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SMS

Why SMS is just as relevant as ever

When the first text was sent in December 1992, no-one would have predicted how popular SMS would become. In 1993, Nokia introduced its first mobile phone with an SMS feature, but owning a mobile phone was still relatively unusual. Fast forward through the next decade and SMS’s popularity exploded, with the lack of full keyboards on the handsets of the time being overcome with linguistic innovations such as ‘textspeak’.

However, 2009’s introduction of WhatsApp signalled SMS messaging’s first real challenger, and one that took off very quickly with its simple, multimedia-led approach to message sharing. While WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, et al are becoming increasingly popular in the UK, it would be a mistake to leave SMS out of an omnichannel strategy given its impressive ROI and blanket coverage of the UK’s mobile users.

Many people view SMS as the old man of mobile messaging and, in many respects, that's true. Modern messaging services enjoy more features and have a younger user base than SMS, as evidenced, by this Statista research on WhatsApp use by age group, but it’s SMS’s ubiquity that makes it so difficult to dislodge as a mobile messaging powerhouse.

Why use SMS marketing?

It’s everywhere

Every mobile phone has SMS built in, so the infrastructure for SMS delivery is already hard-wired into handsets worldwide. With 5.1 billion people around the world subscribed to mobile services – 67% of the global population – SMS is one of the most powerful ways to reach your customers. 

It’s effective

Perhaps because people in the UK receive fewer SMS than in countries such as the US, where SMS is still overwhelmingly popular, SMS marketing is incredibly effective. SMS CTRs are 9.18% higher compared to other digital channels and customers are thirty-five times more likely to read a text message than they are an email.

It’s always on

The UK has around 99% outdoor mobile coverage of premises in the UK and between 79-86% of the entire UK landmass, according to Ofcom’s Connected Nations 2021 report, so chances are that you’ll have a mobile signal to receive an SMS, even if you don’t have 4 or 5G. It’s one of the reasons our customer, Crises Control, relies on us to provide emergency SMS messaging to its client-base. BMW’s ConnectedDrive service also uses our SMS service to provide drivers with seamless access to assistance, wherever they are.

How can I use SMS?

Authentication

One of the most popular uses for SMS is to validate phone numbers and account logins. One-time passwords, or OTPs, are becoming hugely popular as a two-factor authentication method for any account that requires additional security beyond a password.

Notifications

SMS is perfectly placed as a notification method, largely because of that ubiquity we mentioned earlier. You don’t need to ask your customer to download a tracking or messaging app, you just need their phone number. Keeping your customers in the loop is a major factor in maintaining customer satisfaction and ultimately loyalty. It’s why Takeaway.com uses our SMS service to send order updates to its customers. 

Secure Updates

If you need to let your customers know about an important change to their service or update to their software, SMS is the perfect tool. You know you’re going to get through and, thanks to SMS’s massive open rates, that it’s very likely your customer will engage with your message. 

Marketing

Since SMS is so effective at reaching an audience, it’s also supremely effective at driving action at every stage of the purchase funnel. With effective targeting, you can move customers down the funnel at speed by taking advantage of SMS’s impressive click-through and open rates

Donations

If you’re looking to drive opt-ins or payment volume, SMS is unrivalled. Donations via SMS using a mobile payment plan are so simple you can increase your response rate several fold. 

Interaction

Gathering reviews or data via SMS is easy. With simple, one-touch interaction, personalised SMS messaging can manage guided question and answer flows, and can offer status tracking and updates on-demand.


While it’s clear that SMS should be an integral part of any omnichannel marketing strategy, many businesses aren’t using SMS as effectively as other messaging channels. To find out how to create a best-in-class SMS strategy, download our comprehensive guide to SMS Messaging For Business Communication.

Is the Digital Marketing Manager for UK and Ireland at CM.com. She is passionate about Marketing and Technology that enhances everyday life. She is dedicated and committed to enhancing the CM.com brand locally using strategic marketing campaigns via various channels.

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