Real Talk About Text Message Marketing

August 25, 2014

cell phone

Text message marketing is a largely unused agency marketing tactic in the insurance industry. This is in part because of rules and regulations that are assumed to be complicated (they're not) and in part because agents don't know much about it. What it comes down to... many agents aren't sure whether or not text message marketing can work for their agencies.

Here are answers to some common questions I get from agents about text message marketing and other questions you may not think to ask.

'Everyone reads their text messages! Don't I have a better chance of my message being read if I send it via text?'

The truth is text messages are intrusive when used for advertising purposes. They should never be used for advertising. The best time to use text messaging is when you need to get information to your clients during a crisis like natural disasters or life threatening emergencies in your area.

Think about how you would feel if you received a marketing text message from your dry cleaners, your car salesman or your dentist. You would most likely unsubscribe, and you're not alone. In the past AgencyBuzz users have sent marketing text messages to 7,556 unique people, and 14% have opted out of those messages.

The engagement rate for these messages is around 0.20%. By engagement, I don't mean opening the text. That's easy. Opening a text involves swiping the screen on your phone, so, it isn't hard to get 98% open rate on texts. But, what are they doing with the information you've sent? Nothing? Deleting your message? Most likely unsubscribing? They aren't calling you to take you up on your offer, and we can see that in the numbers.

Engagement rate is measured by the receiver's response to the message. If you open a text and delete it, then it is not successful. That is not engagement. Engagement should always be the number one priority.

'I heard I have to get permission to text my customers and prospects. Can't I send them a text message asking them for that? Then I can see if their phone number is valid too.'

New regulations are clear when it comes to getting permission to send information via text or phone to your clients and prospects.

You have to send an email to each of your clients asking for permission to message them via text. With AgencyBuzz, this email is automatically generated and appears to come directly from your agency. This process is only done when AgencyBuzz realizes that you haven't already received written permission from clients and prospects. You will need permission from each client and prospect you'd like to send texts to.

Since this FCC/TCPA regulation came into practice, we've seen a drastic decrease in the numbers of texts sent due to contacts not giving their agents permission to send texts.

This should serve as another indication that the public, in general, feels text message marketing is intrusive and not wanted.

'But, I've read email marketing is dead. So wouldn't text messages be better?'

I had a previous customer who used Agency Buzz to execute a marketing plan comprised of only text messaging. He saw horrible engagement rates, upset a LOT of his customers and lost several prospects in the process. When he switched from text message marketing to email marketing, he had a huge turn around. He increased retention using automated renewal notices and began receiving payments on time thanks to automating his payment reminders in AgencyBuzz. He also had a great response to his monthly newsletters.

Email marketing isn't dead - especially for insurance marketing.

The truth is there is a place for text messages within your agency, e.g. emergency notifications. Depending on your clientele and where you do business, you may have more of a need to send text messages. Use your discretion when determining whether or not to use text message marketing. Emergency alerts get a response, they are read, and the information is acted upon. I can say from experience most agencies don't need to spend their limited budgets on text message marketing, but I won't say there isn't a place in all agencies because every agency is different.

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