SMS: It’s Not Just for Marketing Any More

By Erika Morphy, E-Commerce Times

There appears to be a new trend emerging in the enterprise mobile engagement space, according to OpenMarket.

Increasingly, its enterprise customers are adapting its platform to use SMS in new ways, said Tim Fujita-Yuhas, the company’s director of product management.

Sometimes those uses are obvious CRM plays; sometimes they fall more under the rubric of Internet of Things. The common denominator is that they have brought some element of value-add to the standard plain vanilla text message.

For example, companies are using texts to serve as a substitute for automated customer service notifications — specifically, for secure customer service notifications.

“We see companies using our system to respond to questions such as payment account status — information that is security-sensitive,” Fujita-Yuhas told CRM Buyer. “We have had companies come to us asking for help in using SMS to answer these questions, but protected with two-factor authentication.”

Many Different Uses

SMS messaging also is playing a role in the emerging Internet of Things story. For example, oil companies are using automated SMS to alert drivers of oil tankers about the need for a refill well in advance, Fujita Yuhas said.

“More customer service uses are being deployed on mobile engagement platforms,” he noted. “What these examples do is validate the need for businesses to include SMS in their mobile engagement strategies.”

Not all companies are moving in this direction, however.

Thirty-eight percent of all e-commerce traffic during the first half of the year came from mobile devices and tablets, according to a recent study conducted by ShopVisible.

Despite the growth in the percentage of traffic coming from mobile, the conversion rates were much lower on these mobile devices. The takeaway? There’s a greater need to provide a good omnichannel user experience. That means mobile communications, both inbound and outbound — which means SMS.

Not Overlooked

That is not to say that SMS is an overlooked resource. For marketing operations, it is a ubiquitous channel, favored not only by brands that love its cost-effectiveness, but also by consumers who appreciate the brevity of the messages, especially when accompanied by a deal or discount offer.

Still, not all consumers appreciate SMS marketing.

When asked if they wanted alerts or information sent to their phone, 34 percent of participants in a recent SAP poll disliked the idea, while 29 percent liked it.

However, that changes when there is a value-add component to the SMS and a purpose that is not so overtly revenue driven, suggested OpenMarket, based on anecdotal information it has gathered.

The Case for Value-add

For example, VetAdvisor uses SMS and SugarCRM to help veterans pursue new careers, transition back to civilian life, and monitor their health.

Its system provides real-time coaching via SMS and integrates with FitBit to track fitness and health goals.

CRM vendors, for their part, are starting to include functionality in their products to support such offerings.

Acision’s newly released Forge contact center application, for example, features secure, multifactor application-to-person and two-way SMS messaging.