SMS messaging is a popular topic. The growth of mobile has everyone jumping on board the SMS wagon and they all have something to say. I’ve compiled a list of five topics that I’ve seen written about that just aren’t true, or at the very least are potentially misleading enough to be called myths. I’m going to try and offer some insight into why these myths exist and what the truth is, as I see it anyway!
The death of SMS is something I find written about at least weekly. It’s usually fueled by analysis from reputable places like eMarketer. Last March they published some data showing the number of text messages sent in certain parts of the world peaked back in 2011 and have been “steadily” declining since. That same article showed that usage went up and down in other parts of the world. But the decline was enough to set people to thinking we’ve seen the end of SMS’s usefulness.
Now the data is valid, but is only part of the story. People are using apps now to communicate between one another – like Whatsapp and WeChat. That accounts for some of the decline that the study saw. But look around a little bit more and you’ll find other studies showing the use of application to people (A2P) SMS messaging is on the rise. So that means SMS messaging is increasing right? It all depends on how you count the messages. But even the studies that say there is a decline show there were over 7.4 trillion text messages sent in 2014. Hardly dead.
Whether something is expensive or not is relative. It really is. If I told you we spent £100,000 on an SMS campaign your jaw might drop. Or you might come back and say, “Our last campaign cost over twice that!” A small business owner running a local food truck might be too embarrassed to join our conversation because he only spent £100 (note all this conversation is hypothetical!).
How much you can spend using SMS can be a little or a lot. Whether it ends up being expensive depends on what you get out of it. Many businesses report triple digit return on their investments in SMS marketing. But a small fitness centre that spends a few hundred pounds a month to keep it’s members informed and motivated might just save another few hundred pounds because they aren’t paying a staff member to manage all their communications manually. Either way they are getting more back for what it “costs” them. So categorically saying any business investment is expensive doesn’t make sense. The truth is it all depends. But the value of SMS in terms of ROI, cost per contact/lead, has been demonstrated over and over in just about any industry you can think of.
It's too much trouble
SMS messaging requires you to follow some rules. You need to learn the rules to make sure you don’t spam anyone when you start sending messages. If you don’t, there are consequences including fines.
But those rules shouldn’t be an obstacle. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) explains what is needed very clearly. Basically you just need to ask permission and have people choose to be on your list. And also they need to be given a way to opt out if they want. So before you send any messages just make sure you’ve read the rules (or had your solicitors do so) and that you comply.
There are many, many businesses and organisations using SMS messaging. Both big and small. If they can do it, you can too if you spend a little time to understand the requirements.
It's only for the young
Look around and you’ll see many young people with their noses buried in their mobiles or tablets. It’s no surprise to see that the younger generations have adopted technology – mobile technology specifically – faster than anyone else. But they aren’t the only ones using it.
So even if you’re trying to reach people over 55, you can still use SMS messaging. In fact, the percentage of older people using SMS is growing every year. A study in Canada recently showed that 31% of males between 55 and 64 use mobile phones. A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about using SMS to reach older generations. If you want you can read it here.
It's only for retailers or marketing
Everyone knows people use SMS messaging. But when it comes to businesses or organisations, most of what I read online is all about using it for marketing. And that isn’t unreasonable because it’s an amazingly targeted and profitable channel to use. There is precious little though, that talks about how any group, club, church, school, or any organisation can use SMS to communicate better.
So why did I choose this as a myth? Because in many of the comments I see on the articles and in business forums, it seems people assume it’s just for marketing. They don’t understand it can be used in a myriad of applications in virtually every industry. If you want to take a look at the possibilities, you can find quite a few examples on our business sectors page.
If you ever come across any blog or article that asserts any of the above as fact, be wary. Read it carefully (because sometimes headlines are misleading) and see if that’s what it actually says. Do your own research and then decide if any of it is true.