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25.06.2015

SMS, in spite of everything, remains a relevant tool

Image | Ken Banks

SMS refuses to die. It seemed that with the arrival of smartphones, the days of SMS were numbered, but despite the fact that their use has gone down dramatically, they appear to have found certain niches where they still belong. Sending mass messages to mobile phones is a practice that has spread in recent years both in private companies and public organizations. With the upsurge of applications like Whatsapp and even email use, some might think that SMS is obsolete, but that’s just not the case.

SMS is no longer a social tool; rather it has become a marketing communications tool. This statement is supported by data from a report by Xopik, a platform specializing in SMS Marketing.

The numbers speak for themselves: 91% of users keep their phones on them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. This data coincides with the last study published by Pew Research Center which confirms that nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone and that 97% of respondents had used a text messaging service at least once. Given this situation it is easy to hit our target audience. How? In a less invasive and more effective way than other means. On average, we open SMS messages 90% of the time, whereas we only open our mail 10% of the time, so the difference is huge.

The SMS has been able to take advantage of the boom, and even over saturation, of other channels to promote its strengths. Nowadays countless e-mails are received daily and most of them remain unopened. However, SMS do tend to be opened and because the text always more simple, direct and concise, the message reaches farther. SMS communication is much more instantaneous.

According to the platform Tatango, cosmetics brand Julep launched an SMS marketing campaign that generated a click-through rate of 34.2% at a conversion of 17.4%. Those are some very high figures that emphasize the success of SMS for these types of campaigns. Dan Slavin, CEO of CodeBroker believes that the key to the success of SMS campaigns is “to deliver timely, valuable and possibly exclusive content to consumers.”

SMS in several other sectors: public, financial, sports, telcom …

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Not only private companies benefit from marketing via SMS. Many public institutions are also taking advantage of it to better serve their clients, as SMS has several advantages over other formats.

One of the biggest benefits is accessibility. Today all public organizations have their constituents’ phone numbers in their databases, facilitating more direct communication. If you have their phone numbers, it brings you closer to the end user.

The financial sector also uses SMS messages as a marketing tool. They began by using SMS as an inexpensive means to send notifications to their customers about new products and services. However, nowadays SMS messages have become a very important tool as they are used to offer several services such as security validation, transaction notifications, transfers or deposits, and other services. A combination of comfort and safety.

Apart from public organizations and banking, another sector that has made a good use of SMS is sports: any runner knows that it is common when crossing the finish line of a race to receive an SMS with a real-time information from the organizers of the event. Even telecom operators themselves continue using SMS for certain notifications of their clients, such as alerts about exceeding limits of data usage, or when traveling, or informing about roaming costs, data usage and calls abroad.

In short, SMS maintains a strong presence. It has managed to reinvent itself and find its place in marketing. It is another tool at companies’ disposal. And we should take advantage of it.