Life within a pandemic is challenging for most and devastating for many. While the full health and social consequences of COVID-19 have yet to be completely understood, one thing is for sure. Lockdowns across the globe have been nothing short of catastrophic for businesses, with the pandemic costing Britain an estimated £2.4 billion a day, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research.
With some high profile casualties already announced and other big names said to be on the brink of collapse, how can brands take steps to safeguard their positions, maintain customer contact and preserve their customer base until restrictions are finally relaxed?
Of course, there are some business functions that cannot be delivered remotely, but there is no reason why communications cannot continue, albeit using the right messages and channels to suit the current climate. Given consumers’ attachment to their mobile phones – more than 90 per cent of SMS messages are opened within three minutes – SMS messaging can connect in a way that is quick, personal and direct.
In the current coronavirus crisis, it was the British government that led the way with the use of bulk SMS messaging to alert people across the UK about the latest measures. Made possible with the co-operation of mobile phone operators, the message simply advised recipients of the new rules in force, highlighting the need to stay at home and giving a link to the gov.uk website with the campaign strapline – Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.
The NHS is also using text messaging for people with symptoms of Covid-19. The messaging service, which launched on March 28, sends daily texts to new patients who register their symptoms and contact details with the 111 service. Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This new daily text service will reassure our most vulnerable that they are not alone, and also help them manage their symptoms.”
In the US, where the Census Bureau is in the midst of 2020 census operations, Covid-19 is limiting the ability to connect face-to-face. As a result, community leaders and volunteers are being encouraged to use ‘all non in-person means necessary’ to raise awareness of the country-wide count, including text messages to prompt households to respond online.
Closer to home, brands across a range of sectors have been proactive with their use of bulk SMS messaging, made simple by application programming interfaces (APIs). SMS APIs, enabling short messages to be sent via an SMS gateway, are seen as a cost-effective way of communicating a range of messages to large groups of customers.
The future of SMS messaging
While brand messages have shifted from SMS advertising, marketing and promotion to health, clearly there is significant reliance on SMS as a channel in times of emergencies.
- Supermarkets have used business SMS to reassure customers about steps they have taken to prioritise the safety of shoppers in stores and through their online delivery services.
- Pizza Hut has contacted customers by text message to promote contact free deliveries that ‘keep everyone healthy’.
- Virgin Media used SMS messaging to advise customers of the closure of its call centres while appealing for only urgent calls in order to prioritise vulnerable customers.
Savvy brands recognise that SMS adds a valued dimension to the communications mix, due to its reliability and coverage. While broadband networks feel the strain of home-based workers, remote learners and entertainment junkies adding traffic, major mobile networks provide coverage of 97-99 per cent of the UK population (uswitch.com).
In its study of global mobile consumer trends, Deliotte found that 88 per cent of UK adults own a smartphone and 95 per cent of smartphones are used every day. The finance giant credits the smartphone as increasingly becoming ‘the key to how we connect with our friends and family, our home, our personal wellbeing and even our entertainment.’
Unsurprising then that brands recognise it is also the key to businesses staying connected with their customers, particularly during these challenging times.
MessageCloud is a multi-award-winning mobile messaging provider. Its cloud-based SMS and messaging products enable companies to set up and manage one-way and two-way communications effortlessly. Plus, it offers products to analyse phone numbers, verify users and accept payments by mobile.
With its ‘Send’ product, MessageCloud delivers bulk SMS marketing that is fast, simple and filled with valuable features. And with more than a decade of delivering messages for diverse markets around the globe, it is a service on which you can rely.