CEO of Mitto, an innovative communications platform company that facilitates omnichannel customer engagement for global brands.
In just the past decade, the way both consumers and brands use text messaging has changed drastically. From first using text as solely a way to connect with family and friends to today where consumers are receiving brand communications regularly, messaging has grown in value.
Consumers are always connected, and this level of availability and engagement presents a prime opportunity for brands of all sizes. Text messages have the highest click and open rates of all forms of communication, including email and phone. It is so simple for a consumer to open a text message, click a link and be directed to a website or video. But how will messaging continue to progress? To understand that, we need to look at the full evolution of messaging.
The journey SMS has taken since its beginning in 1992 is unmatched. One year after the first text, “Merry Christmas,” was sent, Nokia implemented a new feature to indicate an incoming message. At the time, this was revolutionary. Moving forward a few years, texting slowly became a regular form of communication, but it was still mainly used sparingly and only on a personal level — parents would check in with their children and friends would discuss upcoming plans.
Nowhere was brand messaging seen via text. In the early to mid-2000s, most brands did their digital communications online both with their websites and via email. But as email started to become a popular form of communication, consumers began to have a certain level of fatigue, which continues to this day.
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Messaging Of Today
Fast forward to today when 23 billion texts are sent worldwide each day — that’s 270,000 every second. Text messaging has become one of the most widely used forms of communication in 2020, and this is expected to continue. According to Kommando Tech, “There are 2.52 billion people using messaging apps on mobile. This number is expected to reach 3 billion in 2022.” Today, new messaging technology, shifting consumer attitudes and the way brands are implementing this tech is evolving the consumer-business relationship. No longer is texting just for personal communication. Instead, consumers are beginning to trust and expect brands to share updates and information via text.
With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, brand messaging has increased and diversified dramatically. From a notification about a curbside pickup order to the fact that 71% of consumers are planning to do more than half of their shopping digitally for the holidays, consumers and brands are turning more and more to their phones and text messaging. With its simplicity, many brands have already implemented this technology in order to bring an ease of use to their customers and stay in touch as in-person interactions continue to be scarce.
Messaging Of The Future
Moving forward, more brands will look to capitalize on messaging and establish a clear and concise phone-based relationship with consumers. Similarly, consumers are not going to want to give up the convenience of messaging with brands, which has become commonplace during the pandemic.
On the brand side, messaging cannot simply be mass information that is released on all platforms. Even though a consumer has opted in to text messaging, that does not mean they will stay opted in. Brands cannot just simply add messaging to their list of channels but need to keep consumers wanting to stay engaged and hear more. Consumers are smart and know when information is not authentic. Personalization should be at the forefront. Consumers will expect highly curated and specific-to-them information to be shared, such as a new product that coincides with their recent purchase.
Brand messaging will also develop into a more conversational form. Two-way conversations will become the norm, especially in regard to customer support to help consumers feel as though they have an engaging relationship with the brand and the sender.
Additionally, it is not enough for brands to simply rely on SMS, but they will also need to move into chat apps and similar channels as they work to create these more intimate relationships with consumers. Chat apps offer a unique opportunity, and brands will need to establish this increased level of omnichannel messaging in all aspects of their business.
Given the well-rounded experience of email, consumers will also be looking for the same look and feel of content within text messages, creating a more unified customer experience. Email can offer news, pictures, videos, and links, and consumers are expecting this level of information and engagement to transfer to messages. This sentiment is also similar to other technologies such as chat apps and Google Verified SMS as more integrated and advanced features are being added and brand adoption increases.
In the future, consumers can expect messaging to be even more dynamic as video, voice, and high-quality images increasingly become a part of the rich and standard messaging experience. Imagine a world where consumers’ shopping orders are updated in real time via messaging and they are also able to check on different orders or modify the order from the same aesthetically pleasing screen rather than having to follow a link to a separate website. Compared to a standard text message, this integrated and personalized content will create an increased level of engagement and ROI.
While brands continue to innovate with how they use messaging, however, technology teams shouldn’t overlook ensuring the foundational elements of messaging system delivery are also in place. Consumers will expect safe and reliable messaging delivery from all businesses, possibly turning away from those that don’t meet their expectations, so traffic stability and delivery speed are all factors for consideration.
Messaging offers too lucrative of a prospect for brands to ignore. Through the evolution of messaging from simply personal use to now being a regular occurrence in the brand-consumer relationship, the future opportunity is unmatched. It is vital that brands implement a rich, reliable, and innovative messaging strategy so they continue to build and grow their relationships with both their current and future customers.