SMS Marketing vs Mobile Marketing (What’s the Difference?)


In recent years, more and more people have been using mobile devices for their daily activities. Mobile devices don’t exclusively just mean phones, but also relate to tablets, and even watches. The strong adoption and overall reliance on smartphones pose an opportunity for marketing companies to adapt and improve the way they do businesses. 

This also meant that marketing firms had to acknowledge that marketing on mobile devices has turned into an effective strategy. As such, they needed to make their content and marketing strategies friendly to general phone users. While many have since adjusted to meet the shift in platform demand in the industry, others may still be left in the dark. 

The purpose of this post is to provide you, the reader, with two types of digital marketing geared toward mobile phones and similar devices, what they are, and how they are different from one another. 

What is SMS Marketing?

The Benefits of Email and SMS Marketing Combined – KitschyImage Source:

Short message service (SMS) marketing makes use of phones and sends text messages with the purpose of delivering marketing or promotional content to potential customers. Usually, these messages can include info on hot deals, new items, or special sales and discounts. 

SMS marketing operates the same as traditional email marketing, with the biggest differences being the platform it’s being delivered on and the length of the message. SMS messages are short, easy to read, and straight to the point. Even so, a good campaign doesn’t compromise the marketability and selling points of the item being marketed. 

What are the Benefits of SMS Marketing?


  • It provides an immediate channel

One of the reasons why SMS marketing is an effective promotional tool is due to the channel it immediately has access to. Because most people always have their phones at arm’s reach, it’s virtually impossible for them not to read through your message. 

As a matter of fact, within 15 minutes of initial delivery, there is a high read rate of 97%. Additionally, almost half of the SMS campaigns being distributed receive a positive return on investments, with that statistic increasing further when in tandem with email and social media marketing strategies. 

  • It takes advantage of a large audience pool

With SMS marketing, although the effort required may not be as significant as with other content channels, it remains an effective tool for businesses since it taps into a comprehensively wide pool of mobile users.

Because of this vast pool of potential, your business can almost guarantee that an SMS marketing campaign will reach its intended audience. Even if the average turnover per conversion may not be as big, another consolation is more people become aware of your brand and the products or services being sold.

  • It’s generally more cost-effective than other marketing tactics and strategies

Compared to other forms of promotional content, SMS marketing has proven to be both effective in generating returns and cost-efficient. With its ability to be both customizable and accessible to anyone with a phone, SMS marketing beats the traditional use of billboards or tarpaulins, which are generally more expensive alternatives. 

Making use of SMS marketing also allows you or other relevant users to gauge the performance of your campaign, and can adjust accordingly, which isn’t the case with other traditional forms of marketing content.

  • You can increase customer engagement

SMS marketing tools allow businesses to connect with potential clients and create meaningful engagements with them as customers. Through this personal connection with clients, your business can keep them updated and informed about what’s happening with your business, what new items they can expect, and if there are any ongoing sales or discounts currently being offered. 

  • You can access data to monitor and learn from

Because opting for SMS marketing lets you track performance and engagement, it can be added value to your business moving forward. This is because leading SMS platforms let you track return on investments, key engagement metrics, and other relevant indicators that reveal consumer patterns and trends. 

When your business has gathered a significant volume of audience data, you can use it to make more informed decisions. Additionally, you can also use these insights to make targeted campaigns that showcase a deeper understanding of your current audience.

When Should I Use SMS Marketing?


  • Retail promotions

SMS marketing can be the preferred mode of promotion when it comes to upcoming events for your business. Because timed store events drive up demand and revenue, text messages which are immediately received by people serve as the perfect way to convey these real-time communications to customers. 

  • Urgent updates

SMS marketing can be used to let your patrons know what happens or has happened to your business in the event of order delivery, as well as store updates to incidents that occur in a branch store. 

  • Appointment reminders

Your business may run on an appointment schedule, so this is one of the times SMS marketing can act as a handy tool for your daily operations. By sending reminders about an appointment made by a client, you can be confident that they will receive the message as soon as possible. 

SMS Marketing Tools

SMS marketing platforms such as Semaphore allow businesses to send SMS messages to customers and manage their campaigns from a single dashboard.

SMS automation tools like Zapier and can be used to automate SMS workflows, such as sending messages triggered by user behavior or events.

SMS analytics tools such as Semaphore also allow businesses to track and analyze the performance of their SMS campaigns, like by measuring open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates.

Mobile landing page builders such as Unbounce can be used to create mobile-optimized landing pages that are designed to convert SMS traffic into leads or sales.

SMS survey tools like SurveyMonkey and Qualtrics allow businesses to gather customer feedback and insights via SMS, helping them to improve their product or service offerings.

SMS Marketing Tips

  • Keep your SMS messages short, concise, and relevant to the recipient.
  • Always obtain express consent from customers before sending SMS messages.
  • Use automation and personalization to tailor your SMS messages to specific customer segments.
  • Include clear calls to action (CTAs) that encourage customers to take action, such as redeeming an offer or visiting your website.
  • Track and analyze your SMS campaign performance to optimize your strategy, such as by measuring open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates.

What is Mobile Marketing?

Image Source:

Whereas SMS marketing thrives almost exclusively through text messaging across compatible devices, mobile marketing operates on a wider scope and range of devices. Aside from smartphones and tablets, mobile marketing has also recently started extending to other devices without SMS capabilities, like smartwatches. 

Another difference mobile marketing has over SMS marketing is the former’s capability to use content marketing tools to send ads to audiences. These tools typically range from SMS to social media or mobile apps that help your business market your product or service. 

Because this marketing strategy covers a broader scope of channels, different types exist depending on the platform and scope. 

  • Video ads

Most mobile phones allow for videos to be viewed in-app, so your business can promote your products or services through these video-enabled applications like YouTube. 

  • Mobile apps

One of the biggest culprits for people using their phones too much is the applications installed on the phone. An estimated 89% of phone time is spent on apps. Because these apps receive high, long-term engagement, your campaigns are seen by more people, increasing brand awareness over time. 

  • In-game mobile

Your business can also make use of mobile games as a location for ads and other marketing content. Because so many popular games exist, you won’t find a shortage of places to buy ad space. 

  • Location-based

Usually best if you’re a restaurant or retail store, location-based ads pop up if someone is nearby your physical address. This is meant to entice them to stop by since the venue is near to where they are. 

  • Mobile search ads

These utilize search engines that offer users ads compatible with mobile devices, meaning these are the promoted things you find when you browse through search engines, like Google or Yahoo.

What are the Benefits of Mobile Marketing?


  • Wider audience reach potential

Billions of people globally own a smartphone, making it easy for your business to reach a more diverse set of audiences. Along with the platform also come instruments and online tools that can help you distinguish different demographics, like age, gender, and location.

Through these tools, you can not only have bigger access to clients, but you can also segment them accordingly and target the ones you’d like to focus on. 

  • It is immediate and accessible

Like its SMS counterpart, mobile marketing is quick and fast to execute. Because people are on their phones for a significant portion of their day, your campaign will likely get immediate engagement upon launch. This level of accessibility lets your business reach audiences anytime and anywhere. 

  • It’s versatile with multiple marketing channels

To add to an already large pool of potential clients, mobile marketing also lets your business have a wider reach in terms of platforms and channels, making for an even wider reach. It also helps that most of web traffic occurs on mobile phones, at almost 60% as of 2022. 

Platforms and tools like mobile websites, mobile-friendly applications, and in-app mobile marketing can significantly fast-track your company’s journey to brand awareness and drive growth at a much faster pace.

  • It’s cost-effective

Like SMS marketing, mobile marketing benefits from being more affordable compared to other marketing strategies, namely traditional marketing strategies or those catered for desktop viewing. In fact, mobile marketing clicks cost 24% less than clicks from desktop equivalents. 

While being cost-effective is a plus for any scale of business, marketing has become much more accessible for small to medium-sized businesses, or any company on a budget. 

  • Results are trackable

Another benefit mobile marketing shares with SMS marketing is the ability for you to track the performance of each post or campaign. This means you’ll be able to monitor campaign performance live and make adjustments when needed. You can also use the more accurate and relevant data to improve future initiatives and strategies.  

When Should I Use Mobile Marketing?

Because there is an overlap between mobile marketing and SMS marketing, a lot of the examples used generally for SMS marketing can also be applied to mobile marketing. 

Despite the similarities shared by the two, your business should opt for mobile marketing strategies if you want to widen your scope to platforms that aren’t exclusive to SMS. To an extent, mobile marketing takes advantage of the potential pool of clients more than SMS marketing does, since there are more people being targeted due to more channels being available. 

Mobile Marketing Tools

Mobile advertising platforms such as Google Ads and Facebook Ads allow businesses to create and run mobile ads targeted to specific audiences.

Mobile app analytics tools like Google Analytics enable businesses to track and analyze user behavior within their mobile apps.

Mobile push notification tools such as OneSignal allow businesses to send push notifications to users and manage their campaigns from a single dashboard.

Mobile wallet marketing platforms such as Apple Wallet and Google Pay Passes enable businesses to create digital passes and coupons that users can save and redeem on their mobile devices.

QR code generators such as QR Code Generator allow businesses to create and track QR codes, which can be used to promote products or events.

Mobile Marketing Tips

  • Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly and responsive to provide a seamless experience for mobile users.
  • Use targeted and personalized messaging to engage your audience and provide value to the user experience.
  • Optimize your mobile campaigns for local searches by including location-based keywords, such as city or state.
  • Utilize push notifications to provide timely and relevant information to customers, such as product updates or promotions.
  • Track and analyze your mobile campaign performance to optimize your strategy, such as by measuring engagement rates, conversion rates, and user behavior.

Message Has Been Sent!

While both SMS and mobile marketing share a good amount of similarities, its differences lie in their niche and specifications in terms of scope and reach. In short, SMS marketing is part of the bigger umbrella that is mobile marketing.  

Keeping up to date with SMS means understanding the impact it can have on your business operations.

For any consultations, concerns, or inquiries about SMS for businesses, contact our experts at Semaphore.

Alex built Semaphore’s tech backbone and keeps it running smoothly. With deep experience in tech: Over 20 years in Web Development, IT and Infrastructure; 10+ years management experience in technology; and an expert in enterprise application architecture, development and tech processes, Alex is an old-hat in bridging the gap between geeks and suits as well as applying tech to real-world business problems. Connect with Alex on LinkedIn.