Most mobile phones come packed with a bag of different features from Internet access to lo-res photography and from calculators to music players. If you’re lucky and can get a connection, you might even be able to make phone calls too.
One of the most versatile functions in a mobile phone is text messaging. There’s a whole bunch of different things you can do with that both as a sender and a receiver…
1. Follow your bank details
One of the easiest is to receive updates from your bank. Lots of banks offer to send weekly account balances by SMS, letting you know that a check has cleared, that you’re stony broke or that someone’s swiped your identity and emptied out your account.
If you’re not the sort to check your account often, SMS bank messages can be a very useful thing.
2. Market products
One of the fastest growing uses for SMS messaging is for advertising. Companies like TextCastLive let businesses sign up subscribers and shoot out text messages to customers. The key is to keep the messages personal and include offers. The best conversions — and they can be as high as 70 percent for some industries — use SMS to make customers feel that they’re valued members of a community.
3. Send SMS autoresponders
Autoresponders are standard tools for email marketers. They let entrepreneurs drip out a series of automatic messages that provide solid information either leading to a sale or increased loyalty. Some SMS broadcasters let users schedule their messages in the same way.
You’ll have to keep the messages short — usually, you’ll only have 160 characters — but a little bit of automated news can go a long way.
4. Run teaser marketing campaigns
Not all commercial SMS messages need to contain offers or news though. It’s possible to use an SMS autoresponder to send out a series of teasers leading to the final revelation. You’d need to be careful not to annoy people but curious messages could be a good way of building interest in a new release.
5. Promote a website
The iPhone has made surfing the Web on a mobile a fun experience. But that also means that SMS messages are going to be arriving on the same device that people can use to check a website. That’s a huge opportunity for online marketers. Put a new product on your site, a new blog post — or new affiliate link — and you can bring people to see it right away.
6. Win an eBay auction
eBay offers text alerts, letting you know when you’re outbid at an auction or when an auction is about to end. You can even increase your bid by replying.
That could get a bit annoying in the closing stages of an auction but it’s still a neat way to stay in the running when you’re out and about.
7. Get a voice message alert
One of the most common uses of SMS messaging is to tell people that they have a voice message waiting for them. So they’re getting a message telling them that they have a message. People do this, really!
And if that voice message is telling them that someone slipped a note under their door, you might start to wonder what the phone part of the phone is for.
8. Get fax alerts
It’s not just voice messages that SMS messages can alert people to. They can also let you know you’ve got a fax. Unless your mobile phone comes with a printer, you won’t actually be able to receive the fax but it might save a few fruitless trips to the fax machine to check.
9. Pick up travel news
Even the Automobile Association is getting in on the act with a neat service that lets travelers enter their route and their mobile number. When they hit gridlock outside Palo Alto, the AA will send them an SMS message letting them know.
At least they’ll have plenty of time to read it.
10. Read the news
Lots of news services send out updates by SMS, letting you pick the topic you want to hear about it. Unless that’s your favorite team — or your business — you’d probably have to be quite a news junkie to sign up for a service like this.
There are quite a few people like that though.
11. Track stocks
One piece of news you might want to know about as it happens though is financial news. With the stock market going up and down faster than YouTube in Pakistan, it might just pay to know what your stocks are doing for the next five minutes.
12. Learn about system errors
This is actually one of the most popular uses for SMS — which says something about the sort of people who use it. Network engineers can make sure that they get a text when a server goes down. Reassuring for the rest of us, but no doubt a huge pain for engineers who are now never off-duty.
13. Get a job on your phone
Also popular among SMS users is job searching. TextMeAJob.com is just one company that lets jobseekers learn about new jobs right away. It’s not clear how many jobs they have nor is it clear how you’d text back a resume in 160 characters or less but if you can drop what you’re doing to head back to your computer, getting job leads on your phone could be useful.
14. Find anything you want with Google
Yes, Google doesn’t only have a mobile software platform. It also has SMS searching. Just text your keywords and you can find out where to get pizza, products and even driving directions.
It must be the lava lamps that makes them so clever.
15. Schedule reminders
In fact, they’re so clever, they even let you receive your Google Calendar notifications by SMS. So there really is no excuse for forgetting birthdays…
And we had to mention Twitter. It sounded like a terrible idea when it started but it’s become one of those things that’s totally addictive and a neat way to stay in touch. Really, what could be better than very brief conversation snippets for the attention-deficit generation?
17. Find friends
Could Dodgeball be the new Twitter? This is an interesting idea that lets you know when mobile-brandishing friends are within ten blocks of you, among other neat tricks. Could be fun… and it could be downright scary.
18. Arrange meetings
Yes, it’s obvious but it’s still useful for all that. Once Dodgeball has let you know that a friend is one Starbucks over, you can send them a message telling them that the frappucinnos are better in your branch. You could then meet and talk instead of wearing your thumbs out.
19. Avoid meetings
Or even better, you could send someone a text message saying that you’re in the middle of something very important, can’t possibly be disturbed but here’s the update they wanted. When the alternative is to call, texting can be a lifesaver.
20. Receive bills
Australian green energy company Jackgreen is so keen to save paper that it sends its bills by SMS, a process that’s apparently 75 percent cheaper than mail. That might be because receivers could be paying for the bill as well as the bill itself.
21. Get alarms
AlarmWatch can send out text messages to a series of numbers in response to all sorts of emergencies such as power failures, overflowing tank levels and remote alarms. You can then text someone who knows what to do.
[tags] sms, sms tools [/tags]