Does Instant Messaging Signs The Death of SMS

WhatsApp, Telegram, Skype, Viber, WeChat, Facebook Messenger or even Snapchat, in a dozen years, instant messaging has popped up at an impressive speed. Quickly, they have conquered individuals to the point of today counting some 900 million monthly users for WhatsApp and 800 million for Facebook Messenger. For all that, should we see in the explosion of this market the disappearance of SMS? Do companies have to dis-invest from SMS Marketing to adopt instant messaging? The answer is clearly no.

If the SMS has entered into the mores of companies, they are increasingly interested in instant messaging to deliver their marketing messages. However, the arrival of a new technology does not necessarily evaporate another. The two channels have assets that it is relevant to accumulate via centralization platforms.

It would be a mistake to deprive yourself of one or the other, the instant messengers have assets that the SMS do not have. And vice versa. All art is in the proper use of these two channels.

SMS Marketing: A Paid Strategy

First, SMS does not require smartphones. Any mobile phone of the first generation allows to connect and send and receive a text message. There is also no need to download an application and have an internet connection (wifi) to communicate by SMS. A particularly interesting feature in geographical areas where Internet coverage does not exist. The SMS makes it possible to touch everyone and wherever it is.

For smartphones, the customization of mobile applications and the opt-in character of the SMS (user agreement to receive information on its mobile) are two undeniable advantages. The “push SMS” is not experienced as undesirable and its asynchronous character makes it little intrusive.

Moreover, the customization of the solutions allows the recipients to receive targeted messages of a great diversity: discount coupons, alerts on the availability of a product, information on a promotional offer in a store close to the recipient through geolocation, Follow-up of the progress of an order, reminder of the date and time of an appointment, or alert of a financial deadline.

The SMS is also used for debt collection services or for verification of a bank account by double authentication. For the past three or four years, all companies, whether private or public, have started to do SMS marketing. A strategy that proves very effective since, according to several studies, 95% of SMS received are read within three minutes of their receipt. A rate never reached by traditional channels!

Instant Messaging: The New Marketing Tool

For their part, instant messaging has the advantage of real-time discussion and the possibility of exchanging a wide variety of formats: text, photos, videos, sounds, emoticons, gifs. Some of them also offer the possibility of creating discussion groups (WhatsApp, Telegram, Skype …).

But to operate these messaging services require users to download applications and have an internet connection or a 3G or 4G network. Privileged initially in the context of communications of the private sphere, the instant messengers are increasingly attracting the interest of companies.

Indeed, in recent months some of them have used this channel as a marketing tool. Thus, Uber uses Facebook Messenger to book errands; The BBC broadcasts documentary video clips on WhatsApp and Viber, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines improves its customer service and responds instantly to their requests on Facebook Messenger and We Chat.

Always on WeChat, customers of China Southern Airlines have the possibility to check-in as soon as they arrive at the airport and via the Hyatt Hotels application, users have access to the closest hotels thanks to the geolocation. As you can see, the initiatives on instant messaging are multiplying, the use of this channel having the advantage of being able to establish a real discussion in real-time between the brand and the customer.

Be careful, however, to use this channel wisely: messages that are sent out over and over and targeted can trigger a rejection phenomenon that will prove to be counterproductive.

SMS, e-mail, instant messaging, on-line communication, offline … all the business problems now lie in their ability to merge all these channels to deliver a coherent communication and marketing message. Today, thanks to the deployment of centralizing platforms, companies can implement real omnichannel marketing strategies and take advantage of the advantages of each.

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