SMS Messages

SMS Messages and Marketing

SMS messages are ingrained in modern life. Texts are being sent so often that SlickText predicts six billion people will be texting each other by 2025. 

But what’s even more impressive is that Twilio reported that text messages have a 98 percent open rate and 90 percent of text messages are read within the first three minutes. 

If you’re not using text messages in your marketing strategy then you are missing out on one of the best ways to reach consumers. 

But what is a SMS message? And how do they differ from MMS messages and iMessage? And how can you and your business use text messages to reach your customers?

What Is a SMS Message?

SMS stands for short message service. It’s any text message you send or receive on your cell phone. They can be up to 160 characters long, basically the length of a Tweet. Anything longer than that will result in the text message being split into multiple segments or messages. Broken up messages will be sent in the opposite order of how they are written which can cause tremendous confusion with recipients. 

SMS vs. iMessage

If you have an iPhone you may already be aware of iMessage. You may even assume that iMessage is just Apple’s name for their messaging service. While this is partly true, iMessage offers something that regular SMS messages don’t: end-to-end encryption. 

End-to-end encryption means only the sender and receiver of the message can access it. Apple and third party apps won’t be able to read your messages. 

Why Does My Text Say SMS?

When you see SMS it means the text was sent via Short Message Service. 

What Does MMS Mean in Text?

MMS stands for Multimedia Message Service. It’s any message that contains a picture, video, sound clip, or GIF. An MMS text doesn’t need to have actual text. You can send a picture, GIF, video, or sound clip with or without any text. 


Aside from containing extra media, there are a few other differences. MMS messages can have up to 1,600 characters, but are often more expensive per message to send compared to SMS. 

How Does SMS Work? 

SMS messages may look like normal characters and letters to you. But to phones and the cell towers they interact with, SMS messages are actually binary code, think 1s and 0s. 

When you send a text the code first goes to the nearest cell tower to you. Then it bounces from cell tower to cell tower until it reaches one closest to the receiver. That tower then finally sends it to the receiver. To know which exact user to send the message to, SMS and MMS messages use specific frequencies related to only that user.

Do All Text Messages Use SMS?

Yes, provided the message contains only text and no other media. 

Why Is My Phone Not Receiving SMS Messages? 

There are could several reasons why you’re not receiving SMS messages.

  1. You had put your phone on airplane mode and forgot to turn airplane mode off. Or you accidentally put it on airplane mode.
  2. You accidentally turned off your cellular data. 
  3. Cell service in your area is too weak to send or receive SMS messages. 

How Are SMS Messages Received?

SMS are received from cell towers. When you receive an SMS message it’s coming from the nearest cell tower to you. 

Android Messages

Android Messages is what Google used to call their messaging app on Android devices. Google now calls their message app Messages.

Messages uses a messaging client called Rich Communication Services (RCS). RCS allows Android users to send clearer pictures with less pixelation and get an overall improved messaging experience. 

One such major improvement is that any RSC message you send will now have end-to-end encryption. Google has used encrypted messaging for one-to-one communication for a while now and as of December 2022 group messages will also be encrypted. 

What Are Android Messages Called?

With the advent of Rich Communication Services (RCS) Android’s messaging app is simply called Messages.

What is the Difference Between a Text Message and a SMS Message?

There is no difference between a text message and a SMS message. Text message is another name for SMS messages. 

How to Use SMS Messages in Marketing

Now that you’ve learned the basics of what SMS messages are, you’re probably wondering how to use them in marketing. It has to do with short code.

What is a Short Code?

Imagine this moment. You’re at a local brewery. When you sit down you notice a sign that says, “Text IPA to 83312 to get updates on brewery events.” That number is a short-code. Short codes are five-six numbers that a customer or brand fan texts to get information. 

Short Code Benefits

You already know that 98 percent of texts are opened. But did you also know that the response rate for SMS messages is 45 percent?

Not only are customers more likely to read text messages that you send them, but they’ll also be more receptive to what they’ve read. This is especially true for the customers who really love your brand. 

Why Text Marketing Works 

Have you ever visited a city? At first, it might have seemed busy and noisy, but after a while, the noise died down. This didn’t magically happen. Your brain just adjusted to the extra noise and learned to filter it out. 

The same has happened with classic ads. There’s even a name for it: Banner Blindness. It got its name from the banner ads websites used in late 90s-early 2000s. People became accustomed to them and now easily ignore them. 

The same goes for a lot of outbound marketing tactics. Outbound marketing doesn’t work anymore because customers know what it looks like and how to avoid it. Text marketing cuts through ad-noise and grabs attention. 

Plus, you’re giving customers the option to say no. The customers who do agree to receiving messages are going to be more willing to read them and take action. 

Think of it this way. Suppose you’re a makeup brand that’s about to launch a new foundation. You want customers who love your brand to know about it.
For example, in the makeup aisle at a retailer, you can have a shelf talker that says, “Love looking your best with [brand]? Text  ‘Beauty’ to 55555 to get updates on new product releases.” 

When customers opt-in to receiving your texts,  you can text them about product launches or other news. But those aren’t the only things you can text customers about. 

Examples of SMS Messages in Marketing

Below are some examples of what text marketing can do. 

NJ CooCoo

In 2011, New Jersey Transit partnered with CooCoo. It was a pretty neat service. All NJT riders had to do was text to and from information to 266266. Within a few moments, they’d get train and bus schedules. This was perfect for spots where the internet speed was slow but texts still came through. 

What made this service even better was that it worked on any phone that did SMS messaging. As long as a rider's phone could text, they could transit schedules. 

Do Us a Flavor

Every year Frito Lay asks its customers to dream up new chip flavors for Lays. It's a fun and easy way to see what people want in chips. What makes it even easier is that people can get in on the fun with texts. If they text FLAVOR to CHIPS (24477) they’ll opt into messages that help them make suggestions and vote.

News outlets that report on the lighter side of life LOVE mentioning the crazy flavor suggestions. This gets people thinking about their favorite  Lay's flavor and then they buy a bag. 

Shipping Updates

A customer has just made a purchase on your website. If they’ve opted into texts you can message them updates on shipping and delivery. It keeps your brand on their mind and they may possibly visit your site for more information. 

MMS Messaging Marketing Examples

What about MMS messaging? Below we have examples of MMS messaging. 


Who doesn’t love having great food sent to your door? What’s even better is that DoorDash will text you the exact location of the drop off. So you know where to look for the good grub. This is a helpful way to keep in touch with customers and ensure better deliveries.

Helpful Videos

Think of the last time you bought a cell phone. Did it come with a thick manual explaining all its features? Nope. Why include a manual when most customers already know how to use a phone? They can always Google what they don’t know, right?

Well, what if there was a special welcome video? Imagine it like this: a customer has just bought your product. You want them to have an easy time setting up and using it. So, customers who opt-in to MMS messages can get a welcome video sent to them. This video can thank them for buying and show them important set-up information. This is great for people who need videos to help them understand products better. 

These types of videos can also work for tech support. Suppose a customer has a slight issue with a product due to user error. If there’s a helpline they can text you respond with short videos about common problems and their fixes. 

Teaser Trailers

Teaser trailers aren’t just for Hollywood. Teaser trailers for actual, tangible products are posted all the time on social media from brands. Nail polish brand Holo Taco did this recently before launching its one-coat chrome collection. 

So why not text a teaser for your next product to customers who have opted-in? They’ll be the first to catch a glimpse of your new product.

The Abandoned Cart

Have you ever started the purchasing process online and needed to take care of something else? Customers have no doubt done the same thing. This is where mobile messaging can really help.

You could send a quick text with a link to their cart so they can finish up the purchase if they want to. Here are some quick tips to writing the perfect abandoned cart text.

  • Use the customer's name. People respond to messages that are personal to them.
  • Mention an item they left behind.
  • Avoid spammy wording. If anything sounds like spam people will delete the message fast. 
  • Use a personable and conversational tone.
  • Include a link to their cart.
  • Keep it short. If it rambles on too long people will not care. 

Here’s a couple examples:

“Hey Kevin! Saw you checking out these totes delish coffee beans. Finish checking out to get your caffeine on! [link].” 

“Morning Kathy! You have a good eye! Saw you left this stylish Cora bikini in your basket. Why not finish checking out to make it official? [link].

Despite how short these texts are, they connect with the customer on a personable level. 

Short and Sweet Can’t Be Beat

Before you start a text marketing campaign there are a few things to remember. Banner blindness became a thing because people saw ads too often. The same could happen to text messages. That’s why we don’t recommend texting every day.

Another thing we recommend is keeping texts short. Suppose you want to send some important information, like a product guide. Instead of texting the entire guide, text a link to it. That way people check it out when they want. It also helps to text customers at the right time.

A video showing people how to set up a product isn’t going to be viewed if it’s sent weeks after delivery. The best time to send videos like that is within a day or two of delivery. 

Learn More About SMS Messages

Isn’t it exciting to know that SMS messages can be used in marketing?  Learn about SMS messages and how a short code could help your business grow. Or why not book a live demo to see what Lumavate can really do. See why brands like Cummins, and Warren Rupp, Inc. trust Lumavate to make the best digital experiences for their customers. 

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Meet with one of our experts to see how easy it is to centralize your product data, manage digital assets, and create digital product experiences. Trust us…you’re going to be wowed.