How SMS became a business tool

Posted on Jan 9. 2018, 10:01 am

Who would have thought 25 years ago that more than 180 billion text messages would be exchanged in France every year? Surprising when you know that SMS was not popular at all with the general public at first.

Remember that the ancestors of texting were messages dictated to a teleoperator and read from some sort of pager, the famous Tam-Tam and other Tatoo. After that, little by little, SMS was able to impose itself, ignoring technical barriers and, in particular, taking advantage of the interconnectivity of networks to become one of the privileged forms of communication. It is now positioned as a central tool in the relationship that brands have with their customers and has even become an internal communication tool.

Many companies have understood the importance of this channel and have integrated it into their communication and marketing strategies. In particular, it has pushed itself against e-mail, which is regularly deleted before it has even been read, as its content is often considered to be unwanted. In addition, e-mail boxes are usually only checked once or twice a day, while SMS is checked several times a day. Existing studies on SMS also report a read rate of up to 98%, on average within three minutes of receipt.

New use

A true business tool, the text message offers numerous application possibilities, whether used via a workstation, via business applications or for “technical” exchanges between machines. Airlines do this to notify their passengers of flight changes, delivery services inform their customers that their orders have been shipped, and car rental companies send booking confirmations to their customers.

Banks can send mTans to their customers and as part of two-factor authentication, authentication services send their access credentials to VPN connections or online services. For example, the personnel department manages its employees and the retail companies manage their sales advisors and salespeople.

This results in other possible scenarios for logistics, starting or stopping machines remotely, controlling the production flow, warning messages or campaigns from the CRM system.

A quick and easy tool

The SMS message in the form of a campaign has the advantage that it can be deployed quickly and at a lower cost. For each transmission, the sender can automatically receive a notification that the SMS has indeed been delivered and document all stages of the SMS’s journey until its transmission to the mobile phone operators and deposit at the recipient’s terminal.

It offers opportunities for engagement and more and more companies are using it to collect feedback from their customers.

The brevity is also an asset, it makes it easy to read and the shorter length of the message allows for better memorization of the reader. The simplicity and speed of implementation allows businesses to act quickly because an SMS campaign requires less upfront planning than traditional advertising. Finally, it offers opportunities for engagement and more and more companies are using it to collect the opinion of their customers in the form of a survey or a satisfaction survey.

A bright future

The SMS has become a tool for customer acquisition, loyalty and increasing sales. Its flexibility and immediacy make it particularly effective in increasing revenue per customer. Therefore, 25 years after sending the first SMS, more and more companies are using it internally (despite the democratization of instant messaging) to communicate directly with their customers and business partners (B2C, B2B) in a variety of ways, from healthcare to manufacturing.

The use of text messaging is also growing in terms of machine-to-machine communication and the Internet of Things. The SMS usage rate also allows companies to engage in true two-way communication with their interlocutors. With the use of specific services, SMS has become more professional over time. Text messages can be sent from various business apps, email clients, or through a web browser with cloud apps. Messages sent directly to mobile phones do not require specific mobile phone infrastructure or additional hardware or software. There is no doubt that SMS still has a bright future.

Benoitt Tremolet is the managing director of Retarus France

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