Barbara Casey brings an extensive depth of marketing experience in SMS text engagement. Her mission is to help small business owners compete with robust marketing tech once only available to large brands.
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What is MMS? It is Multi-media Messaging service
MMS stands for Multi Media Messaging Service, and includes the basic features of SMS, and adds several more helpful features to increase customer engagement. Note that with MMS, some features such as length of characters or types of files, may vary slightly by platform. If SMS is the workhorse, MMS is more the racehorse. It has the capability to really perform with proper care, feeding and training.
Features of MMS:
Bold Subject Heading Line – Up to 40 Characters;
- 500 Characters or more – inclusive of links and disclosures
- Can Embed Pictures, GIFs, Short Video Files
- Can Include Links and Phone Numbers.
One of the most significant differences is that MMS messages may include a picture, GIF, short video, vCard or sound file. In addition, there is greater flexibility in crafting your message, as it offers 500 characters, or more. MMS messages include a subject line, which can appear as a bold font heading on some phones. That short, bold heading can immediately capture the attention of the recipient.
As you may expect, with all these features, MMS messages are much more engaging. An example for restaurant owners is an MMS with a photo of your daily special along with your message right around the time customers get hungry. It just may sway customers into visiting your restaurant. We caution business owners to be careful with crafting an MMS, as you need to consider the best use of the heading and gain an understanding of how much of the message will show on the locked screen of a phone.
The selection of an impactful image is as important as the message, with about 300 characters being the norm. Note that MMS uses more data and therefore carries a higher cost to process through carriers.
Now that we have covered the basics, there are some nuances with using each format.
SMS is a valuable tool because it is so short and sweet. That brevity is powerful in the sense that if customers want to learn more, they simply need to follow the call to action, such as a link to a website, online order or reservation tool, landing page, or mobile coupon. When perfectly timed, SMS messages work wonderfully! A classic example for a family meal deal sent at 4 PM, is quite effective. The offer is sent just when customers are starting to feel hungry and if you add a link to the online ordering portal or mobile coupon, the customer has all the info to take action to place an order!
Images have a very high rate of engagement and you don’t need to look very far to recognize the impact and success that Instagram has on social media. However, with social media, you are not in control of who sees your content or when they see it, even when you purchase ads.
With MMS there are several strategic aspects that you need to consider to achieve the highest impact. Since we all read from top to bottom, put the most important items closer to the top, whether that relates to message content, or text presented in the image.
MMS vs SMS – How MMS messages are different from SMS
Businesses and brands continue to embrace SMS Text Messaging to instantly reach customers. Text message marketing has proven to be successful for businesses based on the:
- Ease of use by customers;
- Ability to reach thousands of customers instantly;
- Cost-effectiveness of mobile campaigns;
- Read rate of 98% within 5 minutes, compared to an email open rate of 20%.
Customers have become so familiar with text for many instances in their daily lives: they now regularly receive reminders for appointments, customer service and also may receive special promotional offers when they opt-in to receive marketing messages. Text is native to all smartphones and requires no download or wifi for messages to be received. Since text is the most used application on today’s smartphones, business owners should become more familiar with how they may use text marketing for their business.
We started our text education series to provide insights and explain text terminology to get business owners more comfortable with understanding how text message marketing works.
Text Marketing & Mobile Marketing are full of acronyms that can be confusing to the small business owner. No worries! We are here to help you understand the differences between SMS and MMS messages. Let’s focus on SMS messages first.
SMS Text – Short Messaging service
SMS stands for Short Messaging Service. It is the more established and more common type of messages sent over cellular communications networks. It is viewed as the workhorse of text messaging, representing higher volumes than MMS. SMS has been around since 1992 and is one of the most universal methods of communication.
SMS allows for a variety of links such as to mobile coupons or websites, as well as active links to phone numbers.
Features of SMS:
- There is a 160 character limit, inclusive of links and disclosures;
- Can include links and phone numbers.
- Note with SMS there is no subject heading and no picture or video files.
- With that, let’s move on to MMS.
The heading can also be used to reinforce a time-bound offer, like a flash sale or limited time offer:
- Today only
- While Supplies Last
- Sale Ends Sunday
- Limited Quantities.
In addition, this is also a perfect place to reinforce that these recipients are special, such as For VIPs Only, For Our Besties, Because You’re Special, Exclusive Invitation, etc. To be sure, the heading sets the stage, it’s the drumroll and it opens the curtain! Next up is the image or file you are selecting to include.
Sometimes there is a desire to cram all the details into the image. Since this image will be sent with dates, times, places or pricing and other information crammed. Thus in many cases, images presented, have very small fonts. Consider the emotional reaction you want from the customer. Where possible, keep it simple and let the image play its important role – to solicit an emotional response. Think of that meal deal that we mentioned above. If you have a high quality image of a plated entree, sent just before dinner time, that alone may be enough to entice the customer to order today!
Third, focus on the content. With MMS you have a lot more room for your message. You have room for more than one link, but as they say: LESS is MORE! Keep a focus on your call to action! Be sure to place your call to action toward to the top of your content for the highest engagement. If the objective is for the customer to call you, by all means, include the phone number right there- they can click and a call is on the way! The content needs to include the name of your company (unless it was included in the heading), the offer, and the required disclosures.
You have room to be funny, creative and for the details you were initially going to cram into the photo (Sale Percent, Offer Expiration, Event Dates, Locations, etc). Remember, a link to a mobile web page or mobile coupon, can cover or reinforce all those details. The most important aspect is to focus the customer’s attention on the call to action.
It is easy to think about some types of businesses where MMS is a natural fit, such as restaurants, real estate agencies, and specialty retail. Based on the higher level of engagement of MMS, many of our client Boutiques, Men’s & Women’s Fine Apparel and specialty stores prefer all messages be sent as MMS.
MMS works wonderfully for:
- Advance notice for special sales
- Exclusive offers Invitations to trunk shows
- Other in-store or special events
- A sneak peak of the season’s latest arrivals!
Essentially, because there are several components including a visual to evoke an emotional reaction, MMS also works well in many other industries and verticals to drive customer interest and action. We recommend using both SMS and MMS in combination, with at least one SMS and one MMS message each month. As we measure the results of your campaign, you may find that for your particular situation, MMS may be the most effective for your audience. We can adjust and refine the approach as needed.
Wow, now that is a lot of information to absorb! The value of a full-service mobile marketing agency like Mobile High 5, is that we guide you along the way and we execute your messages to ensure you are consistently engaging with your subscriber base. This approach makes SMS and MMS messaging easy and simple for business owners because you don’t have to learn any new technology! This means a faster implementation, faster results and faster ROI. Talk to us to learn more about the benefits of building your own mobile subscriber list. We hope we answered your question of What is MMS?
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