Helping or Spamming? The Dilemma of Mobile Marketing
Updated: Nov 7
Mobile technology is everywhere. How many times have you stepped into an elevator, coffee shop or a restaurant and seen seemingly everyone scrolling through the various apps on their smart phones to get the latest weather or check the score of the game?
A recent article on mobile phone usage said that, of the 8.1 billion people on earth, 6.9 billion people own a smart phone. That’s almost 85%. To put this in perspective, only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush. No wonder people say that they feel naked when they accidentally leave their cell phone at home when out and about!
While cell phone ownership has increased, it remains questionable whether the quality of our interactions with others has improved. As many people can attest after living through the pandemic, technology doesn’t always deepen relationships. While I have many friends and colleagues who answer text messages and emails on their phones at all hours of the day, these are often the same people who barely ever take an actual call. From a marketing perspective, this phenomenon creates an interesting dilemma: If everyone has a phone, I have the opportunity to connect with anyone no matter where they are; however, if my clients or prospects won’t pick up the phone, is it even worth calling them?
Do I just give up and send a text or email?
Compliance creates an additional level of difficulty in certain industries and firms. Financial advisors are often required by broker-dealers and company compliance officers to record every interaction that they have with their clients. If a text message doesn’t make it into the client relationship management (CRM) system, it can create perceived (or real) compliance risk. While regulation of CPAs may not be the same, firm policy may dictate a similar level of strictness.
So, is mobile marketing even worth it?
While a phone call is a higher quality way to interact with clients and prospects, people seem to screen their calls now more than ever. According to the Telenet and Ovation Sales Group, it only took 3.68 attempts to reach a prospect in 2007. Now, it takes almost 8 attempts. Similarly, according to Sirius Decisions, it takes today’s teleprospector between 100 and 500 calls to qualify one lead. While these statistics may appear bleak, the future of marketing by phone may
not be all lost. According to Vorsight, “You are 70 percent more likely to get an appointment with someone on an ‘unexpected sales call’ if you are in a common LinkedIn group than if you aren’t." That is to say that people still answer calls, but only from people that they know. Perhaps this should come as no surprise with the continued rise in the use of smart phones. A picture of the person pops up every time you get a call from someone in your contact list. People don’t want to take time away from their busy schedules for a no-name caller.
What about texting? A good open rate for email marketing is about 20%. This means that 4 out of 5 e-mails that you send to prospects or clients will go directly into the trash folder. However, the open rate on text messages is 98%. Amazingly, this statistic has remained approximately the same for over 10 years! Of those text messages, between 95% and 98% of them are actually read within minutes of receipt!
It is possible that most people don’t know how to delete a text message from their phone without first opening it? Or is it likelier that we view text messaging as a more personal form of communication? Emails and phone calls could be from anyone, but only people to whom we're close would send us texts.
In this way, text messaging becomes a double-edged sword for financial services firms. On the one hand, if you send clients or prospects texts, they're far likelier to open it. On the other, they must be comfortable with this form of communication. If they're not, you may be perceived as crossing a line -- a perception that is not as common with phone calls or emails.
This is not to say that one should never text a prospect, but rather that financial services professionals should take a step back and consider what is most comfortable to the person they're attempting to reach. When contacts provide you a phone number, then clearly a phone call is best. If they circled the email address on their business card, then this is a hint as well. Perhaps the easiest way to discern if texting is okay is to simply ask. Many clients will tell you where the lines are if you ask them.
However -- even if they don’t outwardly tell you -- context is important. The occasional text message may be fine, but not if you noticed the prospect talking on a flip phone when you first met.
The secret to success would seem to be the ability to gauge where your clients are comfortable and read between the lines. This requires us to be perceptive, and this takes effort. People want to do what comes naturally to them. Our job as marketers and financial professionals is to figure out where people feel most at home and connect with them in that way.
This is not specific investment advice.
Financial and Investment Advisory services offered through Peters Financial LLC. Brokerage and Custodial Services offered through TD Ameritrade Institutional, member FINRA and SIPC. CFO-CM and TDA are not affiliated. Tax services are provided by Peters Tax Preparation & Consulting, PC and are not provided by Peters Financial LLC.
About the Author:
David Peters, CPA, CFP, ChFC, CLU, CPCU, CGMA, is the Founder and Owner of Peters Professional Education (petersprofessionaleducation.com) and Peters Tax Preparation & Consulting, PC. David Peters is also registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as an Investment Advisor Representative (IAR) with Peters Financial LLC. He regularly teaches courses in accounting, finance, insurance, financial planning, and ethics throughout the United States, and regularly contributes regularly to various professional publications, including NCACPA’s Interim Report, SCACPA’s CPA Report, and VSCPA’s Disclosures.