SMS Marketing vs. Mobile Marketing: Where, When and How to Use Them

Business.com / Mobile / Last Modified: December 15, 2017
Photo credit Csehak Szabolcs/Shutterstock

SMS marketing helps your team hit your SMS metrics, while mobile marketing can help you improve your customers' interaction with your brand. Learn more about how to harness SMS and mobile marketing in your sales strategy.

Thanks to the resounding popularity of smartphones and other mobile devices such as phablets and tablets, marketers have found ways to integrate SMS marketing and mobile marketing into the fold of digital marketing strategies.

Although both can be viable marketing tools for your business, it's important to know what distinguishes one from the other to help you strategize your campaigns. But first, here are some staggering numbers of global smartphone and tablet use:

  • As of spring 2017, there are 237.7 million cellphone users in the United States.
  • In China, approximately 1.4 billion mobile phone subscriptions were registered in September 2017.
  • An online survey conducted in the U.K. in May 2017 revealed that a high percentage of Brits owned smartphones, while 11 percent of the respondents owned basic phones.
  • By 2018, the number of tablet users in the United States is forecast to be over 177 million.
  • This year, Americans will spend 91 minutes on average on mobile apps daily, compared to 76 minutes in 2014.

It is no wonder that marketers are pouncing on digital communication to deliver content and reach customers as part of their digital marketing strategies.

To help you choose the right channel for your specific marketing objectives, here’s a rundown of how SMS marketing and mobile marketing stack up against each other.

SMS marketing

SMS marketing is the use of a mobile phone to send SMS (short message service) or text messages that contain promotional content, such as special deals, product updates, or any other marketing information directly to customers.

How it works

SMS marketing is a permission-based strategy where customers opt in to receive marketing offers from you. By texting a specially designated keyword to a short code, which is usually a 5-digit code, customers give your company permission to be added to your SMS database.

You could also get customers' approval to collect their number when you're on the phone with them or through a sign-up form on your website or at your physical store's register.

Advantages of SMS marketing

Since text messages are generally opened within five minutes upon receipt, SMS provides you an instant way of marketing to your customers and building brand loyalty.

You can, therefore, leverage text message marketing to issue reminders, delivery notices, limited time or exclusive offers and redeemable coupons. It's also an effective method for engaging customers through polls or survey-type messages.

SMS marketing allows you to personalize text messages for recipients of your messages. When you insert a customer's first name into your message, you're more likely to capture their interest and attention – in addition to generating a good response and conversion rate.

Another benefit you can get from text message marketing is that it has automated response functionality. Depending on the action your subscribers take, you can send messages automatically to their phones that would trigger a series of follow-up replies or actions from your SMS software to engage customers further.

Last, but not least, most SMS marketing applications provide an option that allows for easy segmentation and management of your SMS database. This makes SMS marketing a cost-effective business strategy that helps your team hit your SMS metrics.

SMS Marketing Tips

  • Be clear in communicating what your SMS marketing campaign is all about: what types of SMS messages your customers will receive, how often they will receive them and how they benefit when they opt in.
     
  • Give subscribers who may no longer be interested in your notifications the chance to opt out anytime by including relevant instructions in your text campaigns from time to time.
     
  • Don't text during irregular hours, and don't use shorthand texts. Aim for a professional tone instead.
     
  • Add a disclaimer in your initial text message about possibly incurring data and message charges if customers don't have unlimited plans for their subscription.

Mobile marketing

Mobile marketing is the practice of marketing your business on the mobile device platform, smartphones and tablets included, although current trends are extending the concept of mobile marketing to other gadgets, such as smartwatches.

It's a multichannel digital marketing strategy that utilizes websites, social media, mobile apps, and SMS/MMS (multimedia messaging service) to send mobile ads to audiences.

The key with mobile marketing is to use smartphones and other handheld devices to provide potential or existing customers personalized and time- and location-based information about your business.

Types of Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing is a well-rounded technique in digital marketing because it gives you several options on how to format your ads. Some of the most popular strategies used to market on mobile include the following.

Video ads

As digital technologies make video-watching possible on mobile devices, you could create video ads to reach your target market in a nonintrusive way.

Contrary to being intrusive, many consumers consider video ads entertaining and engaging. Your video ads can be part of your MMS messages that you send from your mobile messaging service provider or website to your mobile audience.

Mobile apps

Mobile consumers spend 82 percent of their time using mobile apps, which makes app-based marketing or in-app advertising a popular strategy among marketers.

Facebook is an example of a third-party mobile app that enables you to integrate your ads into the social media platform through sponsored posts.

In-game mobile marketing

Mobile games can also host your mobile ads, which can be in the form of banner pop-ups, full-page image ads or video ads that load in between game time.

Location-based marketing

This allows you to send ads on users' mobile devices when they are within a specific distance to your business or location. Fast food or other specialty stores are using this strategy to promote brand awareness among consumers.

Mobile search ads

These are ads that customers see when they do a basic search on Google. Often ads will have extensions like click to call or maps to help users find your business.

Mobile marketing tips

  • Optimize your ad's message, format and design for mobile. With the small screen that you have to work with on mobile devices, every space and word should be used wisely.
     
  • Your business's home page must be responsive to mobile SEO so users can find your local business at the time of their search.
     
  • Know your audience. You'd do better, for example, to use in-game ads to interact with gamers rather than sponsored posts on social networks like Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. 

As users continue to use mobile devices more and more, it's safe to say that the future of digital marketing is shifting more toward mobile, specifically SMS marketing and mobile marketing.

SMS marketing can help you build a more direct and personal relationship with your audience, while mobile marketing can help you improve customers' interaction with your brand. Either way, it's a must for you to incorporate these two strategies into your overall marketing plan.

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