How SMS became a business tool

Written January 9, 2018, 10:01 am

Who would have thought 25 years ago that more than 180 billion text messages would be exchanged each year in France? Surprising when you know that SMS was initially not favored by the public at all.

Remember that the ancestors of SMS were messages dictated to a telecom operator and read from a kind of beeper, the famous Tam-Tam and other tattoo. So, little by little, the SMS was able to impose itself and ignore technical barriers and especially take advantage of the interconnection 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 interest in this channel and have integrated it into their communication and marketing strategies. It has particularly pushed itself against e-mail, which is regularly deleted before it is even read because its content is often considered undesirable. In addition, e-mail boxes are generally consulted only once or twice a day, while SMS is checked several times a day. Existing studies of SMS also report a read rate of up to 98% and this on average within three minutes of receipt.

New uses

The SMS message is a real business tool and has many uses, whether it is used via a workstation, via business applications or for “technical” exchanges between machines. Airlines do this to notify their passengers of changed flights, delivery services inform their customers that their orders have been shipped, and car rental companies send reservation confirmations to their customers.

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

Other possible scenarios are the result of this for logistics, remote start or stop of machines, control of the production flow, alarm messages or for campaigns from the CRM system.

A quick and easy tool

The SMS in the form of a campaign has the advantage that it can be implemented quickly and at a lower price. For each sending, the sender can automatically receive a message informing that the SMS has actually been delivered, documenting all steps in the SMS’s journey up to the transmission to the mobile phone operators and the deposit on the recipient’s terminal.

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

Its brevity is also an asset, it allows easy reading and the reduced length of the message induces a better memory on the part of the reader. Its simplicity and speed of implementation allow businesses to act quickly because an SMS campaign requires less advance planning than traditional advertising. Finally, it provides opportunities for engagement, and more and more companies use it to collect their customers’ opinion in the form of a survey or a satisfaction questionnaire.

A nice future

The SMS has become both a tool for customer acquisition, loyalty and increases sales. Its flexibility and immediacy make it particularly effective in increasing the revenue generated per customer. That is why, 25 years after the first text message was sent, more and more companies use it to communicate internally (despite the democratization of instant messaging), directly with their customers and business partners (B2C, B2B) from different ways, from healthcare to manufacturing.

The use of text messages is also growing in terms of machine-to-machine communication and the Internet of Things. The SMS usage rate also allows businesses 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 using 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.

Benoît Tremolet is the CEO of Retarus France

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