App Update Required? I’d Rather Use SMS


Having worked in the mobile space for over 13 years now, I’d like to think I embrace all of the technology it has to offer. Sometimes I feel that too many companies are overlooking one of the oldest mobile technologies available – SMS!

For example, I’d like to share with you some recent real life experiences I’ve had with my less frequented mobile apps and where SMS could have made a difference in my overall experience

Scenario 1

This example involves waiting for a payment to arrive in my bank account while I was out for the day.

I took a call informing me that the payment should have arrived. I opened my banking app, downloaded and setup for such conveniences a while ago. Only to be greeted by ‘There is a new version of this app, please go to the App store and update’

I didn’t have Wi-Fi easily accessible, and I didn’t particularly want to use my data allowance to update my app (or wait for it to update) So, I was left with the following options:

  1. Call my bank (going through numerous keypad options and security questions with an overseas call centre), and perhaps waiting on hold for several minutes;
  2. Locate the nearest coffee shop for some Wi-Fi access;
  3. Find an ATM to view my balance or print a mini statement; or
  4. Wait until I get home.

Option a) wasn’t an option because it takes too long, and it would interrupt the other tasks I was undertaking at the time.

Option b) would have required me to go out of my way, but it would almost have certainly meant purchasing something in order to get the Wi-Fi code. As a man hailing from Yorkshire in the North of England, some of you may know how much a Yorkshire man likes to keep his hand firmly out of his pockets. So instantly I discounted option b!

Option c) would have also meant going out of my way and I wasn’t going to spend my precious time doing it.

Option d) contradicted the whole idea of mobile banking!

In this scenario, I actually went with option D. But what would have been really useful to me on this day, would have been for me to request my balance via SMS. Sending in a text message with the keyword BALANCE to a short code or long code (e.g. 81234 or +447000456789) that was saved in my phone as ‘BANK’, would have enabled me to get my account balance or even the last few transactions on my account, within seconds. Unfortunately, although my bank has invested in a nice app, they don’t have basic SMS capabilities.

Scenario 2

I’m sticking with another bank example and a scenario involving their marketing department using email and push notifications (which I had opted out of).

Once I had updated my app and was able to access it, I had a number of unread notifications. One of them was a low personal loan offer (that wasn’t showing on comparison sites or via their website, so I can only assume it was a personalised offer). If I had wanted a new car at the time, I would have taken advantage of it. Because I am not a frequent user of the app and I rarely open marketing emails due to the vast amount I get in my 18 year-old Hotmail inbox, I ended up getting the loan elsewhere. The use of occasional SMS marketing for offers like these would have resulted in a better experience for me and perhaps a more financially beneficial outcome for the bank.

Scenario 3

My last example involves my experience with an online clothing retailer.

I was on holiday at the time and my data roaming was strictly off. With only Wi-Fi in my apartment, I was staying in. So I checked my emails each morning and evening. This particular e-tailer is a heavy user of email marketing along with having a cool app and mobile site that is designed well for shopping via your phone. They have obviously invested heavily in their mobile experience. Each month at random times they usually have a 50% or 70% off flash sale. Unless you get in there fast, the items you want sell out, or at least the size you want sells out. This is exactly what happened to me. One evening I returned to my apartment and all my emails came in. One of them advertised a famous 70% off sale. Sadly, once I had browsed and seen a few items I wanted to buy, the size I wanted had sold out. I didn’t end up buying anything. If I had received an SMS notification, I may have been motivated to find a data connection and place an order sooner, rather than not at all. My recommendation? This e-tailer could easily send one or two SMS offers per month to each customer as part of their marketing and communications plan, while significantly increasing their revenue, app and website usage in the process.

I can think of many more scenarios where SMS could benefit both the consumer and business, but I’m sure you get the picture by now. As apps can be an important tool in any company’s marketing mix, many businesses are simply ignoring the reach, familiarity and responsiveness of SMS.

I will leave you with some powerful SMS stats that are worth noting for any businesses planning their customer engagement strategies (Note: statistics cited below are from OpenMarket research and independent mobile technology reports and sources).

  • SMS has a 98% open rate vs. email at 22%
  • 90% of SMS messages are read within 3 minutes of receipt
  • 78% of enterprise mobile apps are abandoned after first use
  • More than 60% of mobile app users opt out of Push Notifications
  • SMS has a click-through rate (when a URL is sent) of nearly 20%, whereas email is 4.2%
  • More than 6B people use SMS. It’s the most widely used form of communication globally, with email the closest second at 2B.

If you’d like to know how SMS can help transform your business, please contact OpenMarket today.