Interacting Online with SMS Texts

Ofcom research has revealed that the average adult now claims to spend over twenty hours a week online. Driven by the use of tablets and smartphones, this represents a doubling of online time over the last ten years.

Naturally the overall average hides some significant variations across age groups with 16-24 year olds reporting that they spend over 27 hours per week online. Interestingly, 2014 saw the biggest leap in online use with a rise of over 3 hours per week compared to 2013. Nearly 90% of adults are now connected online in one form or another with watching video clips, TV and gaming now featuring regularly in online usage.

One of the most significant statistics to come out of the study is the rise in instant messaging. 90% of people regularly use their phone to text and 42% of people regularly use their phones for instant messaging (up from 29% in 2013).This increasing acceptance of the use of smart phones for messaging represents a huge opportunity for businesses to communicate with customers in this way.

In fact many organisations are already making use of SMS texting for a variety of reasons. Businesses such as health practices or hairdressers which rely on set appointment times are using SMS texting to remind customers of the appointments which they have made. Organisations which have a regular membership such as those providing visitor attractions are using SMS texting to remind signed up members of changes in opening hours. Other businesses are using SMS messaging to communicate with employees, either as part of a disaster recovery package or even just to update them on company news.

In fact, when it comes to disaster recovery planning, bulk SMS messaging can prove to be an ideal first response solution. Messages can be prescheduled at any time, ready to be sent out at a moment’s notice should a disaster occur. For example, a simple message such as ‘the company’s disaster recovery plan is in operation, please contact your supervisor on xxx’ could be used both as an initial warning as well as a form of employee roll-call. On a more basic level, the simple act of opening the message could be logged as a means to undertake a quick check on employee safety. SMS messages could also be used as a quick pointer to longer communications. So for example the SMS text could direct employees to login to a particular area of the website or telephone a company information line for more details.

Bulk SMS texting is a cost effective method of sharing communications with employees, with customers and with others. Depending on the length of the text and the destination country, SMS texts can cost as little as 3.5p each. With monitoring available to show who has received and opened the message and with organisations having complete control over recipient lists, SMS texts can be a useful addendum to the marketing mix.

That the Ofcom report showed a doubling of online use in ten years is perhaps not surprising; that is showed a significant element of the increase occurred over the past year is more interesting. With greater use comes greater acceptance and that means that businesses which use devices such as SMS texting are well placed to increase their interactions with customers for mutual benefit.

Written by Alison