It is impossible to be surviving in 2020 and not knowing what SMS means. We live in a world where every kid, adult, poor and rich person owns a mobile phone.
Since cell phones were invented and revolutionised digital communication as we know, personal interactions have gone through a major shift. From simplified phone calls to zoom meetings on phone, we have certainly come a long way.
So, what is SMS?
SMS is the abbreviation for Short Message Service. It came into being in the 1980s as a messaging service facilitating 160 characters for a message. It was officially standardised in 1985 by the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM). This provided a uniform and organised system of text messages to mobile operators and networks across the globe.
The world has come a long way in terms of the popularity and use of SMS. In a span of 35 years, it is practically impossible to find an individual who does not know the answer of questions like “what is SMS?” or “what does SMS mean?” What started with a casual and informal means of communication has now assumed the status of a unique marketing channel.
There is a lot that SMS messages have given to every generation. They encouraged the drafting and deliver of shorter messages that can be delivered in a matter of seconds. They made communication more precise and efficient. They also facilitated the use of unique acronyms, the trend that is still fairly relevant.
There are several implications of an SMS message and it can be used for an array of purposes. However, it is important to understand that every platform available on your phones for sending messages should not be confused with SMS.
Difference Between SMS And OTT Applications
As the field of digital communication has evolved, SMS messages are often confused with OTT applications.
OTT applications are essentially messaging platforms that are not directly dependent on a cellular network connection. WhatsApp, iMessage, WeChat and Facebook Messenger some of the most commonly used OTT applications across the globe.
Instead of making use of cellular networks, these applications depend on internet protocols (IP) for sending and receiving messages across devices. However, they can integrate with cellular networks to provide a more wholesome and personalised experience to users.
While OTT applications require an internet connection for sending and receiving messages, SMS messages can be delivered over a cellular network. There is no need for internet services to send and receive SMS messages. Also, while the feature of SMS is provided by all the modern mobile phones built within the system, OTT applications need to be downloaded from the internet.
The protocols followed by SMS and OTT applications are considerably different. SMS is a much simpler technology, where all you require to communicate with an individual is their contact number. There are minimal prerequisites when it comes to interacting through SMS.
On the other hand, OTP applications have certain prerequisites to start communicating, where one of them might be having a cellular network.
Is SMS Similar To MMS?
SMS and MMS are two terms which are commonly used with each other. Both fall under the same umbrella of “text messages.” Now, if SMS refers to the cellular messaging service that facilitates sending and receiving messages across cell phones, what is MMS and how is it different from SMS?
Simply put, SMS refers to messages involving text (words, numbers, punctuations and symbols) and MMS refers to messages involving pictures and videos. MMS is the abbreviation for Multimedia Messaging Service. It can essentially be viewed as an extension to SMS or an SMS with media files.
MMS messaging can involve sending and receiving photos, videos, audio files, GIFs and other similar medial files. Also, an MMS message allows you to have a maximum of 1,600 characters which is significantly more than SMS.
As MMS messages require transfer of more units of data across devices, they cost more than SMS messages. No matter what cellular service you are using and what service plan you are on, MMS will always cost you more than SMS.
What Is SMS Marketing?
The worldwide access and popularity of SMS has acquired itself a special position in marketing. Along with telemarketing, email marketing and social media marketing, SMS marketing is widely adopted by businesses in for promoting their products and services.
As the name suggests, SMS marketing refers to a set of processes that involve businesses sending promotional or transactional messages to their customers through an SMS message. Majority of these messages revolve around exclusive offers, discounts, updates and alerts. E-commerce businesses also use SMS marketing to provide live updates of their customers’ orders and payment confirmations on their cell phones.
SMS marketing helps business build healthy relationships with their customers by providing them with personalised services. If done right, businesses can approach their leads according to their specific interests and preferences (acquired from the database), increasing the chances of the deal being closed.
Several businesses have also incorporated software applications to help them with SMS marketing. Salesforce, a prominent name in the business CRM market, integrates with several applications to help businesses manage their SMS marketing.
Textible.io is one of the best Salesforce messaging apps that automated the process of business text messaging and sending personal SMS to the clients in an efficient manner. Such applications save enough time and energy spent by the sales representatives in nurturing leads and closing sales deals.
Basic Practices For SMS Marketing
Like all the other marketing counterparts, SMS marketing is a science as well as an art. It asks for a fair amount of scientific research before being performed, but needs a creative mind to implement. Here are some of the basic SMS marketing practices every marketer should keep in mind:
Including All Necessary Details In The Message
The most important SMS marketing practice to consider is the fact that the marketer should include every single important detail in the marketing text message. It goes without saying that the name of the company holds the utmost importance.
Apart from the name of your company, it is important to mention the purpose of your message, the call-to-action it demands, specific terms and conditions (if any) and the benefits in store for the customer.
Sending The Right Messages At The Right Time
A major difference between email marketing and SMS marketing lies in the fact that SMS messages are checked much more frequently than emails. This is because people carry their phones with them almost the entire day.
Although this acts as an advantage for SMS marketers, it is also important not to disturb the customers at the wrong time. Abstain from sending promotional messages at odd hours.
Also, it is important to profile your customers and understand the target market you are approaching before sending them text messages. Teenagers, working professionals and retired adults, all have specific time windows within which a message can prove to be effective. Understanding this would help you make the best use of SMS marketing.
Ensuring Customer Opt In
The most basic yet important consideration to keep in mind for SMS marketing is ensuring that your customers have opted in for your messages. If you are sending test messages to people without getting their consent, the messages will be considered as spams.
It is mandatory to seek consent of your customers through an ad or a public message, asking them to send a confirmation proving that they accept your promotional messages.
It is important to educate them about your purpose and the campaign before making them opt in for your campaign. Also, it is advisable to provide your customers with the details regarding opting out of messages at regular intervals.
Benefits Of SMS Marketing
One of the biggest advantages of SMS marketing is the fact that it is highly cost effective. In the current times, irrespective of the cellular network you are using, sending SMS messages does not cost much.
Even if you are sending messages to thousands of contacts, the cost at which you are reaching this range of customers is way lesser as compared to other channels of marketing.
As mentioned earlier, we live in an age where every person owns a mobile phone. This implies that you can really penetrate deep into your target market and reach to the remotest of areas with your messages.
It takes less than a second for an SMS message to be delivered to the recipient’s mobile phone. As compared to a lot of other channels of marketing communication, an SMS message delivers your message faster.
Link To Other Marketing Channels
Apart from acting as a platform for marketing communication, SMS marketing also acts as a link to other channels of marketing.
Through your text messages, you can send links to YouTube videos, social media accounts and emails to your customers. This makes SMS marketing a wholesome marketing channel, which can indirectly used for incorporating multiple other tools of communication.