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Icon overflow? Cut Through With The SMS Advantage

When it comes to communicating with organisations, consumers want a simple, convenient, fast and safe solution—one that doesn’t require them to download and keep track of one more app.

Regular readers of my musings will know I’m pretty mobile-obsessed, trying to interact via my mobile whenever possible.

Which means my trusty mobile is often suffering from icon overload. Not only is space (storage) always at a premium, but I also lose track of which apps I have. I tried to simplify by organising into folders, but this has only made things worse. Too often, I open a long-neglected folder to find a matrix of apps with red notification badges indicating all of my missed messages.

I wanted simplicity, but in fact I have ever-increasing complexity. That’s why my heart still sings when I see the chance to use SMS for an interaction. No additional apps, and I know I’ll see the message in time.

London busses are a perfect example—and more importantly, now let me know if I’ve just missed the bus. The bigger stops in the centre of London have display boards, but the smaller stops or ones out of town typically don’t. So you could go hunting for an app, and hope it has a reliable feed from the TFL or you can simply text.


Each stop has a unique number, so you just need to text this to a shortcode, and immediately you get up-to-the-second timings of the next buses serving that stop. It’s simple, easy and I love it that I don’t need yet another app for the odd occasion I ride the bus.

Apparently, I’m not the only one that feels this way about SMS.

Many brands and enterprises are now using mobile as a consumer engagement channel. Given my intro, the way we consumers are reacting may not surprise you.

SAP Mobile Services, a division of SAP (disclosure: my employer) has commissioned Loudhouse Research to research and report on how consumers are responding to this new approach to engagement. Loudhouse conducted interviews with 2,700 adult (age 18+) smartphone owners across 12 countries.

The survey looked at how at how consumers responded to mobile engagement and which mobile technologies were seen to be most effective across the three stages of customer engagement:

  1. Acquisition: gaining new customers
  2. Activation and engagement: encouraging use of the service
  3. Assurance: providing/increasing security of the service

Some of key findings of the research are:

  • Consumers are experiencing icon-overload with three-quarters (74%) saying that they should uninstall a number of apps that they don’t use, and 68% saying that they have more apps on their smartphone than they need.
  • Consumers are looking for simplification in managing their conversations: Seven in ten (71%) say that it’s annoying to have different conversations in different apps instead of having all messages in one place
  • Four in five (81%) say that sometimes they just need a simple process like SMS rather than complicated and varied apps
  • SMS is the best way to engage: 70% say that SMS is a good way for a company to get their attention, and they want more SMS-based engagement, and 64% say that organizations should use SMS more than they currently do

Smartphones and mobile apps continue to change how brands and enterprises engage with consumers. Our survey has demonstrated the consumers have clear options on what and how they want to communicate. Organizations that take this into account can increase loyalty, customer experience and value.

You can download the survey here.