Nexmo logoIn a mobile-first world, SMS is proving to be one of the most essential tools for businesses. From its critical role in communicating with customers globally to providing top security, this series produced by Nexmo explores key aspects of SMS that many organizations may be unaware of. See all the posts here.

Who doesn’t text these days? SMS has become a ubiquitous form of communication. Your friends and family text you. Your colleagues text you. And now, think of the texts you’re getting from businesses.

A bank texts you to confirm a deposit. An accommodations company texts you to let you know about an incoming reservation request. And an ecommerce company you do business with online texts you a code to authenticate you are who you say you are.

Why are so many businesses using SMS these days? The answer is simple. Businesses need a reliable, universal way of communicating with their customers around the globe, and SMS fits that bill. Add to that, most people carry their phones with them everywhere. Many people even sleep with their phones.

It’s hard to believe that a technology invented more than two decades ago would become so integral to our lives today. But it’s true. SMS was created by engineers who wanted a simple messaging system that worked on mobile phones. The first SMS was sent in 1992. And today, text messages have become a global addiction.

Now SMS is finding its way to businesses who are looking for a simple, fast, and effective way to communicate with their customers. When you consider the benefits, it’s pretty easy to understand why.

A technology that works for everyone, almost everywhere

SMS has a vast global reach. Phone carriers exist in almost every country in the world. And because SMS works on 2G as well as 3G and 4G mobile networks, you can reach any active mobile phone worldwide — and it doesn’t have to be a smartphone.

People actually read text messages. In fact, more than 90 percent of people read a text message within the first three minutes of receiving it, according to MobileSQUARED, a mobile research firm. And unlike email, you aren’t limited to a smartphone or a computer to receive a text message.

SMS is precise and to the point. When you only have 160 characters to work with, you learn how to become economical with words. What’s more, SMS is far more affordable than using direct marketing to let your customers know about your promotion.

Additionally, SMS is permission-based. The customers you interact with have given you permission to contact them through an SMS platform. Customers who opt in to receive information are more likely to take in that message rather than ignore it — the fate of millions of emails.

Finally, you can combine SMS with social media and the web to engage more deeply with customers. If you post an important message on your website for example, you can support that with a text message that says, make sure to read the full story online.

A multitude of use cases: Customer service, marketing and as a Wi-Fi alternative

Companies around the globe are quickly developing new ways to use SMS to provide better customer service.

For example, Garena, a gaming and social app developer in Singapore, uses texts to authenticate users of its mobile apps. In addition to entering a password online, a user has to enter a code at login time. That code gets sent to their phones via text. The combination of passwords makes it easier for Garena to safeguard its applications. Texting is quick and reliable, which is critical, because a user’s decision to install an app can be very spontaneous.

Wi-Fi is great when it works — but it doesn’t always work. Consider IQPolls, a company that develops polling solutions for businesses to interact with audiences during conferences, seminars, and training sessions. While the audience can respond to poll questions over the Internet, if the poll is taking place in an area with a poor Wi-Fi signal, IQPolls gives them the option to vote instantly by SMS on their phone. Problem solved.

Thomson Reuters uses texts to engage with customers who use its Eikon suite of financial products. Email was proving a less-than-reliable means of getting user attention. Now when the New York-based company wants to let users know about a new feature or upgrade in Eikon, it alerts them instantly via text message. Users look at the text message immediately, because they know it’s relevant.

With so many people these days chronically attached to their phones, it’s no surprise that more businesses are embracing text messaging. SMS is a guaranteed way to ensure customers get your message immediately — without your message getting lost in the shuffle.

Dig deeper — Download the Nexmo whitepaper: Increase Security & Prevent Fraud by Overcoming the Top 7 Phone Verification Challenges.

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