People usually wonder how relevant a text message is in 2019, which marks the 26th birthday of this remarkable communication tool. Considering the amount of texts, we receive every day, we can assume that there is still life in the old boy after all these years. Research based on SMS usage and effectiveness all show an open rate of over 90% and astonishingly, most of them are opened within 3 minutes. Surprisingly, emails were the preferred channel for business communication. When was the last time you checked your email?

SMS: Thriving or Surviving?

Remember how it all started, and how powerful SMS was at the time? It became an instant sensation at schools and colleges. While the initial takeoff for messaging was slow, in 1995 when the first predictive texting was introduced based on typed letters, messaging volumes started to ramp up. It took another five years for SMS to finally take off for good, and by early 2000, text messaging had changed the world completely with regard to communication habits.

Around this time new SMS-based business models were introduced: Ringtones, horoscopes, news alerts – whatever message fit into 160 characters got published, and was soon sold as a subscription. Premium SMS were the frontrunner and the successful start to selling digital content, beginning the disruption to traditional ways of monetizing and publishing content.

Quickly, marketing was also disrupted with mobile marketing in the early 2000’s via interactive SMS campaigns, replacing paper coupons with mobile coupons, delivering discount codes through Nokia Picture Messages or EMS Enhanced Messaging Service. Loyalty campaigns and clubs were built on SMS beginning around 2002/2003. With the advent of text messaging, very targeted campaigns were suddenly possible.

SMS is like Wine – Getting better with age

The business models and usage of SMS have matured significantly since their debut. Premium SMS nearly disappeared, and WAP push messages were replaced by delivering content through apps. Today, SMS is no longer used as a disrupting single channel marketing tool, but rather is an important part of orchestrated omnichannel campaign management in a world where contextual marketing and using the customer channel of choice is more important than ever before. Mobile PIN codes and verification requests sent during registration processes or to finalize a financial transaction offer an extra layer of security for consumers and organizations.

As a matter of fact, SMS used in such scenarios play an increasingly important role to combat identity fraud and to increase cybersecurity with SMS API. A recent example is the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK launching a 20 m GBP cybersecurity initiative based on SMS alerts.

The future of SMS and text messaging: Conversion and customer engagement

Text messaging in our daily communication with friends and family is being replaced more and more by chat applications, falsely leading to the assumption that SMS is dead. We recognize SMS more as part of communication with a brand, bank, or any other business. We are so familiar with text messages that we take them for granted and don’t recognize the fantastic bottom-line value SMS have today. If that trend continues, SMS could suffer the same fate as other matured and well-established products used in our day-to-day life. The reality is that SMS is fast and efficient. SMS do not require any specific app or data coverage to send and receive, and last but not least, text messaging remains the smallest common denominator for the delivery of messages at anytime, anywhere globally.

Today there are hundreds of thousands of businesses world wide that send Bulk SMS to engage with their customers or prospects and even make new customers using opt-ins. With the majority of the global population with text enabled cellphones, business growth is always in the cards. The rest is up to your text message.