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The Future of SMS Marketing: 4 Key Predictions

With mobile usage around the world showing no signs of slowing down, the future of SMS marketing is bright.

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Effective marketers look to the future—not the past—for opportunities to grow faster. 

But when they see headlines declaring that email is dead, artificial intelligence is going to replace copywriters, and that chatbots are the future of mobile marketing they don’t scrap their entire strategy. 

They look for the nuance. Because in the world of digital marketing predictions, sweeping hot takes are a dime a dozen. 

When discussing the future of SMS marketing we wanted to give you both an idea of where we’re headed and what you can do about it now. 

That’s reflected in the four predictions we make in this article:

The Future of SMS Marketing Is Conversational

There was a time when marketing was about writing a single line of copy that an entire audience would love and remember.

Now it’s about getting thousands of small interactions right.

What’s changed? The rise of conversational commerce

While there are lots of flowery definitions, at its simplest conversational commerce is about supporting 1-on-1 conversations with customers.

You’re giving people the ability to ask you for product recommendations, find their size, and compare options. You’re humanizing your brand and providing individualized service.

For example, a lot of brands are setting up text-an-expert hotlines. We’ve mentioned Versed’s hotline for all things skincare related before. 

It remains an excellent example of the kind of non-promotional content we expect to see more of.

This trend will be in part driven by 10DLC messaging

Carriers are currently in the process of launching 10DLC (10-digit long code) numbers. 

These are standard 10-digit phone numbers that support the high volume messaging throughput required for mass texting while also supporting 1-on-1 messaging.

Text Messages Will Work Harder For You

A lot of brands’ text marketing campaigns rely on sending out SMS with links. The main CTA is to click on the link.

We’re expecting in the near future that more businesses ask customers to respond to the messages they receive with the quantity they want to buy.

For example, our customer, LunkerText, applies this approach. (They created this automated flow using our SMS API.) 

You sign up for the service by providing your email, phone number, address, apparel sizes, and billing details. You get a daily deal and can then respond with the number of units you’d like.

SMS Won’t Be a Stand-Alone Channel

We mentioned this in our text message marketing trends in 2021 report but it’s worth repeating here.

A lot of brands have traditionally approached SMS as a standalone direct marketing channel. They collect mobile phone numbers—usually on their website—and then send one-off campaigns to these numbers.

The future of SMS online looks more like this: a customer visits your online bike store’s website but isn’t ready to buy. They sign up for your text messages instead. They receive a message with a deal and order directly from their mobile device.

Their order triggers a confirmation email message and a series of text messages designed to familiarize them with your bikes. They have some questions about the tires so they respond directly to the text conversation thread where you answer them.

Then several months later they receive an automatically scheduled text message cross-selling a pair of cycling shoes that fit the bike they bought.

In this scenario, your customer support and marketing platforms are working together to create a smooth customer experience that feels both personalized and seamless.

Rich Communication Services (RCS) Will Live Up to the Hype

Rich Communication Services (RCS) is a relatively new messaging technology that would enable brands to incorporate features like carousels, chip lists, videos, and maps into their messages.

In other words, instead of receiving a link to a boarding pass from an airline, you’d receive your boarding pass right inside your texting app.

Trials have demonstrated a higher response rate and nearly 75% of consumers polled say that they are more likely to engage with a brand that uses RCS.

The challenge right now is that globally there are around 800 mobile phone networks and so far, just 65 of them have adopted RCS messaging. That’s only 8.1%. 

While we can’t predict when the tipping point will come, we do expect RCS to play a major role in the future of SMS marketing.

In the meantime, you can always turn to MMS messages to create richer, more engaging experiences. 

The Future of SMS Is Bright

A new report from Forrester Research predicts consumers will get more texts in 2021 than ever before as brands try to develop more direct relationships with customers.

As more marketers take advantage of the sky-high open rates of SMS messages, we expect to see more innovative uses and, as a result, more value for both businesses and their audience.

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