Ever since that very first text message was sent in 1992, SMS has remained one of the most popular ways to get in contact with someone. Email and instant messaging services have tried to take its crown, but the simplicity of SMS means it’s one of the easiest and least intrusive forms of communication.

It’s for these exact reasons why businesses love using SMS to keep in touch with their customers. However, it wasn’t always this way – when mobile first became a viable marketing platform, some businesses just weren’t that into it. They didn’t see the value. Now, these fears have been resolutely allayed.

So what changed to alter businesses’ perception of SMS marketing? We take a closer look.

Customers prefer texts

Phone calls started to lose their appeal almost as soon as text messaging became popular. Texts are an instant way to tell someone something, without interrupting whatever they’re doing. Nobody likes having to step away from the dinner table to answer a phone call, especially if it’s not about something important. Our attitude towards phone calls has changed over the years – calls used to be expensive, so people only made them if they had something to say. Now, us Brits feel like our phone lines are clogged up; if it’s not someone trying to change our gas or electric supplier it’s cold calls from PPI companies. The situation is so bad, that three-fifths of us don’t want to answer the phone at all because of nuisance calls.

Whilst some companies are still sending out spam text messages, the problem is not as nearly as widespread as it may seem, because marketers legally have to receive the person’s permission before signing them up to a mailing list. To avoid cold calls, you have to opt out, and even then some consumers still get contacted by companies they don’t know.

No company that cares about its customers is going to want to be associated with cold calling, so many have opted to keep in contact via text. That way, consumers aren’t interrupted or made to feel like they’re being pressured into buying something; they can respond in their own time.

Even the cool new kid on the block, email marketing, hasn’t been able to win consumers over in the way SMS marketing has. According to a report from SAP, 76 per cent of people said they were more likely to read a message sooner if it was sent via text as opposed to email.

A plethora of instant messaging apps have also attempted to knock text marketing off the top spot, but not one has access to as many consumers as SMS. Even if you own the most basic phone, you can receive text messages. Apps are a different story; you need a smartphone to download and use them. Older consumers are the least likely to own a smartphone, which means charities, doctor’s surgeries and any others that target older people would be foolish not to use SMS.

Those who do use instant messaging apps tend to use just one – that which their friends use. Therefore whichever app you use, you’re going to have a much smaller reachable audience than you have with SMS. Furthermore, your customers have to be connected to the internet to receive an instant message, so they may not get it as instantly as you’d first hoped.

SMS is diverse

One of the best things about SMS marketing is that its uses are so diverse. Whatever type of business your company is, it can benefit from SMS marketing in one way or another. Here are just some of the ways businesses are using text messages:

Attract donations

Appointment reminders

Delivery notifications

Coupons/discount codes

Competitions

Customer surveys

This is another reason why a wide range of businesses have adopted SMS – it’s not just a useful tool for retailers or ecommerce companies, it’s great for hospitals, dentist surgeries, restaurants, coffee shops, travel agents and charities, among countless others.

Consumers crave mobile

Consumers don’t want to be hounded by companies, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want any contact whatsoever. Far from it, in fact; 64 per cent actually believe businesses should converse with them more over SMS, according to SAP. This is because the text messages they receive from businesses have a purpose, rather than just trying to sell them something. Even if you are attempting to make a sale, not many people are going to turn their nose up at a discount code.

A fifth of mobile phone owners check their device every ten minutes – or even more often – and 68 per cent look at their phone at least every hour. After all this time, we still love receiving text messages, whether they’re from a loved one or a pizza company – some may say an equally loved one! This is great news for business, as it means their marketing messages are read almost straight away.

In contrast, consumers can easily receive more than 100 emails a week – many receive that in just a day. That’s a lot to shift through, even for those who check their emails daily. Not everyone gets a notification on their phone every time they’re sent a new email either, so they aren’t going to be read as quickly as a text. If it’s a reminder or coupon that expires soon, SMS is the only way to contact your customer.

After 23 years, there’s still a lot of love for the humble text message. Younger, sexier models have tried to take its place, but nobody does it better than SMS. It’s not intrusive or impersonal like a cold call, it’s more accessible than instant messaging, and it’s quicker than an email. What’s not to love?