What is Premium SMS?

Premium SMS allows a company to monetize its mobile content. It’s the wave of enterprise that is currently flooding the industry, and companies need to join in or get left behind. Ringtones are premium SMS. American Idol uses premium SMS. Every commercial displaying a truncated (usually five or six digit) call number is using premium SMS. Premium SMS is what your business needs to improve its profit margin.

“SMS” merely stands for Short Message Service. Typically, an SMS is only 160 characters (which includes all spaces, letters, numbers and punctuation used in the message) and often referred to as a “text.” For the last several years, people have become obsessed with SMS in a way that no one expected. BlackBerrys offer full keyboard capabilities, allowing users to constantly text and message as they are at the movies, meetings and even dinner with family and friends. Texting while driving has become so overwhelmingly popular (and potentially dangerous) that laws are being put in place to ban it. Most Americans, at any given moment, can be reached via text message. Companies and individuals have been using SMS to reach their customers for years; companies like Verizon send their customers bills and account updates via text, and banks like Bank of America can configure your account to receive text message account updates for balances, deposits, and general activity. Beyond that, one need only look at the rampant success of Barack Obama’s media campaign (including member text message updates, emails, Facebook and Twitter integration) to see how immensely powerful SMS can be when applied correctly.

Take that model and apply it to premium, monetized content. American Idol is certainly one of the shining examples of premium SMS success. For a small fee, users can text their choice to a predetermined number and then those results are polled and compiled so that the American Idol company can analyze the numbers for a winner. They not only cull a huge profit from this, but they also advertise their product and generate a huge audience participation response, leading them to consistently top the viewer ratings and be one of the most successful shows on TV, arguably not because of what they are showing but how they allow every event to be geared toward the user and the user’s experience. Getting your audience or customer base to respond to you via text message is an incredibly powerful tool.

Think of it like coffee. If your audience or customer base believes that you have something they need on a frequent basis and cannot live without, they will pay you for it. Americans today expect coffee to be offered to them in a super convenient format, and with the huge flood of phone-compatible services, they expect just about everything to be achieved, for a price, in a phone-compatible service. Your company can capitalize on this perception by offering your services and products in a phone compatible, premium SMS format so that it is ultra convenient. There are many options for utilizing this format; whether it is something that your customers can access instantly on their phone (like e-books, ring tones, music, etc) or something that they can purchase or access from their phone (like banking or eBay models), whatever you have, you can offer it to your customers in mobile content optimized packets.

Premium SMS can also be used to help you gather information on consumer responses to different questions (remember that American Idol is, after all, just a polling machine). You can use alerts to generate buzz about a new product, sale or event, you can use chat for customer support, you can even just update your clients and consumers about the latest news or information. Whatever your business needs to reach more people, premium SMS is a modern and powerful tool to accomplish it. Never underestimate the phone addiction of the American people – instead, monetize it with premium SMS.

Andy West is a writer on a variety of topics, including telecommunication. Make sure your SMS gateway provider offers you the chance to utilize premium SMS.

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