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Is SMS marketing still a thing for SMEs?

SMEs need to rethink the SMS: Here’s why

CEO of Mobiz, Greg Chen discusses how SMEs can still benefit from SMS when utilised properly.  

When it comes to communicating with their customers (something which is vital to the growth of any business), SMEs have a wider array of options available than ever before. More traditional formats such as email compete with seemingly innumerable instant messaging, social media, and chatbot offerings.

With so many available options, SME owners with limited resources can find themselves feeling overwhelmed and even paralysed, unsure which channels to pursue.

While each of those channels has advantages and potential value, it’s worth remembering that one of the most effective has been around since 1992.

SMS offers almost unparallelled reach, particularly in the South African context where mobile reigns supreme. But, if SMEs are to make the most of it, they need to rethink their approach.

The power of SMS

Before digging into what SMEs can do when it comes to revamping their approach to SMS, it’s worth digging into what makes it such an important channel.

First off, South Africa has long been (and remains) a mobile-first country. As of 2019, there are an estimated 90-million mobile connections, with smartphone penetration at over 80%.

And while tens of millions of South Africans now have smartphones, the truth is that many of them do not use these devices to their full capability.

High data costs paired with the tough economic choices people have to make (data or food) means that most smartphones are effectively offline most of the time.

That means any communication channel that requires customers to be online risks reaching them at the wrong time, or not at all.

In that context, SMS just makes sense.

SMS doesn’t require the customer to be online and, importantly, doesn’t cost them anything to receive.

Moreover, it’s incredibly effective. Research shows that 98% of all SMSes are opened and that, on average, it takes someone 90 seconds to respond.

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