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A review of SMS industry developments in 2015

As we approach the end of the year, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the SMS industry and how it changed – or didn’t.

email and sms autoresponders

SMS vs. IM vs. app

Even though it’s entrenched in our daily lives, mobile is still a relatively new technology that’s suffering from growing pains. People and businesses are finding new and different ways to use smartphones which keeps everyone involved on their toes.

One trend in particular is the growth of instant messaging (IM) apps. It was big news when Whatsapp sent more daily messages than were sent over SMS. Some called it the death knell of SMS messaging.

Others said mobile was all about apps and notifications. They claimed the only way to engage customers is to get them into an app. SMS messaging was old technology and couldn’t keep up.

In reality though, SMS messaging is still going strong. How it’s being used has changed to some degree, but it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, when it comes to marketing, SMS messaging is turning out to be one of the best investments businesses can make.

Here’s what our Marketing Director, Oliver Burt has to say about SMS growth and marketing:

“Over 2015, we’ve seen the use of SMS for marketing purposes increase yet again. This is mainly down to the acceptance and even expectation of consumers that their favourite brands will use SMS responsibly to send them relevant offers and promotional messages. As SMS marketing becomes commonplace it’s more important than ever that those businesses looking to get the edge over the competition pay close attention to the latest standards and best practice when it comes to building their campaigns. It’s not enough to simply be ‘doing it’ when it comes to SMS any more, you need to be doing it well to separate yourself from the competition. For this reason, it’s crucial that businesses looking to get involved in SMS marketing for the first time get up to speed as quickly as possible; the best way to do this is select an SMS provider who understands your needs and by extension the needs of your campaign and will offer free consultation on your campaigns without any account management fees and regardless of how much you spend.”

Surge in A2P use

In addition to marketing, another area the industry has seen grow is the application to person market (A2P). This is a catchall category for any SMS message sent to someone from an application. It could be an automated notice that your car insurance is due, or an appointment reminder for a repairman.

According to Transparency Market Research, the A2P SMS market will be worth over £45B in just five years. That’s an amazing number considering how popular SMS messaging already is. Richard Burt, fastsms Technical Director, shared these thoughts on the A2P market:

“As predicted 2015 has seen the continued rise of A2P (Application To Person) messaging, with not only banks and major corporations making use of it but everybody, right down to the smallest of e-commerce websites. This is largely down to the fact that it works and is more accessible to developers and website managers than ever before. This trend is expected to continue next year, so we will continue to work on improving what we offer this sector with new API’s and SDK’s coming online all the time.”

More "cheap" SMS providers fail

Since SMS is such a lucrative industry, many people try and jump on the bandwagon. But it isn’t as easy as it seems. Our Operations Director Sandy Burt says it best:

“Like many years before it, 2015 has seen the rise and fall of many new text messaging providers offering “cheap” message prices, making it even more important to know who you’re trusting to send your messages. The truth is these days, by having a certain amount of web skills and hanging around in the right places, a simple send page or relay can be thrown together and connected to one of the many international messaging providers who offer very, very cheap prices and hey presto another text messaging provider is born (a bit like web designers 10 years ago).

The problem these new providers face is, they don’t have the experience to know what they’re selling doesn’t work. In fact a large proportion of the messages they send for you will never arrive with the receiving network and worst still, they’ll be sent false delivery receipts back from their provider. The next problem they face is that these international messaging providers appear and disappear just as quick as some UK text messaging providers and they are left with no way of even attempting to send their customers’ messages. Finally, because they are new, they don’t have the knowledge and experience to maintain their systems and to support and develop their customers, after all we all know price isn’t everything.

As I’m sure you know, Fastsms is one of the longest established UK text messaging providers and has led the way on providing open honest pricing, at the best possible rates for the best quality service. We’ve been around for long enough to have experienced many of the industry challenges and learn from them. We’ve also been around long enough to learn what’s important to our customers and funnily enough, price isn’t at the top of the list. It’s service and support availability, it’s new features and support to help them get more out of their text messaging usage and to know who will be there for them when they need it.

So as we move into the New Year, we’ll continue to develop the infrastructure and routing that gives our users the robust, feature rich system that puts them in a position to access the service however suits them best and utilise text messaging as the powerful tool that it is for their businesses; we’ll also be launching new products and billing options to let customers access even more. We’ll soon be developing our Operations Team further to give even more availability for help and support when our users need it and advise on how they can get even more out of our service and text messaging in general.”

Spammers take note

2015 was one of the worst years when it came to SMS spam complaints. In October, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issued a £200,000 fine to Help Direct UK for repeated violations of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003. In November, another firm was fined £80,000. In addition to the fines, the ICO is pursuing possible criminal action against Help Direct because of the nature of the violations.

The ICO is taking a hard stance against SMS spammers, so be warned as we go into 2016. If you have questions on whether or not your plans adhere to the proper guidelines we’d be happy to help you find the answers.

Overall there were some changes in direction for SMS messaging over the last year, but if anything they’ll only serve to help the industry grow. What will 2016 bring? I’m excited to find out!

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