Apps are great, but remember that text has its place

Mobile has completely transformed the way we communicate in recent years, and there isn’t a single industry that hasn’t felt its effect in some way.

In 2015, some 66 per cent of adults and a staggering 90 per cent of 16-24 year olds in the UK owned a mobile phone, and businesses are scrambling to utilise this to improve their services, get a leg up on their competitors and ultimately win customers, and the gaming industry is no different.

As mobile technology improves at a near-daily rate and more businesses jump into the ring to take advantage of this technology, consumers are constantly exposed to new and innovative ways of connecting quickly, directly and conveniently with the companies they follow. Yet, despite the plethora of customer engagement options available to businesses today, it is important to remember that there still times when text is best.

One of the first and most groundbreaking features of the mobile phone, SMS, truly revolutionised the way we communicate. Still a cornerstone feature of every mobile on the market today, the use of the text message for social purposes has diminished in recent years in favour of alternatives such as Whatsapp and the built-in instant messenger services on many of today’s social media offerings. Businesses are also searching for new ways to connect with their customers, increasingly opting to communicate with customers via bespoke mobile apps instead.

And as a mobile specialist and an app developer, I can certainly see the appeal of these alternatives. Businesses that create an app with which to engage their customers can make it unique in its design and operation, and can integrate innovative features that simply aren’t possible with a text. However, if used cleverly, SMS performs just as well, if not better, in certain situations than app alternatives, and there are many businesses who do still recognise this.

A recent report valued the application to person (A2P) SMS market at $55 billion, and predicted this to reach $70 billion by 2020. To give an example of how business can take advantage of SMS in today’s mobile climate, at Pocket App we created an app that allows users to donate via mobile to the Poppy Appeal campaign, however iOS doesn’t allow charitable donations to be made via an app. We therefore worked with our partner Veoo, a developer of mobile engagement, SMS and cloud solutions, to create an app that enables the user to make a donation via SMS.

Read on for a few of our top examples of how the gaming industry in particular could benefit from the use of SMS.

Secure Payments

As we’re talking about gaming, a particularly appealing feature of SMS is the use of a text message to authorise online casino payments to place a bet. This is also applicable to various other markets that encourage a spontaneous and convenient mobile payment for a service or product, the process of premium billing allows users to authorise a payment via text message to be charged to your mobile phone bill.

The majority of online casinos direct players to register their phone number online and will then receive a text asking to confirm their deposit. If the player does nothing, the text will expire and the user will have to register again. With no need to enter card details online, SMS can prove a straightforward and secure way to pay for online gaming.

Two Factor-Authentication

The security of our digital identities is increasingly becoming as fragile as it is important to guarantee, with online hackers seemingly making daily attempts to obtain the private and financial details of customers of numerous high profile organisations. Sony in particular seems to be locked in a constant battle with hackers attempting to infiltrate the PlayStation Network and online casinos must of course take measures to ensure that their customers’ financial details aren’t at risk.

SMS can achieve this security through two-factor authentication, the theory behind which is that an identity is confirmed through the combination of two items or qualities that only an individual possesses, such as a debit card and a pin number. This can be applied to SMS by sending a unique code or reference number to a confirmation link to the personal phone number of the intended recipient, and is a great method for gaming companies to securely verify their customers’ identity.

Your CRM activity at its’ best

There’s something very personal about being contacted directly on your mobile that doesn’t come across in quite the same way on a laptop. Most of us spend entire days without ever letting our mobiles stray out of reach, using them to socialise, entertain ourselves and manage our time. The average text message response time is just 90 seconds, in comparison with 90 minutes on average to respond to emails, and from a business perspective, SMS marketing campaigns see a 20 per cent higher click through rate (CTR) than their email counterparts. An impressive demonstration of how companies can leverage SMS to build not only a highly efficient, but also a personal relationship with their customers.

With a social activity such as gaming, engaging directly on this personal level is particularly important. Customers don’t want to spend their precious free time scrolling through emails to look for important updates, or to have an overly formal relationship with providers of their entertainment activities, and gaming companies can achieve a personal and convenient relationship via the instant connectivity that SMS allows. Sony could alert customers to new software updates that are available to download on their console, or online marketplace sites such as online games marketplace Steam might text regular customers to let them know about a “limited time only” sale.

To round off, it’s not uncommon to see mobile users today neglect the text message in favour of a modern and shiny app, and you won’t catch me denying that apps are the future of mobile. But does SMS still have its uses? Absolutely it does.

For the purposes of mobile payments, mobile marketing and delivering instant alerts, SMS remains convenient, secure and useful.

Paul Swaddle, CEO, Pocket App

Image source: Shutterstock/ArchMan