Mobile marketing has been helping companies sell more stuff and communicate better with their customers for well over 10 years now. By any measure it is the most effective direct marketing channel available. When compared with direct mail for example, SMS marketing is 10 times more effective. (Source – Mobile Marketing Association.)
Most companies are yet to use mobile marketing in any structured way. Many have sent out the odd bulk SMS campaign, the more adventurous may have even dabbled (usually unsuccessfully) with a QR code on their marketing materials. For most, mobile marketing remains an also-ran activity.
So using SMS as a way of communicating with customers and staff is fantastically effective. But what if anything could come and poison it? Is there anything lurking out there that could kill it stone dead.? We’ve been pondering what nasty venoms could conceivably see it off.
I personally have received a bit more unwelcome SMS spam lately. It’s the usual stuff from PPI or accident claim companies. It’s not yet reached annoying levels, I receive about two or three a month, but I’d certainly be happier not to receive the drivel.
There are laws in place that should pretty much stamp it out completely. These date back to 2003 and made it illegal to send texts to people that you have no business relationship with. It looks like the Information Commissioner’s Office are starting to get to grips with the problem. The BBC recently reported a high-profile raid on a text spammers office, resulting in a £500,000 fine. That seems like a suitably stern deterrent! With a bit of luck we should see this type of spam reducing soon.
The rules around sending bulk SMS are there to protect us from receiving SMS spam from companies that we don’t know and don’t want to know. In their current form, they are pretty robust and should prevent us from receiving unwelcome and uncalled for texts from any source.
What could put a fly in the proverbial ointment is if EU law makers decide to introduce a new layer of legislation that could make it more difficult for legitimate mobile marketers to send texts to their customers. Potentially you might be required to opt in to specific services. So if for example a company offered an SMS delivery notification service, the customer might have to specifically opt in to receiving delivery texts in addition to text offers that they had already agreed to receive.
We could end up with a complete muddle, with neither the consumer or the company properly understanding what they need to do. Our view is that the current rules are sensible and don’t require any more fortification. Let’s hope others agree.
The number of texts being sent by UK consumers is leveling off. After 25 years or so of rapid growth, the graph is flattening out. The total dominance of SMS is being nibbled away at by other messaging apps like Imessage, WhatsApp, Skype etc. Every week there seems to be a new instant messaging tool launched. While these messaging apps are free to use there doesn’t seem to be one of them that’s being universally adopted. It’s a massive bun fight, a race to be the instant messaging winner. It’s win or lose and at the moment there doesn’t seem to be one winner emerging yet and this fact leaves SMS safe at the top of the pile, for the time being.
So the poison for business SMS might come when a victor in the instant messaging wars emerges. When we know what instant messaging product we’re all going to be using for the next few years someone is bound to find a way of adapting it for business use.
For businesses that want to communicate with their customers, SMS remains the only option. Research by Portio recently concluded that ‘SMS is not dead. SMS is still the king and will remain so for some time to come.’
SMS Retains the Crown?
So for the foreseeable future, it looks like SMS will retain its powerhouse status. For such a simple and arguably clunky technology, it’s got impressive stamina. It’s killer advantage is that it remains the only global messaging system. Every handset ever created can send and receive texts; until that changes, the argument for using SMS marketing will remain as persuasive as it is today.
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