Application-to-Person SMS Messaging - A key link in the value chain

PRESS RELEASE ‐ SOUTH AFRICA ‐ BULKSMS.COM ‐ 09 January 2013

By Dr Pieter Streicher, MD of BulkSMS.com

BulkSMS.com highlights the benefits of texting in driving effective customer acquisition and relationship management strategies Text messaging is second nature to mobile users - a received technology that people understand. It is also quick, easy and low cost and as a business communications tool and its star is still rising. It is estimated that application-to-person (A2P) messaging will overtake person-to-person (P2P) messaging by 2016. That’s no mean feat in a consumer market like America, for example, where 174 million mobile users text every day.

According to the Ofcom Communications Market Report, published July 2012: “On a weekly basis, as a way of communicating with businesses and services, any text based services are used by more people than any voice-based methods.” The potential for business use of SMS is significant. Two-way SMS messaging is now a mature and mainstream medium performing an indispensable function both in security verification, within the financial services sector, and as a platform to drive customer loyalty for brands, retailers and, even e-commerce.

Once organisations understand more about how to use it, SMS will assume a more central role in CRM strategies. In some sectors using A2P messaging is integral to business processes. He cites the example of an ISP which might need to send out technical service alerts where power outages lead to a loss of Internet access. However, even if a customer’s Internet connection is down, their mobile still functions and they receive the alert. Despatching immediate alerts to customers in such situations achieves two objectives. The action pre-empts a mammoth influx of disgruntled query calls to the ISP and also offers a proactive notification; demonstrating customer service excellence and contributing to customer loyalty in the long-term.

Security

In addition to its value for the despatch of alerts, A2P messaging is now widely adopted by banks and credit card institutions for the issuance of one-time passwords (OTPs) for transaction verifications, entered onto a webpage. OTP also has application outside of the financial services industry as a step in verifying a customer for retail e-commerce transactions. SMS messaging supports the security of e-commerce sites whilst providing peace of mind and reassurance to the purchaser receiving the code.

Opt-in databases

The communication value of A2P messaging can only be realised if the database of intended message recipients is created in accordance with privacy regulations and data protection laws. Target customers or users must opt-in to receive SMS communications. If this process is not followed then any communication is spam, and the company sending the message can suffer as a result; it will certainly not gain or retain customers. BulkSMS actively discourages the use of third party lists as a way of acquiring customers. Acquisition of customers through an opt-in process should be considered as an important part of the budget when planning a mobile marketing campaign. This process creates a targeted, permission-based audience. Thereafter, timely, relevant and useful communication adds to the CRM activities of a business and builds loyalty.”

Customer Relationship Marketing

In CRM terms A2P messaging serves as a dynamic service tool, updating subscribers on progress of their service delivery, for instance. Companies are now also using it as an information service platform in its own right. Wendy Windblows, for example, offers wind condition updates to paragliders on a subscription basis, and AdInfa has developed InSite, a technology solution that allows data centres to monitor their IT equipment energy consumption. AdInfa’s system sends automated SMS alerts to companies when pre-determined or unpredicted critical events occur in the monitoring of data centre infrastructure.

In the retail sector, promotions are despatched via A2P SMS messaging to encourage store traffic to an opt-in customer base. In the small business development sector companies are using text messaging to remind clients of appointments. In the building and maintenance industry, workflow management is enhanced by sending appointment reminders via SMS to tenants of social housing properties who have requested repairs.

A2P messages are increasing Other business sector examples proliferate, offering use-case evidence that A2P SMS messaging usage is on the increase and will continue to be so. BulkSMS is at the forefront of developing new and cost-effective ways for the business world to harness this uncomplicated yet versatile business communications tool. Streicher believes that all it takes is a little more understanding of its potential uses for businesses and an unequivocal approach to protecting customer privacy. When the latter principle is firmly grasped then businesses have the ability to nurture richly qualified permission based databases and make CRM an integral part of their business strategies.