How Effective is SMS for Mobile Engagement?



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It’s hard to find a successful brand that doesn’t engage its customers on mobiles. With more than four billion people owning mobile phones, mobile engagement is essential for any brand that’s serious about building customer loyalty.

79% of people have their mobile phones on or near for all but up to two hours of their waking day, according to a recent study that was conducted by Facebook and the IDC. Being almost an extra limb for most people nowadays, mobile phones give marketers an unprecedented access to people at all times.

In a world where mobile phones are becoming smartphones at a fast rate, SMS is no longer the only way to send messages. Email and apps are also fighting for the smartphone users’ attention. With different ways to engage users on their mobile devices, many marketers are wondering if SMS is still an effective mobile engagement tool.

SMS Vs. Other Mobile Engagement Methods

  • Every day, there is an average of 20 billion text messages being sent all over the world. When compared to other communication channels like email, text messages get more attention from people who receive them.
  • A recent study shows that SMS has an open rate of 98%.
  • Unlike emails, the vast majority of text messages being sent are read. To put this percentage into perspective, the average open rate for an email is 21%.
  • In addition to the astonishing open rate, 95% of text messages are read within three minutes of receiving them.
  • While some people might not check their emails for days at a time, most people are checking their text messages all the time.
  • Another reason why text messages are such a great tool for mobile engagement is how customers perceive them. Unlike emails ads -which many people consider as spam, getting text messages from businesses is generally well-received by customers. With 74% of people reporting an improved impression of businesses that use SMS to communicate with them, this is a mobile engagement tool that customers actually love.
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Meeting Customer Expectations for SMS Communications

  • Excess use of text messages can lead to a negative customer experience. While customers generally like when businesses use SMS to communicate with them, 83% of them don’t want to receive more than two messages per month from any business.
  • By exceeding this number of messages per month, mobile engagement efforts could produce results that are quite the opposite of what was originally intended.
  • A Salesforce survey that was recently published shows that these are the five main reasons why customers opt-in to receive text messages from a brand:
  • Coupons or deals (77%)
  • Personal alerts (50%)
  • Being in the loop (48%)
  • Meaningful content (33%)
  • Faster access to information (31%)
  • Sending messages that fall into one of the above categories helps businesses meet their clients’ expectations and avoid having their text messages perceived as spam.

Everything You Need to Know SMS Vs. Two-Way SMS

  • When companies use SMS for mobile engagement, they are often presented by traditional and two-way sms services. As the name suggests, two-way SMS gives the customers a way to communicate with the brand as well.
  • For example, if a business has a signage placed at their store that invites people to opt-in for receiving text messages from them, they can send the keyword and get an automatic reply. This reply can be a thank you message, a discount code that they could use at your store or any other relevant reply.
  • Similar engagement isn’t possible with traditional SMS as it’s a one-way communication channel. Having this conversational relationship with your customers shows them that you really care.
  • When it comes to the applications of a two-way SMS system, they go way beyond sending offers.
  • Businesses can get valuable insights by encouraging customers to take a poll in exchange for a coupon, which can all be done using this system.

What’s the downside of SMS?

Despite all the upsides of using SMS as a mobile engagement tool, there are some downsides that businesses should be aware of.

 Length and Content Type

  • Unlike emails that can be as long as businesses want them to be and have all sorts of dazzling graphics and animations, text messages are a limited medium.
  • When using text messages, the sender has a 160-character limit and can’t use any of the flashy visuals that can be added to an email. Such a small character limit requires putting in more effort into creating the SMS campaigns to make the most out of it. With such a tight text limit and not being able to use any kind of images, every letter counts.

Can’t use the same message more than once

  • Unlike TV or even social media ads that are created once and keep repeating over and over, text messages can’t be used the same way.
  • After an SMS has already been sent to customers, it’s done. The next message has to be different in order to not be perceived as spam by the customers.
  • Having to create a unique message every time an SMS is being sent out to customers can be more time-consuming.

The Bottomline

  • Combining such impressive open rates and response times with a positive customer perception make SMS one of the best ways to engage customers on mobile.
  • With the introduction of two-way SMS, text messaging has become more conversational than ever. All these factors make text messages integral for the success of any mobile engagement strategy.



  • We're a leading Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS) provider in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region that aims to bridge communication gaps in a communication-driven world.
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