Customers are the lifeblood of any business, so keeping them happy is a high priority for small and large companies alike. For years, SMS has proven itself as a simple but effective way of building customer relationships, acting as a valuable tool for achieving this goal.

But there’s more to SMS than meets the eye. In this article, I will talk about the benefits of modern SMS marketing, and how SMS has evolved into a powerful platform for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Many businesses have already taken advantage of SMS to help build customer relationships. Companies of all shapes and sizes have been attracted to SMS in recent years as a way of better engaging with their customers, largely because of the almost guaranteed read rate that this technology offers. This benefit still exists today, but the potential of SMS has evolved dramatically in the past few years. It can now offer organisations a great deal more on top. So it’s vital that decision makers are aware of the capabilities SMS now holds, and are in an informed position to access the full potential of this communications channel and use it to their advantage.

Today’s SMS platforms offer a wealth of additional features, from an effective channel for capturing customer data to one that’s capable of easing a company’s transition into new markets. SMS marketing campaigns are also easier to launch and manage than ever before. So, with this in mind, is your business making the most of SMS?

  1. Engage with your customers
SMS technology needn’t be dull. 2-way SMS allows customers to respond directly to an automated SMS messages from a company, giving them an active role in your marketing campaign. This approach encourages interaction by providing the tools needed to start a conversation with your customers, creating previously unseen levels of engagement from a mobile marketing campaign. The latest developments in SMS technology mean it is now possible to run quizzes and sweepstakes via 2-way SMS, engaging consumers in fun interactivity with prize incentives. Creative marketers worldwide are already using SMS platforms to launch imaginative and creative campaigns in this way, resulting in a very positive response from their customer base.
  1. Make the most of data
Customer insight is valuable to any business, and SMS can be a great way to gain those insights from your customers. The technology is now available to collate SMS delivery and engagement data into management-friendly formats. More advanced messaging specialists now offer features such as advanced analytics, automated sending and delivery reporting, and access to real-time data, which are just some of the ways you can begin to learn your consumers’ preferences. Once this information is at your fingertips, it can become a valuable tool to improve the effectiveness of your ongoing marketing efforts.
  1. Branch out into new markets
Breaking into a new market is a challenge for any company and there’s always risk involved. However, one of the best ways of establishing your company in a new market, and quickly building a much needed customer base, is by delivering outstanding customer service. Using SMS as a channel to make your customers feel valued and keep them updated on estimated delivery times, account activity, and stock alerts, for example, in one such way to ensure customer satisfaction and promote brand loyalty. Local market restrictions and the preferences of local consumers can also serve as a significant stumbling block, which the insight from mobile messaging providers can help to navigate.
  1. Make security a top priority
In the wake of countless hacking scandals and customer data leaks, the average user is becoming more concerned about security than ever. Demonstrating that you are protecting your users’ personal data is now an expectation. SMS allows businesses to roll out an additional layer of security to customer accounts efficiently and effectively via SMS-based 2-factor authentication. Once activated, when a customer logs in to their account a one-time PIN is sent via SMS to their mobile phone, confirming their identity through a user-friendly procedure. In a world where security of personal data is an increasing concern for consumers, demonstrating that securing it is a priority for your business is key to retaining loyal customers.
  1. Go far beyond the character limit
SMS messages are no longer limited to plain text formats and less than 160 characters. With smartphone penetration almost universal in the UK, messages via SMS can go far beyond what this technology was originally designed for. Adding click through links to your website or promotions is a simple way to increase targeted traffic, and, if you’re looking to take advantage of your consumers’ urge for impulse buying, convert into almost instant sales. Additionally, traceable links sent through SMS let you clearly see the impact of your campaigns.
  1. Things to consider when going global
If you’re launching globally and attempting to reach consumers in different countries, you should look into several issues. You need to consider what registrations need to be put in place, e.g. a sender ID or SMS traffic type, and if there are any related restrictions. Opt-in and opt-out processes are essential for transparent traffic, and having your provider manage that for you makes it significantly easier to meet regulations. It’s also important to check if the country you’re launching in supports 2-way SMS traffic. You might want to use your brand name as the sender ID to achieve maximum visibility and brand recognition. All of these questions are important and your provider should be able to answer them and provide these services for truly efficient SMS campaigns.

Although WhatsApp and Messenger applications are increasingly becoming the norm for person-to-person messaging, SMS is still going strong as a hard-working and effective business-to-consumer tool. The technology developments have transformed SMS into a versatile and flexible medium that is able to give businesses invaluable insight and reach.

With a plethora of uses, it's clear that SMS can be a real asset to your business. But don’t fall at the final hurdle. Making sure to pick a messaging provider capable of running the campaign your business needs. For any SMS campaign, it’s important to choose a partner that will offer the best results and deliver your messages without fail, in the way you want them to. Ask the tough questions up front; if you need to send a large quantity of SMS messages, can your chosen provider’s system cope? Can they support a global campaign? Can their platform handle special characters, and does it meet the various SMS regulations implemented by different countries around the world? Do your homework and make sure to choose a messaging partner that can truly deliver, so that you can reap maximum business success from SMS.

By Ivan Maksic, regional manager of Western Europe at Infobip