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I think you’ve probably heard the buzz…mobile marketing is HOT, and that’s true, but instead of convincing you why mobile is important (it is), I want to take a look at how marketers are communicating to their customers via mobile devices. Marketers communicate with their audiences via mobile on virtually every channel and that’s because people spend tons of time on their mobile phones. In fact, according to the Marketo Mobile Benchmark Survey, 72% of people spend two or more hours a day on their mobile devices.

You need to consider creating a mobile experience when you craft your social media messages, develop your responsive website and landing pages, and send emails, but there are three types of messages that are specific to mobile that marketers use to communicate with customers: SMS/MMS, push notifications, and in-app messaging. These three types of messages are similar in that they uniquely exist on mobile devices, but different in the marketing objective they fulfill. Check out our handy video blog here to quickly get up to speed on this topic:

Now, let’s dig deeper into each of these types of messages:


SMS, or short message service, is a mobile text that can be sent peer-to-peer (like a standard text message) or from a mobile messaging service provider (a marketing message). A consumer must opt into this type of messaging either on your website, through an email subscription request, or through your mobile application. SMS can be a great technique to get directly in front of your consumer in a fast, effective, and concise manner. This is because SMS is:

  • A fast and efficient way to engage with your customer
  • Able to be sent at high volumes (they can often be delivered to your customers in less than 15 seconds)
  • One of the simplest forms of mobile marketing (most cell phone carriers accept SMS messages)
  • Short—A standard SMS message can fit up to 160 characters (keep that in mind for messaging)

2. Push Notifications

Push notifications are messages or alerts delivered by your app to the user. A push notification is typically a text that appears on a user’s home screen of her mobile device. This notification appears whether or not the user is engaged with the app or has it open. For a push notification to work, the user needs to have already downloaded your app, and in most cases, agreed to allow push notifications. The text is often an alert about an event, activity, discount, or something actionable that prompts the user to open the app or click on the notification to complete the action. It’s up to the marketer to recognize opportunities for push notifications, compose the message, and measure the impact.

3. In-App Messaging

In-app communications direct your user’s attention to specific actions, messages, and features within the app. They are an important way for you to engage your users and lead them to complete actions that keep them returning to your app. Notifications allow the marketer to communicate and engage with users while they are actually using the app—from introducing new features, to offering coupons, to notifying them of their usage, and more. You can also test features, messages, and promotions within the app to see what does best and then optimize based on user response. In-app messaging enables marketers to be more personal and creative than with SMS or push notifications because they already have the user in-app and are not limited by space constraints or message volume issues.

Here’s a helpful chart from our Definitive Guide to Mobile Marketing that helps define the differences and similarities between the three types of mobile messages:

Marketo_The difference between SMS/MMS, Push and In-app notifications

How are you using mobile messages in your marketing today? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!