What Is Rich SMS Marketing and Why You Need to Use It

January 21, 2018
January 21, 2018 Carol Forden

Even if you’re a new business or a third generation family business or new to the field of marketing you’ve probably heard of SMS marketing before. But what about Rich SMS Marketing?

Is it new to you?  If so, let’s define what SMS is:

What is Rich SMS exactly?

Rich SMS, also known as Rich Media Text or Rich Media Messaging, is simply an SMS with rich multimedia content.

It takes SMS Marketing (text messaging) to the next level, utilizing visual content accessible from your SMS (text) inbox through a shortened unique URL in the SMS message.

The recipient will find all the content you want to include: video, discounts, coupons, surveys, images, videos, animations, games as well as a large number of call to actions (CTAs) for example, click-to-call, drive-to-store, link to download an app, click to download a coupon or special offer, click-to-e-store… all of these entirely personalized for every customer.

Rich SMS gives the users the possibility to interact with the text messages. Hence, providing an outstanding user experience and in turn, improving and enhancing the efficiency of mobile campaigns

Here’s an example of a Rich SMS. Cool, right?

So, why do you need Rich SMS?

Rich SMS is awesome, as it has all the benefits that come with SMS messages, with advantages of its own. Let’s dive in:

 1) Mobile-first world

Have you heard of Nomophobia?

The fear of being without a mobile phone is Nomophobia.

Unfortunately, it’s a growing fear in today’s world. In fact, 50% of young Americans said they couldn’t live without their phones.

This shows that we’re well past the tipping point when it comes to mobile adoption. As mobile devices dominate the time spent online marketing to mobile-first users must be taken seriously.

Mobile-first is an increasing lifestyle trend; people turn to their mobile devices for most of their communication, information, and entertainment.

The trend towards a mobile-first mindset is increasing. Below are just a few examples:

  • Google announced plans to make their index mobile-first this year. The year 2018 will be the official year that all search is run for mobile.  This means that the Google AI ranking systems will look at the mobile version of a page to determine its relevance to the mobile user
  • Digital, mobile-only banks are on the rise
  • Mobile-only social networks like Instagram and Snapchat are growing in popularity

These are just a few examples, the number of companies operating with only an app is increasing with no signs of slowing down.

As marketers, we have an obligation to meet the demand and embrace the mobile-first world to stay competitive and run effective marketing campaigns.

Today, SMS messaging is a critical aspect of any successful mobile marketing strategy. It gives a marketer and their clients another channel to reach your target audience and your customers.  You need to be where they are – on their mobile devices, enabling enhanced and improved multi-channel experiences.

 2) SMS marketing has phenomenal open rates

How many people do you know that take the time to open, let alone read, every email they received this week? Like most of us, they only paid attention to the ones that seemed important or sparked their interest, right?

But what about the SMS text message you received? I’m willing to bet that you opened and read the bulk of the text messages, you received if not all of them.

The reality is, SMS messages have a whopping 98% open rate, with 90% being read within 3 minutes of receipt. This is higher than both email marketing and social media combined.

According to both Buffer and Marketing Land, do to the funnel and pace, you can only expect that about 2-3% of your audience will see your post on Twitter. With the recent and ongoing algorithm changes on Facebook, there has been a huge decline in organic reach has been seen. Research from Social@Ogilvy suggests that for large pages organic reach is as low as 2%.

On the upside, the stats for email marketing are looking more positive with an average email open rate of 24.79% across industries.

A graph illustrating how different marketing platforms compare in terms of reach

As a result, your message is much more likely to be delivered and read if it’s delivered via SMS messaging. One can easily understand why consider how many emails and social media posts you are exposed to on a daily basis.

3) Consumers like SMS messages

Not only is SMS marketing more effective, but it’s also the preferred communication channel for most consumers.

A survey found that SMS is the preferred channel for consumers to receive brand-related communications and offers. In fact, more than 2x as many consumers prefer to receive communication from brands by text messages compared to app notifications or email.

An image showing the Preferred Channel for Receiving Loyalty-Related Communications from Brands According to US Internet Users - March 2016

This leaves little doubt as to why SMS is the preferred communication channel for most users.

To start with, text messages are less intrusive than notifications, pop-ups display or ads. There is nothing required to download, and no brand’s app is needed on your phone.

How many apps do you have on your phone that you never use?

How much of your precious phone space are these apps using?.

SMS text messages are less likely to get lost compared to emails. It’s also easy to opt in or out at any time, putting the consumer in control of the messages they receive.

Today, only 21% of brands leverage SMS text messages to get their brand message or offers to consumers.

This means that businesses are leaving tremendous opportunities and leaving money on the table.

For example, Bohemian Guitars, a company that sells guitars made of oil cans, analyzed their data on how customers were reaching them and found that most of their sales came from mobile devices. In response, Bohemian added a widget to their website, offering the ability for customers to text them. This led to 98% increase in sales in 6 months. Impressive, isn’t it?

The chances are that if your customers like your brand and product offering, they will want to receive special offers, coupons, and other promotions via SMS. So, are you ready to get started?

4) A more personalized customer experience

Studies show that 39% of customers spend more if they receive a personalized mobile coupon?

Customers today don’t want to feel like just another number on your marketing or email list. They want to feel important, they want the experience and to feel unique and involved.

As a result, providing a personalized customer experience has become the ultimate goal for every marketer.

However, it’s only ambition for most.

Reportedly 89% of brands struggle to deliver personalized digital customer experiences. As a result, there is a considerable gap between what customers want and what brands offer them.

Rich SMS helps deliver personalized experiences based on the users’ interests and preferences.

Imagine that instead of sending and receiving an email blast about all offers on a website, you only get the promotions on your car or car service or say shoes as this is what you’re looking to buy. Rich SMS makes it possible.

Below is an example:

An example of personalised Rich SMS messageRich SMS personalised experience example

As you can see,  the consumer swipes left or right to indicate what products they are looking to purchase. After they’ve liked or disliked specific product categories, they are offered a personal selection based on their choices.

Rich SMS is great as it checks off 3 different boxes at the same time:

  • It provides the customer with an offer/promotion
  • It’s personalized to them
  • It’s interactive and engages them in the selection process, not before hoping they have memory recall

5) Gamification of your content raises engagement

Gamification is defined by Google as:

“The application of elements of game playing to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.”

I’m pretty confident that you’ve interacted with some gamified elements yourself without even realizing it.

The most common gamification techniques are leaderboards, badges, and upvotes.  Many forums use them to rank each member by the number of their comments, replies, upvote/down votes and other activities in an online community.

People love it to be rewarded and proudly show off their status. It’s human nature.

Gamification is a pretty powerful technique to increase engagement, raise brand awareness, and make content interactive and enjoyable.

Gamification is something you’d want to implement in your marketing strategy, the benefits are immense and in many instances can take content viral.

Adding gamification techniques to your content is easy with Rich SMS. Scratchcards, memory games, shake-to-reveal games, you name it. Rich SMS allows you to get creative.

6) Sending any type content is possible

It might be a cliché but, it’s often been said that a picture is worth 1000 words.

We are visual creatures.

For example, research found that people exposed to directions consisting of text with illustrations do 323% better than people following directions without illustrations; who knew visual elements make that much of a difference.  It does.

For the very same reason articles with images get 94% more views and receive more social media shares than those without images.

Visual images and content is not only important; it’s critically important. If you want to make your content appealing and engaging, make sure it visual.

Traditional SMS text messages are restrictive, in both the ability to expand words and creativity. You are limited to 160 characters to communicate your message, and there is no way to incorporate images.

Welcome to Rich SMS.

Rich SMS allows you to send virtually any kind of content through rich media messages: mNewsletters, special offers or promotions, new product launches, reminders, videos, coupons, courtesy messages, etc., there is no limit.

Best of all, the content is optimized for all types of mobile devices, so a dealership or brand can be confident they are delivering the best possible user and customer experience.

7) Improved UX

As the mobile-first continues to grow, the user experience on mobile also becomes increasingly important.

In fact, mobile user experience (UX) is critical, so critical that 46% of people said that they wouldn’t purchase from a brand again if they had an interruptive mobile experience.

So, if you don’t want to lose customers, you need to make sure that your dealership and/or brand provides the best possible mobile experience, be it in-app, the mobile version of your website, SMS, or similar.

Rich SMS can help you enrich, the mobile experience for customers. Rich SMS gives you the opportunity to engage with consumers where they are and on their preferred channel.

This coupled with the personalized experience provided Rich SMS a potent tool to deliver an outstanding user experience.

8) Get a better return

We know that no marketing technique is that great unless it brings a healthy return on investment (ROI) to the table.

Now the good news and great news:

The good news is that SMS text messages have an 8% conversion rate, which surpasses email marketing open rate which sits between 1% and 6% for the top performing categories.

The great news is that Rich SMS has the upper hand. An aggregate of A/B testing campaigns showed that Rich SMS could bring up to 49% more revenue compared to SMS text messages. The other benefit is it’s easy to add on retargeting ads to reinforce your brand message or special offer.


As mobile-first adoption increases as the first point of interaction to fulfill a consumers needs, communication via SMS presents even a tremendous opportunity for marketers and brands.

SMS remains an untapped and unexplored avenue for many brands, giving the opportunity for savvy marketers to gain competitive advantage.

Rich SMS has all the benefits of SMS text messages and even email but also provides an exceptional personalized user experience thanks to the ability to add rich media content and gamification.

The ultimate goal of every marketing activity is to engage the consumer with personalization resulting in a  high engagement level.  Rich SMS can aid in accomplishing these goals.

Carol Forden is a Marketing Consultant who specializes in Content Marketing for the Auto Industry. Carol can be reached at carolforden.com