If you’re investigating mobile marketing, perhaps you’ve been reading up a little on MMS Vs. SMS and wondering which option is better for your marketing needs.
Or maybe you’re wondering just what the heck the differences between these two “things” are, and if you should even care. Well, we’re here to help sort out the confusion. Let’s start off with a couple of simple definitions…
SMS stands for “Short Message Service.” Most of the people on the planet know SMS messages by their more common name; “text” messages. It’s a pretty old and rudimentary technology (dating back to the mid-eighties), which as you’ll find out in a minute, is to your advantage.
MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service. It’s the technology that expands the core functionality of SMS messages to include – yes, you guessed it, multimedia content. This can include web pages, pictures, images, video, ring tones, and so on. It is, if you want to put it another way, SMS’s newer, hipper, and cooler big brother.
What’s Better for Marketing? SMS or MMS?
In 2013, the answer is unequivocal: SMS.
This may seem counter-intuitive. After all, aren’t text messages “boring?” Wouldn’t something “flashier” be more effective? This seems to be the perception – at least it was with several local business owners with I chatted with recently. One of the first things they asked about was sending flashy, colorful images (coupons) and so forth. But “flashier” is not always the key to boosting the ROI (Return on Investment) from your advertising dollars.
Here’s why SMS remains the gold standard for mobile marketing, at least in the short term, foreseeable future…
1) In order to receive MMS messages, your customers need to have cell phones with data plans enabled. Currently, slightly over 50% of the cell phone using population in North America maintains a data plan. Essentially, sending out MMS messages immediately eliminates around 50% of your audience from being able to receive them. This is counter productive to any marketing mandate.
Some newer, 3G-enabled smart phones may be able to receive MMS messages without a data plan. Still, if your customer doesn’t have a state of the art phone, they won’t see your message.
2) Sending MMS messages is more expensive than SMS messages. If you’re dealing with large volumes of messages, this can become a factor.
3) For the various networks and carriers, delivering MMS messages intact is a considerably more complex process than simple SMS. There are numerous places in the referral chain where technological inconsistencies can have a detrimental effect on the end user.
4) Depending on what is being sent, the end user’s phone, operating system, and software version may compromise his or her ability to view the message properly. On the other hand, SMS is a rudimentary technology that can be accessed by phones long thought to be obsolete.
5) MMS creates a barrier between small to medium sized business owners and the ability to connect with their respective audiences via their cell phones. Think about it; anyone who can click a mouse can login into a control panel like ours, type out a 136 or 160 character “call to action” and press send, has the ability to capitalize on mobile marketing. If you’re sending multimedia files – even simple images – they will need to be done professionally (which increases the cost), since there are very few of us who can create great looking, branded images that will render properly on numerous different screen sizes at the drop of a hat.
6) Because most smaller businesses will have to outsource the creation of multimedia to third parties, this eliminates, to a large extent, the spontaneous nature of mobile marketing that many small business owners find so appealing. It’s one thing to login to your account and send out a text message with an impromptu promotion on a slow day just to drum up some business, it’s quite another to have to wait for the creative to show up from the graphic designer before you do so.
SMS Vs. MMS: The Conclusion
For now, for the small to medium sized business, SMS still remains the winner.
Of course, as technology evolves and costs drop, SMS’s advantages will wane. And then, MMS will really shine.
It’s true; MMS messages offer greater flexibility and potential to connect with your audience. And anecdotal evidence suggests that MMS does outperform SMS when it comes to conversion rates. But it only makes sense to use it if and when you can connect with the vast majority of your audience effectively. For the small to medium sized businesses that we represent, SMS still wins the day.
Given that SMS is a technology on the way out, Local Text Marketers is working on implementing MMS functionality into its marketing suite so that’s it’s ready when you are. We are starting with our U.S. shortcodes, and should have the integration completed within the 2014 year.