SMS still the best channel for business messaging

SMS as a communication medium is still very much alive for business messaging, according to Pieter Streicher, managing director of BulkSMS.

Streicher recognises there is a current shift towards third party providers which rely on apps or web connection, but they were currently being used for purely social reasons.

“Some commentators on the state of the SMS messaging industry point to the death of SMS as a communications medium,” he said.

“This may be true for global consumer use of SMS messaging in the face of newer communication technologies, but these prophecies of SMS’s doom are overstated when looking how SMS continues to be integral for business messaging.”

According to Streicher the 20 years of person-to-person (P2P) SMS messaging has protected the service from its suggested demise due to new technology.

He added the latest threat to SMS is third party messaging services such as iMessage, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and WhatsApp.

“These services use IP-based messaging through apps or online services instead of the SS7 protocol used for SMS messaging. Indeed at the end of April (2013), research house Informa reported that in 2012 messages sent via third party apps overtook SMSs,” said Streicher.

The research concluded 19 billion third party messages were sent in the time period analysed in comparison to 17.6 billion SMSs. Informa’s prediction for next year is that 50 billion third party messages will be sent compared to 21 billion SMSs.

“Despite the forecasted growth in global SMS numbers in the next two years, it looks like the shift in consumer messaging behaviour to third party services that provide a richer communications experience is here to stay. This does not mean that SMS is dead, rather it becomes a complementary channel in a sea of digital consumer communications,” said Streicher.

Streicher added: “It is important to add another social dynamic into the mix. Increasingly people are separating out their personal and work lives. Facebook and WhatsApp are for social, while LinkedIn, email and increasingly SMS is reserved for business communications.

“With social messages moving to other channels so that people can start making a bit of sense in their very busy digital lives, the clutter has been removed from the SMS inbox, making SMS a far more valuable channel for businesses.

“Take a look at your SMS inbox, it probably shows flight confirmations, banking alerts, and other work related messages rather than personal communications with friends and family.”

Streicher said if these business or work related messages suddenly began being sent through third party messaging platforms, the amount of communications would increase and it wpuld become increasingly difficult to manage the communications.

Discerning which messages are important would also become a difficult task.

“Customers are very deliberately organising their lives using specific channels, and companies will come short if they try to shoehorn themselves into a channel where they are not welcome,” said Streicher.

Streicher added SMSs still see a higher open and response rate in comparison to email.

“Tomi Ahonen reported at the beginning of 2013 that the read rate for SMS is 97 per cent, compared to 20 per cent for emails, while the average response rate for SMS is 26 per cent and email is 5 per cent,” he said.

Posted in: Mobile

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