How 4 Startups Used SMS for Customer Loyalty

How 4 Startups Used SMS for Customer Loyalty

The future of the Philippine startup ecosystem is bright. With an active startup community of over two thousand companies and a strong push from the government, the country has seen a 20% growth in terms of deal count, reflecting investors’ confidence and interest in the country’s startup scene as a possible investment destination.

As the local startup industry grows, a key area that entrepreneurs need to look into for long-term better returns is customer retention. Up to 70% of companies agreed that retaining a customer is cheaper than generating new ones. A 5% growth in customer retention can yield a 75% increase in a company’s user base, with happy customers sharing through their social media channels driving most of the growth.

Many customer retention strategies exist today, but SMS remains to be a powerful means to engage customers and encourage brand loyalty. In the Philippines, over 450 million text messages are being sent every day, emphasizing the importance of reaching and engaging the Filipino customer via SMS API and other text messaging strategies.

SMS Customer Loyalty Success Stories

Here are some success stories on how Philippine startups have used SMS to provide a better customer experience and improve customer loyalty.



1. ZAP

ZAP is a loyalty-based rewards program that lets users earn points from partner merchants. With the goal of re-targeting existing customers, ZAP created an automated customer journey program, which enabled them to automatically send SMS when certain triggers are met. The objective is to encourage users to make a return visit by sending them reminders about rewards and freebies they can claim with partner merchants.

The triggers were activated after the first visit (to encourage a second visit as soon as possible), after 30 days, 60 days, and 120 days with no transactions, and 7 days before a customer’s birthday to encourage the user to celebrate with a partner merchant.

The messages were based on how many points a user had, and the length of their inactivity. For example, users with more points were offered bigger redemption options, as seen below:

Claim your FREE Steak & Frites at DRAFT Gastropub by redeeming your 1000+ ZAP points! More places to use ZAP:

ZAP’s SMS strategy returned impressive results. Within a week, 17.1% of the customers who had received an SMS returned to make another purchase. Within a month, the number of returning customers increased to 41.5%. And after implementing the program for a year, they saw an ROI of over 100% for 95% of their merchants, 1000% for their top 6 merchants, and a whopping 5000% for the top merchant.



2. Kalibrr

A job-matching platform that allows talent and companies to connect, Kalibrr learned that most candidates do not always have immediate access to a computer or even mobile internet. So, they decided to facilitate communications between themselves and jobseekers, as well as recruiters and jobseekers. Using an SMS API, Kalibrr automated sending text notifications for job opportunities and interview reminders to applicants.

Since every single mobile phone has SMS capabilities (and there are more cellphones than people in the Philippines), texting has enabled Kalibrr to reach and engage with 100% of their user base at all times.

Based on qualitative feedback, Kalibrr’s texts to jobseekers have been “very useful and well-loved” for giving timely updates.



3. PinoyTravel

PinoyTravel is an online long distance bus, ferry, and hotel booking website. Similar to Kalibrr, PinoyTravel has found that the Philippine market is not yet ready for a purely online strategy because many of their customers do not have continuous access to the Internet or mobile data.

Thankfully, Filipinos almost always have enough cellular reception to receive texts. So, PinoyTravel uses SMS to send reminders about customer bookings, payments, and other updates.

PinoyTravel received positive feedback on their SMS strategy and their customers enjoyed receiving the text notifications.



4. OLX

OLX (now Carousell) is an online marketplace that hosts the largest buy and sell community in the Philippines. To make sure the sellers are legitimate and easy to contact, OLX vets their numbers with a 2-step SMS verification process.

They also find that most of their users are not always online to receive email and app push notifications, making SMS the best way to connect with their user base. OLX users are notified via SMS when important action needs to be taken, including but not limited to: messages to buyers when sellers accept their offer, and messages to sellers when buyers are interested or when they need to repost their advertisement for better results.

Build Customer Loyalty with the Power of SMS

The startup scene in the Philippines is ripe for growth, and these case studies have shown that SMS will remain an important channel for customer engagement, retention, and overall experience. Since every mobile device can receive texts even without internet connection, marketing messages sent via SMS are almost impossible to ignore.

Use SMS to your advantage today and reach the widest possible number of customers, engage them, and retain them through text messaging campaigns.

Contact Semaphore today to get started!

Alex built Semaphore’s tech backbone and keeps it running smoothly. With deep experience in tech: Over 20 years in Web Development, IT and Infrastructure; 10+ years management experience in technology; and an expert in enterprise application architecture, development and tech processes, Alex is an old-hat in bridging the gap between geeks and suits as well as applying tech to real-world business problems. Connect with Alex on LinkedIn.

SMS for Business: 22 Trends and Statistics [2023 Update]

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 over 5 billion people around the globe still using their phones to text. In fact, more than 18.7 billion text messages are being sent daily—that’s over 216,000 messages every second.

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 some of the poorest countries 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 30-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


SMS Growth Trends

  • 90% of all mobile phones are SMS-capable. – Cross-Cultural Marketing

  • 98% of text messages sent are read. – Mobile Marketing Watch

  • 80% of people use texting for business. – eWeek

  • Text messaging has a 45% response rate, while email only has a 6% response rate. In 2013, 84% of email traffic was spam. – MarTech

  • An average person takes 90 minutes to respond to an email, but only 90 seconds to respond to a text message. – CTIA

  • Almost 8 out of 10 businesses believe that customers prefer SMS/text support. – ICMI

  • About 400 million text messages are sent by Filipinos every day or 142 billion a year. – Morbie

  • The average Filipino mobile subscriber sends an average of 600 text messages per month. – GMA News

  • 60% of the world remains offline, and that 60% is heavily concentrated in developing economies. In these emerging markets, 51% of consumers prefer to receive promotional messages via SMS. – EFL Global

  • Application-to-person (A2P) SMS can let businesses securely share notifications, login confirmations, password resets, and status updates. 1.7 trillion A2P texts were sent globally in 2018 -Portio Research

Trends Driving the SMS Surge

One-Time Passwords (OTP)

  • It is the most common A2P texts sent by businesses to prevent security breaches. – Portio Research

  • 33% of people have received at least one text in the last 12 months from a banking or financial services company, because OTP texts are used for bank authentication. – Mobile Ecosystem Forum

Event Reminders

  • SMS is as a great way to send reminders, pickup and delivery notices, and event invitations.

Customer Support

  • Texting provides a simpler, better customer experience for giving quick answers or updates such as payment confirmations, product availability, and shipping alerts.

  • More than 1/2 of consumers would prefer texting with customer support over other methods. – eWeek

SMS Automation

  • Artificial intelligence will enable SMS automation to become even more advanced.

  • Nearly 1 in 6 people communicate with healthcare providers via text, because providers are using automated texts for appointment reminders, medication pickup notifications, disaster/emergency hotlines, and more. – Mobile Ecosystem Forum

Social Integration

  • Social apps are using text in a variety of ways such as user authentication, notifications, and other alerts.


  • E-commerce websites use text messaging for order confirmations, delivery notifications, and running promotions like sending discount coupons or vouchers with embedded links to the website.

Message Personalization

  • Businesses can now create and send automated, personalized texts to their customers by using available data like location information to birthdays.

Marketing Campaigns and Sales Promotions

  • More than 75% of consumers would like to have special offers sent to them via texting. – Digital Marketing Magazine

  • Almost 25% of marketers are using text messaging, and over 65% of them report SMS texting as being very effective. – ExactTarget


How to Utilize SMS for More Customers

  • Build an SMS subscriber list by offering an incentive or discount to customers who opt-in to receive SMS updates.
  • Send personalized and relevant SMS messages that add value to the customer experience, such as exclusive offers, discounts, and promotions.
  • Use SMS to provide timely and relevant customer service and support, such as order updates, shipping notifications, or resolution of issues.
  • Use automation and segmentation to tailor your SMS messages to specific customer segments based on their behavior, interests, or demographics.
  • Track and analyze your SMS campaign performance to optimize your strategy, such as by measuring open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates, and iterate on your approach to continually improve your messaging.

Understanding the Value of SMS Marketing

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 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.

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

Ready to get started? Sign up with Semaphore today!


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)

Alex built Semaphore’s tech backbone and keeps it running smoothly. With deep experience in tech: Over 20 years in Web Development, IT and Infrastructure; 10+ years management experience in technology; and an expert in enterprise application architecture, development and tech processes, Alex is an old-hat in bridging the gap between geeks and suits as well as applying tech to real-world business problems. Connect with Alex on LinkedIn.