Text Messaging remains a key factor for marketers

3cinteractive

There are so many different ways people can use smartphones today,  including apps, email, music and social media. That being said, it might be  surprising to hear that 97 percent of smartphone owners still use text messaging according to Pew Research’s most recent analysis of smartphone use. This remarkably high figure illustrates that basic communication remains a key driver of behavior even as the number and complexity of potential distractions increase.

SMS Is for Every Business
This basic ability to connect with others is a driver as to why businesses of every size look to leveraging text messaging to communicate with their users. SMS marketing is a universal way of communicating with customers and has proven to be a highly reliable and personalizable medium. What’s more, SMS is ubiquitous across all platforms and any type of mobile device, allowing businesses to reach their customers regardless of if they’ve purchased the latest device or if they are using a basic prepaid handset. Combine this with the fact that everyone carries their mobile device with them at all times (even to the point of sleeping with them!) and you’ve got a recipe for success.
From a marketer’s perspective, more than 90 percent of people read a text message within three minutes of receiving according to VentureBeat, making this one of the most effective marketing tactics. Even the popularity and proliferation of e-mail marketing can’t even come close to those results.

Still a Game Changer for commerce
At a time when many retailers remain unsure about how to leverage the smartphone for other aspects of their business, text continues to evolve with new uses and opportunities being deployed in-store and beyond.
Walmart now leverages SMS as a personal in-store concierge, allowing customers to text a certain code in order to receive real-time information on the product’s location and any deals currently offered.  The brand also uses SMS for e-receipts, enabling customers to receive purchase receipts directly to their mobile device. Customers who pair their device with an account online may also gain access to their complete order history.
Some of the largest pharmacy chains in the world leverage text messaging to drive user actions with significant positive results for their business. Customers are reminded when it’s time to renew their prescriptions, notified when their prescriptions are ready, and prompted to return to the store if they forget to pick up their medicine. This program has helped pharmacy chains decrease their customer wait times with fewer calls to the pharmacy, while increasing positive customer feedback.  It has also resulted in the  decline of  abandoned perscriptions, generating millions of  dollars in incremental revenue.

The expanding power of text
Aside from business use, Americans can expect to leverage text messages to stay abreast of the 2016 Presidential election. Sure, there are plenty of mobile apps that will provide round-the-clock news updates, but many consumers are starting to turn to SMS for real-time information.
An example of this is that , during the recent “Super Tuesday” primaries, many consumers leveraged SMS and opted into services such as Purple, an SMS-based service that follows the election and provides updates to people who have opted in. Users say it’s an unobtrusive way to get real-time updates on the status of their favorite candidate.
Purple is an example of a growing trend of chat bots that extend the communication power of text to expose additional services and data.  While the concept has been around for a while (I can recall creating several on AIM almost ten years ago), it is really gaining steam this year.

A role in public safety
Another, less commercial, reason why text messaging remains as a priority for organizations comes in the form of safety. As a recent example of the reliability and speed of SMS, the Government of Victoria in Australia has plans to transfer its emergency parent communication system to an SMS message-based format. This will replace other forms of communication, which included letters sent home with children or individual phone calls in the event of urgent emergencies.
This follows moves by colleges and school systems in the US who already rely on text to communicate safety and weather related events.  

Summary
With all the talk of new ways to use a smartphone, you’d think text messaging would slowly sunset into the background. However, just the opposite is taking place, with businesses, organizations and consumers finding new ways to leverage text messaging. What’s more, even younger audiences who are extremely peculiar in their selection of the ways in which they use their mobile devices continue to leverage text as a way to communicate regularly. As such, it’s important for brands and organizations to understand how to best leverage text messages in any of its forms (such as SMS, MMS, OTT or the emerging RCS standard) in an effort to increase sales, communications or even municipal safety.

brian heikes headshotAbout The Author
Brian Heikes is Vice President of Product at 3Cinteractive. Through mobile marketing services, 3C deepens and extends the connection between customers and brands, driving increased loyalty, brand awareness, and results. Leveraging 3C’s expertise connecting mobile to business results and its Switchblade™ platform’s multichannel capabilities—including SMS and MMS messaging, mobile coupons, mobile wallet, mobile web, location based services and more—marketers can deliver timely, relevant engagement at the customers’ moment of need. For more information please visit www.3c.com.

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