises who manage to maintain a friendly, authentic voice and tone:
  • Drips, providers of a lead-to-call conversion tool, reported that switching the tone of their own message copy from serious and mechanical to conversational and accommodating resulted in conversion rates increasing by up to 400%.
  • In an experiment aimed at delivering digestible news coverage during the U.S. midterm elections, the Philadelphia Inquirer crafted conversations via text message to inform citizens about election issues; 41% of people responded to the texts and those who clicked through from a text message stayed twice as long on the website and visited more pages than other visitors.

A special case of text: WhatsApp

Since 2014, the use of WhatsApp for news has almost tripled. Of the 1.5 billion active WhatsApp users in 133 countries world-wide, an increasing number uses the app to share and discuss news stories with friends and family. While WhatsApp’s encryption raises challenges around fact checking and the spread of misinformation, it also provides a convenient, subjectively ‘safe’ space where people seem to feel sure they are talking to ‘real friends’ – which, in turn, opens opportunities to businesses for WhatsApp marketing and customer service.
In markets where WhatsApp is the predominant channel of online interaction, publishers have gained significant ROI on texting campaigns: BloombergQuint, a joint venture of Bloomberg News and Quintillion Media, focused on the Indian economy, recently revealed they have accumulated more than 400,000 WhatsApp subscribers within 15 months, driving advertising revenues with over five million monthly page views.

Email still delivers

While text messages work great for conversational marketing, email clearly wins at delivering branded content. Although the average click-through rate from an email hovers around 3.71%, open rates still reach up to 37% for some industries, and the ability to customise an HTML email’s design will remain unmatched by any text message format in the foreseeable future.

Andrew Haeg

Founder and CEO, GroundSource
on texting and brand loyalty

‘At a time of overflowing feeds and fractured attention spans, texting enables the kind of direct, intimate, and lasting relationship between brands and their fans that cultivates the most valuable asset of all: loyalty.’

Forward to a friend

Until next time!

Noel Tock
Partner and CGO at Human Made
April 2019 contributions from: Ana Silva, Camila Villegas, Caspar Hübinger
Photo Andrew Haeg: Alessandro Migliardi for #ijf19 (CC BY-ND 4.0)

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