Textual Healing – The rise of the business SMS text message

Last updated: 20 March 2014

How do you prioritise your written communication? I’m willing to bet that most of us read text messages long before we read emails. In truth, this is because most of us put family and friends ahead of our colleagues in our communication ‘schedules’. But what happens when these worlds collide?

The SMS text message is the world’s number 1 communication method with nearly 6 billion active users, and according to The Great British Mobile Marketing Report 2012 it’s clear that its success appeals to businesses as well as consumers. According to the Tomi Ahonen of the Communities Dominate Brands blog, 97% of all SMS messages are read within just five seconds. Compare that to email (read within 48 hours) and you can see why it’s an effective marketing method!

The Digital Marketing Association claims that only 20% of emails are opened, but a staggering 97% of SMS text messages are read (at any speed). What about marketing interaction? In the UK, the Mobile Data Association says that SMS text messages get a 26% response rate, versus just 5% for email.

So why is it so successful? Let’s explore some of the benefits. Despite the recent adoption of ‘Smart communication’ such as iMessage, What’s App and Joyn, for example, SMS marketing will always be the preferred mean to address someone not in your specific social network.

The benefits of SMS marketing are many. SMS boasts very high open rates (97%), rapid speed – network permitting, direct one-to-one communication, low cost in bulk and an expansive reach – available everywhere, through all networks, compatible with all handsets. Previously, you could argue that usability for advertisers was poor because of low interactivity. But now we’re entering a new era of innovation in terms of SMS with initiatives like ping pong, Push & Pull SMS and better still, the Smart Message. These innovations are significantly improving user experience by engaging advertisers and users into interactive dialogues.

Finally, if you’re not convinced by the mighty SMS text message yet… here are some examples of how else it’s used around the world:

  • – SMS text messages are used to deliver tsunami warnings in Indonesia and earthquake warnings in Guatemala.
  • – SMS is used as a major payment method from Kenya.
  • – SMS is used by doctors in emergencies, by teachers to connect with students and by governments to talk about elections around the world. (US Presidential campaigns use SMS to collect political donations.)
  • – SMS is legally accepted as a contractually binding electronic signature (first seen in Spain) and SMS is the way you can file your tax returns in many countries, first seen in Norway.
  • – SMS is used by farmers to turn on their irrigation in India and by shepherds in Switzerland!

Are you using SMS text messages in your business? Let us know how they’ve changed the way you’ve communicated at work.