According to new research from Zipwhip, a cloud software platform for two-way business texting, consumers and small business owners alike not only find value in text messaging, but want to engage in the mutually beneficial practice more frequently, with 56 percent of consumers and 53 percent of small business owners expressing a desire to text with each other more often.

The insights come from the org’s latest survey, The State of Two-Way Business Texting 2018, which polled over 500 consumers and 250 small business owners, looked to gain deeper insights on attitudes and practices related to two-way texting. Top-level findings revealed

Today, texting is a ubiquitous form of communication: the majority of Americans (95 percent) own a cell phone, while 77 percent own a smartphone. This market penetration, coupled with over 200 million business phone numbers in the United States, has established a strong demand for conversational business software.

Texting drives customer engagement and loyalty across nearly every consumer industry

It also brings efficiency to business communication channels and provides consumers with a personal and streamlined experience. Most small businesses are able to text-enable their existing landline, VoIP or toll-free phone number, allowing for an affordable and familiar communication channel via the medium customers prefer.

“As we move toward a mobile-first world, consumers want to communicate with businesses in the same way they do with friends and family, and that’s text messaging. Texting is easier, faster and boasts a 98 percent open rate,” said John Lauer, CEO of Zipwhip, in a news release. “While texting was once a tactic embraced for small-scale communication needs, it is now the preferred method for communication and an invaluable part of the customer journey.”

Businesses face texting challenges from new proposed FCC rules

Despite continued innovation and heightened consumer demand, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently voted to take comments on proposed rules to alter the text-enabling process. These rules would require toll-free subscribers to inform RespOrgs or voice service agents to text-enable a toll-free line, and would cause businesses to face new reporting obligations, incur additional expenses and waste precious time enabling new phone lines.

While the proposed rules aim to prevent fraud, of the small business owners surveyed, almost half (42 percent) expressed they would be unlikely to text-enable landlines if it required more than two steps, which would be the case with the FCC proposal. This hesitancy from small business owners highlights the threat posed by the FCC to the ongoing adoption of business texting and overall growth of a burgeoning market.

“While the FCC claims its proposed rules will aid in preventing fraudulent communications, in reality, current industry safeguards already do this effectively,” Lauer said. “The proposed rules will only benefit those with a monopoly on the toll-free voice registry, like Somos, which was influential in bringing this issue to the FCC. Our study proves both consumers and businesses want to communicate with one another, but they want it to be an easy and familiar process. While our industry continues to optimize and deliver on this need, the FCC ruling threatens to halt innovation and benefit big business at the expense of consumers and small businesses alike.”

Additional key findings include:

  • When asked about business communication preferences, over 50 percent of consumers prefer text message over the phone, while one third prefers text message over email
  • Over two thirds (71 percent) of 30- to 44-year-olds said they would text a business more frequently if they had the opportunity, followed by 65 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds
  • Almost half of consumers (41 percent) believe the FCC ruling will neither increase or decrease the likelihood of receiving a fraudulent text message
  • Two thirds of small business owners (63 percent) expressed they would be unlikely to text-enable landlines if they were required to pay $100 upfront and $100 annually

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