The need to communicate with consumers on the go is increasing by the day, with more businesses than ever looking to market their products to prospective and existing customers by contacting them via mobile device. Retailers and restaurants were among the very first to utilise mobile advertising and champion the idea of reaching people via text message, but this has since spread across a range of sectors.

SMS marketing has gained high adoption in areas where timing is imperative and in situations where the customer relies on the company to provide guidance. Mobile communications are used to ensure that no matter where the customer is, no matter what they’re doing, they can still be reached.

It’s for this reason that many of the UK’s large banks and financial institutions are using SMS technology to improve their customer service and increase their number of account holders.

The platform is hugely popular in this sector, but how are banks getting the most out of what it can offer?

Balance inquiries on mobile phones

The most basic offering in this case is arguably the most important from the customer’s perspective. Checking a bank balance used to involve trudging down to the nearest branch and asking a representative to trawl through their records for the relevant account.

Customers can still go down the personal route, but advances in technology mean they also have the luxury of checking their balance by themselves, either online or by using an ATM. Banks will also offer an SMS service whereby the account balance is sent to the customer’s mobile phone on a weekly or monthly basis.

This is a handy service for anyone that either doesn’t have the time to check their balance, often forgets to do so or only uses their account for long-term savings (therefore requiring less tracking).

Overdraft alerts by text

From April 2011, a text message alert system for account holders on the verge of being overdrawn was agreed by the UK banking industry. All major high street banks now give their customers the chance to opt into a service which alerts them when they’re edging closer to the red, helping them avoid a hefty fine.

The institutions hoped these warnings would encourage customers to make better credit decisions and strengthen their protection where necessary. Banks use these gestures to look after their customers and prevent them from looking to house their money elsewhere.

Institutions should now be more inclined to promote the use of such services following the appointment of Mark Carney as Governor of the Bank of England. Part of his role will be to improve the image of British banking and encourage transparency within some of Britain’s largest institutions. With this in mind, warning customers that they’re about to encounter fines is a step in the right direction.

Product sales delivered through text marketing

Aside from driving customer retention and loyalty, banks can also use mobile marketing to get a few more people on board. Institutions can carry out mortgage or insurance campaigns through SMS, in which they offer contact details for a financial consultant as well as information displaying fluctuations in the market.

Once a new customer has signed up to a new policy or loan agreement, they can ask to remain opted-in so the bank is able to send them information regarding their product via text message.

Policy reminders to customers

Banks have found that when these products expire it’s wise to have a net in place to catch those about to make an exit. Text messages reminding the recipient that one of their insurance policies is about to tick over can enhance both customer satisfaction and sales.

The holder benefits by knowing that they won’t be covered from a set date, while this reminder gives the bank an opportunity to explain why they should sign up for another term. Again, the text can include contact information for someone that can explain what the bank is able to offer before they’ve even thought about shopping elsewhere. Being one of the most direct methods of communication, SMS helps banks get their message across before their competition can even enter the frame.

More contacts

Not some, but many account holders are opposed to their bank contacting them over the phone. These calls have the habit of coming at the worst possible time and very few get past the first minute for that exact reason.

Contact by text message on the other hand is a far less intrusive way of relaying the same information. Firstly, there’s no need for the recipient to respond to the message right away. That text can be saved in the inbox for weeks before the time comes to produce a reply. If the message is urgent, the bank can always send another reminder to request immediate action.

It’s not always about a lack of time; some people just prefer not to be put on the spot by what sounds like someone trying to sell them a product. They’re far more likely to make a calculated decision or deliver a clear response if they’ve been given the time to think about what’s been said. SMS, in this case, is the more convenient way for banks to reach their customers and boost their opt-in rates.