Mobile First

2015 – The Year of Text Messaging? 5 Reasons Why SMS Is a Powerful Force For Healthcare Marketing

You probably haven’t seen many headlines declaring 2015 “The Year of Text Messaging.” Honestly, it’s understandable – text messaging is just not that sexy, especially when compared  with technologies such as the shiny new Apple Watch, or the latest VR headset from Oculus Rift. However, at the risk of toppling the latest and well-loved tech shibboleths, I want to explore the growing advantages and coolness of text messaging, especially when compared with mobile apps.

While most developers and brand teams have likely considered building a mobile app and/or a mobile optimized site, few if any have considered the following inherent advantages of running a text message campaign:

1). People rarely download apps for one-time use, but they happily send and receive automated texts.

2). Custom apps can be very expensive to develop, test, and maintain – especially relative to text campaigns.

3). Despite the popularity of the Apple iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy, 1 in 3 mobile phones are still not smartphones. You’re missing a third of your audience if you rely exclusively on apps.

4). People send on average 41 texts per day. That jumps up to 88 if you’re a young adult.1

5). With text messages, you can reach a broader audience. Texting is more accessible for people with lower socioeconomic status (because smartphones are less prevalent). Also, Black and Hispanic populations actually send double the number of texts compared with Whites.2

What about you…how many apps do you open each day? How does that compare with the number of texts you send and receive? See my point!

Not only are text messages ubiquitous and woven into our daily behavior, but they can be used as a phenomenal tool for delivering health information and even changing behavior. Texting can be used for medication reminders, appointment follow-up, improving flu-shot compliance, or facilitating peer support. There are some impressive data on texting and smoking cessation: a systematic review found that text message support increased quit rates (a relative risk of 1.7 in one study)3.

Another example of using texts to deliver health information is Text4Baby, a program that provides information on prenatal health to pregnant women. Text4Baby delivers health tips on breastfeeding, sends alerts about medication recalls (such as for Children’s Tylenol), and encourages regular doctors appointments. The program has even led to changes in health metrics such as for diabetes management during pregnancy. In preliminary results, they found a significant difference in glucose values for pregnant diabetic mothers receiving the text message intervention compared with a control group.

If you want to try a more sophisticated campaign using text messages, consider trying Trext. ( Trext is a startup based in Boston that allows for automated, personalized text messaging.  This service has successfully partnered with wellness centers, clinics, and colleges on various health promotion campaigns, including thosefocusing on the flu, stress reduction, and birth control options etc.

Trext is unique because it enables two-way interactions rather than just one-way blasts. Your audience feels like they’re having a conversation because they get tailored responses. The Trext interface allows someone without computer programming experience to design a “flow” of questions and responses with branching logic. These decision trees can be sent out to a contact group, or your audience can initiate the conversation by texting in a keyword. The resulting data from the decision trees are stored and displayed in a visual-based analytics dashboard.

The year 2015 promises to be an exciting one for technology, and especially for text messaging. Whether you try a simple reminder campaign, or a more sophisticated two-way messaging campaign, be sure to put text messaging on your short list of cool tech! Way cheaper than the Apple Watch, and faster than the Oculus Rift, text messaging is poised for true tech greatness.

If you’d like to try a sample branching text campaign, send the words Mobile 2015” to (610) 674-6559.


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Kira McCoy
Kira McCoy is cofounder of Trext and is passionate about the power of mobile technology in healthcare. She is a graduate of Hampshire College and double-majored in Public Health and Neuroscience.

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