Why SMS is the most powerful communication channel in Africa

Why SMS marketing in Africa works

Every day, more than 23 billion SMSes are sent worldwide. From appointment reminders to transaction notifications, SMS marketing is the go-to channel for need-to-know information. In an African context, this trend is even more pronounced, with factors such as mobile phone penetration and internet access playing a role in consumers’ preferred communication channels. 

While channels such as Google Business Messages and WhatsApp enable brands to chat with customers and provide rich content, “SMS still remains the core channel to any brand’s omnichannel approach”, according to Infobip’s 2023 Messaging Trends Report. There are several reasons for this:

  • SMS open rates are among the highest of all channels at about 90%. Compare that to email, where businesses who get it right achieve open rates of between 30% and 50%. 
  • SMS is simple to plan, implement and monitor. With Gikko’s reporting, you can easily build out an SMS campaign, schedule a start date, and monitor activity over time. 
  • SMS is a cost-effective way to deliver messages in bulk.

What other factors contribute to the success of SMS as a communication channel in Africa? 

  • High Mobile Phone Penetration: Africa boasts the world’s fastest-growing mobile market, with a significant portion of the population owning a basic feature phone. Many of these phones can’t receive WhatsApp messages or browse the internet, but they can send and receive SMS.
  • Limited Internet Access: While on the rise, internet connectivity in Africa remains lower compared to developed regions. This makes SMS a more reliable way to reach a broad audience.
  • Direct and Immediate Communication: SMS delivers messages directly to a user’s phone, promoting a sense of urgency and immediacy. Many phones also display push notifications and alerts to prompt the user to take action.

As mobile messaging experts, Gikko sees a wide variety of use cases for SMS marketing. In many cases, SMS is one channel in an omnichannel mix, with SMS plus email being the most prevalent, and SMS plus WhatsApp in second place. Here are some of the applications for SMS:

  • Authentication. Verify account access using two-factor authentication via SMS.
  • Transaction notifications. Used in banking, insurance and other finance applications, transaction notifications alert users to transactions on their account. 
  • Rewards. Users receive notifications when they receive loyalty points or rewards.
  • Delivery notifications. Users receive notifications when their parcel is out for delivery.
  • Appointment reminders. Users receive reminders at set intervals before their appointments.

These are just some of the most popular use cases, and they all provide some value to users, instead of just bombarding them with information or promotions they don’t need. At Gikko, we work closely with our clients to develop intelligent, customer-focused communication campaigns. With SMS as one of our core service offerings, we are well-equipped to enhance your company’s customer communications.

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