SMS messaging has become a line item in many businesses budgets. It’s a marketing expense for some, part of customer support, or basic utility costs like access to the Internet for others. But for many, offering SMS messages to customers could actually make them money rather than cost them.
Here’s the idea behind it: your business or organisation offers an SMS service as an add-on to what you already do – for a fee. I’m not talking about premium messaging where someone pays a fixed fee per message or a transaction which is then charged and collected by the mobile provider. What I am talking about is your ability to offer a service directly to a customer who then pays you for it. Let’s just jump into some examples.
It's all in the timing
The first example is not something for the everyday person, but it demonstrates how impactful SMS messages can be – and why people would pay to get them.
Have you ever heard of day trading? A day trader is someone who buys and sells stocks quickly, usually on the same day, to turn a profit. To be successful they need to get their timing exactly right.
By all reports, day trading is intense. You need to be tied (pretty much) to a computer with special software and consistent access to the Internet. But I’ve found some services that support more casual traders using SMS messaging.
It usually starts with a group of day traders (loosely formed or an actual company) who offer access to their buying and selling choices to those who want to invest but don’t want to spend their days doing it. People can sign up to get a certain number of alerts based on how often they want to buy or sell during the week.
Now, the day traders are doing what they always do. But they are selling access to their information via SMS messages. No other communication method would work because of how time sensitive the business is.
And the access doesn’t come cheap. The base cost of one example I found runs over £3,300 per month for anyone looking to hook up on a few trades. Oh, and only people who are members of their service already are eligible to purchase this SMS add-on service. You can imagine that the cost of messages sent to each subscriber is easily covered by that monthly fee!
More common examples
It’s not likely that too many people are either day traders or interested in purchasing that sort of service (but just Google it if you are!). So here are a few more common examples to help you understand how your business could use the add-on service model to pay for your SMS messaging:
Recruitment – In very competitive job markets, getting notified of openings is critical for recruiters. The quickness of SMS messaging could give an advantage to their candidates.
Real Estate – Fast moving real estate markets need a quick notification system. Estate agents need to know about the properties as soon as possible. And their clients also need to know.
Travel – Travellers expect some communication from their agents. But timely SMS messages could be something extra.
Personal Coaches – Life coaches, financial coaches, or anyone who helps people improve their lives could also offer daily encouragement, reminders, or instructions over SMS.
Fitness Coaches – Personal trainers, nutritionists, or specialised trainers can’t always be with their clients. SMS messages could help keep them on track.
These are great examples for using SMS messaging, but how do you make money from it? There’s one of two ways: Include it in your flat pricing and advertise it as a value added service (even though the cost is built-in), or itemise it as an add-on customers or clients can choose to use for a fee.
Whichever of those two ways you use, the fee can cover the actual cost of the messaging (which isn’t likely to be very high), and anything above that would be additional income.
It won't work for everything
This sort of use case won’t apply to every application of SMS messaging. You aren’t likely to find anyone who will pay to receive marketing messages for example (though they will spend money when they get them!).
Companies who use it for internal communication can’t expect their employees to pay. Likewise, schools using it may not be able to convince parents or students to pay for messages.
But as the examples above show, certain service type businesses or even financial ones can consider a business model where SMS messages are a source of income rather than an expense item.