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The History of Text Messaging

4 minute read - Posted by Daniel Wagstaff on Dec 24, 2018 6:00:00 AM

December is the month in which we celebrate the sending of the first text message, something which 26 years later has become such a significant part of our lives that we can’t even imagine a time when people were not able to be within a few seconds reach of each other, regardless of time zones or geography. On December 3rd 1992, Neil Paperworth typed the first text message on a PC. The text read “Merry Christmas,” and it was sent to Richard Jarvis at Vodafone. Since that first text, we have witnessed the development of text messages into a clean, simple, and reliable channel of communication. Today text message marketing plays an important role in the business to consumer relationship and is providing both with an excellent mean of communication.

The Early Stages of Text Messaging

Even though the first text message was sent 26 years ago, the concept of short message service (SMS) dates back 34 years ago to Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert in the Franco-German GSM cooperation, but it wasn’t until 1999 that people could exchange text messages throughout different networks. In addition, in 1999 short codes were invented, which made it easier for businesses to use text messages for interacting with consumers and provide a more personalized relationship than traditional marketing methods do. And even though text message marketing developed years later, 1999 served as a landmark for what was possible, and for the future of text message marketing in relation to the corporate environment.

Find Out How Albertsons Used Text Message Marketing To Increase Coupon  Redemptions

In the first years since it was introduced as a cross-network mean of communication, text message marketing has seen a rapid evolution such as becoming the first mean of communication that would deliver news services via mobile. Ten year before the word ‘text’ was introduced in the dictionary, this pioneering development that took place in Finland in 2000 drew the attention of companies and marketers towards what can be done with SMS technology.

By 2003, shows like American Idol were using a text-to-vote feature of text message marketing, an impressive 7.5 million American Idol text messages being sent, thus making it significantly easier for their viewers to interact with their program.

The Types of Text Messaging

One of the most recognizable methods of texting is called multi-tap, and even though we are no longer using it, as it was never as efficient as text messaging typing should be, it is still the most referred to. Multi-tap meant you would have to type a number on your phone multiple times, depending on the letter you wanted, as each number was connected to three or more letters of the alphabet.

Another method of text messaging was called T9, and it functioned in a more simple way than multi-tap, but it was still not as efficient as the one we are utilizing today. T9, which is short for ‘text on 9 keys’ would function on a predictive text technology, from a single keypress.

The QWERTY keyboard was first introduced in 1997 and remained the most useful method of text messaging until the introduction of the virtual keyboard, which is what we have today on your smartphones and tablets.

Text Message as Seen by Businesses and Consumers

If in the beginning, text messaging was envisioned as a mean of communication with family and friends but the more the technology advanced so did the various use cases for it from the corporate ecosystem to the non-profit sector, or the political environment. Throughout the years, text messaging has proven to be a trustworthy tool in the hands of people wanting to have simpler and easier way to communicate with their friends and family, but also in the hands of companies and marketers looking to provide their customers with unique experiences. Therefore, text messaging has evolved into a trustworthy digital marketing tool, adopted by both consumers and businesses, and improved as the technology sector created more and more solutions for it.

What Made Companies and Marketers Consider Text Message Marketing

The main attraction behind text messaging was the fact that it is a reliable and easy to implement solution. Whether we are talking about times when things like short codes didn’t even exist, or about today, when text message marketing is conducted via a plethora of modern features, text message marketing has always risen to meeting the challenge of offering a straightforward approach between consumers and businesses.

The benefits of using text message marketing:

  • It is a cost-effective marketing solution because even sending text messages to a large list costs significantly less than other less effective marketing solutions
  • It helps businesses become mobile-friendly and also not addicted to communications over the internet
  • Text messages can reach a wider demographic than traditional marketing methods, and even a wider demographic than social media marketing or email marketing
  • Text message marketing can be integrated with other forms or marketing such as proximity marketing
  • Text messages have a fast delivery rate, as most people have their mobile with them at all times, and text messages get delivered without the need for an internet connection
  • Text messages allows for customers to opt-in and opt-out, thus creating a more personalized and reliable relationship between customers and the brands they love
  • Text message marketing has reached an age in which it can be highly customizable and used for a wide variety of businesses and marketing campaigns
  • If implemented properly, text message marketing can satisfy the most intricate of marketing needs

Ever since their introduction, text messages have offered solutions to people and communities for being more connected, long before the appearance and popularity of the internet, which is why, even in our highly technology-driven times, when the internet and all its communication platform occupy such an important part of our lives, text messages are still the go-to communication solution for everyone, young or old. Looking back on the history of text messaging gives us a better understanding of why this mean of communication has earned its rightful place not only amongst communication channels for personal use, but also among digital marketing methods and methods of communicating in all professional environments.

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