It’s that time of year again. Before Auld Lang Syne plays on New Year’s Eve, most of us look back at the year we’ve left behind. After our reminiscence is over, we look forward at what’s to come. In this blog I follow the same pattern to offer some predictions and advice for making the best use of SMS messaging in the coming year.
A Quick Look Back at 2016
If I had to pick one word to describe the industry and trends of SMS in 2016 I’d have to pick “Growth”. Somewhere around 8 trillion SMS messages get sent each year. That’s a huge number. And even though many personal messages were sent with apps, people prefer SMS for receiving marketing from brands. Millennials have an especially strong preference for text over app marketing.
Not surprisingly, the use of SMS for mobile marketing increased as businesses recognised those preferences. And along with that came some important lessons for everyone who uses SMS marketing. In 2016, the ICO fined seven companies who were using it for direct marketing. All of them relied on some form of third party company that failed to get explicit permission from people on their SMS list. These cases set a precedent that anyone using SMS for direct marketing should follow: It’s your responsibility to verify consent, even if you outsource the work.
Another growth area was application to person (A2P) SMS. Surveys showed that the financial sector lead the trend by offering automated account balances, transaction confirmations and updates. Purchase related A2P, like order confirmation and shipping notices, also became common.
Though many had previously predicted the death of SMS (mostly due to apps), they were all premature. It thrived in 2016, and now the predictions about its future are much different.
Predictions for 2017
The pendulum has swung all the way back to SMS from apps in the predictions I’ve seen for 2017. Some say that app use is declining and point out a “zero download” effect. I’ve seen that claim argued in other sources, but whether app usage is going up or down, there is a consensus that 2017 will be big for SMS.
Many studies say only about 25-30% of marketers are using SMS now (in 2016). That number is expected to grow as more companies expand, or begin, their mobile marketing efforts. It’s been said that by 2025, over 50% of the SMS messages people receive will be marketing from brands. I can’t see that far out, but in the next year more companies will certainly use it. If they use it well, then more people will be getting the messages too.
Another key prediction for 2025 is that the value of the A2P market will grow at 4.4% CAGR and be worth more than £50B. Again, that’s pretty far out, but it only makes sense that more companies would invest in using automated messaging with customers. It benefits everyone by improving the customer experience, and streamlining operations that otherwise would require additional resources.
Sandy Burt, our Operations Director commented on A2P use in 2016, “We’ve noticed that more and more customers are integrating their business systems with us via our SMS API or using off the shelf products that already integrate with us.” He also agrees with the industry experts that 2017 this trend will continue to grow.
Advice for 2017
I asked Sandy what advice he would offer to an organisation that is just starting to use SMS now, or will start next year.
“The first thing I’d recommend to someone looking to start using SMS would be to check out our SMS Buyers Guide, this includes some really important points to consider when choosing an SMS provider. The second would be to think about how it will integrate with your business processes if you can integrate your existing systems with a provider like fastsms. Then give us a call, we offer a free trial and free advice and have a wealth of knowledge across all industries and from working with organisations of all sizes”.
For businesses that are already using SMS, we can offer support and recommendations on how to use it more effectively in the coming year. We have specific industry guides you can download for free, and our team is able answer any questions you may have.