U-REPORTERS GENERAL
Why SMS Matters More Than Ever
Aug. 27, 2015
BY SALMA MUHAMMED
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by Kellan Alexander

http://blog.textit.in/why-sms-matters-more-than-ever

Smartphones are eating the world. They’ve become our primary point of access to the internet, drawingcomparisons to the sun from one of tech’s brightest minds. The numbers back this up: as of 2014, 51% of the world owns one; in 2020, 80% will. We use them for everything from sending and receiving texts and calls to interacting with our favorite web services via their mobile apps and APIs.

Despite the fact we collectively exchange 350 billion text messages each month, the popularity of OTT serviceslike Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat has rendered SMS - one of two core features on every mobile phone in the world - an afterthought in the minds of most. Reputation notwithstanding, SMS is at the core of the rapidly-emerging cloud communication industry headed by Twilio, Nexmo and the like.

These platforms remove barriers to the adoption of SMS services while enabling businesses to quickly and easily deploy them to customers with faster delivery times, lower initial cost, and improved reliability. Much like the smartphone, they’re on pace to provide telecommunication gateways all over the world. SMS is experiencing a resurgence in innovation on par with web-based services.

Why SMS?

It should be no surprise that SMS has a tremendously high engagement rate compared to email: the average open rate of a text message is 94% (90% of which are opened within the first few minutes of receipt) while only 22% of emails are ever read. Texts are entitled to prime real estate on notification panels and guaranteed delivery in situations where WiFi is unavailable and data is spotty. Most importantly, accessing text messages doesn’t require load time or interaction with a downloaded interface or log-in screen

By now, we’re all likely familiar with the global prevalence of SMS. Access requirements are straightforward - a mobile phone and a service plan - and there’s no need for pre-existing conditions such as an established connection within a service that both parties must download (accepting friend requests, adjusting privacy settings, etc.), much less a reliable internet connection on both ends.

The Current Trajectory

Services like Twilio and Nexmo specialize in enabling application-to-person (A2P) communication. A2P allows organizations to use web applications to communicate with their clients via SMS. If you’ve ever received an appointment confirmation from your doctor’s office, a flight status update from your airline, or an account update from your bank, you’ve engaged in A2P messaging. If you haven’t, the likelihood of engaging in this kind of interaction is expected to increase by 63% over the next three years from 1.4 trillion messages in 2013 to 2.19 trillion messages in 2018.

Popular use cases for A2P SMS include:

  • Customer Relationship Management: “You have an appointment with us tomorrow at 8:30 AM.”
  • Promotional Campaigns: “Show this message for 15% off your next purchase. Exp. 9/1”
  • Pushed Content Services: “There are 8 elder care resources in your area, reply for a full list.”
  • Interactive Services: “Thank you for your vote! Check back next week to see who won.”
  • Inquiry and Search-Related Services: “Please send with your location for upcoming bus routes near you.”

The initial issue with traditional A2P SMS was the clunky and expensive nature of the development and integration process. Prior to Twilio and Nexmo, companies were required to liaise with a variety of middlemen - SMS aggregators, gateway providers and resellers - to establish connections with various network operators. Today, telephony API tools allow developers to integrate SMS with their applications at a fraction of the cost and time.

Enter TextIt

TextIt is a drag-and-drop development platform that connects with either Twilio or Nexmo to enable you to visually build an application that interacts with your clients on your behalf. This is made possible by our Flow Engine, an easy-to-use interface that enables you to design automated interactions that may include posting and retrieving information to and from your service or triggering events within your service via our API.

Each interaction in TextIt is defined by a single step. By drawing arrows from one step to another, you define how your clients will move through the flow. We provide a number of rules that enable you to dictate how your recipients' responses are evaluated, allowing you to funnel them to the information they’re looking for while collecting the data you need.

The process is simple:

  1. create a TextIt account
  2. design your flows
  3. enter your Twilio or Nexmo account information to begin communicating

An Application in Every Industry

Travel, Tourism & Entertainment

Travel is an increasingly mobile industry. SMS enables real time communication with travelers - leading to a decrease in customer support costs while providing a convenient and reliable additional communication channel.

Healthcare

SMS can help healthcare organizations improve communication with each professional, patient, and stakeholder they serve. Reduce appointment no-shows, deliver timely patient information, improve pharmacy efficiency, and support community and emergency health services. Patient reminders and timely patient information are two common use cases for TextIt.

Retail

SMS can optimize location-based campaigns, engage customers with contests and promotions, expand customer databases, promote point-of-sale coupon usage, improve customer service, and keep loyal customers up-to-speed with your latest sales and product announcements.

Food Service

By integrating Twilio, OpenTable and TextIt, you can use SMS to enable patrons to make and change reservations, and alert them when their table is ready.

Education

SMS is an ideal tool for sending truancy notifications, and general and emergency updates to parents and students. Young comprise the largest messaging demographic in the world.

Marketing

Take advantage of the convenience of SMS, which enables you to asynchronously connect with consumers on their own terms. Several organizations use TextIt to design and deploy standalone campaigns, carefully-crafted complements to email and blog content, timely and individualized loyalty programs, and high-impact promotions.

HR/Recruiting

SMS helps HR, recruiting, and staffing firms cut costs and partner more effectively with companies and candidates. Companies like HigherMe use TextIt to register users, send job opening alerts to job-seekers, and match them with openings that fit their experience.

Public Services

SMS is an ideal method of streamlining public services and communicating with citizens of all socioeconomic classes. We’d love to see SMS incorporated into such programs as food services, social security, and affordable housing.

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