Offbeat uses for SMS to increase engagement

Offbeat ways businesses use SMS to increase engagement

At the absolute core of relationships (especially business relationships) lies trust and communication. Without these two components, the relationship is fleeting and can quickly fade. As SMS is one of the most intimate forms of digital communication today, it's no surprise that brands and organisations are utilising this medium to contact prospects and build relationships.

While SMS is a vital communication medium for individuals and businesses alike, it is also crucial for brands to stand out and draw their audience's attention.

160-character text messages are short, sharp and to-the-point. Yet, these days sending longer messages via concatenated SMS and MMS is a piece of cake.

  • Concatenated SMS is the process used to send SMS with over 160 characters by splitting the messages into 153-character segments. The segments are then reattached at the final destination to present the full message.
  • MMS, short for Multimedia Messaging Service, sends multimedia messages via similar protocols as SMS. The standard maximum size of MMS is generally 300kb, supporting the likes of audio, video, and photo files, and up to 1,600 characters for text messages.

Coupled with other channels, SMS easily complements established communication strategies.

Communication channels that can be enhanced with SMS:

  • Email
  • Phone calls
  • OTT messaging services (e.g. WhatsApp)
  • LiveChat and chatbots
  • Social media
  • Traditional media (e.g. advertisements)

Related: 5 Savvy and Innovative Uses for SMS

Communication is the fundamental purpose of SMS. And, not everyone communicates in the same way, let alone about the same topics. Ensure you make the most of any SMS gateway by providing a unique and offbeat SMS experience for your recipients.

Whether you are creating a targeted and personalised encounter or trying to 'wow' your customers with something outside the box—business SMS can do it all.

Check out the many ways SMS can increase engagement through novel approaches.

Musical performenace and theatre banner

2020 has seen the global pandemic halting many live events, music festivals, and theatre productions. Although these industries are struggling, technology has opened the door for audiences to experience live performances such as opera and theatre plays in real-time. With the help of robust SMS solutions, the show must go on!


Stuck indoors during the global pandemic with a craving for live theatre? Look no further.

This Sydney theatre company has turned live theatre on its head with their latest production. Q Theatre's Short Message Service "play" begins at 6pm every Friday, and you can enjoy it without leaving the comfort of your home.

Nick Atkins, director of new work at Sydney's Q Theatre, spoke of the intimacy that SMS brings.

"We went [for] the texting format because we wanted to capture that sense of 'live', which theatre does really well, and to feel a closeness with audiences because we were getting feedback that that's what they were missing."

Broadsheet characterises the production as "a five-week season of new Australian "plays" in the form of text messages, written by established and emerging playwrights."

How it works

All you need to do is register online. Throughout the season at 6pm each Friday, patrons receive an introductory text message with information on what to expect over the next hour.

Related: How technology and SMS saved live events in 2020


Since the inception of the "vibrate" option on phones, it has enthralled and annoyed many. Yet, a former Buddhist priest–turned-performance artist decided to utilise these vibrations to redefine opera. Banrei's Father's To I've To Father's is performed entirely through SMS messages.

How it works

Over two weeks, the performance included two daily SMS messages delivered directly to the audience. The opera's music is provided by the vibration of the patrons' phones, and the messages are a pastiche of narrative, images, video. As well as a poem composed of syllables selected from patrons' names to a form of ancient Chinese rhymed verse, according to VICE.

Performance Art

VR Urban's SMSlingshot is precisely what it sounds like—typing a text message and then using a physical slingshot to propel the SMS into the world.

Although the execution began as a complicated process, the group refined the concept into a light show and interactive performance art that travelled the world.

The creators described the experience as "a mixture of familiarity, intimacy and expressiveness."

"The act of occupying a part of the facade with your personal virtual message produced a lot of joy for most of the people. Also, the act of getting the device, typing a message, pulling and releasing the slingshot and watching the impact of the splash."

How it works

A phone-sized wooden keypad is integrated into the wooden SMSlingshot; an autonomous device equipped with an ultra-high frequency radio, hacked Arduino board, laser, and batteries. After the message is typed, the user can aim it at the projected media facade and send/shoot the message straight to the targeted point. It will then appear as a coloured splash with the message within. The text message is also automatically tweeted in real-time.

Related: Why Customer Experience (CX) is Vital to your Marketing Strategy in 2020

Gaming and Technology banner

Unfortunately, the unemployment rate has increased since COVID-19 restrictions, lockdowns, and border closures have come into play. The people who have lost jobs or been stood down have had an abundance of spare time, with online gaming becoming the norm for many.

Many people were into gaming and online events before the pandemic. Now given our current circumstances, they are the main options for killing time and keeping entertained. Considering the ever-increasing amount of gamers and online event attendees, SMS remains an ideal security measure to facilitate OTPs for 2FA.

SMS One-Time Passwords for COD

Call of Duty: Warzone introduced mandatory Two-Factor Authentication earlier this year due to the increase of cheating and hacking in the game. By enforcing 2FA via SMS OTP, it restricted users from creating multiple accounts.

Users that were caught cheating have always been removed and lost access to their accounts. However, before the introduction of 2FA, these gamers would create a new account and continue with their cheating ways.

VICE reported, "it also works as an anti-cheat feature, as it allows Infinity Ward to tie a cellphone number to known cheaters." (Infinity Ward is the game's developer).

Related: How hackers bypass 2FA security features and what you can do about it

Social Media and Marketing Channels

Enhance your communication strategy with SMS capabilities.

In the digital age, there is no need to put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to communication. With a plethora of marketing platforms that facilitate cross-channel communication, you can provide a vast array of contact options. Furthermore, utilising a CPaaS (Communication Platform as a Service) allows you to provide an omnichannel customer experience unique to individual users.

Omnichannel systems that implement multiple communication mediums provide a seamless experience that allows consumers to use their preferred platforms and move through the customer journey without a hitch. Create workflows with automated triggers to ensure you don't miss a beat and prospects aren't left waiting.

SMS can support and complement a range of different marketing strategies with:

  • Online text-in competitions
  • Increased contact databases
  • Exclusive content for loyal patrons
  • Updates to engage followers
  • Confirmation alerts
  • Reminders and follow-up messages
  • 'Thank you' texts

Related: Omnichannel contact centers are revolutionizing customer support

Analytics and Data Insights

Data and analytics might not sound exciting, but don't underestimate its value. By gathering insight from your SMS gateway and other communication platforms, you can understand how recipients engage with your business and identify trends.

Furthermore, SMS reporting allows you to track the success of specific campaigns and improve communications in future.

A real-life example of the benefits of analytics in healthcare

Azure AI, a Microsoft company, launched Text Analytics for Health enabling healthcare providers and researchers to generate robust insights from electronic medical records. By doing so, it not only cuts out hours of administrative work but also identifies trends and improvements.

"As a proof of concept, Microsoft used Text Analytics for Health and its Cognitive Search service to launch a COVID-19 search engine based on the Allen Institute of AI's COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19)," reported VentureBeat.

With Text Analytics for Health, healthcare providers are equipped with the power of data and analytics. Taking advantage of these insights allows them to speed up processes and potentially improve care.

Related: How to measure Customer Loyalty using SMS