How to Send Rich Media in 160 Characters

Published on January 28, 2016

Using images and rich media in your SMS marketing campaigns

Even though SMS messages are limited to 160 characters, you’re not limited to just letters and numbers. In those 160 characters, you can fit many different forms of rich media using a shortlink. Any form of mobile-optimized content can be delivered to your subscribers immediately, including:

  • Images—Send photo galleries to potential buyers
  • Coupons—Send printable discounts and promotions
  • Videos—Send a YouTube or Vimeo link of your latest event
  • Newsletters—Keep your subscribers up to date with announcements and events

Including rich media in your text message marketing campaign gives your subscribers more content to peruse, share, and engage with.

"SMS isn’t known for rich media, but that’s all the more reason to add images to your text message promotions."

Benefits of sending images and rich media with SMS instead of email

SMS is a great platform to reach your customers, and it has several distinct advantages over email.

  • Always inbox
    Most people’s inboxes are clogged with messages from newsletters and promotions. Fortunately, most people’s SMS inboxes are relatively quiet. SMS lets you stand out in the competition.
  • Instant delivery
    Text messages are delivered to customers almost immediately, even in areas without internet connectivity. Emails, on the other hand, must be synced with an internet connection.
  • High open rates
    Once delivered, text messages are far more likely to be read than emails. According to a 2010 survey by Frost & Sullivan, over 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes, compared to 22% for email, 29% for tweets, and 12% for Facebook posts.

Benefits of sending rich media in SMS

SMS isn’t known for rich media, but that’s all the more reason to add image shortlinks to your text message promotions.

  • A picture’s worth a thousand words
    Sometimes, you can’t say everything that you need to in 160 characters. To fully express your ideas to your subscribers, you can link to an image. This image can be a coupon, photo, illustration, flyer, or anything else that helps get the point across.
  • Greater engagement
    Images are easier to share on social media. If your customers like your promotion, then sharing the accompanying image is easier than sharing the text message itself.
  • Breaking up the routine
    Most text messages don’t contain images. When you do add an image to a text, it creates an additional layer of novelty and excitement surrounding your message.

Benefits of using shortlinks in text marketing messages

Adding shortlinks to SMS messages is an effective alternative to sending MMS messages, which can contain embedded rich media.

  • Cost-effective
    You can send SMS messages at a low, flat rate, even if you’re sending in bulk.
  • Trackable
    Shortlinks let you track the number of clicks on each link you send. With this information, you can tweak and optimize your campaigns to get the best results.
  • Universal
    Most mobile users can receive SMS messages for free, but not all can receive MMS messages for free.

Phone sending rich media in SMS messageHow businesses and organizations use rich media

Here are some ideas on how you can utilize images to engage your subscribers.

  • Retailers
    Brick-and-mortar and online businesses can both benefit from sending coupons by text message. Coupons can either be barcodes or QR codes, and instant deliverability increases the likelihood that customers will use the coupon immediately.
  • Schools
    Educational institutions can send flyers out to students to publicize events, safety issues, or health concerns. Since texts are delivered instantly, you can communicate with your students quickly.
  • Entertainment venues
    Concert halls, event spaces, bars, and clubs can attach flyers to text messages to publicize upcoming acts, special promotions, or other events.
  • Political campaigns
    In tight races, campaigns need to communicate with their supporters quickly and effectively. Campaigns can attach polling location maps to their text messages, or attach flyers to publicize upcoming events or initiatives.

For additional ideas on how to incorporate text message marketing into your business, see our industry guides. Incorporating rich media is just another great way to engage with your audience and stand out in the crowd.