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What is SMS?

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Perhaps everybody in today’s day and age knows the answer to the question, ‘What is SMS?’ SMS is a commonly used term for the exchange of text messages between two users over mobile devices. In business terms, however, an SMS (Short Message Service) is of much more value than just communication among individuals. SMS is a widely used channel of marketing in various industries as it generates high revenues and is easily accessible to all kinds of businesses.  

Uses of SMS in Business

SMS service can be used for multiple purposes in the business industry. The channel of communication brings about several benefits for firms if used effectively. Some examples include:

Communication with employees

SMS is an inexpensive channel that can be used for informal communication with employees. It is especially beneficial for companies with flexible working hours and casual nature. How so? For businesses which have odd working hours, SMS can be used to coordinate working hours with employees on a daily basis. This is quite an efficient means of communication because it is fast and convenient. Emailing an employee may not prove to be as effective e.g. an employee is emailed a change in working hours the next day. However, the said employee does not check his email until the next morning and is thus late for work. On the other hand, if the employee was simply texted about the change in the working hours, he/she would be more likely to not only view the message timely but also have ample time to respond to it. Moreover. SMS can also be used for 2-way communication. Subordinates and supervisors can communicate and provide feedback on tasks which goes both ways.  

Communication with employees can also be used in a more formal environment. In a large organisation with a complex hierarchical structure, the issue of ill-timed and inaccurate information has always persisted. However, thanks to SMS, this issue can be resolved. Suppose an unpredicted problem has occurred and an emergency meeting between all the managers of the firm is called. Calling each member of the meeting would be too time-consuming and costly. Similarly, emails would never be checked on time. The right choice? You guessed it, SMS! These are only a few of the many ways in which SMS can benefit a firm in communicating with its employees.  

Communication with customers   

Communication with customers via SMS is also known as SMS marketing. Businesses can now market their products, services and brand directly to customers on their phones. It is more intimate, convenient and fast. However, communication with customers goes beyond SMS marketing. Companies can also opt to provide customer support via SMS. Due to its speedy service, it has proved to be quite effective up till now. Customers can leave queries, complaints and feedback whenever they prefer. Unlike most online customer support systems which operate during working hours, SMS support has been introduced with an availability of 24 hours a day.  

Other organisations  

Who said SMS was limited to business organisations only? Definitely not us! SMS has become a widely used medium of communication for all types of industries and organisations. The first example is the government itself. State-owned organisations and departments use SMS to issue out warnings. They may also use them to send out other notifications. The second example is the non-government organisations (NGOs). These non-profit organisations can greatly benefit from collecting donations via text. Why so? The cost of sending out an SMS is considerably low and the Return on Investment (ROI) is significantly high. An NGO can add hyperlinks to the text message, directing users towards online payment methods as well as details of the cause so as to encourage them to donate. Millennials often consider online payments to be more secure – thus they are likely to donate. Many individuals are reluctant towards giving cash donations for unknown causes. With SMS, they can be provided with all the necessary details which they can access on their mobile device within seconds. They may even end up feeling good about themselves at the end of the day. Thus, it is more effective than other forms of collecting donations.  

What is SMS Marketing?

The formal definition of SMS marketing would be ‘a marketing tool which uses permission-based texts to send out promotional messages’ e.g. product updates, special offers, extra information etc. To receive these text messages, customers are required to opt into an automated system by texting an initial shortcode. Once they have texted, their number is stored in the automated system which then sends out promotional text messages. Usually, customers also receive a notification when they opt-in or opt-out of the program. Organisations are required to provide clear-opt out directions to their subscribers. But how do companies set up the automated system? Usually, organisations sign up with online SMS platforms which provide them with keywords and shortcodes to use for their SMS campaigns. One of the best SMS platforms in the U.S is ExpressText. It is a platform with ease of use, efficiency and affordable services.  

Benefits of SMS marketing

Customer loyalty  

SMS marketing is quite beneficial for businesses. If used correctly, it can be used to create customer loyalty. This way, it becomes harder for other rival businesses to win over another company’s existing customers. There are a number of ways in which business can create customer loyalty. Firstly, they can issue out notifications. Suppose if a customer has purchased an order online. A business can send out a confirmation text letting the customer know that their order has been verified. This will put the customer at ease and create trust between the customer and the brand. Courier companies such as FedEx also use SMS as a medium that allows customers to track their orders. Customers simply type in FOLLOW and their tracking number e.g. ‘FOLLOW 986969031’ to the company’s long code Or short code. They may text ‘YES’ as confirmation once they receive their order details. Since the whole process is automated, there is no customer representative required and yet customers can access order details whenever they please. Being able to access products that customers have purchased creates a sense of satisfaction within customers.  

Cost  

As mentioned above, SMS can be partly or completely an automated system. This significantly brings down the cost of a company’s overall market strategy. The only major cost that may be incurred is the setting up of the automated system as it requires technical procedures and components. Thus, SMS marketing is affordable for all types of businesses in the long run. Small businesses can now reach a larger audience with the help of SMS. The cost of sending out text messages – whether automated or manual – is quite minimal and saves companies a lot of money which can be invested in other departments such as covering costs or retaining profits.  

Brand awareness  

Without creating brand awareness, it would be impossible for newly established brands to survive within the market. The biggest factor that has led to market failure throughout history has been the inability to manage resources and create demand. Businesses with fewer resources struggle the most as they do not have adequate resources to market their brand. Technology has enabled brands to control many of the internal and external factors that affect the profitability of a business. Getting celebrities to endorse a brand or putting up a billboard within a good location for just a few days can cost thousands of dollars. Not all startup businesses can absorb such high costs. SMS is the perfect solution for these kinds of businesses. It reaches masses at a very affordable price which can aid them in creating brand awareness. Local businesses can send out text messages to users living nearby. Larger businesses can also use text messages to text users within our even in surrounding cities.  

SMS and Mobile Marketing Trends

  1. Advertising

Analysis reports show that mobile advertising has grown a good 18% in the last decade. However, mobile ad blocking makes this quite a challenge; but there is one way around it. Google Shopping. Google Shopping is pay-per-click search marketing which ensures that a product shows up even if the customer has blocked ads. It’s quite effective as 52% of paid clicks in search happen in Google product listings. But where does SMS come in? Hyperlinks in text messages can be used to direct customers to the online company website and/or product listings on third party websites. So even though companies may not be able to reach their audience through mobile ads, they can use SMS marketing coupled with Google Shopping in order to increase product clicks that further lead to increased purchases.  Mobile Pay  

2. Mobile payments are the future of this generation. According to Wordstream, the most important thing for users is efficiency and productivity. Apple, famously known as the market leader of the phone industry, already introduced the wallet app in iOS 6. PayPal and Google wallets have also been introduced for Android users. These apps protect against fraud and provide immediate alerts. If a business is registered with such an app, not only does it give customers an easy option to pay for products and services, it also lists the business as an option while shopping which is pretty much free advertising! Again, SMS comes into the picture through two ways. Firstly, customers can receive immediate alerts via SMS whenever a transaction is made through their account. Secondly, businesses can inform customers via SMS if they are registered with such apps so that they are aware of their payment options. Millennials prefer to pay through mobile apps rather than having to dig through their wallets for cash and credit cards. This also eliminates the risk of theft. Money within a mobile app is secure as it is intangible and accounts can be deactivated in case of misplacement or theft of a phone device.  

Why SMS?  

Critics argue that SMS is not the best way to market a product as it does not support multimedia such as images and videos. However, what they fail to see is that SMS is the most immediate form of communication. It does not require an active internet connection, so not only is it supported by almost all phones, but users can receive text messages as long as they have cellular service. Moreover, phones have become an inevitable part of our life. Just like you can’t imagine your life without food, can you imagine a day without your phone? Probably not. Thus, its the perfect medium to interact with customers. It is a powerful way to create intimacy and with the advanced features that technology has provided along with it, it can be a very valuable asset. Consumers spend more than $115 billion each year on wireless phones, so it would be quite a rare phenomenon to see a young adult or someone older not owning a cellphone. Marketers have begun to see this is as an opportunity and used it as a tactic to get ahead of their competition in terms of marketing. Research supports these statements as SMS is the most effective form of marketing today.  

The answer to the question ‘What is SMS?’ is much more complex than one may have thought. A platform initially created for communication between people, SMS has deemed much more productive than that. It offers multiple benefits that businesses and other entities can take advantage of. The best part about SMS is its low cost. Platforms like ExpressText bridge the gap between businesses and consumers by helping them connect through a personal platform with speedy service. With such a competitive business industry, all firms should include SMS in their marketing strategy so as to gain high Return on Investment.  

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