Back in 2015, Forrester analyzed more than 2,000 posts and close to 12 million user interactions between social media users and the top 50 global brands. From this data, they concluded that most interactions with brands happen on Instagram. When you look at the chart, you can see that it wasn’t even close.
Fast forward five years, and some things have certainly changed. For one, Google+ was shut down just under a year ago, and #DeleteFacebook became a thing. Amongst the upheaval, the steady growth of Instagram––hitting 1 billion monthly active users last June––has been a constant.
We know what you’re thinking; you clicked into this article wanting to learn whether you should send your audience texts with photos. And we’ll get there. The point we are making here is that the visual nature of Instagram helped it conquer social media. Likewise, clever use of images in texts can help you conquer text marketing.
Without getting too scientific, 50% of our brain is dedicated to visual processing. As a result, research has shown that those who use visual communication to persuade an audience succeed 43% more often than those who rely on words alone.
If you are still not convinced, take a look at the results of an A/B test we ran recently.
A 52% Higher Click-Through-Rate With an MMS Message
Like all marketers, we have a penchant for a good ol’ fashioned A/B test. In this instance, we wanted to see if we could get some real data on whether people were more likely to click a link if the text included a photo (an MMS message).
If you’re a little confused as to what an MMS message is, don’t worry. MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service and was built using the same technology as SMS. It enables you to send multimedia content like images, audio, GIFs, and video files.
(If you want to know more about the difference between MMS and SMS, this article will answer all your questions.)
How We Ran an SMS Versus MMS A/B Test
The Barn Bowl & Bistro use text marketing to respond to downtimes and bring in customers immediately. Mike Sawyer, The Barn’s General Manager, has been a SimpleTexting customer for roughly three years but has never sent an MMS picture message to his audience.
We figured he was a perfect candidate to test our hypothesis, which was quite simple: The same text with an image will generate more engagement. To measure engagement, we planned to look at the click-through rate (CTR) of the messages.
Thankfully Mike was game. He told us he was sending out a campaign to promote his weekly Indian night that he would be happy to A/B test. A/B tests are something that most of our customers associate with email or social media ads, but it’s possible to use them to improve your text messaging strategy too.
To run the A/B test, we took The Barn’s main subscriber list and split it up into two random groups. Then we used the same copy on both messages, only including an image in one of the text messages. We also made sure to use SimpleTexting’s link tracking feature to ensure we could calculate the CTR once the messages sent.
We then scheduled both texts to go out at the same time. Here are the SMS and MMS side by side.
Even though we expected the text with the photo to perform better than the SMS, we were surprised by just how significant the increase was. The MMS message had a 5% CTR, 52% higher than the text with no image. It also happened to be the highest CTR on any of The Barn’s campaigns to date.
When Should You Include a Photo With Your Text?
While including images in your text messages can improve CTRs, it might not make sense in all circumstances. For example, if you are reminding someone that their dry cleaning is ready for pick up, you probably don’t need to send them a picture.
Conversely, certain industries will benefit more from including photos. It’s clear from our A/B test that food is one such industry. The same can be said for e-commerce, tourism, real estate, and any other highly visual vertical.
If you want to know when you should include a photo with your text, here are some examples to help you understand when it makes a ton of sense.
1. Show Off Your Product
If you want people to engage with your product, sometimes it can be best to show and not tell. These picture messages should use only the best product photography and include a short call-to-action such as a promo code or free shipping.
2. Special Announcements and News
If your business has a special announcement or news, then you can generate even more excitement by including visual content. This approach makes a ton of sense if your special announcement revolves around a product or service launch.
3. Recovering Abandoned Carts
If you sell online, you could use MMS when sending messages to customers about abandoned shopping cart products. It could include the image of the item and gently remind customers that it’s time to purchase. (We recently wrote about abandoned shopping carts in great detail here.)
4. Event Invitations
If you’re hosting an event, you can send a visual of what to expect, enticing people to attend. You can even ask recipients to RSVP with a “Yes” or “No.”
5. Running Competitions
Creating good content is one of the most significant challenges for marketers out there. You could run a contest where you give away free products or services in return for user-generated content.
For example, you could ask customers to text you photos of them using your product. You can share these photos across your marketing channels.
6. For a Personal Touch
If you are a realtor, you could send your clients pictures of houses or features that they like. Supporting this kind of personal communication is one thing that picture messages can help you achieve.
7. Send Mobile Coupons
MMS coupons have a redemption rate up to eight times higher than coupons attached to emails. Given that 98% of text messages are opened, it’s a recipe for success.
The bottom line is that people respond well to images, so it’s not surprising that text messages with pictures drive more engagement. Our A/B test confirmed our hunch.
The truth about what’s more effective for you will depend on your industry and use-case. We assume that MMS performs better in the vast majority of cases, but we can only recommend that you test it yourself.
And if you do run a test, send us your results (email@example.com), and we’ll update this blog with more real-world examples!
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