How is a basic SMS Text Alert built?

When we construct an SMS Text Alert, it is limited to 160 characters (including spaces) to incur a single charge for each text sent. Longer messages up to 320 characters cost double, which usually makes the jump to MMS more cost-effective than sending long SMS texts.

What are the Advantages of SMS texts?

There are some advantages to sending SMS over MMS aside from cost. First, SMS is less expensive for simple messaging. SMS is more deliverable to older phones. Any modern smartphone can receive either an SMS or an MMS and display it clearly, but older phones can struggle to display the text, image and/or video components of an MMS.

SMS is typically sufficient for an opt-in Text Alert asking recipients to consent to ongoing outreach via phone, text, email, etc. Most simple opt-in requests can fit within 160 characters. For more complex messaging, MMS is better.

Is it worth upgrading to MMS texts?

Aside from allowing unlimited characters in a single message, MMS texts can also include .jpg /.png /.gif images, an .mp3 audio clip or an .mp4 video/audio file. (File size limit currently 500KB) All text is loaded as a .txt file, and additional media can be added to enhance basic messaging.

In our experience, the biggest advantage of MMS vs SMS is authentication. A simple SMS can appear to be inauthentic to message recipients.

By adding more text – like a URL that links to an important web page – we can authenticate outbound messages and provide much more information. Adding an official image like a logo or campaign banner helps as well. Attaching an audio or video clip can work to both improve impact and validate the message source, but some phone users will refuse attachments.

Customizing targeted text messages:

Every outreach initiative is unique, and TTHM encourages discussing all text options to determine the best balance of cost, deliverability and impact. A few considerations when constructing a text outreach campaign:

  • Short or long-term outreach goals?
  • Use SMS or MMS texts?
  • Formal or informal tone?
  • What response scripts are needed?
  • Which demographics/geographic areas?
  • Where do we source targeted data?