Government scheme could impact future of SMS marketing

Marketers could learn lessons from a government approach to prompt criminals to pay their fines.

When he first came into power in 2010, David Cameron set up the so-called “nudge unit”, reports, which was tasked with finding ways in which society could run a little more smoothly. The unit comprised of nine academics, although the number has since swelled to 13, which is made up largely of psychologists and economists.

One of their brainwaves was to send criminals text messages when they were due to pay court fees in the hope of increasing the number of those who actually make the payment.

The previous approach used letters sent in the post but only saw five per cent of recipients actually pay up. During a regional trial in the South East last year, however, it was tested using text messages instead, with surprising results. Furthermore, when a recipient’s name was included in the message, payment rates soared to 33 per cent.

This could translate for brands seeking an immediate response on their limited-time sales or offers. It could also be used by insurance firms and the like that are utilising SMS marketing as a way to ensure they receive payment on time for so-called “grudge purchases”.

Unsurprisingly, the success of the government scheme has prompted a nationwide roll-out, which could happen over the coming months. If it proves as successful on a national scale as it was regionally, it could completely eradicate bailiff intervention in around 150,000 cases and save the government £30 million, reports.