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Guest Opinion: How Text Reinvents the Direct Marketing Sales Funnel

1 Aug, 2017 By: Alan Rudnick Response

The classic direct marketing sales funnel consists of several stages that a consumer goes through in order to make (or not make) a purchase decision or — in the case of a lead-generation scenario — provide the necessary information to become a qualified inquiry. In addition to the traditional use of a toll-free number or URL as a means of engaging a consumer, direct offers can now employ text as a response mechanism that allows the curious to easily and conveniently engage with advertisers.

This newest response vehicle is gaining significant marketplace traction, and it offers several advantages that align with each step of the sales funnel process. The proof of this is seen in better unique visitor engagement and higher rates of conversion and average order value. Such metrics point to the notion that prospects who choose to interact using text have a higher degree of intent than those that may utilize other forms of discovering more about an offer.

To understand this phenomenon better, let’s examine each stage of the sales funnel to better explain how text as a response mechanism has a unique impact:

  • Awareness: Text embedded in a commercial or ad is still unique enough that it stands out and helps create differentiation. It’s a contemporary, consumer-friendly way to interact that suggests the marketer wants to make it as easy as possible for their audience to do so. Using a keyword in combination with a memorable short code — much like a vanity telephone number — can assert category authority. For example, an offer to “Text the word HAIR to 2-4-6-8-10” for a hair restoration product is memorable and on-point.
  • Interest: Today’s distracted consumer is exposed to thousands of competing messages daily, a situation exacerbated by our smartphone addictions. Consider this: when you see something that spikes your curiosity, if you don’t act immediately, isn’t there a good chance you’ll get distracted and forget about it? According to data from Accenture, almost nine of 10 TV viewers now watch with a second screen, and the smartphone is the most common device used. Text satisfies prospects’ desire for instant gratification and allows them to instantly engage using a tool already at their side.
  • Consideration: Text enables marketers to immediately begin the education process that empowers prospects to make an informed purchase decision, while sidelining the competition. Why? Because text creates a direct link to the marketer’s website or offer — bypassing search, where leads can get diverted by the competition.
  • Purchase: The path to purchase is one step away with text because prospects are a click away from a marketer’s mobile site and shopping cart or lead-capture form. It eliminates the search step, and it occupies rarified territory in the form of an individual’s text cue. According to the Pew Research Center, 81 percent of Americans regularly text, representing a marketplace of 260 million consumers.

  • Advocacy: Once a relationship between consumer and marketer is established, text allows marketers to extend and deepen their relationship with the customer through this most intimate form of communication, helping foster brand affinity and loyalty. Amid today’s world of social networking, fostering good feelings about your brand and associated products can fuel powerful work-of-mouth and social proof.

Just as online activity has replaced telemarketing as a primary means of engaging with consumers, text may very well become the dominant means by which interested prospects raise their hands and let advertisers know they want to learn more. But text isn’t just the wave of the future; it’s a tide whose time has come. The more choices an advertiser can give a prospect to easily and efficiently engage, the better the chance are they can get their target audience to take action. ■

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