4 Mobile Messaging Definitions Every Marketer Needs to Know

We don’t need to introduce this blog post by telling you about how connected consumers are to their smartphones, and how this makes mobile messaging the most effective tool for consumer engagement. We won’t bore you with all the awesome side effects of implementing a mobile messaging strategy, such as more conversions, less churn, higher customer LTV, and lower operating costs. No, we’ll spare you all that.

Everyone’s on the same page that mobile messaging needs to be a non-negotiable part of their larger marketing plans. What hasn’t been ironed out quite as much–and what we hope to cover here–is, what exactly is mobile messaging? We know there’s SMS, MMS, Push and In-app. Do those all count? Are they all the same? The answer is yes….and no. While all of the aforementioned tactics fall under the mobile messaging umbrella, each one is unique in definition, use case, and best practices. Let’s take a closer look:


In the context of your day to day life, you’re probably familiar with SMS as simply text messaging. An SMS message sent from your brand is the same as any other text message, except that consumers have to opt-in to receive them (Reply “Y” to confirm), and they can be no more than 160 characters.

SMS is a great channel by which to send time and location sensitive content, such as reminders and alerts about billing, discounts and other transactional info.

In addition to keeping SMS short and sweet, they should contain content that’s actionable by including a relevant link and as always, they should be personalized, like the one below.


MMS is quite similar to SMS in that people must opt-in to get them and receivers will be notified of an MMS the same way they would a text message. However, whereas SMS content is text-only, MMS incorporates GIFs, images, audio, video, and more.

Complement SMS with MMS messages to give your customers some interactive content. If you’re offering a discount on a new product for example, use MMS to include an image and/or QR code CTA, like the example below:



Customers can receive push notifications if they have enabled them after downloading your app. Push messages generally appear on the lock-screen or within the notification center of someone’s smartphone.

There are so many use cases for using push notifications, but the main goal is to drive customer engagement in the app with special offers, surveys and other interactive. personalized content. There are a few different types of push notifications that are best suited for different purposes. Simple push messages consist of–you guessed it–simple text; rich pushes are intended to drive users to more interactive content; and direct-to-inbox messages are rich content that’s delivered right to the app’s inbox without a notification

Again, push messages–no matter which type–should be short and sweet with a clear, call to action like this simple push below:


In-app messages are similar to push notifications in that they can only be sent to those individuals who have downloaded your app. These are messages that consumers will receive when they’re actively using your app.

There are multiple ways to leverage in-app messages. When consumers haven’t opted-in to receive push notifications, brands can use in-app messages to try to engage them with sales promotions and discounts or new content announcements. In-app messages can also be used to drive someone to opt-in to receive push notifications, sign up for loyalty rewards, or direct an individual to another page within the app by inserting a deeplink in the message.

Be careful not to send too many. As we mentioned, in-app messages are sent while people are actively using your app, so you don’t want to be a pest. When you do send an in-app message, make sure that it drives them deeper into your app toward the most relevant content via deeplinks, makes your app stickier by enticing them to sign up to receive loyalty rewards, or simply adds value to their experience, like the example below:

iPhone_Shell_-_Personalization_-_4_Ways_to_Personalize_App_Experience.pngAnd there you have it–your pocket guide to mobile messaging (albeit, the Cliff Notes version). There’s no one-size-fits-all way to decide which of these tactics to employ or how to bring all of them together. It depends on the goals of your brand, your audience, and may require testing different content to identify what works best. But that’s a blog post for another day. In the meantime, if you want to learn what consumers (over 5,500 of them) think about push notifications, their preferences, and the type they find most engaging, check out our new consumer study–Mastering Mobile Messaging: How to Create A Successful Push Notification Strategy!