A report published today titled ‘The State of SMS’ reveals how educators are set to benefit from advances in mobile marketing as the number of active mobile phones in circulation tops 80m for the first time.  The sector is expected to see a 34% increase in students and parents opting to receive text messages from education providers by the end of 2020, presenting significant opportunities.


The White Paper, commissioned by Textlocal, one of the UK’s leading SMS platforms, illustrates how 37.2 million consumers have already opted to receive SMS and mobile communications from businesses.  Within the education sector already more than 12.5m students and parents have opted in to receive texts on key dates, relevant news or to confirm appointments with this figure expected to rise to 16.2m by 2020.


The opportunity is reinforced by figures from Ofcom which estimate that a staggering 93% of the UK’s population now own a mobile phone.  Despite these findings, only 50% of organisations surveyed are currently using SMS as part of their communication strategies, however that is expected to grow to 92% by 2018.


Organisations texting their customers directly is steadily increasing and becoming more mainstream, with some of the most common reasons being; delivery updates (67%), order confirmations (64%) and personalised vouchers or offers (49%). This trend is expected to grow in the education sector.


Jason Palgrave-Jones, managing director of Textlocal, comments: “Mobiles have transformed the way we work, rest and play and are now set to change the way we interact with each other.  It’s clear from the report that there are significant opportunities available for education establishments to make the most of mobile technologies as their audiences are increasingly opting to hear more from them.”


The opportunity is highlighted by the fact that 98% of branded or business-related texts are opened by mobile users, with 90% being read within 3 minutes of receiving them. The report goes on to highlight that 23.5m people will respond to a business text message in 2017, with the most popular uses including marketing offers or confirmation of delivery schedules.  In total, more than 7bn texts will be sent this year alone.


A broader look at the SMS opt-in audience reveals that consumers are aware of the opt-in process and that businesses can only communicate with them with their permission.  More than 40% of users are only opting to hear from their six favoured brands, with only 4% sharing their details with more than 10 businesses.  Just over a third (37%) were not aware of how many businesses they had opted to receive SMS notifications from.


The report concludes to show the effectiveness of SMS compared to mobile advertising and social media platforms in terms of performance, with SMS achieving better responses whether targeting a recipient to download an app, purchase goods online or even encourage them into a store to make a purchase.  In addition, the results highlight that only 10% wanted to use Facebook as a tool for interacting with businesses.