History of SMS
1837 – 1844 – The first device that could electronically send text-based messages from one person to another was made in 1837, the electric telegraph. This was followed by the first telegraph by Samuel Morse (who invented the Morse Code) and by 1844, he had finalised the first long-distance telegraph system between Baltimore and Washington that can send messages over 44 miles. The first message sent using the system was “WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT.”
1933 – since the distance that messages could be sent using a telegraph was not that far, a German Reichspost invented a device similar but more advanced than the telegraph which is the “telex.”
1971 – This year paved the way for wireless networks, thanks to the University of Hawaii who used ALOHAnet to send ultra-high frequency (UHF) radio waves carrying text message data.
1984 – Now that long distance communication was established, Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert innovated the 1971 text messaging by integrating 167-bit characters that could fit onto existing signalling formats. The invention of texting was credited to Hillebrand and Ghillebaert since they were the one who came up with the SMS concept. Although there are others who coined Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen as the “Father of SMS” for his work at Nokia but he doesn’t consider himself the inventor of texting since his product was a collaborative effort by a large number of engineers.
1992 – 1993 – interestingly, in 1992 Neil Papworth created texting history when he sent the world’s first text to a cell phone to a friend who was near Vodafone headquarters in Newbury, England sending a heartwarming message that simply read “Merry Christmas”. One year later, an engineer for Irish wireless company Aldiscon, Brenann Hayden sent the first commercial text message. The message was “burp,” which had nothing to do with gastroenterology, but signified the “birth” of a new form of communication in the history of texting. This was supported by Nokia by 1993 as the first phone maker to support SMS messages or the Nokia 2110 mobile phone where cell phones began to evolve.
1995 – 1999 – these years were the mark of evolution of text messaging as Autocomplete became a key development for faster texting. T9, the first autocomplete technology made it a little easier to send text messages using a 10-digit keypad. Having said that, Nokia released their first QWERTY keyboard in 1997 on the 9000i Communicator. But the most remarkable year was 1999; text messaging goes global and introduction to cross-network text messaging.
2000-2010 – the beginning of 2000 SMS became a mainstream communication tool as message volumes reached an average of 35 texts per person per month in the U.S. By 2002, SMS became a global phenomenon where 250 billion messages were sent worldwide in a single year. Not long after that, text messaging continued to evolve in 2003 as text-to-vote was introduced in American Idol. Then Twitter became a famous network for 140-character limit SMS messaging inspired by Hillebrand. In 2007, texting became the most popular mobile data service worldwide and used by 2.4 billion out of 3.3 billion mobile phone users. This was also the same year when Apple released the first iPhone.
More interesting things happened during 2008 as bulk SMS was made during the United Way “text to donate” campaign, which was featured during Superbowl XLII.
By the time we reached 2010, the verb “texting” was added to the dictionary.
2013 – 2019 – Internet based applications introduce messaging services like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, iMessage, and Viber are among the many who challenged SMS messaging in terms of overall popularity and message volume. While mobile messaging apps are growing more popular, it does not kill the functionality of SMS messaging.
Currently, the use of SMS has been one key factor for businesses to reach out to stakeholders. SMS messages are utilised by businesses to collect feedback, send notifications, carry out security authorisations, confirm appointments, and much more. These functions are beneficial for businesses to strengthen their relationship to their people. In addition to that, it’s not just companies who are benefiting but public institutions as well.
Character limits in SMS
Even though text messaging is considered a great advancement in our society it still has limitations– character count. However short the SMS may be, it still has that sweet powerful impact for those who receive the message. It is understandable that people also prefer to read a quick yet potent message.
What is the maximum character count of a text message?
The number of characters that can fit in a standard text message is 160 characters. Although SMS messages can exceed the said character limit but it will appear as two separate messages.
Why a character limit of 160?
We want to maximise the use of everything as possible but why limit SMS messaging to 160 characters? Why not lift the limit? Well, there is a funny background story about that. Friedhelm Hillebrand, as mentioned earlier, was the one held accountable for the character limit of SMS messages. As the former chairman of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), he grabbed his typewriter and wrote out random thoughts and concluded that most of them were under 160 characters and was followed by the observation from various postcards where most of the written messages were under the 160 limit as well. Therefore, 160 became the character limit.
Is it possible to send texts longer than 160 characters?
Yes! As stated earlier, you can send messages over the character limit through extended messaging where you can send messages up to 306 characters. Of course, this all depends on what mobile carrier you use as some texts may break if exceeded in characters into two messages of up to 153 characters as they send.
Confused? For example, a message with 161 characters may be sent as two texts—one with 153 characters and a second with the remaining 8.
What is the maximum character count for an MMS message?
What counts as a character in a text message?
How would you know if the character will be counted? Well, any standard letter, symbol or space counts as a single character. But there is an exception, if you will be using emoji, it will be counted as two characters. Respectively, you should be wise enough to construct your message as these symbols would eat up your 160 characters all at once.
Since short messages are the advantage of SMS, using it to its maximum capacity is important to effectively get your message across. In business, there is bulk SMS marketing where businesses would send out a text message to their prospect customers or loyal clients to give updates about their organisation. Likewise, consumers can also have a decision to willfully subscribe to a business’ daily notifications.
How to opt in SMS
SMS opt-in is a website option that allows brands to perform ethical SMS marketing campaigns. This is done through asking site visitors to give out their phone numbers to receive exclusive offers or notifications.
We don’t want to receive unwanted messages so it is also necessary to have customers decide if they want to receive SMS from your business. Thus, SMS opt-in is essential. It is important that subscription forms are concise and explicitly explain why users should leave their phone numbers and what they would get in return for subscribing.
How to Use SMS Opt-in
- Create an SMS opt-in form where visitors can view and write down information.
- Provide the link to the Terms and Conditions even though you are not sure if they would read it, but it is still necessary to let people know.
- Set expectations for your subscribers by letting them know why you need their phone number.
- Give an incentive for those who subscribe since stating that they would receive notifications from your business is not enough to hook them in. Your business can give them something valuable in exchange to attract them like freebies or discounts on first purchase.
How to opt out SMS
There should always be a way out for everything and the universally recognised method of opting out from receiving marketing communications via SMS is for a consumer to send STOP to a message they received.
Regulations about SMS Marketing
Bulk SMS marketing is a good way to promote your business but it is always important to remind yourself that there are governing bodies that regulate any flow of business in our society. Here are some of the things you need to consider if you will kickstart an SMS marketing.
- Privacy and data protection– everyone has the right to refuse, and customers have the right not to receive unsolicited marketing communications via SMS. Phone numbers are considered private information so it is a must that they are well-informed of how their personal data is being processed by an organisation. Along with this is securing a consent to pass customer details on to another organisation.
Opt-in: Consent to marketing
Businesses must not send marketing texts to people without stating an specific, valid and prior explicit consent. Consent must be recorded and kept as proof of consent.
Opt-out: Removal of consent to marketing
Businesses must immediately stop sending marketing messages to any individuals who refused or opts out from receiving them. A STOP confirmation reply to a marketing message must be sent to the consumer to confirm the opt-out. This message should include the name of your company and the following words: “You have opted out. You will not receive additional messages”. Likewise, records of opt-out communications need to be stored as proof of consent.
- Message content– consumers should know what they are expecting. Of course, the content of marketing messages must be appropriate for the intended receiver and shall not offend, upset or harm and promote discrimination to any receiver of the text. In this regard, your business must comply with all applicable laws and industry standards that apply to marketing children since mobile phones are very accessible to children.
Can you receive SMS into your email?
Yes. We have gone a long way from the first mark of text messaging in the society that SMS to email messaging is also possible. This is the ability to receive SMS messages and have them forwarded to an email address. Of course, this amazing feature requires users to have a virtual mobile number (VMN).
Can you send SMS into your email?
Again, the answer is yes. SMS To Email plugin allows you to forward your incoming SMS messages to your email address. How cool is that right? If you have a phone with SMS or MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) then you can send a text to email. SMS is basic simple text messaging and MMS is the next level up that can include photos, video, or audio.
Fortunately, a challenger telco provider namely, ConXhub pioneered the SMS2email service who overcomes the limitations set in SMS. Their SMS2email allows you to receive a real SMS right into your email inbox which doesn’t require a new mobile phone thus, it gives you a better option of multiple people receiving the message at the same time. Conxhub makes it easier for businesses who want to integrate SMS marketing to another level since their features include the ability to gather all SMS into one email inbox as multiple users can send and receive real SMS messages from their mobile with inbound.
Best thing about ConXhub is their 98% Open Rate as they value how text messaging is one of the Best forms of contact. For that, they also offer their clients a send and receive SMS messaging while using as many alternative numbers that can appear locally to your target audiences. So if you are texting US customers, you can use a US mobile number. To UK customers, you can appear as a UK mobile number. We all know how appearing local to your target market grabs their attention very well. Is it pricey? No. Since ConXhub offers lowest cost line rental without compromising quality of service.