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SMS Marketing Is the Next Big Thing

As the world races on faster and faster towards increased mobile connectivity, it seems that the Mobile media segment is developing ever new features and tools for customer engagement. Mobile is arguably the most important new communication medium, with mobile internet connectivity set to overtake desktop internet connectivity by 2014. Mobile Apps have all but taken over our lives, and now new potential mediums such as Augmented Reality and Google Glass are creeping into our lives. Yet in spite of such amazing technology developments, an existing technology that critics are suggesting is dead, SMS, is actually still proving it’s worth. SMS, the acronym for Short Message Service, is better known by it’s common name: Text Messaging. Invented in 1984 by a Franco-German collaboration effort and first implemented in 1992, SMS is a ubiquitous form of communication that most mobile phone holders use everyday. In fact, although many of us associate text messaging with teens and tweens, 50% of all text message users in the U.S. are over the age of 35. SMS is in fact such a highly used tool in contemporary life that ‘Application-to-Person’ texting (appointment reminders, etc.) is projected to outpace person-to-person texting by 2016. Consider the many applications in our daily lives that use SMS notification. Need to verify your mobile number for your bank account? Receive a text with a verification code to input online.On your desktop and want to download an app? Input your number and receive a text with a link to download the app. Flight delayed? You might just find out via Text. Still a more basic function of SMS is SMS marketing, a widely used tool much like Email marketing. Simply think of the last bar or restaurant you visited. It’s likely there was a poster or table flyer to “Text In” to receive a promotion or join a promotional list. SMS Marketing has in fact existed since the early 2000’s when Txtbomb sent the first cross-carrier campaign in 2001 for Island records. Although SMS Marketing may be downplayed as a relevant medium to reach consumers, such Text marketing is still widely used today. Coca-Cola recently shared its success story about its most important mobile campaign ever launched, “Move To The Beat.” Engagement rates reached averages of 45% which, if accurate, is quite a success. Part of that success is thanks to the reach of SMS. In the aforementioned story on Coca-Cola, it is suggested that SMS marketing reaches 98% of consumers. This rate seems a bit high (perhaps the comment is focused on Coca-Cola’s consumer set), yet nonetheless we know that 73% of all adult mobile phone users in the U.S. send and receive text messages (as measured in 2011). This makes sense since all phones, both smartphones and ‘dumbphones’, have the capability to send and receive text messages. This makes SMS a better tool to reach all consumers versus, say, a mobile app like Facebook which can only be accessed on a smartphone. Consequently, until most (i.e. 85%+) of mobile phone users own a smartphone, SMS ought to still remain highly relevant. Furthermore, if you don’t believe this writer, consider Michele Turner’s recent post on Mobile Commerce Daily. Perhaps the most interesting research statistic is that 66% of consumers would like to receive offer texts from trusted brands, however only 23% of consumers actually do. Marketers need to wake up to this reality, and fast.

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