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Why SMS is just as relevant as ever

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 has exponentially exploded.

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, or Twitter DM are increasingly popular in South Africa, it would be a mistake to leave SMS out of a multichannel strategy given its impressive ROI and blanket coverage of South Africa's mobile users.

SMS is perceived to be the old man in the mobile messaging room 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.

Benefits of SMS for businesses

  • 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 South Africa receive fewer SMS than neighbouring countries 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

South Africa has around 90% network coverage which comprises of 99% 4G network coverage but at 60% chance of network performance, according to GSMA's Mobile Connectivity Index 2021 report. There's therefore mobile signal to receive an SMS, even if you don’t have 3 or 4G.

SMS use cases

  • 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 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.

Download our guide to SMS Messaging For Business Communication.

Download the guide Speak to an expert

Download our guide to SMS Messaging For Business Communication.

Download the guide Speak to an expert
Emily Jane Brown
Emily Jane Brown,
Digital Marketing Manager
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Is the Digital Marketing Manager for UK and Ireland at She is passionate about Marketing and Technology that enhances everyday life. She is dedicated and committed to enhancing the brand locally using strategic marketing campaigns via various channels.

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