Often customers and prospective customers will ask us if we can send pictures via text message or SMS. This almost always starts a conversation that ends with the other party feeling like another messaging provider has left out vital details that will greatly impact the decision of which provider to use.
Some providers promote the ability to deliver pictures via text message-we especially see this in real estate messaging programs. By its very nature text messaging is a “TEXT” message and is comprised of text and text alone. What most of these providers mean when they say that they can send pictures is that they can send a text message that contains a hyperlink to a website that hosts pictures. The recipient of the text message must then connect to the Internet with their phone in order to view the picture. As a side note many of the less expensive phones dont even allow one to click on a link in a text message. So, right now in order to deliver pictures via text, a “link” is provided so the pictures can be seen on the phone.
Sounds like just a matter of semantics right? The pictures can be seen on the phone and they were accessed via text message. Here is the part that is usually left out- in order to access the Internet via your cell phone you must have a data plan on your cell phone or you are going to pay a premium for the data access. At the moment that charge on the Verizon network is $1.99/Mb rounded UP to the nearest megabyte. Depending on the number of sites you access and the size of the pictures this could add up very quickly. To me the worst part of leaving this information out is that these messaging providers arent telling their customer that the consumer could incur a charge. I wouldnt want my potential customers getting charged to see pictures I was sending them.
There is an option out there that does enable you directly send a picture to a mobile phone. It is called MMS (multimedia messaging service). Very few text messaging providers utilize MMS for two reasons:
- not all of the carriers support sending MMS from a short code so we can only reach a small portion of the population
- MMS is much more expensive than SMS
So, if you are searching for a messaging provider and come across one that promotes that they can send pictures, here are a few questions you might want to ask:
- Are the pictures actually sent via MMS?
- Are you sending a hyperlink to the phone?
- Is there any way the consumer might incur a data charge using this service?
- How many consumers have data plans on their cell phones?
- Can you show me on my phone how it works?