What role can sending MMS play in mobile marketing?

Mobile marketing is a sophisticated craft and MMS – or multimedia messaging service, to give its full name – is one more tool with which you can create something brilliantly engaging and highly targeted.

Advertising takes many forms these days, but the fact that lots of people keep their mobile phones on them at all times presents a real opportunity to communicate with consumers wherever they are. As mobiles developed, the humble text message became a platform for engagement and, over the past few years, so too has MMS.

To be clear, MMS allows images, video and audio to be sent to mobile phones. However, rather than seeing MMS as being the harder-faster-stronger edition that makes SMS obsolete, you as a marketer must realise that there is a time and a place for each.

MMS Research

The growth rate of MMS has been pretty astounding. In 2009, for example, the medium enjoyed a global growth rate of 48 per cent, according to Portio Research, while CTIA-The Wireless Association claimed there were 34.5 billion MMS messages sent out in the US alone that year.

In the UK, Ofcom revealed that in 2011 an average of 200 SMS and MMS messages were sent out per person per month, with around one in five adults using MMS regularly. This all points to a huge market for this platform. To explain the role of MMS in the mobile marketing sphere, it is perhaps best to start off with a discussion of SMS messages – then work upwards.

SMS  marketing

There are all sorts of ways that an SMS marketing message can be used to get closer to business goals, whether the objective is increased brand awareness or simply more impressive revenue figures. Some common options are to send a text as an ‘exclusive’ invite to an event, discount sale or competition.

This type of exclusivity can make a consumer feel special, as well as bring to mind the idea that they can have something that others cannot. Alternatively, a text can just be a notification, reminder or message to stay in contact. All of these types of SMS message use the limited range of the text platform to plant an idea in the recipient’s mind with words; the rest is done by them.

MMS and cinema

A great analogy for how MMS is different to SMS relates to cinema. For example, 3D movies have inspired both praise and criticism, but one thing you cannot argue with is that the extra dimension means there is potential there to do new things. Some of the time, directors have been criticised for using 3D unnecessarily – whereas filmmakers like Ang Lee were widely applauded for their innovative work.

Part of what Lee understood with ‘The Life of Pi’ was that the medium needs to be present in your mind in the design/production – you don’t just make a film then add the 3D element. The same goes for MMS; you should use it for sending a message that requires or benefits from the added depth – use the media to push an idea further.

If your hair salon needs to send a text to remind someone of their appointment, an SMS message is perfectly suited, but if you want to inspire people to book a haircut, then perhaps a picture of an interesting style or a voucher would be more effective. Vouchers are an especially good use of MMS marketing. Often these will come in the form of a barcode that the person can scan at a shop, which has a pleasant novelty to it too.

The key is to integrate it into your overall marketing campaign, making sure that themes, colours and even characters are carried across from other advertising material.

Technical points for consideration

As well as considering how you can use audio, visual or video elements to entice people to contact your organisation, you should also bear in mind the user experience. Mogreet research showed that iPhone owners are particularly likely to engage with MMS campaigns, which may be down to the usability of Apple’s phone in terms of consuming such media.

If a video looks great on an iPhone screen but terrible on budget smartphones, then it may be necessary to do some research regarding what model your target market tends to have – a sure-fire way to lose a person’s interest is for media to take too long to load, or for it to display oddly.

Another point to keep in mind when it comes MMS messages is that you should get to the point quickly – a reader can scan an SMS in a second and decide if it is interesting to them, whereas a video or audio file may take longer. If the initial second or two are not appealing, then the user may press ‘delete’.

To conclude, an MMS message can play a huge role in a mobile marketing plan, but make sure you use it for a suitable idea and not just for the sake of using a picture, audio file or video. It could add that extra element to your strategy that pushes you ahead of competitors.