SMS Text Messaging Will Reign King of 2017

By Andy Shirey, Senior Product Manager, OpenMarket for Retail Touchpoints

In today’s world of constant connectivity and communication, smartphone users are never without their mobile device. With mobile marketing projections reporting that by 2020 there will be 6.1 million smartphone users globally, it’s safe to say we are in the midst of a mobile revolution.

Several years ago, the mobile landscape was disrupted by the emergence of messaging apps, which offered instantaneous delivery and receipt of messages. This new wave of mobile communication resulted in a declaration that the era of SMS text messaging had ended. However, as we head into 2017, messaging app download rates have been steadily declining, and analysts are projecting that SMS is set to exponentially grow by 2021. In analyzing consumer preferences throughout the past year, SMS is looking to be the ultimate king of communications in the New Year, particularly where business-to-consumer engagement is concerned.

Along with the shift from apps to SMS, here are three key predictions 2017 will likely bring.

1. Chatbots + SMS

In 2016, the term ‘chatbot’ dominated headlines in the mobile world. Throughout the year, as the capabilities of chatbots became more fully realized, companies began increasingly integrating the technology into their communications strategy, seen in such innovations as digital assistants, The main benefit of incorporating chatbots into an SMS-based marketing strategy is how significantly it enhances interactions between businesses and consumers. Chatbots offer immediate, personal, and interactive elements to the traditional way consumers communicate with businesses. The pairing of chat bots and SMS-based communications enriches businesses’ customer service strategies, as messages sent in response to customer demands will be timely and tailored to their needs – without having to download or open an app. The use of chatbot technology will only continue to grow in popularity in 2017, eventually permeating the channels in which we communicate with businesses.

2. Text Your Consumers

If you’re trying to target millennials in 2017, forget voice calls, try texting them. According to research conducted in 2016, this mobile-first generation overwhelmingly identifies texting as their number one preferred channel to interact with businesses, outranking even social channels such as Facebook Messenger. What’s more, nearly 83% of millennials surveyed said they respond to text messages within 90 seconds. With 72% of millennials texting at least 10 times a day, the likelihood of reaching them on their mobile device is very high. Despite the strong preference of this influential demographic, 60% of millennials are currently only receiving five or fewer texts from businesses per week. To avoid missing out on this massive opportunity to reach target audiences, businesses must incorporate an SMS-based strategy into their communications plans in 2017.

3. Businesses Will Own Text Messaging

By 2025, 50% of the text messages consumers receive will be from preferred businesses. Survey findings in 2016 revealed companies have a huge, untapped opportunity to utilize text messaging to interact with their consumers, and those that don’t take advantage of this missed connection risk becoming irrelevant. Appointment reminders, security authentication codes, and delivery notifications are just some of the ways companies can use application-to-person SMS messaging to increase efficiency and improve communication with consumers. In fact, 62% of millennials prefer to get appointment notifications via text message. As consumers increasingly vocalize their choices, companies will be forced to address demand and adapt to evolving preferences by implementing SMS strategies.

The “mobile-first” mindset of 2016 will evolve and take on a new life in 2017, as an “SMS-first” outlook. We can expect to see the ubiquitous SMS message outpacing in-app messages due to its unique ability to deliver a personal, interactive, and efficient form of communication between businesses and consumers.