The savviest of marketers realised the power of SMS technology several years ago – and it's still one of the best ways to reach consumers today. That said, not all businesses are tapping into text messages, despite coronavirus accelerating the texting trend further.

This article explores how SMS works and why marketers find the technology so effective in reaching people and driving tangible business growth.

What is Short Message Service (SMS) technology?

SMS technology simply refers to the text messaging service anyone who uses a mobile phone will be familiar with. It's a 30-year old technology that enables the sending and receiving of short messages (up to 160 characters) between mobile phones and from applications to mobile devices.

SMS is ideal for sending short or urgent communications. In business, text messages are often used to send out account security PIN codes, appointment or payment reminders, order progress updates and marketing notifications. It's also used for two-way texting (where you receive messages from customers).

How does SMS work on mobile devices?

A mobile handset communicates with telephone operators' gateways using the industry-standard Short Message Peer to Peer (SMPP) protocol. This allows the fast transfer of text messages to and from GSM, CDMA, UMTS, iDEN and TDMA.

Texts are transmitted via radio waves from the sending device to the closest cell tower. Messages are then sent to an SMS centre (SMSC) for onward transmission to the cell tower nearest the receiving device. And that tower transmits the text to the recipient's phone.

Telecommunications tower

SMS messages: key benefits for marketers

SMS technology presents an incredible opportunity for marketers and businesses to connect with customers and prospects. Here are five reasons why:

1. Virtually instant communication

There's really no faster way to communicate time-sensitive information than SMS. Unlike other messaging apps, SMS technology doesn't require an internet connection, which means you can deliver messages even in remote areas, as long as there's a cell phone signal.

2. High deliverability rates

Hands up if you've ever sent an email and wondered whether it’ll actually get to its destination, even though you know your email is perfectly legitimate?

Emails are renowned for getting blocked by internet providers and diverted to the junk folder, even if they're not unsolicited messages. Although mobile operators have spam filters in place for scam phone calls and spam texts, SMS technology is a very reliable form of communication.

3. Grabs attention

It's no secret that texts have impressively high open and response rates. It's a direct channel that's widely used by the young and old alike. 55% of teens send SMS messages daily, while older adults aged 50-69 prefer using text over email to stay connected.

Email has its uses, of course, but there's no doubt that the average person's email inbox is cluttered with marketing messages that they won't have time to read. Whereas a text message, being short and punchy, can be opened and read in seconds. SMS is so convenient!

4. Increased personalisation and targeting

It's easy to send SMS campaigns that are highly personalised and relevant, even when you want to send messages to hundreds or even thousands of customers simultaneously.

At Messente, for instance, you can embed identifying 'tags' within your content to pull through data from your subscriber list. A tag could be the customer's first name, a product they've purchased, upcoming appointment date and time, etc.

SMS becomes even more powerful if you integrate it as a tool with your CRM system. You can then use detailed insights for better data analysis and targeting, and set up automated campaigns to save time.

5. Budget-friendly

With SMS, you only pay for the messages you send, and texts cost very little compared to online ads, where you're charged on a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost per impression (CPM) basis. For example, if you were to use Messente to send 500 messages to the United States, it would cost just 8.1 € per month, which is just 0.016 € per SMS. See how much it costs to text other destinations.

Smartphone being used with pink case

The future of SMS technology

Text messaging technology is advancing with the development of Verified SMS and Rich Communication Service (RCS) for Android devices.

Verified SMS

Verified SMS is a new type of service that allows businesses to add branding to text messages. You can add your logo, a description and offer customers the option to preview the website link included in the text message content. As part of Verified SMS, your texts will display a verification badge, showing customers that they're coming from a trusted source. This all helps you achieve maximum impact with your SMS strategy.

RCS messaging

RCS is Android's latest text messaging innovation, designed to rival Apple's iMessage. It gives users an enhanced chat experience and includes features like integrated file sharing, real-time typing indicators (similar to apps such as Messenger and WhatsApp) and the ability to make video or voice calls directly with the native SMS app. And unlike standard text messages, there's no character limit.

RCS will soon replace standard SMS as the default text message service for Android phones – it's already built into many modern handsets.

Using SMS technology for your business

SMS technology can be used across various industries, from fintech and eCommerce to real estate and healthcare.

Aside from promoting your products or services, text messages are ideal for transactional and customer support communications, such as two-factor authentication PIN codes, appointment reminders, delivery updates and emergency alerts.

How to get started

Getting started with SMS for business couldn't be easier. Sign up for a Messente account (free) and explore our user-friendly dashboard to see how easy it is to create and send SMS campaigns.

Our SMS API can also easily be integrated into most applications using Zapier or added to your business systems with the help of a developer (read our developers' documentation).