Could this 20 year old technology breathe new life into your mobile marketing?

Peter Tanham


Mobile Digital Boost

If someone asked you to think of the most powerful mobile marketing tool now available, you mightn’t immediately mention text messaging. But the results show that few tools are more effective than SMS at catching a customer’s attention.

It’s probably our habit of bringing our mobiles everywhere that makes the SMS such an effective marketing tool. When we receive a text message, we tend to open it, and if there is a link in the message pointing us to further information, we tend to click it. Research shows that 90% of all text messages are read within 3 minutes, and 25% of recipients will click through on a link in an SMS; those numbers compare extremely favourably with e-mail, where the open rates are around 30% at best and the click-through rates around 5%.

But apart from mobile operators, few companies have begun to market their services by SMS. That’s because, traditionally, the marketing text message was limited to just 160 characters. The rise of smartphones changes all that, because the marketing message can now include a link that lets the recipient click to find out more.

This trend, called “Smart SMS”, lets a business send messaging as rich as an email newsletter directly into a customer’s pocket.

As smartphone ownership continues to grow, expect to see more and more companies using SMS to market their services. Virtually any message you might choose to send your customers via e-mail or through a web-based advertising campaign can now be expressed in a text message, but it’s important to lay the groundwork.

Do start asking customers if they’d like to provide their mobile number so that you can stay in touch with information and offers. These contact details will be essential as you begin to make mobile a normal part of the way you communicate with customers. If you are an appointment-based business, for example, why not explore sending SMS reminders to customers?

SparkPage’s own experience in Ireland shows a potential 20% reduction in no-shows when customers are reminded by text – a real revenue gain for the business.

What about newer technologies like Near Field Communications or QR codes?

You’ve probably come across QR codes – block-shaped bar codes that are readable by some mobile phones and connect the phone directly to a website. Near field communications – also known as NFC – are another popular trend, allowing customers to sign up for loyalty programs or even pay for low-value transactions simply by passing their mobile over an NFC device.

But if your business is trying to decide where to focus its mobile marketing efforts, SMS far outstrips these other technologies: customers need to install special apps or buy certain phones for QR codes and NFC, which limits their potential impact.

SMS is the only app that 100% of your customers will have. (To tweet this, click

There’s never been a better time to look at how SMS could help you market your services – and if you’re keen to take advantage of this trend before your competitors do, the time to act is now.

How could your business improve its communications and marketing with customers using text messaging? Do you ask customers if they’d like to provide their mobile details?

Peter Tanham is the co-founder of SparkPage, a platform that helps marketers run better mobile marketing campaigns.

Keywords: mobile marketing, SMS, QR codes, NFC, near field communications, text messages, text messaging, bulk SMS, smartphones


Peter Tanham is a mobile marketing expert. He began his career in the telecoms industry, working in the marketing department for one of the world’s largest mobile phone carriers. He founded Amp Communications, a digital marketing agency in 2010, running successful online marketing campaigns for clients like The Corrs, Dublin Gospel Choir and Heathers.

Peter is the founder and CEO of SparkPage, a mobile relationship marketing company. SparkPage provides a suite of online tools to help businesses acquire and retain customers via smartphones. These tools make communicating with mobile customers through apps, SMS, social media and email much more effective.