SMS is an advertising giant that keeps growing

By Mark Challinor


London, United Kingdom


In a world of ever more complex ad solutions, there is one communications channel that is still growing and it still so powerful: SMS text messaging — a mobile/digital service that many media planners and buyers might well overlook without your telling them the facts.

Despite competition from many angles, the somewhat humble SMS is still going strong. SMS is still big business, and it is hard to see other messaging platforms making any inroads into its dominance for some time to come. And this creates so many opportunities for brands to exploit, e.g., messages with e-commerce links, discount coupons, promotions, coupon collections for loyalty, timed informational messages. The list is almost endless.

SMS is an older yet still applicable platform for advertising.
SMS is an older yet still applicable platform for advertising.

SMS has been around now for many years now, long before the invention of the iPhone (which, incidentally, came out in 2007). And I always think of the SMS service in the same way print newspapers are sometimes viewed — an old platform that’s not too relevant in today’s multi-channel, complex digital advertising world.

This perception though is far from the truth.

SMS is still relevant

Our recent INMA master class on print innovation showed print is alive and well — not only still hugely relevant today but, for many, a cornerstone to the offerings we make. 

The same goes for SMS. People use it, like it, and know it well. It is still relevant and useful. And we overlook it at our peril. 

Mobile industry research from the UK’s leading SMS platform provider, TextAnywhere, has shown that more than half of UK consumers, for instance, have no unread messages on their phone at any point in time — meaning, of course, that more than half of people read all their text messages. 

The TextAnywhere survey questioned 1,000 consumers about their mobile messaging behaviours to give an insight into their phone activity. The findings revealed over half (60%) of respondents feel they must open a message once it’s been received, whilst over a quarter (28%) have just one to five messages marked as “unread.” 

It is predicted that users send more than 6 million texts over the course of their lifetime, and so SMS will be a key advertising and marketing tool for e-commerce businesses in the future.

SMS remains an anchor for digital communications: 90% of people open their text messages at some point, with more than half within a couple of minutes of receiving them.

Over 7 billion mobile users by next year

Add that to the fact that there will be 7.26 billion mobile phones users by 2023, it’s easy to see why SMS messaging remains appealing. Communications giant Infobip, which operate in the SMS, e-mail, voice and Whatsapp arenas worldwide, sent out a massive 4.23 billion messages last year during the Black Friday sales period across all channels. SMS was the most-used channel (1.7 billion messages sent).

SMS is still alive and well … and thriving. The future key to success though will be how creative we can be with the channel as customers become more savvy, more demanding, and smarter on how to opt out of things that don’t catch their attention. 

Just be sure you don’t bombard customers with too many messages. Send your messages at a convenient/relevant time of day and be creative in the call to action and presentation.

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About Mark Challinor

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