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SMS vs. Text: What You Need to Know

woman holding her phone and texting

In today's mobile-driven world, text messaging has become integral to our daily communication. Whether sending a quick message to a friend, family member, or even a healthcare provider, we often use the terms "SMS" and "text" interchangeably. 

But is there a difference between SMS and text? This blog will delve into SMS and text messaging, shedding light on any confusion surrounding these and other communication platforms and types. 

Understanding SMS vs. Text Message

Is there a distinction between SMS and texting? In short, no! There is no difference between them.

Both "SMS" and "texting" mean sending text messages between mobile devices. Technically, they are the same thing and can be used interchangeably.

What is SMS?

SMS stands for Short Messaging Service. SMS messages can be sent and received on mobile devices. SMS supports text-only communication and does not accommodate images, audio files, GIFs or emojis. Additionally, SMS is typically limited to 160 characters, with longer messages split into multiple texts.

Common use cases for SMS include:

  • Sales and promotions: Send SMS messages to customers to inform them about ongoing sales, discounts, or promotional offers.
    • Don't miss out on our weekend sale! Get 20% off on all items this Saturday and Sunday. Visit our store or shop online using code SALE20.
  • Order updates: Send messages to update customers on their order status, including order confirmation, shipment tracking, and delivery notifications.
    • Great news! Your order {Number} has been shipped and is on its way to you. Track your package here: {Tracking Link}.
  • Appointment reminders: Send SMS messages to remind customers of upcoming appointments or bookings, reducing the likelihood of no-shows.
    • Hi {Customer Name}, this is a friendly reminder of your appointment tomorrow at 10:00 AM. See you soon! {Business Name}
  • Account notifications: Send messages to notify customers about important account-related updates, such as password resets, account verification, or suspicious activity alerts.
    • Your account security is important to us. We noticed unusual activity on your account. Please reset your password to ensure its safety. {Company Name}
  • Event invitations: Send SMS messages to invite customers to special events, product launches, or exclusive previews.
    • You're invited to our exclusive product launch event! Join us on {Date} at {Location} to be the first to experience our latest innovations. RSVP by replying YES.
  • Customer feedback requests: Send and receive SMS messages to gather customer feedback, satisfaction surveys, or product reviews to improve products or services.
    • We value your opinion! Please take a moment to provide feedback on your recent purchase. Click here to complete a quick survey: {Survey Link}.
  • Loyalty program updates: Send SMS messages to inform customers about loyalty program benefits, reward point balances, or special perks.
    • Congratulations! You've earned 100 reward points on your recent purchase. Redeem your points for exciting discounts on your next visit. {Business Name}

These examples illustrate how businesses can effectively utilize SMS messages to engage with customers, enhance customer experiences, and drive business objectives.

Read SMS for Customer Service: Best Practices + Sample Templates

What Are Text Messages?

"Text message" is an umbrella term encompassing text-based communication via mobile devices. It includes SMS and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service), messages supporting multimedia content, such as pictures, videos, GIFs and emojis. 

So, the next time you receive a text message with an adorable puppy picture, remember—it's an MMS, but still a text message in the broader sense.

SMS vs. OTT: Clearing Up Misconceptions

One common area of confusion is the difference between SMS and OTT (Over The Top) messaging services. OTT messaging apps include iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. While SMS and MMS rely on cellular networks to transmit messages, OTT messaging operates over the Internet without needing a cellular network or mobile phone plan.

OTT is not considered a text message because it is a messaging service within its own app. OTT messaging services often offer advanced features like typing indicators and read receipts, setting them apart from traditional text messaging services. Remember, though OTT services provide messaging functionalities, they are not the same as SMS or text messages.

Why SMS Marketing Matters

Now that we've established the basics, let's delve into the importance of SMS marketing. Over the years, SMS messaging has become a powerful tool for businesses to connect with customers. The direct reach and high engagement rates of SMS make it an invaluable marketing channel. 

Leveraging text messages as a marketing channel provides several advantages.

  • SMS messages boast an astounding 98% open rate, far surpassing email’s 20% open rate.
  • Text messages are more likely to be read promptly, with more than 60% of people reading their texts within the first 5 minutes of receiving them. 
  • Research suggests businesses earn up to $71 for every dollar they spend on SMS text messaging marketing.
  • Enabling push notifications ensures new messages appear on users' screens instantly, grabbing immediate attention.

These response rates present a unique opportunity for businesses to deliver time-sensitive messages at the right moment, driving immediate action. So whether you're promoting a flash sale or sending appointment reminders, SMS marketing allows you to captivate your audience. 

Leveraging SMS and Texting Base for Marketing Success 

From a business standpoint, sending bulk business texts is far more efficient than sending individual texts from cell phone to cell phone. 

Businesses can leverage platforms like Texting Base to maximize the potential of text message marketing and connect with their customer base more effectively.

By utilizing Texting Base's features and expertise, your business can boost sales, increase customer retention, and unlock the power of SMS for your marketing strategies.

Find out how much Texting Base can do for your marketing strategy by signing up for a free trial today!