Short Message Service (SMS) is a text messaging service component of phone, web, or mobile communication systems, using standardized communications protocols that allow the exchange of short text messages between fixed line or mobile phone devices. SMS text messaging is the most widely used data application in the world, with 2.4 billion active users, or 74% of all mobile phone subscribers. The term SMS is used as a synonym for all types of short text messaging as well as the user activity itself in many parts of the world. SMS is also being used as a form of direct marketing known as SMS marketing. SMS as used on modern handsets was originated from radio telegraphy in radio memo pagers using standardized phone protocols and later defined as part of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) series of standards in 1985 as a means of sending messages of up to 160 characters, to and from GSM mobile handsets. Since then, support for the service has expanded to include other mobile technologies such as ANSI CDMA networks and Digital AMPS, as well as satellite and landline networks. Most SMS messages are mobile-to-mobile text messages though the standard supports other types of broadcast messaging as well.
The idea of adding text messaging to the services of mobile users was not frequent in many communities of mobile communication services at the beginning of the 1980s. The first action plan of the CEPT Group GSM, approved in December 1982, requested "The services and facilities offered in the public switched telephone networks and public data networks... should be available in the mobile system". This target includes the exchange of text messages either directly between mobile stations, or transmitted via Message Handling Systems widely in use since the beginning of the 1980s.
The SMS concept was developed in the Franco-German GSM cooperation in 1984 by Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert. The innovation in SMS is Short. The GSM is optimized for telephony, since this was identified as its main application. The key idea for SMS was to use this telephony-optimized system, and to transport messages on the signaling paths needed to control the telephony traffic during time periods when no signaling traffic existed. In this way, unused resources in the system could be used to transport messages at minimal cost. However, it was necessary to limit the length of the messages to 128 bytes (later improved to 140 bytes, or 160 seven-bit characters) so that the messages could fit into the existing signaling formats.
This concept allowed SMS to be implemented in every mobile station by updating its software. This concept was instrumental for the implementation of SMS in every mobile station ever produced and in every network from early days. Hence, a large base of SMS capable terminals and networks existed when the users began to utilize the SMS. A new network element required was a specialized short message service center, and enhancements were required to the radio capacity and network transport infrastructure to accommodate growing SMS traffic
The technical development of SMS was a multinational collaboration supporting the framework of standards bodies, and through these organizations the technology was made freely available to the whole world. This is described and supported by evidence in the following sections.
The first proposal which initiated the development of SMS was made by a contribution of Germany and France into the GSM group meeting in February 1985 in Oslo. This proposal was further elaborated in GSM subgroup WP1 Services (Chairman Martine Alvernhe, France Telecom) based on a contribution from Germany. There were also initial discussions in the subgroup WP3 network aspects chaired by Jan Audestad (Telenor). The result was approved by the main GSM group in a June '85 document which was distributed to industry. The input documents on SMS had been prepared by Friedhelm Hillebrand (Deutsche Telekom) with contributions from Bernard Ghillebaert (France Télécom).
SMS was considered in the main GSM group as a possible service for the new digital cellular system. In GSM document "Services and Facilities to be provided in the GSM System", both mobile-originated and mobile-terminated short messages appear on the table of GSM teleservices.
The discussions on the GSM services were concluded in the recommendation GSM 02.03 "TeleServices supported by a GSM PLMN". Here a rudimentary description of the three services was given:
Short message Mobile Terminated (SMS-MT) / Point-to-Point: the ability of a network to transmit a Short Message to a mobile phone. The message can be sent by phone or by a software application.
1. It's a direct, immediate channel:
SMS is one of the most immediate channels available; with a read rate of 97% within 15 minutes delivery, you can be reassured that your time critical messages will be read almost instantly. A significant 45% of SMS campaigns generate a successful ROI, reaching over 50% when combined with other popular channels such as email and social media.
2. You can use shortcodes to simplify response and build your database:
Have your customers make the first move by adding a shortcode or keyword to print collateral, advertisements and advertising boards as well as social media. This strategy means that customers soon become familiar with a brand’s code and keyword and are therefore more likely to interact and respond.
3. It can support and integrate with other channels:
It is important that all channels work well together within the marketing mix and SMS is no exception. SMS is a great standalone channel, however it also has the ability to enhance and support other marketing mediums, such as social media and email. As well as being great on its own, SMS can also function to enhance and support other popular mediums among consumers, such as social media and email. For example they can serve to remind customers to read an email sent by a brand hours or even days before. A simple follow up SMS asking “have you read our email?” can help increase email open rates by 20%–30%.
4. You can learn more about your customers:
SMS is a great channel to get feedback from your customers via surveys. Research shows that on average 31% of consumers will respond to a survey via SMS with the average response time for users being just over 5 minutes. Meaning you can get great results in a short period of time.
5. You can increase customer engagement:
Think of SMS as a way to enhance how your brand engages with your customers across the entire customer lifecycle. Businesses should remember to vary the type of content they send out - while customers may value updates and news on forthcoming developments within the brand, this information is best delivered via email where longer, more creative messaging is more appropriate.
6. Response data enables you to monitor, track and improve:
Tracking meaningful ROI, identifying customers engaging via text message and monitoring delivery rates are all possible through SMS revealing the realities to the misconception of SMS being an untrackable channel and bringing it more in line with what has been possible with email for years.