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Recapping the science of Conscious Engagement: Behavioral-based SMS messaging

behavioral-based messaging

At Symend, we embed behavioral science in customer engagement strategies to tailor communication according to individual preferences and behaviors. As such, we are regularly keeping up with research to elevate our outcomes, inform our strategies and ensure that we’re at the cusp of developments within the industry. The first of this series dives into the role of behavioral-based SMS messaging.

In a recent study, “Behavioral Messages and Debt Repayment” (2022), studied the effectiveness of text-based behavioral messaging toward improving outcomes for consumers and businesses alike. The randomized experiment involving 7,029 late-paying clients of a large Colombian bank drafted six reminder messages that appealed to different motivations. The motivations included a reminder of financial implications, reciprocity, moral obligation, social norms, and socially responsible investing with a link to learn more about the bank’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices. 

Behavioral-based SMS messaging motivators:


After delivering a reminder text every week for three consecutive months to borrowers, here’s what was discovered:  

1. Receiving text message reminders significantly reduced the probability of delinquency by 4% among borrowers with overdue payments. 

2. The content of your message matters, but not more than social norms, which when used, reduced delinquency by 7% amongst delinquent borrowers. 

3. The individual circumstances (job status, level of debt, employment status, etc.) play a role in the tactic used. 

4. Reminder messages drive greater value with unsecured and shorter-maturity loans when compared to secured loans. 


Overall, this tells us that when consumers are prioritizing their bill payments, financial concerns are only one puzzle piece. The other important, if not more important pieces are those that account for social norms, individual circumstances and preferences that play a significant role in behavior. Text-based messaging and reminders can be helpful to a wide array of consumers but supplementing that with a deep understanding of your customers and tailoring your messaging accordingly has the highest likelihood of success.  

Download our 2023 consumer report, Decoding Billpayer Behavior, to discover more about what’s driving consumer behavior.