5 Ways SMS Can Fuel User Growth and Crush Your Competition

There are lots of ways to use SMS to connect with your users. Start using these five today.

June 14 2016

There are lots of ways to use SMS for marketing. Start using  these five today.

There are over 4.75 billion mobile phone subscribers in the world  (see charts below from Ericsson), with nearly all capable of sending and receiving SMS, making SMS the most ubiquitous communications channel in the world. SMS messaging is about more than person-to-person (P2P) messaging. The new communications dynamic includes connecting your apps to customers in new and innovative ways. Application-to-Person (A2P) SMS solutions drive user growth, augment marketing campaigns, and provide new levels of customer service with 2-Way SMS. Text messaging is more than a reliable channel for reaching customers—A2P SMS should be a key part of your growth and marketing plans.

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A2P SMS Delivers Messages That Can't Be Missed

Facebook, Apple, and LinkedIn rely on SMS for critical messages, and with good reason. Email inboxes are overloaded and attention spans are stretched thin with no end in sight. Except—SMS is holding its own and becoming more important now. Consumers understand the value of SMS for security, verification, transactions, updates, and now business communications. A2P SMS is an exceptional channel for marketing, support, and customer growth because it’s direct, personal, and simple.

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There isn’t room for fluff when you only have 160 characters to work with. The wide customer acceptance of texting drove the adoption of messaging for mission-critical communications. Below we list top five ways to use SMS to help drive user growth, improve security, and increase customer satisfaction.

User verification: Make sure your users are people

User verification is just the first, but most crucial step to reliably connect with customers. Once verified, you know that SMS will work when other methods fail. Yes, verification's primary goal is making sure someone has a smartphone and is a real person, but once that's done you have a confirmed channel that could be used for customer communications.

The easiest way to verify users is to use a one-time code sent via SMS from the app that the user must enter back into the app. The mobile phone has to only be verified only once and customers can opt-in to receive additional notifications and marketing messages as well. Email might be able to verify a person, but it can’t easily verify a device like SMS can.

Two-factor authentication: Give your users peace of mind

Good security is good marketing. Every week it seems like a new site has been hacked and people need to change their passwords. While Two-factor authentication (2FA) through SMS isn't a panacea, it's a strong security measure for users—and your service. Hacks are messy to deal with, they make for bad PR, and cast doubt on how well a company protects its users. SMS-based 2FA is one of the easiest and most compatible ways to help users keep their accounts secure.

Once the mobile device is verified, setting up 2FA on your app or service is straightforward for most developers. From then on, when the user logs into their account a one-time password (OTP) is sent to user's phone to login. Some 2FA solutions rely on a smartphone app to receive the OTP. While this is secure, if the user loses or replaces their phone, the connection between the app and the services is lost. SMS-based 2FA follows the user even if they get a new phone or have to reconfigure their phone.

Notifications and updates: When communication is time-sensitive

Let's talk about flying. Travelling is hard enough without things like last minute gate changes throwing a wrench into the works. Would you rather get that last minute change by email or SMS? What are the chances you're going to get and see that gate change in your email? I'd bet 50/50 at best. SMS messages will get through as long you're connected to the cell network. A simple messaging option that reduces yet another travel headache.

Text notifications and alerts are available for just about every imaginable scenario: emergency messages, package deliveries,  appointment reminders, restaurant seating, and bank balance alerts. SMS open rates are eight times that of email so it's very likely users see and respond to SMS notifications. In contrast, email open rates are declining, and it’s far too easy to tap “OK” on an in-app or website notification without reading it. An SMS is more likely to be read purely because it is a message and not an alert.

Mobile Promotions: Catch customers in the right moment to buy

SMS marketing is a perfect complement to existing digital channels  and is especially effective for (near) real-time offers and specials. SMS augments other marketing channels and offers customers choice over how, when, and where they hear from companies. Pair that with 22% of mobile users are blocking mobile ads, SMS promotions have a strong appeal for reaching your most engaged customers. SMS promotions have 8 times the response rates of email, and that's the kind of promotional lift we can all get behind.

Text messaging gives you the opportunity to connect with your most engaged customers. Opting in to receive messages, especially texts, signals not just interest, but engagement with your brand. Engaged customers are more likely to participate in loyalty programs, coupons, surveys, and updates. Engaged customers help foster a deeper connections with your brand. Small businesses who work with appointments like spas, hair salons, or home cleaning services can let customers know if there is a cancellation, giving their best customers a chance at a last minute availability. Customers win, and the business wins. 

Hotels can text a guest offering late check out, a special offer, or a summary of charges for check out. The guest can easily accept or decline any of the offers, ask a question back to the front desk, or even start checking out through 2-Way SMS. Even without interacting with the messages, the hotel is providing value to the guests and potentially adding extra revenue that might have otherwise gone uncaptured.

Customer Service & Support: Delight your customers 

Customer support is challenging at the best of times. Make it easier for customers and support agents to connect with customer support over 2-Way SMS. From quick answers to simple questions or an alternative to waiting on hold, 2-Way SMS provides an alternative to just phone or email support.

Infobip and Zendesk have an application for 2-Way SMS for customer service and support. Customers can contact support directly through SMS or switch to text messaging from email or voice. Since agents have a contact phone number already, they can switch to voice if needed too. 2-Way SMS lets agents resolve more calls in less time and streamline the service experience for customers.

But SMS isn’t always just about fixing problems. Whether you call it a promotion or customer engagement, companies can engage and support customers with SMS as well. After the support session is over, you can leverage that engaged customer with a survey to check if they are satisfied. Give people the option to communicate on their terms, and they will appreciate the flexibility and effort.

Getting started with SMS marketing

It's hard to think of a vertical that wouldn't benefit from SMS. Banking, financial services, insurance, and retail are set to drive A2P SMS growth this year, with North America leading the way, followed by Asia Pacific and Latin America. The only question that remains is: when are you going to get started with SMS?
A2P SMS and 2-Way SMS offer compelling value propositions for increasing customer engagement, streamlining support, and providing an additional communications channel beyond email and voice.
From browsing, to ordering, to delivery, to feedback; everything can be done with a few texts instead of the barrage of emails, phone calls, or app notifications. SMS blends in with any communication environment for true omni-channel communication and marketing.

Learn more about A2P and 2-Way SMS solutions for marketers

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