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SMS Vs. Text: What Is the Difference?

Jul 29, 2020

Americans send roughly 26 billion text messages every day – so you’ve likely seen the acronym “SMS” being thrown around. But if you’re not familiar with common text message lingo, you may be wondering – what’s the difference between an SMS and a text?

In this article, we’ll cover the need-to-know basics of SMS and debunk the common misconceptions about SMS vs. text messaging.

What Is the Difference Between SMS and Text? 

Contrary to popular belief, an SMS and a text are actually the same thing. So, if you’re like 97% of Americans, you already use SMS daily. 

In the mobile age, most people prefer to text in both personal and professional settings as a means of quick and effective communication. Over 5 billion people around the world can send and receive SMS messages. 

Most people use SMS to communicate with friends and family. You may even use it to confirm appointments with your doctor’s office or to redeem a coupon from your favorite restaurant. 

What Is SMS?

SMS, an acronym for Short Message Service, is a text message composed of up to 160 alphanumeric characters. 

SMS messages are often used for small-talk or short, personal conversations, like asking a family member about their day or wishing a friend a “Happy Birthday.” 

From a business standpoint, SMS is becoming a popular tool for communicating important information and marketing messages to customers. Whether it be a coupon, reminder or special offer, SMS enables businesses to communicate with customers quickly and effectively from anywhere in the world. 

98% of all SMS messages are opened by the recipient. This makes SMS an attractive marketing channel over email, where only 20% of messages are opened. 

Learn about other common texting acronyms you should know.

What Is a Text? 

Yes, SMS and text messages are virtually the same – however, there are a couple of discrepancies when it comes to SMS vs. text. 

While SMS is one form of texting, you can also send MMS messages via text. 

An MMS, which stands for Multimedia Messaging Service, can contain up to 500kb of data, allowing users to send and receive pictures, videos and audio files while exceeding the 160 alphanumeric character limit of an SMS. 

With MMS, you can communicate across a wider variety of mediums compared to SMS.

What Does a Text Message Look Like?

A text message can look like a lot of things – formal or informal, long or short, simple or complicated – but all text messages should contain information that is relevant to both the sender and receiver. 

SMS text messages from businesses are typically short and to the point, easy to read, informative and persuasive. MMS messages often include an image, short video or audio clip along with a text message.

A business may send out a text message to customers that contains information, such as:

  • Sales, discounts or promotions
  • An appointment confirmation 
  • Order delivery notifications or status updates
  • Account notifications

For example, a local Italian restaurant may send a discount to its customer SMS loyalty program list. The text might look something like this:

what does a text message look like

Get Powerful SMS Campaigns Up and Running

Texting is a powerful business tool. 97% of companies found they communicated with consumers more efficiently after launching texting initiatives, and 85% of customers prefer receiving text messages over a phone call or email.

Ready to add  SMS to your company’s marketing arsenal? Textedly can help your business design creative text message campaigns that inspire trust and confidence. 

Sign up for a free Textedly trial today!

P.S. Check out our SMS Marketing Guide for more tips.