Texting and instant messaging have become a part of everyday life for just about everyone. We send messages back and forth and get replies within seconds. It’s a very efficient way to communicate. Marketers can make use of texting and messaging technology to grow their brand by making a direct connection with customers and engaging them no matter where they are.
You may have seen these terms before, but a lot of people don’t know what SMS and MMS mean. These acronyms stand for the two ways that you can send a text message. SMS stands for short message service, while MMS stands for multimedia messaging service. Which one should you use for your business marketing needs?
That’s a good question, but the answer is not necessarily straightforward. It depends entirely on what your goals are, and how you want to present your brand. There are certain situations for using SMS, and certain ones for MMS. Here is a run down to help you decide which is appropriate for your business at any given time.
Short Message Service (SMS)
SMS is a text message system that many businesses leverage to provide bulk messages to their customers. They can only be comprised of text that is sent to mobile devices. Because they are only text, they can be easily sent in bulk in an efficient and cost-effective manner. They are not like instant messenger services, since they only require a device with mobile data. Instant message platforms require an internet connection, whether it’s wireless or mobile. SMS messages tend to have a limit of 160 characters, and if you try to send an image or a video, it will show up as a link in the message.
Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
MMS messages can also contain text, but they also have the ability to send images, videos, and other graphics. They do not have a character limit, so these messages can carry a lot more than SMS messages. MMS messaging is available on most mobile devices, so if you’ve got a smartphone, you’ve got the ability to send MMS messages.
Pros of SMS
SMS messages serve a purpose, otherwise there wouldn’t be 5 billion of them sent every single day around the world. One of their advantages is that they are short and concise. The receiver should be able to read them easily, and quickly digest the information. This is appropriate for when you want to get information out to your customers, but you don’t necessarily need it to be flashy or eye-catching.
SMS messaging tends to be more affordable than MMS. Most data service providers offer unlimited SMS texting plans, so you can send as much as you’d like without paying anything extra. If your budget is a big factor in your marketing decisions, then SMS might be the best option for you.
Cons of SMS
That said, there are some drawbacks with SMS messaging. For instance, the low character limit means that you have to send several texts if you have a lot of information to send out. Your audience may get annoyed by having so many texts flooding their message inboxes. Otherwise, you have to make sure that you are very clear and concise with your messages without going over the limit to avoid confusion. This can be tricky, since it’s often hard to realize that what might make sense to you won’t necessarily make sense to someone else.
With SMS, you cannot send any type of image, graphic, or even emojis with some platforms. That means that your ability to be creative and fun is severely hampered. When you are only sending out text-based messages, it can be hard to make them stand out to your audience. They may end up getting drowned out in the sea of messages that your receivers are getting from their friends, family, and even other brands.
Pros of MMS
With an unlimited character allotment, you can send as much data as you want in one message. It could be a photo or a video, or a humorous gif. Whatever you want, you get in front of your customers and prospects. Providing more detailed information could drive engagement, and make your messaging campaign more successful.
Since you are able to send pictures, videos, and other multimedia, you have a better chance of getting your messages to stand out in a crowd. They can grab attention and not let go until the receiver has read and digested the information. This is the best messaging system for those who are creative and love to create multimedia content. MMS can make it especially valuable for those who want their brand’s “personality to shine through in their messages.
Cons of MMS
The fact is, MMS messages can be more expensive to send than SMS messages. So your budget might be the deciding factor when it comes to which one to use. You may not be able to send MMS messages to everyone on your contact list if you can’t afford it. Mobile services don’t tend to have unlimited MMS plans, either.
If you are not a creative type, then you will need to hire someone who is, or outsource the work. Sending out sub-par MMS messages can make your brand look amateurish and unprofessional. This comes with an additional cost, and it may take longer as well.
Finally, not everyone has a smartphone. Most regular mobile phones don’t have MMS messaging capabilities, which means that they won’t be able to read your messages as you intend for them to be read.
When SMS Messaging is Appropriate
SMS is best used when you want to convey information quickly, and even possibly get a response from the customer. One of the best ways to use SMS is with confirming appointments. You can send out a quick reminder to remind customers the day before, or even the morning of. SMS messages have an open rate of 98%, so you can rest assured they will get the reminder. Missed appointments mean missed opportunities for you, so you want to make sure that your customers are coming at the times you have set, and texting is much more efficient than calling.
You may also use texting to remind clients of bill payment due dates. That way you will be able to keep up to date on your revenue. This use can be valuable for businesses that rely on invoicing their customers. The fewer late payments you get, the more you can keep a handle on what’s coming and going for your business.
SMS messaging is also perfect for alerts and last-minute information. Do you run a restaurant that suddenly has a large open reservation? Let your clients know in case they want to make last-minute dinner plans. You can also send alerts about issues with your website, or sudden store closures. Your customers will be up-to-date and there will be less need for customer service inquiries because of those disruptions.
When MMS Messaging is Appropriate
Since MMS allows for more creative elements, you can use it best when you want to be engaging and fun with your customers. You can embed links to get customers to visit your website, use images and videos to draw the eye, and have your brand’s colors and personality consistent through it all.
Animated cards are a great way to recognize customers. It could be to draw attention to an ongoing sale, but you could also send them out for birthdays or other milestones that you are aware of. If you have been networking, you can send your business card via MMS to save resources and to make sure that your information isn’t lost.
Coupons and special promotions are also best with MMS messaging. You can make your marketing exciting and help it stand out. Draw your customers’ eyes and make sure that they receive the important information that will help them save money. The only limit is your creativity.
Videos are also incredibly engaging, and they cannot be sent using SMS. With MMS, you can send videos that show off your personality, provide product information, or even tutorials. Small independent movie theaters can benefit by sending trailers directly to customers’ phones to get them excited about their upcoming shows, for example.
There is an important caveat when it comes to MMS messaging. It’s important that you test out your texts on different devices before you send them to your customers. Images may not show up properly, or your message may have formatting issues when sent to certain devices. With MMS messages, there is always a risk of something like this happening, while with SMS formatting and image problems are never an issue.
If you run a small business, you should definitely look at leveraging text messages as part of your marketing plan. What type of messages you send will depend on several factors. What’s important is that you are able to connect directly with your customers and provide them with important information that will benefit them and benefit you at the same time.