SMS: The Only Effective Digital Communication Channel?

26 Jul

In 2012, we’re living in an era of ignorable information.

According to a study by Mogreet, 88% of emails are never opened, 84% of Facebook news feed items aren’t viewed, and 71% of tweets are ignored. But there is one digital communication channel that almost always gets attention: SMS. An amazing 98% of SMS and MMS messages are opened and read by recipients.

Here are some other interesting statistics on SMS:

- There are 234 million mobile device users in the U.S. with access to SMS capabilities vs. 161 million Facebook users, 28 million Google+ users, and 18.7 million Pinterest users.

- 174 million Americans text daily. That’s 74% of people with mobile devices. In comparison, 91 million people use Facebook daily (57% of users) and just 2.8 million use Pinterest daily (15% of users).

- Every day, 6.4 billion text messages are sent in the U.S. During the same period of time, 3.2B Facebook “Likes” are awarded and 300M new Facebook photos are uploaded.

- While 58% of users login to Facebook daily and 57% of people check email fewer than 4 times per day, mobile phone users look at their phone an incredible average of 150 times per day. That’s roughly every 7 minutes during waking hours.

For marketers, the prominence of SMS shouldn’t be ignored. While the rules for sending SMS are very different than for other communication channels, SMS and other phone application notification methods are an increasingly important communication channel. While these statistics focus on SMS messages, other application-specific¬†notifications¬†are equally as effective at delivering messages and updates to mobile phone users.

For the most important type of communications — special events, high-value promotions, appointments, customer rewards, and customer-specific updates — prospects and customers are increasingly open to mobile notifications. For example, “flash sale” merchants like Gilt and Rue La La use mobile notifications to alert customers of their daily sales. Content providers like CNN, the New York Times, and the Huffington Post use mobile alerts to drive traffic to their mobile sites after major news events. Social media and gaming companies like Zynga, FourSquare, and Facebook use mobile messages to inform users of a wide variety of relevant events.

While many marketers still spend an enormous amount of time driving engagement through email — and increasingly ineffective medium — new mobile communication channels offer a highly-effective alternative for opt-in high value communications. Like any true opt-in communication channel, the most effective communication strategies will utilize mobile messages for high value communications that strengthen customer relationships.

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