SMS is 25 years old

As text messaging reaches the ripe old age of 25 we look at why it’s limitations are it’s hidden strengths, making SMS the secret weapon in every marketer and researcher’s armoury.

Since the first SMS was sent on Christmas day in 1992, text messaging has grown in strength and utility. While dial up modems have all but been superceded by wifi, SMS hasn’t been entirely wiped out by newer, and shinier counterparts. In fact, we argue that the value of SMS as a tool has grown while the cost to send and receive them has diminished.

Most mobile users today enjoy unlimited national SMS offers or generous inclusive SMS bundles. However, low cost doesn’t mean low value to marketing managers and researchers. It’s ubiquity and simplicity make it the perfect vehicle to ensure both reach and engagement.

SMS messages reach any handset. Out of 8.05bn unique mobile connections globally, the proportion of those on smartphones varies greatly by country. So while mobile web usage is rising in almost every country, to guarantee reach, SMS is the safest, cheapest and most inclusive channel.  While MMS and mobile web surveys may offer exciting visual branding opportunities, the open and completion rates on wifi or 3G dependent messages is still low compared to SMS.  SMS surveys enjoy an 80% completion rate making the results more statistically representative of your sample or target market than survey results with lower completion rates.  And for those still wed to the value of web surveys, sending invitations to online surveys by SMS can boost response rates dramatically.

Low Investment, High Engagement

Texts are easy to delete, ignore or read. They are short by nature and don’t saturate readers with information in the same way as advertising or email based communications do, plus the effort involved in replying is also comparatively low – and a low investment of time and effort is key to making this channel so powerful as a route to market for researchers.

At OnePoint Global we believe this is one reason why SMS surveys have a comparatively high open and completion rate compared to mobile web and email surveys. Email inboxes have become a chore to manage whereas SMS still feels easy to control and easy to respond to. We generally respond to SMS messages far more quickly than we do to emails, which is why even mobile surveys disseminated by SMS have higher completion rates than those sent by email.

For those keen to exploit the wider reach, higher response rates and high completion rates that SMS surveys can offer, we’d like to reassure you that you don’t need to abandon your existing tracking or longitudinal studies in favour of a new channel. Our experts help you shorten the questions and produce succinct surveys that are effective for the medium that you can run alongside other survey channels and integrate to augment your existing data.

Unlocking Value

With the right SMS software partner you can gain access to any country in the world at favourably low rates. Survey firms that live and breathe mobile like OnePoint Global have those relationships in place and can minimise the cost of reaching global audiences. In the same way that we’ve all used SMS as a two factor authentication method to unlock access to an account, SMS can be a lifeline to unlock the value of respondents that have failed to engage by other channels.  Your contact database holds far more potential to act as a reliable source of feedback when you use SMS as a means to spark customer conversations and garner responses. Our platform allows researchers to send SMS invites to online surveys generated using online survey software. The response data can be easily downloaded or automatically transferred to another platform where it can be combined with online survey results for in depth analysis.

Click here to contact us about using SMS in your research or survey work.