SMS for Business: Trends and Statistics [Infographic]

SMS for Business: Trends and Statistics

Short messaging service (SMS) has been around for over two decades. According to Mashable, most early mobile phones did not support the ability to send text messages—until Nokia manufactured the first GSM phone line that enabled users to exchange SMS in 1993.

Like most new technology, the adoption of SMS was slow, with the average user sending 0.4 texts per month in 1995. Come the year 2000, this number increased to 35 texts per month.

At present, SMS remains to be the most used data in the world, with 4.2 billion people around the globe still using their phones to text. In fact, more than 8 trillion text messages are being sent annually—that’s almost 16 million messages per minute.

In addition, a study by Pew Research Center reported that texting is widely practiced in both rich and developing nations, in which sending texts is common among cellphone users in Indonesia and Kenya, two of the poorest counties surveyed.

Even in this smartphone age where chat apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are being used by many, a study has found that 94% smartphone users still sends texts.

While SMS is a 20-year-old technology, these statistics prove that text messaging is not a fad that’s about to go away anytime soon—and businesses realize that. Sending texts or doing an SMS blast is viewed as a great tool for companies to reach new customers as well as support and retain existing ones.

Check out these emerging trends and powerful statistics on the advantages of SMS for business.

SMS for Business: Trends and Statistics

With billions of texts being exchanged every single day, SMS is here to stay and will play a key role in connecting the latest of technologies. It is a feature available on every mobile phone you can acquire today, making it the most effective and direct means of reaching the most number of customers.

Whether you are looking to enhance your marketing and boost sales conversions, improve customer service, and/or increase user security, SMS is a channel that needs to be included in the strategy.

It’s a great time to reconsider the impact that text messaging can make for your company.

 

Infographic References: Business2Community (5 Reasons SMS Can Improve Your E-commerce Experience); Cross-Cultural Marketing: Theory, Practice and Relevance; CTIA via Hubspot’s 9 Amazing Mobile Marketing Statistics Every Marketer Should Know; Digital Marketing Magazine (7 Key Statistics for SMS Marketing); EFL (Alternative Credit Scoring in Emerging Markets); eMarketer (Three in 10 Retailers Rely on SMS for Customer Service, Promotions); eWeek (Businesses Texting Grows More Widespread; Consumers Like Using Text Messages to Solve Customer Service Issues); Forbes (Fifty Essential Mobile Marketing Facts); GMA News (Philippines still text messaging champ -US study); ICMI (I’m Excited to Enable SMS in My Contact Center, But Should it Integrate with Other Channels?); MarTech (Text Messaging); Media Post (How Brands Can Reach Consumers In Emerging Markets); Mobile Marketing Watch (SMS Marketing Wallops Email with 98% Open Rate and Only 1% Spam); Mobile Ecosystem Forum; Morbie (Filipinos, Morbie and 400 Million Text Messages a Day); Portio Research; Ring Central (Infographic); SpamFighter (Flooded Inboxes: 84% of All E-mail is Spam)

5 Business Tips for a 45% SMS Response Rate or More

Business Tips for a 45% SMS Response Rate or More

There’s no doubt that SMS can reach audiences other business strategies such as email can’t. While email is easier to measure in terms of open and subscription rates, SMS has an advantage for a variety of reasons—there are more phones than people and 60% of the world remains offline. This means that most people don’t have 24/7 access to the Internet and mobile data, which are essential in receiving and responding to emails.

Businesses also enjoy a 45% response rate with SMS, while emails can only reach up to 6%. It’s no wonder 36% of businesses use SMS blasts for their campaigns.

The question now becomes: How exactly do you reach that 45% response rate benchmark or even exceed it? We’ve listed down the best SMS practices you can use for your next campaign.

 

sms

1. Write simply, but do not abbreviate.

It only takes under 5 seconds for your message to be read. Keep your message short and sweet, but don’t abbreviate. Abbreviations and “text–speak” are hard to decipher and can come across as unprofessional.

If your message is longer than 160 characters, send it in parts. Avoid shortening words just to cram everything in one message.

 

branded ID

2. Use a branded ID.

Customers do not think twice about deleting text messages from unknown numbers. Identify your company using a branded Sender Name to let them recognize you as a legitimate organization and avoid being mistaken as spam. Be sure to follow the guidelines of setting a Sender ID. Do this right if you want customers to respond to your SMS!

 

minions

3. Be personal.

Establish a personal connection with your customers by calling them by their first name or offering a personalized discount code. You can use the customer information in your database to your advantage. For instance, you can send personal messages or special offers on their birthdays. This way, your customers will feel valued and appreciated.

 

4. Use a compelling call-to-action.

Adding a call-to-action (CTA) at the end of your message provides direction to your customers. Just be clear with what action you want them to do. Do you want them to click on a link, visit your website, or drop by your physical store? A compelling CTA can encourage interaction and increase SMS response rates, so write it well.

 

clock

5. Know the right time.

Since SMS is received immediately, it’s essential to determine the perfect time to send your SMS blast. After all, you want your customer to reply at first glance. Busier times of the day could mean your message gets ignored. Instead, mid to late afternoon is the best time to send an SMS blast.

Sync your SMS blast based on your niche and promotion. For example, an SMS that is promoting a weekend sale at your store should be sent on Saturday morning or Friday night the earliest. This will help your customers make the necessary plans for their weekend and make them more likely to visit your store and shop.

 

Understanding your target customers is important in determining how to send SMS campaigns with the right message and at the right time. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but be sure to maintain professionalism at all times. Analyze your results and evaluate how you can improve your campaign to surpass the industry benchmark of a 45% response rate.

How These Businesses Used SMS to Build Customer Loyalty

How These Businesses Used SMS to Build Customer Loyalty

Most marketers, brand managers, and business owners focus their resources on generating new leads. Acquiring new customers costs three times more than retaining existing customers, while a mere 5% of increase in customer retention can result in as much as 75% higher business profits.

One proven way to increase customer loyalty and retention toward driving revenue is through an SMS blast. More than two-thirds of the world’s population now owns a smartphone, and in many emerging markets, mobile phones in use outnumber the population. Over 96% of these mobile phone owners use text messaging. In fact, 98% of SMS messages are opened and read within three minutes of receipt; in comparison, emails are only opened 20% of the time.

People have become increasingly dependent on mobile phones, and instinctively check their cell phones for new text messages several times a day. A series of strategic SMS messages to your existing customers can be powerful enough to increase brand engagement and encourage them to make additional purchases.

Businesses big and small have done it! Here are some successful SMS strategies Airbnb, Harley-Davidson, NewsCorp, and Ford have used to provide a better user experience for their customers.

Case Studies: Using SMS to Build Customer Loyalty

airbnb

1. Airbnb

Airbnb is an online marketplace and hospitality service that lets people rent out extra space to travelers looking for hotel alternatives. Once guests find an accommodation they like, they need to communicate with the host to finalize their booking.

Hosts receive reservation requests through Airbnb, and they need to either accept or decline the reservation within 32 hours. However, hosts are often away from their computers or offline, so Airbnb customer service had to manually call the hosts to confirm or decline the reservation. This was an inefficient method for Airbnb support agents, so they integrated a cloud communications platform on the website to automate mobile communication between hosts and guests.

With SMS automation, guests no longer have to wait more than a day to get their bookings confirmed, and hosts no longer need an internet connection or a computer to accept reservations. If a host does not respond to a reservation request through the Airbnb app, they automatically receive an SMS notification with all the relevant booking information.

The result? Airbnb significantly increased its percentage of successful bookings by eliminating the need to manually call the hosts for confirmation. Airbnb now has over 2.3 million listings from 640,000 hosts across 65,000 cities across the world–more than any hotel chain. Airbnb’s instant and easy-to-use interface has helped it grow to more than 100 million users booking 500,000 stays per night.

Harley-Davidson

2. Harley-Davidson

Despite being phased out of production, the Harley-Davidson Road Glide retained a strong and loyal customer following. In 2014, Harley-Davidson wanted to reintroduce an updated version of Road Glide, and had secretly planned to unveil it along with 15 new models at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, a large event attended by about half a million motorcycle enthusiasts every year.

Harley-Davidson devised a plan to engage the loyal fan base of the Road Glide. They emailed over 80,000 Road Glide owners two weeks before the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. In the email, they asked customers who were planning to go to Sturgis to provide their mobile numbers if they wanted to take part in a special event.

The night before the Sturgis event, these customers were sent a very simple SMS message: “Big announcement tomorrow. Meet us at the Tin Lizzie Casino parking lot.”

The customers went to the Lizzie Casino parking lot, where they witnessed the exclusive 2014 Road Glide big reveal. Harley-Davidson made their customers feel valued by taking part of the unveiling before it was announced to the public.

The surprise reveal was followed by a big parade where Road Glide riders rode side-by-side with the legendary Harley-Davidson. Photos were snapped, videos were taken, and every moment was posted online using the hash tag #roadglide, which broadened their marketing efforts even further.

The result? This customer loyalty strategy enabled Harley-Davidson to merge their online and offline channels. Using SMS lent a personal touch in connecting to a passionate customer segment, that would go on to multiply brand awareness through their personal posts. It was simple, but highly effective.

News-Corp

3. News Corp

When News Corp increased their publication price by 25%, they were concerned about retaining their customers. They also wanted to convert readers from a major Sunday-press competitor and build a marketable database.

To address these challenges, News Corp launched a 4-week SMS campaign across five US states with simple mechanics that were appealing to their readers.

Unique keywords were published on News Corp papers every Sunday, which readers used to validate through SMS. Those who joined the contest through SMS will then be offered a subscription deal with exclusive opportunities.

The result? News Corp established an engaged opt-in database that grew by 200% over the 4-week campaign. Of these unique readers, 40% entered the contest multiple times by purchasing the Sunday paper each week, and 30% signed up for the marketing database.

Ford

4. Ford

In 2011, Ford wanted to raise awareness about two new models they just launched – The Mondeo and the S-Max – as well as their new EcoBoost technology. They launched a 6-week SMS campaign for people aged 30 and above who expressed an interest in cars.

The goal of the campaign was to spread awareness about the new car models, drive foot traffic to its showrooms, and determine which car features are more important to their users.

The result? The performance benchmark for response rates on an average mobile campaign is 2%, but Ford received a response rate significantly above industry standards. During the initial SMS blast, Ford received a response rate of 3.4%, with succeeding SMS blasts going as high as 7.1%.

The SMS campaign reached more than 40,000 targeted consumers at minimal costs. Plus, 10.9% of the SMS respondents visited the Ford website.

 

Apart from using SMS in their customer retention and engagement efforts, what made these campaigns truly successful was the businesses’ desire to provide excellent customer service and experience.

It’s easy for emails and flyers to get ignored, lost or discarded. But because text messaging is compatible with all mobile phones and harder to ignore, your customers are more likely to read your message. Show customers that you value their business by sending them direct and personalized text messages that will  reach their eyeballs, (and if you do your job right, their hearts).