By Richard Manfredi on May 27, 2015 5:39:00 PM
Long ago, back before Twitter and Facebook were our primary channels of communication and telephone boxes graced our streets, software programmer from Reading, Neil Papworth, sent the first ever text message. The date was December 3, 1992. Two decades later, there are now around eight trillion text messages sent annually and texting has become the second most popular use of mobile phones only after checking the time.
In 20 years text messaging has massively impacted the way we communicate. SMS has grown from being a simple way for secretaries to page their managers to a host of applications that rely on text messaging – voting on reality shows, tracking vehicles or packages and telling you when a plane has landed.
The way we consume information and how we communicate is changing. We’re more visually-orientated than ever and have shorter attention spans due to most people being time-poor. The humble ‘like’ now suffices as a full response in most scenarios and the emoji is becoming more widely accepted – the term itself even making it onto the approved list in scrabble!
This tide of change has come about with the increasing dominance of smartphones. The switch to data for messaging and the influence of trends including social integration, conversations around images and group messaging apps has massively impacted the way we communicate.
The rise of the messenger app
Messenger apps are arguably the most successful smartphone apps. The 10 biggest collectively boast more than three billion accounts. WhatsApp, the leader, has 700m and the number of WhatsApp messages sent every day now exceeds the number of standard texts. Last year it handled more than seven trillion messages – that’s about 1,000 per person.
These mobile-first social messaging apps are creating a new ecosystem for communication, but despite the growing popularity of instant messaging among consumers, just 2% of those apps generate revenue. So what is the best platform for marketers to communicate with their customers?
SMS making a comeback
Whether the consumer has a smartphone or a basic mobile phone, they will all be able to receive text messages. On average, it only takes 5 seconds for a person to read a text message, plus a lot of people always carry their phones with them so they are more likely to respond straight away.
Around 98 per cent of all SMS messages are opened compared to just 20 per cent of emails. Thousands of social media posts are published every day, so on average only 12 per cent of Facebook posts and 29 per cent of tweets are read. It is much more difficult for a customer to ignore a text message.
Consumers opt into mobile programs and make a careful decision on which text campaigns they choose, meaning they’re a much more engaged audience. Because users limit themselves to brands they truly care about when opting into SMS promotions, brands are able to market more directly to a captive and loyal target audience.
SMS also allows consumers to reply instantaneously to a promotion and engage with the brand through a two-way dialogue. By opening the doors of conversation between brand and consumer, and creating customer engagement, marketers ultimately create a stronger relationship and build brand trust.
The effectiveness of SMS as a marketing strategy
With more than 5 billion now owning a mobile phone, this is a huge market and a great platform for marketers to reach their audiences via SMS marketing. Although apps and geo-targeting messaging platforms have eaten up the majority of industry press in recent years, text messaging should still be the marketing channel of choice.
Customers want simplicity and 20 years on, SMS remains one form of digital communication that no one ignores. It is the most direct way of contacting your customers and ensuring the message is read. It is a simple, cost-effective way to retain customers, deliver excellent customer service and is proven to be a very effective method.
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The information included herein is distributed for informational use only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be taken as such. All clients are responsible for meeting legal requirements and other rules that apply to their messaging programs. Consultation with legal counsel is strongly recommended.