This article is the second part (and the other side) of our SMS vs OTT Messaging series. Read Part 1 >

The end of SMS?

The usage of SMS as a means of P2P (person to person) communication has been steadily decliningover the past few years due to the increasing popularity of free messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Snapchat. From a business perspective this is frustrating, because SMS reduces cost to serve and has a greater positive impact on customer experience that email and messaging.

Some in the telecoms industry claim to have seen the writing on the wall and are prophesising a slow boat to tech Valhalla for SMS, where it will spend eternity with faxes, minidiscs, and 8-tracks.

But is that really the case? SMS as an A2P (application to person) means of communication is growing, as marketers realise that the read, response, and engagement rates are way above email, with consumers becoming increasingly fatigued by too emails from too many companies. With an average read-rate of 98%, it’s easy to see why marketers are gravitating towards A2P SMS.

So rather than a slow death, it seems SMS may be about to enjoy a rare thing for technology, a second act in its life.

There is a second act in SMS’ life

A2P messages via SMS are the ideal arena for bots and AI to manage customer communications for order confirmations, transaction verifications, delivery tracking, test results, among many other things. At Pendula, we use this automated SMS system as part of a multi-channel platform to maximise customer engagement and response rates.

Medicare in the US has recently introduced fee schedules that will allow doctors to charge for dealing with patients via SMS. Given users have their smartphone constantly to hand and SMS is the most responded to communication method, it’s shouldn’t be too surprising that organisations are finding novel ways in which SMS can be used to communicate with people quickly.

A cornerstone of SMS success in this area is not being invasive, but providing useful information to customers, and allowing them to react by responding in SMS. Users are becoming less and less interested in reading and responding to emails, and “push fatigue” is setting in for messenger apps.

But research shows customers like SMS (9 out of 10 consumers would like to use SMS to talk to business), and that it is greatly effective for following up on leads, ongoing engagement, and customer service.

That’s all well and good, but people don’t like giving out their number

It’s true that their mobile number is the piece of information customers are least happy about giving out, and most people will avoid doing so unless absolutely necessary.

This places the onus on businesses to make the case to customers and make it clear the ways in which their number will and will not be used. No one likes unsolicited sales calls from a company that you’re already a customer with.

But overall the research is positive that customers can be convinced. Customers are comfortable with receiving SMS from businesses, and it is a more appropriate channel than a call centre since you can respond in your own time.

SMS is universal, familiar, and when used in the right A2P manner, can reduce churn and improve engagement and response rates.

The rumours of SMS’ death have been greatly exaggerated.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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