Isn’t SMS supposed to be dead? You would be forgiven for thinking so, given the headlines published in 2014. They have trumpeted the rise of new forms of messaging, such as instant messaging (IM), and implied that the old-fashioned text message is on the wane.
But the reality is that SMS is increasing. It is true that person-to-person messaging is changing. Consumers are embracing new chat apps that promise cheaper and more flexible mobile communications. Increasingly, they are choosing products such as WhatsApp and Viber over SMS.
So why is SMS still growing? The answer lies with one simple acronym: A2P. It stands for application-to-person, and describes the use of SMS by enterprises to send texts to customers, employees and partners.
This kind of messaging is exploding. Why? Because SMS remains the most immediate, ubiquitous and affordable communications tool money can buy.
The unstoppable rise of enterprise messaging
The first ever text message was sent in 1992. But more than two decades on, the medium remains as vital as ever. Today, enterprises use SMS for a range of applications including:
- Appointment reminders
- Travel updates and ticketing
- Fraud prevention alerts
- Service ratings
As a means of communication, SMS has a greater impact than email, IM, social media or direct mail. There are 10 reasons why.
1 SMS is ubiquitous
Anyone with a mobile phone can use SMS. That simple statement says everything about the unique reach of text as a communications channel.
The GSMA industry body estimates that in 2014, there will be around 3.6 billion mobile phone subscribers, which means 3.6 billion people who can send and receive texts. Compare that with IM, which according to Statista, is used by around 1.5 billion. That might seem like a lot, but remember, there are so many different IM technologies, none of which speak to each other.
2 SMS is always on
Text messages are transmitted over the telco networks, which for the most part, reach across every inhabited location.
IM applications, on the other hand, require a data connection – either via 3G or Wi-Fi. As any mobile user knows, mobile broadband connections are far from ‘always on’, while few locations offer free Wi-Fi. This means that only SMS messages can be sure to reach their targets.
3 SMS is immediate
Mobile is the most personal of all media. So it is no surprise that users open and respond to texts so quickly.
A study by Frost & Sullivan found that 98% of people read text messages while only 22% of emails are read, making SMS marketing more than four times as effective.
Not to mention that 95% to 98% of SMS text messages are read within minutes of receipt, according to Hipcricket.
4 SMS campaigns are quick to bring to market
A text contains 160 characters. This means that a good SMS requires proper preparation and forethought in order to pass the message across. The benefit of this is a clear and concise message with an obvious call to action, which is generated and sent rapidly, bringing the campaign to market quickly.
5 SMS messages can be customised
The beauty of opt-in SMS marketing is that campaigns can be targeted at particular groups of customers. Often in marketing, the ‘one size fits all’ approach does not work. With SMS messaging, you can tailor your message to the right audience and personalise it, because your customer is more likely to read a message with their name in it.
As a result, you can spend more time on crafting the right message and not waste resources on people who are not interested.
6 SMS messages are trackable
How many people saw your last poster ad? You can make a guess, but that is about it.
With SMS, delivery rates are readily available so you know and can track how many people received your message. And if your message contains a hyperlink, you know how many people clicked it.
7 SMS is rich
The simplest SMS messages contain up to 160 characters of plain text.
Sometimes that is good enough. But SMS offers many richer options such as a link to a dedicated landing page for even more engaging content.
8 SMS is responsive
With SMS, consumers can take action immediately. They can click on a link, make a call, send a text answer to a poll, making SMS a genuinely two-way medium.
9 SMS is expensive (relatively)
Expensive? It’s a good thing.
This might seem contradictory, but the premium cost of SMS actually makes it more attractive as a communications channel.
A marketer knows the value of paid rather than free marketing. Email is virtually free and therefore subject to a far greater level of spam. SMS comes with a cost but this serves to cut out the spam.
10 SMS can be used for payments
Beyond marketing, texts can be used as payment for digital or quasi-digital items such as charity donations, tickets, votes and parking.
The use cases for A2P messaging are wide ranging. Banks, travel companies, bus companies, retailers, utility companies, public services and many more are finding a use for SMS in the organisation of their customer communication. Not to mention
fleet managers organising their workers on the move, who need to tell them where to be as the jobs come in.
Read the white paper at www.netsize.com