The Quiet Rise of SMS: Why Almost Every Business Should Use It

Cast your minds back to the early mobile phone era – chunky devices, tedious text input, and small LCD screens. Yet text messaging has somehow outlasted and in many cases surpassed a lot of today’s modern online communication channels.

Once the domain of primitive exchanges between friends, SMS now operates as a sophisticated infrastructure silently powering enterprise communication globally. 

On its humdrum exterior sits an extremely versatile and adaptable platform forming the connective tissue binding together many of today’s business functions.

In this article, we’ll take a quick look at where it came from and why it has become a powerhouse for many of today’s businesses.


The Backstory – How Texting Became Big Business

During the 1990s, basic SMS services catered mainly for person-to-person messaging. Phone owners enjoyed connecting with friends and wasn’t used for much else.

As mobile devices proliferated in the 2000s, SMS usage exploded despite increasingly flashy smartphones tempting users with glossy apps offering video calling, photo sharing and more.

But open rates for text messages topped 98%, trumping email, social media and other channels. SMS also prevailed as the most reliable and universal mobile communication protocol across networks and devices.

Notably, the rise of customizable web and API platforms empowered businesses to easily broadcast SMS campaigns.

As firms awakened to positive metrics around SMS reach and response compared to traditional advertising, usage shifted gears from social sharing to one-to-one personal direct messaging.


Key Advantages Driving Business Adoption

So what convinced enterprises en masse to invest in SMS capabilities? Several unique traits make it irresistible:

Adoption – It’s the only universal mobile protocol across all devices, networks and geographies 

Effortlessness – Requires no app installs, sending SMS works natively on every phone.

Speed – Messages directly reach lock screens within seconds, driving instant visibility.

Trackability – Sophisticated analytics around audience segmentation and campaign success Cost-effectiveness – Scalable communication with excellent ROI compared to other media

Grasping these advantages helps explain why large and small enterprises alike have integrated SMS deeply within their technology ecosystems. It enables reliable coordination across critical functions efficiently.


SMS in Action Across Enterprises Today

To appreciate the versatility of SMS in modern systems, let’s examine deployment at multinational Telcorp spanning marketing, operations and customer support:

Marketing – Sales teams send bulk SMS promotions to targeted customer lists based on purchase history and activity data, integrating directly with CRM platforms like Salesforce for seamless messaging at scale.

Operations – Automated SMS alerts to workers across Telcorp’s international network enable rapid mass communication around dynamic shift schedules, policy changes or supply chain incidents.

IT – Cybersecurity analysts enable two-factor authentication for remote system logins via unique access codes over SMS along with usernames/passwords for enhanced security.

Customer Service – Customer inquiries received by call centres, retail outlets and online are routed to relevant staff via SMS for timely personal assistance and issue resolution

Finance – Transaction verification messages are dispatched over SMS to authorize transfers or payments above-defined risk thresholds as an extra safeguard.

Notice how SMS lies at the heart of exchanges both between company and customers plus within business units, acting as a versatile connector boosting communication, productivity and security thanks to its immediacy and reach.


Marketers Are Hooked on SMS

Given the superiority of SMS metrics over channels like email, it is marketing where SMS cements premier status for customer outreach. Creative implementations abound spanning campaign management, loyalty programs, special offers and more:

HDFC Bank, wanting to promote savings accounts for Indian millennials, invited target customers to opt-in to receive exclusive entertainment and shopping deals via regular SMS alerts. 40% who enrolled opened accounts within 6 months, indicating SMS helped turn engagement into conversions.

Accor Hotels amplifies its loyalty program by sending members personalized SMS alerts on room upgrades, dining deals and bonus points available during upcoming stays at its 5,000+ properties. Savvy timing and convenient on-the-go access help drive bookings.

Startups also harness SMS innovatively – rideshare service Ola sees driver SMS cancellation alerts slash missed bookings by 75% compared to in-app-only notices. Event organizers find SMS reminder blasts reduce no-shows by over 50%, optimizing attendance and revenue.

These examples reveal SMS creativity boosting marketing KPIs across the funnel from acquisition to conversions. Experimenting based on audience profiles and buying cycles enables brands to continually optimize and achieve outsized impact through this pocket-sized channel.


SMS Still Shines For Quick Critical Communication

Yet SMS also remains supremely capable for straightforward communication demands like emergency alerts or priority notifications where reliability trumps creativity.

When floods overwhelmed Australia’s eastern coast earlier in 2022, authorities battled to reach remote affected communities. So emergency services dispatched location-targeted SMS blasts conveying evacuation instructions and safety information which proved vital.

The simplicity and immediacy of basic SMS enables it to cut through the clutter and drive impact when needed.

Indeed, over 75% of US consumers favour SMS for urgent communications from organizations given phenomenally quick and dependable delivery even during network disruptions or outages when smartphone connectivity falters.

So brands shouldn’t underestimate the power of concise text for important operational or public safety use cases. Harnessing this capability strategically prepares businesses to instantly connect with customers and staff during turbulent events.


Two-Way Conversations Transform Engagement

Historically SMS functioned best for one-way outbound communication given phones limited response options. But new conversational SMS platforms enable intuitive back-and-forth messaging between users and automated bot profiles.

This is revolutionizing customer service and transactions. AirAsia’s chatbot Adam allows passengers to simply text their booking reference to receive flight status or web check-in links instantly. The airline saw 80% faster response times and higher satisfaction scores.

Conversational commerce also thrives – Indonesia’s GOJEK processes SMS-based ride payments from unbanked customers. Users text authorized charge codes to drivers’ devices with no need for cash. SMS fluidity enabled GOJEK to pip its Grab competitor locally.

Supporting natural dialogue exchanges helps businesses boost engagement, resolve issues promptly and reduce operational costs through streamlined automated workflows.


What’s Next for SMS?

Given SMS has exceeded two decades in the market while retaining relevancy amidst transient mobile trends, what new frontiers await exploration? Several promising areas stand out:

Rich communication – MMS opens creative options by allowing brands to embed images, audio and video within messages for more visual storytelling.

Enhanced security – SMS already facilitates two-factor authentication for financial transactions and system logins by dispatching one-time passcodes. Approaches like blockchain could offer new ways to implement layered identity verification, access management and data protection by leveraging these messaging capabilities.

Artificial Intelligence – Natural language processing and machine learning have huge potential for building intelligent chatbot solutions able to understand nuanced customer questions and provide helpful recommendations or accurate answers quickly through conversational SMS interfaces.

Overall we are still only scratching the surface of possibilities. As connectivity and mobility continue growing exponentially, SMS remains supremely positioned to exploit these advances and remain the world’s communication backbone thanks to its flexibility, reliability and universality.

Does this analysis shift your perspective on SMS from a dated texting medium to a sophisticated high-performance business tool? We hope illuminating the breadth of modern applications compels you to re-evaluate it with fresh eyes. Any organization seeking to streamline operations, engage customers or future-proof communication capabilities cannot afford to ignore the quiet ascent of this unassuming hero.