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Today, SMS / MMS is one of the most widely used communication methods worldwide, despite the existence of other communication channels like voice, VoIP, fax, video calls, email, and over the top communications (i.e., Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber).
According to Statista, there are around 14.02 billion mobile phone users around the world. Most of those phone users still rely on SMS to communicate.
Even though the first text message was sent in 1993, texting is still wildly popular and effective. If you intend to use it in your business, start with knowing SMS’ meaning first.
What Does SMS Mean?
SMS is an abbreviation for Short Message Service and is one of the most common forms of communication forms worldwide. It was developed in the 1980s and is one of the oldest technologies there is.
Now that you know a little more about it, you should learn more about its advantages and disadvantages.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Using SMS?
While more people prefer to send and receive text messages, you must be aware of all its capabilities and shortcomings before you can leverage its use.
Here are some of the reasons you can use SMS for marketing:
- Widest reach and targets can instantly receive your messages
- Cheaper and easier to use, resulting in increased chances to receive responses
- Will show as notifications for newer mobile phones, increasing visibility
- Better chances of two-way communication since the audience can respond easily
And here are its downsides:
- 160 characters per message for SMS and 1,600 for MMS
- Limited to using alphanumeric characters, symbols, emoji, and pictures/photos
- Recipients can block you just as they can for calling and emailing
- They can report you to their respective service providers
Using SMS for Marketing
Despite having newer technologies, SMS is still the most effective form of marketing by utilizing its top qualities; speed and pervasiveness. Everyone uses it.
For instance, you could send users a promotion on Black Friday sale and maximize your sales immediately. You can do that because people always have their phones with them. And that straight up increases the chances that your recipient will see the message as soon as it’s delivered.
In the next sections, you will see why and how you should revisit SMS marketing to generate revenue.
Top 3 Advantages of SMS Marketing:
- SMS has by far the best engagement rate of any marketing medium
- Texting has a pretty impressive number of 82.1% Open Rates
- An astonishing 98% Response Rates
While SMS is advantageous at some points, people feel the need to get information that isn’t accessible using SMS. Now, see the comparison between SMS and its competitors: MMS, Email, and Social Media.
SMS vs. MMS: Which One Should You Use?
MMS means Multimedia Messaging Service, built using the same technology used in SMS. MMS has some capabilities that SMS does not have. Look at the good qualities MMS has in marketing:
- Can hold up to 500KB of data per message
- Allows you to send photos or a 30-second audiovisual file
- Allows 1600 characters per message
- Send attention-grabbing content that is shareable on social media
- Can include emojis for adding additional emotion – 😀 😃 😄 😁 😆 😅 😂 🤣 😊 😇 🙂 🙃 😉
And here are MMS’ downsides:
- Costs slightly more than traditional SMS, but still only a couple of cents per message
- Slightly slower to load because of more extensive data
- The quality of photos and audio may decrease slightly
While both are great ways to send information even without the internet, they differ in capacity and demographics. With that said, the next thing you should know is how you can maximize their potential to reach your target audience.
When Should You Use MMS Instead of SMS?
When you use MMS, you can send high-quality content at a more considerable cost and more extended time. Use MMS if:
- The majority of your target audience uses a newer phone
- What you sell requires creativity to get attention and explain
- Selling goods or services that can greatly benefit from impactful visuals
Consider MMS as a high-cost—high-margin investment for your business. VIP messages such as loyalty awards will work better on MMS. If it doesn’t suit you, however, consider the other option discussed below.
When Should You Use SMS Instead of MMS?
When you use SMS, your best option is to send a series of low-quality content to maximize the benefits of its low cost and simplicity. Use SMS if:
- You have to reach numerous amount of people and you have a very limited budget
- You want to tell or sell
Consider SMS as the lowest-cost–high-impact means to reach your audience. Notice that SMS is very effective, but MMS allows you to elongate your message and add other media for greater impact, like emojis, photos, and videos.
SMS vs. Email: Which One Should You Use?
Email is around 21 years older than SMS, yet there are better ways to utilize both.
According to CTIA.org, it takes 90 seconds to respond to a text on average compared to 90 minutes for someone to respond to an email.
Speed is still a standing quality, but email still has advantages for reaching your target audience. Move on to discover the circumstances when choosing between them.
When Should You Use Email Instead of SMS?
Email targets people in business, while SMS reaches people mostly when they are outside of work because some companies are forbidding their employees to use their phones at work. However, here are some situations in which you can preferably use email instead of SMS:
- Long term reference information
- Large amounts of information on a single message
- It’s critical that you need to send extremely long and personalized information
- Doesn’t look too intrusive to your audience who bring their phones even in private places
Email provides a professional appeal when performed correctly and can contain better information compared to SMS. That is why business-related offers and deals will work better through emails.
When to Use SMS Instead of Email?
While SMS is younger than email, there is a reason for this evolution of communication.
SMS covers the area where email isn’t applicable. Consider these situations where you should send that message through SMS instead of email:
- Urgent and private information such as codes and notifications
- Real-time communication
- You need to ensure your message doesn’t get sorted out into other folders that will make it difficult to find
SMS performs better with time-sensitive and personal information such as deliveries and other notifications compared to email, which is limited to people who cannot access their phones.
SMS vs. Social Media: Which One Should You Use?
Consider social media as a descendant of SMS, MMS, and email as it inherits most of their positive qualities. It is quick, graphical, and its edge among all of them is it’s easy to broadcast vast amounts of information. A picture’s worth a thousand words. Imagine translating a video ad into SMS.
However, we are also aware that there are still places with poor internet access, making SMS reach better than social media.
According to Mobile Squared, recipients read 99 % of text messages, compared to 2% reach and 11% engagement of Facebook posts on average. In the next section, you’ll know the situations where one is better than the other, between SMS and social media.
When Should You Use Social Media Instead of SMS
Social media is limited to people with internet access with enough time to scroll through their feed.
Social media will provide better leads than SMS with these situations:
- Having a target market with newer mobile phones with internet access
- Having a budget is ready to hire social media marketers and managers
- Communicating with businesses who mainly use computers for deals
- Targeting inbound leads
- Not looking intrusive to your target audience
The main advantage of social media is its ability to broadcast. Its conversion rate may hold it back, but it gradually adapts by offering secure one-to-one communication methods.
Social media’s edge helps you advertise with graphical information, such as announcing a clearance sale or a product release.
When Should You Use SMS Over Social Media
While SMS has better reach, its impression isn’t reliable because of its one-to-one communication nature.
However, there are things where broadcasts aren’t appropriate, where SMS is preferable to social media.
Consider these things to choose to send through SMS instead of social media:
- Urgent and security-sensitive messages
- Sending a detailed and personalized info
- Sending a message to a remote place
Because some people choose to turn off their internet connection or cannot access it, SMS will perform better in engagement and conversion rates. SMS works better than social media for more secure and private instances, such as small business deals.
There’s one platform that many businesses overlook when they need to reach their audience. SMS isn’t new, but it’s trusted, reliable, and still the most effective way to guarantee your message gets to your intended audience. And with modern technology advancements, SMS can provide the functionality, rich media, and interactivity of an app or email in a simple text’s accessible format.
When you want to say something quickly or make it easy to respond, why wouldn’t you use the messaging platform your target audience is already using every day?