Top Four Ways Companies Are Increasing User Engagement Through SMS

Published January 15, 2015 by James Winter

Push notifications. Emails. SMS API. There’s no shortage of channels to communicate with your users. But how do you know which one to use? Each of them have their inherent differences, both good and bad. Email is cheap, but with read rates of below 20% it isn’t a good option for delivering critical information. Push notifications are great for delivering important contextual information, but require an app to be downloaded. And while SMS is a very reliable way to deliver information, it has a higher cost per message sent.

It’s this extreme reliability that wins out in today’s business-critical communications. More companies have been turning to SMS APIs for things like notifications, marketing, one-time use security passcodes (for two-factor authentication), and two-way communication in order to provide real-time communications.

So what are the top four ways popular apps are using SMS to deliver critical information to acquire and retain more users?

Two-Factor Authentication

As our online identities become more tied to our daily lives, they also become more valuable to those who would wish to use them maliciously. The number of recently compromised websites is a who’s who of the web’s largest properties: Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, etc. What do these sites have in common? The hacked accounts did not have two-factor authentication enabled. The recent private photo leak of several famous Hollywood actresses was due, in part, to the lack of 2FA on Apple’s iCloud service. While they have since added 2FA in response, the damage had already been done.

Nexmo-Phone-UberNotifications & Alerts

Apps like Uber and Airbnb rely on sending their users important contextual information through the bulk SMS service at a very specific moment in time. For users, there is nothing more frustrating than lacking the information they need, when they need it most. This could even lead to loss of users.

For example, Uber uses SMS to ensure that riders know when a driver has been dispatched, when a car has arrived at their location, and after the ride ends that the service has been terminated. It also requests the user to provide a driver review. Keeping users informed has become paramount to user experience.

Two-Way Communication

The hospitality and transportation worlds have been revolutionized by two-way communications. Both Airbnb and Uber use virtual numbers for their bulk SMS and Voice services to allow either the renter and rentee, or driver and passenger, to communicate through a comfortable, native interface that also protects identities.

For example, with Airbnb, the renter and rentee are both assigned a virtual number and can respond to each other while keeping private phone numbers out of the picture and eliminating international fees.Nexmo-AirBNB-Graphic

Social Invites

Nexmo-Phone-InviteWith the explosive growth of smartphone usage over the last few years, many app developers face the same issue: how to grow their user base. Apps thrive or die based on their number of users and they are constantly looking for innovative ways to boost their profile–both domestically and internationally.

App makers have found that one of most effective ways to increase downloads is allowing current users to send an SMS containing an app download link to other contacts. Some companies have found that users acquired through these SMS social invites cost only 10% of what they would through traditional advertising channels.

The more engaged your users are, the more likely they are to remain with your service. And in today’s ultra-connected world, SMS is providing the constant communication required by engaged users.