SMS. A Short-Term Memory Service?

SMS, as we know, stands for Short Message Service. We think it’s also deserving to stand for Short-Term Memory Service. Before we tell you why, we’re going to show you what short-term memory is, how it works, and how it plays a vital role in your marketing campaigns.

We prepared a fun game for you to illustrate how it works. Let’s see how many phrases you can memorise in a limited time frame so that you can experience your own short term memory capacity.

Short-Term Memory Experiment

Here’s how the game works. Your goal is to memorise as many phrases below as you can in two minutes. Get out a sheet of paper and pen, and then set a timer for two minutes. Once the timer ends, turn off the screen and write down as many phrases from the list as you can. The order does not matter.

Ready, set, memorise!

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Checking Your Results

How many phrases did you get correct? The experiment demonstrates the limitations of human short-term memory. According to researcher and author George A. Miller, most adults can only remember five to nine items in their short-term memory within 20 to 30 seconds. This is with a focus on memorisation.

Afterwards, your thoughts will slowly slip away. Don’t believe us? Try recalling the phrases after reading this article and see how many you can still remember.

How does memory work?

Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968) proposed a multistore model of memory (also known as the modal model), where memories consist of 3 stores: sensory memory, short-term memory and long-term memory.

Information passes from store to store linearly. First, your sense organs (auditory, visual, smell, etc.) detect the information and transfer it to your sensory memory. The information then enters through the short-term memory only if we pay attention to it.

Afterwards, information from short-term memory can turn into long-term memory only through rehearsal and repetition. Otherwise, new sensory information replaces it in the short-term memory store.

Improving Short-Term Memory

There are ways to enhance the duration and quantity of short-term memory. One method is chunking, which is a rehearsal strategy that can significantly increase memorisation and recall. To prove this, observe the following phrases:

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After grouping these phrases (via row) into similar categories, you will realise that it’s easier to memorise and recall. Feel free to play this experiment again with the same rules above.

What can we learn from this?

The experiment proved that humans can only retain five to nine thoughts in a short period. Remember this next time when you plan to promote your products or services. You’re passionate about what you do and you want to let your customers know about every little detail; but in reality, they are likely to forget.

Keeping your messaging short and simple and with one call-to-action can help dramatically improve your conversion rate. SMS is the most effective medium to do so. Most clients choose to send a single message which is under 160 characters. This ensures you to get to the point and forces you to write elevator pitches instead of novels.

It’s likely why SMS has an open rate of 98% compared to email with only 20.81%. Customers know that a text message is short and sweet.

A Summary to Remember

  1. Use SMS. With a 160 character limit, it is designed perfectly for how short-term memory work.
  2. Categorise. Sort your items by colours, type, size, price, location and so forth. The less a customer has to think, the sooner they will make an informed decision.
  3. Attention converts sensory information to short-term memory. When you see an alert for an SMS, you are likely going to attend to it eventually. From there, keep your message simple to convert your information to short-term memory.
  4. Rehearse and repeat. Oftentimes, you want to remind your customers about your promotions. We recommend scheduling multiple campaigns to keep their memories fresh.
  5. Do you still recall those phrases from the game? Those phrases are some of the most commonly used call-to-action (CTA) and marketing taglines for SMS. Some are even applicable to other marketing channels too.
  6. Convert these points to long-term memory by writing them down and bookmarking this article. We recommend retrieving this later and rehearsing by applying these practices on your future marketing campaigns.

Source: SimplyPsychology