A beginner’s guide to speaking mobile

Sometimes talking about SMS feels like learning a new language. In the world of mobile messaging, this starts with even the most basic acronyms. This is a post that breaks down some of the basics.

OpenMarket – April 4, 2017

It’s always the same when you start out learning something new. It feels like learning a new language. And sometimes as if people are just making things up as they go along.

In the world of mobile messaging, this starts with even the most basic acronyms. You quickly get your head around “P2P”; that’s person-to-person texting, the kind of texting you do every day. The problems start when you find out that enterprise-to-person texting (the kind your business wants to do) isn’t called E2P, but A2P. The ‘A’ stands for ‘application’ and identifies the thing actually sending the text message – an automated application.

Different types of messages

So, if you want to send automated text messages to millions of customers, you’re looking for an A2P SMS solution. But SMS isn’t the only kind of message…

You’re probably familiar with the SMS acronym (even if you don’t know it stands for ‘short message service’) because it’s a term that’s been around for decades. But there are two other acronyms you need to know to get the full messaging picture: MMS and RCS.

MMS stands for ‘multimedia messaging service’ and, as the full name suggests, it means a message that can include more that text: things like images, sound clips and videos.

RCS means ‘rich communication services’. It’s the next evolution in messaging, making text fit for the smartphone age. With RCS you can send richer multimedia files – and get visibility on things like whether a phone is switched on, whether a message has been delivered and live typing so you can prioritize responses and resolve interactions more quickly.

Some key technical terms

As well as the different types of message, there are some fairly common technical terms you’ll need to know to navigate the mobile messaging landscape.

First off, another acronym: API. This stands for ‘application programming interface’. You use APIs to automate your messaging process. When you’re sending hundreds of thousands of messages, you can’t have people physically typing them. So, in your business you have a CRM working out who you need to contact and a marketing tool working out what the message needs to be. The API is what connects those tools to an SMS provider (like OpenMarket), so that message gets sent out automatically.

Spend any time reading about mobile messaging and you’re also bound to find people talking about long codes and short codes. This just means the different kinds of numbers that can send texts: a long code looks like a regular cell number whereas a short code usually has 5 or 6 digits. Whether you use a long or short code depends on the country you’re operating in and the different rules that apply.

Another common message type is text-enabled toll-free or landline numbers. In the US, these numbers simply allow you to use existing toll-free numbers or landlines to send and receive text messages. By providing this option, you can offer your customers a choice of how to interact with your company. “Call or text us at 1-800-YOURNUMBER” is a common call-to-action.

And while we’re on the topic, you’ll also need to think about alphanumeric sender IDs. This is what you use when you want your customer to see your company’s name as the sender rather than a number they don’t know. Having your name there likely inspires more confidence in whoever is receiving the message.

Next-level knowledge

The terms we’ve listed here are enough for you to start talking mobile. But it’s likely there’s going to be more you need to get to grips with along the way. That’s why we’ve got a whole page that answers all the fundamental mobile messaging questions, including an SMS Glossary.

Talking the mobile messaging talk is what we love – so if you’ve got any questions at all, we’d love to help you answer them. Get in touch.

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