Short Message Service is back with a vengeance, cutting straight through the plethora of communication your customers and team receive on a day to day basis.

We recently launched the ability for Verbate users to SMS feedback invites direct to their team & customers, and we’ve seen open rates rocket to 99%, response times drop by 7x and overall response rates increase. This is undoubtedly the best way to gather video surveys, but I expect that SMS could have much greater implications for your business too.

Why SMS is back in the game

Reaching your community and requesting priority of response is becoming increasingly difficult due to the sheer volume of notifications, conversations & requests your customers & team members already receive every single day.

The average consumer receives 15+ commercial emails a day, whereby for the average worker this becomes around 30. Added to this we constantly receive push notifications from social media (65% of smartphone users), apps and meetings throughout the day. In fact, far from technology becoming a great efficiency enabler, it has started to cloud our day to day life - a recent study has shown that contrary to belief, productivity has only increased 2% since 1976.

SMS however, has managed to remain a relatively personal, engaging contact form. We still open our SMS’s, and we open them fast. Many of us have replaced email, and even phone calls with SMS. Below we explain why this is, and how you can leverage SMS in your business.

1. Penetration: 63% of the world own a mobile phone, and nigh on 100% have SMS capability. In developed countries this is much higher.

2. Open rates: Average open rates for SMS are 98%. This is over 50% than mailchimps highest reported niche. Verbate in fact see’s 99% open rates.

SMS, thankfully, hasn’t been “ruined” by Marketers yet (See Gary V). Think about it, pretty much all of your outgoing requests are opened. This is amazing.

3. Priority: Emails are opened in “phases”, when they are opened at all. Your message may have priority in your eyes, but its probably number 15 down the list of other emails someone received.

SMS, however reaches people when other methods don’t. That familiar vibration requires instant attention. SMS reaches people at work, home, when they are shopping, fishing or even running.

4. Easy to digest: SMS messages are generally limited to 160 characters. Easy to digest in a few seconds. People like this. Its why Twitter works (Twitter was originally inspired by SMS)

5.Ensures content is being opened on a mobile device: When you require mobile action, SMS ensures content is being opened on a mobile device. 41% of email (see Campaign monitor report) is now opened on a mobile device, which means 59% of your links are being opened on a desktop, or brower email first.

For Verbate users, this makes the transition to filming on smartphones seamless (1 click), resulting in higher responses.

Should my business be using SMS?

Remember when I (or more importantly Gary V) said that SMS is such a great channel because marketers have not ruined it yet? You have a responsibility to keep it that way, and many countries have fairly rigid laws to prevent abuse of this.

With that caveat in mind, if you are using mobile ready technology, you’d be silly not to.

SMS as a channel to reach your community, though a 20year old technology, is still relatively new and 80% of consumers claim to have not been marketed to by SMS before. As a result, opt out rates are 5% and users generally are happy with SMS campaigns.

How to triple response rates with SMS

1. Use opted in respondents: The ability to send an SMS to your respondents is a privilege, not a right. Your message should be anticipated, and relevant to the campaign you are running. We want to keep this channel unmolested so that your 99% open rates continue.

If you wish to send invites to an open network, use our Campaign invites. Respondents can actually SMS themselves from these.

2. Create relevant message: You generally have 160 characters to customise your message. Be friendly, on brand, and give a clear call to action (i.e. click link).

3. Customise CallerID: Some countries* allow you to customise the caller ID from an SMS. When used, the message will be received from your / your clients brand name. This gives instant recognition and higher open rates. We give this option in Verbate under the “customise brand” section in invites.

4. Timing: Depending on who you are reaching out to, there are different times to contact for best results. Consumer campaigns work best prior / post work (7am & 7pm). Team campaigns work best over morning coffee o’clock and lunch.

Remember: This is not an email campaign. Where email campaigns usually fall over on weekends, SMS campaigns often have the highest open rates on a Saturday.

5. Follow up: As with any communication, you are unlikely to reach everyone at a time that is conducive to them recording their video. Verbate tracks your invites, so check which are complete, and which are unstarted / in progress.

Wait around 8 - 10hours before following up, and reach out (after double checking number) with a friendly, personalised message. If no response after this, accept this person may have dropped off.

*Australia, UK, Singapore (except Singtel), Hong Kong and much of Europe allows CallerID functions. The USA, Canada & New Zealand do not support this. In these countries, Verbate places your brand at the front of the message body instead.