Bulk SMS – what does it mean and what is it useful for?

Agnieszka Wiącek

Bulk SMS is – as the name suggests – an SMS sent simultaneously to many recipients, for example to the entire customer base of a given company or to a selected part of it. Bulk SMS sending is one of the simplest and most effective methods of marketing and communication.

This solution is used in many industries – wherever there is a need to quickly convey a message to many people. Bulk SMS sending can therefore be used to communicate special offers and promotions (e.g. organized by stores), requests to evaluate a purchase or interaction with the company, as well as to provide all kinds of notifications and reminders – e.g. about expiring insurance policies, points obtained in a loyalty program or an upcoming doctor’s visit.

The range of applications of bulk SMS is therefore very wide, and this channel can be used in any industry – regardless of whether it is marketing activities or post-sale communication with customers. But why would someone choose this when they have so many other options for interacting with a customer? Well, bulk SMS – although it has been used for many years and involves limits on the length of the message – still has numerous advantages over other contact methods. Let’s check out what it has to offer!

Advantages of bulk SMS

Contrary to appearances, the advantages of bulk SMS are quite numerous and specific – let’s look at it from four points of view – effectiveness, technology, psychology and finance.

Bulk SMS: effectiveness

The effectiveness of bulk SMS sending is confirmed by data – research proves that SMS messages are opened by 98% of recipients, and emails – only by 20%. Therefore, almost all recipients read SMS messages. Reactions to texts are also faster and more frequent. According to statistics, as many as 36% of recipients react to the content of an SMS from a company, by clicking on the link or calling the number provided. What’s more, 90% of received text messages are read within the first three minutes of delivery – this is especially important if time is essential (for comparison, for email it is from 20% to 30%). It gets even more interesting when we look at conversion – 25% of recipients who read an SMS do convert (in the case of email, it’s 3–5% on average). So if you send bulk SMS messages with a special offer from your store, you have a much greater chance that recipients will take advantage of it.

Bulk SMS: technological considerations

The technology on which SMS is based is proven and stable because it has been with us for over 30 years and has not changed much since then – its main strength is simplicity. This is one of the important advantages of bulk SMS: they reach the recipient immediately, so they can be used to transmit messages in real time – which is useful, for example, when communicating promotions with a short duration or sending urgent notifications. According to our data obtained in the projects we implement, the effectiveness of SMS delivery is as much as 99.5%. Bulk SMS sending is also fast – with Apifonica you can send over 3,000 messages within a minute.

The advantage of bulk SMS is also the fact that it is extremely democratic. Almost everyone has a telephone, and not everyone still uses the internet. Perhaps some of your customers have older phone models – it doesn’t matter! SMS – unlike more sophisticated forms of communication – will be displayed correctly on every screen of every mobile phone model. This guarantees a wide reach and ensures that no customer will be missed.

It is also worth adding a few words about security. Bulk SMS messages reach the recipient’s phone directly, without stopping anywhere along the way, so they are not as susceptible to attacks by cybercriminals as other forms of communication. However, the recipient must be careful when interacting with this type of messages, in particular when replying or clicking on the links provided – this remark, however, applies to all forms of interaction between the brand and the consumer, including the online world.

Bulk SMS: psychological considerations

What determines the success of bulk SMS campaigns is primarily their psychological effect. People perceive this type of message as a more intimate and direct form of communication than, for example, email. A conversation with the company seems to be similar to a conversation with a friend who uses the same channel. People are more willing to engage in this form of communication.

Two further advantages are also important: personalization and conciseness. By personalizing the message – for example by adding the recipient’s name or demographic criterion – we make it even more personal and tailored. In turn, what seems to be a disadvantage – the limited number of characters and minimalistic graphic form – means that, paradoxically, the message must be more relevant and well-thought-out (and the fact that it is simple and short is the key to success).

Bulk SMS: financial considerations

After all we have said, sending SMS in bulk seems to be an effective way to engage recipients and inspire them to take action, but is it worth it? Email is a slightly cheaper option to reach people (although above a certain number of recipients it is also paid, so mass campaigns involve costs), but it is also much less effective. Compared to such forms of advertising as paid advertisements in social media, on a well-known portal, in the press or on television, bulk SMS sending is the cheapest form of advertising. Taking into account the mentioned response rate and expected conversion, we can honestly say that yes, it is worth it. For example, the cost of delivering one SMS as part of our solution starts from PLN 0.09, which includes not only shipping, but also advanced monitoring, reporting and campaign optimization, which we will tell you more about in a moment.

Use cases of bulk SMS

But first, let’s look at how activities based on bulk SMS can be used in practice. We have some examples from our own backyard.

One of the applications – which has been already mentioned – are notifications and reminders. We cooperated with a language school MyLingoTrip, for which we have created a system of SMS reminders about upcoming lessons. The school was struggling with the problem of forgetful students who did not come to classes – as many as 30–40% of lessons were lost this way. Emails did not work well enough in this case, so the school decided to implement SMS notifications, which quickly had a positive impact on the attendance rate. We have also implemented a similar system in a children’s school MyLingoKids, also with very good effect.

Another use of bulk SMS is activation of inactive customers. As part of cooperation with the betting organizer Mondobets, we sent text messages to customers, encouraging them to place new bets. Effect? More than every fourth recipient, or exactly 26%, clicked on the link in the message, and what’s more, the client knew who exactly did it and could then track the behavior of these users in his CRM system. We also conducted an activation campaign for Soft2Bet.

The previously mentioned possibility of using bulk SMS is also used while conducting marketing activities for consumers in the database. Our customer, a clothing seller, used this channel to send its recipients urgent promotions and the most attractive offers that had a limited duration – so they had to be received and read quickly, which was most likely in the case of bulk SMS sending. The pilot campaign allowed us to reach over 20,000 people within a few minutes, and 99.5% of the company’s customers received the messages. Effect? Increased sales of the company’s products.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that text messages provide security for financial transactions. Sirocco Pay used our solution to introduce two-step transaction verification. Bulk SMS can therefore be used not only for promotional and activation purposes, but also for purely functional ones.

Bulk SMS campaigns – summary

Bulk SMS is a classic channel for reaching customers, which is experiencing a renaissance (although it does not have to exclude the use of other contact methods or forms of marketing). It has many unique advantages – the most important ones are high effectiveness, personal character and technological simplicity – but also can be used in any industry and for various purposes, as the examples show.

But bulk SMS is not only about sending messages – it is usually bundled with an extensive offer covering the entire campaign management. At Apifonica, we have tools that allow us to – among other things – plan, track, monitor and report the effects of our activities in an advanced way, integrate the campaign with any CRM system and optimize the content of SMS messages so that they are as cost- and quality-effective as possible.

Find out what we can do for you as part of bulk SMS sending and whether SMS marketing campaigns would work in your business.

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