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MMS vs SMS: When Should You Use SMS and MMS for Marketing?

Oct 22, 2020

Businesses have two primary options to communicate with customers via text messaging. 

SMS, which stands for Short Message Service, is a popular type of messaging that allows you to send up to 160 characters of text. MMS, short for Multimedia Messaging Service, is a variation of texting that enables you to insert pictures, video and other types of content into a text. 

Understanding how SMS and MMS differ will help you determine the best ways to use them in your marketing strategy. Today we’ll compare MMS vs. SMS and talk about the most common use cases for both, so that you can reach your customers most effectively.

What Is SMS?

SMS (Short Message Service) is a popular type of business messaging that allows text-only messages to be sent to mobile devices. SMS differs from personal text messaging in its ability to send bulk messages faster and more cost effectively. 

SMS falls into a different category than “over-the-top” (OTT) applications like iMessage, WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger. OTT apps require WiFi or a mobile internet connection, whereas SMS only requires a mobile network connection.

More than 5 billion people worldwide can send and receive SMS messages, making it the most widespread and popular method of mobile communication.

What Is MMS?

MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service. MMS uses the same technology as SMS. But as the name suggests, it enables you to send text messages containing a range of multimedia content, including pictures, audio, video files and GIFs.

Most mobile devices support MMS texting. If a recipient’s device does not support MMS messages, they’ll receive a text message directing them to the URL where they can view it. 

MMS vs SMS: 3 Key Differences 

What is the difference between SMS and MMS? While both come from the same technology, they differ in a few key ways: 

3 Differences between SMS and MMS

  1. Character Limits: SMS limits texts to 160 characters. MMS messages can handle up to 1,600 characters but enable file sizes up to 500 KB of data (equivalent to a 30-second video or audio clip).
    Send 300-character SMS messages with Textedly!
  2. Supported Media: SMS can only support media via links that are attached within a text. MMS allows you to embed rich media, such as images, audio files, short video clips and GIFs. 
  3. Cost: MMS messages typically cost more than SMS because MMS messages transmit more data. The price for bulk SMS and MMS varies by provider. Textedly’s SMS marketing packages start at $29 per month for 1,200 messages.

MMS vs SMS: Which One Should You Use? 

SMS and MMS both enable you to connect with customers without requiring them to open an email or switch on the TV. They provide a seamless way to get in touch with customers, remind them of your presence and prompt them to return to your business. 

When choosing between SMS and MMS, consider your goals, objectives and the type of content you plan to send. Here are some questions you should ask yourself: 

  • What is your budget? SMS is typically cheaper, so you’ll be able to send more messages at a more affordable cost per message.
  • Is your message informational or promotional? Informational messages work best via SMS. Promotions and creative messages can go both ways, but you’ll have more creative leeway with MMS.
  • How long is the content you want to send? SMS character restrictions could be an obstacle if you need to send lengthy messages.

Examples of MMS vs SMS Messages

When to Use SMS Marketing 

If you only need a few sentences to pass on important information (like appointment confirmations, reminders, customer service messages and authentications), SMS messages are your best bet.

SMS has a whopping 98% open rate, compared to a 20% open rate for email. Most people always have their phones on hand, so your message is likely to be read.

If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to reach a large number of customers, SMS marketing is the way to go.

Appointment Confirmations, Adjustments and Reminders

No-shows are a big problem for healthcare professionals, spas and salons, and all appointment-based businesses. Every missed appointment equates to lost revenue. 

Calling patients and clients to remind them of appointments can be effective. Still, this process is also time-consuming and prone to human error, especially in larger businesses. 

Sending automated appointment confirmations via SMS is an effective way to reduce missed appointments. You can send appointment confirmations, changes and timely reminders that will keep more bookings on your schedule.

Bill Payment Reminders

Collecting bill payments is a time-intensive burden for industries like healthcare, utilities and insurance. These businesses can set up automated SMS reminders to alert customers of upcoming payments, due dates and overdue payments.

One study found that SMS payment reminders increase on-time loan payments by 7-9%. Late payments decrease by an average of two days when companies send SMS reminders.  

Financial institutions can use SMS to communicate information about remaining loan balances or other credit arrangements. 

Subscription-based companies can also send text reminders for upcoming payment renewals for their service or products to increase customer lifetime value.

Critical System Alerts

System malfunctions, downtime and data breaches can damage a business’s reputation and harm customer relationships – especially when companies don’t communicate problems to customers promptly.

SMS alerts help you navigate situations like these. Businesses can immediately alert customers via SMS when a security breach or downtime occurs. Text message updates ensure that the right information is delivered to the right people, reliably and quickly.

Delivery Tracking

Customers crave real-time updates on packages and deliveries. SMS improves the shipping experience by automating delivery notifications

Package delivery services like DHL and FedEx are turning to SMS to keep customers informed with tracking and delivery updates. Many ecommerce companies also use SMS to notify customers when their orders have shipped and arrived at their destination. 

Use SMS to confirm shipping details immediately after order placement, and provide the option to defer delivery or choose a more convenient time. Constant text communication fosters  a better customer experience and helps delivery companies reduce costs due to lost or delayed items.

When to Use MMS Marketing

MMS allows you to enhance your messages with multimedia elements. You can embellish your texts with high-quality graphics, company logos, short videos or creative holiday designs to engage customers in a fresh new way. 

MMS messages give you the option to embed hyperlinks to direct customers to specific webpages or services you want to promote. You can also format MMS content with your company colors and logo to maintain a consistent brand image across all your marketing efforts. 

Pro Tip: Proceed with caution when creating content to send via MMS. Media will show up differently depending on the quality of the recipient’s phone and operating system. 

Images with certain resolutions may show up differently on Apple and Android phones. Conversely, an audio clip that's clear on one device may sound grainy on another. It’s always smart to test MMS messages on various devices before sending them out in bulk to your customers. 

Animated cards

Are you looking to send a thank-you card or holiday message to your customers? Instead of mailing or emailing a traditional card, send an animated card via MMS! 

Customers are much more likely to open animated cards. Non-traditional cards are far more memorable than the generic messages they receive in their email inbox from other companies. 

MMS is also a great option for sending business cards. Recipients can save important contact information directly on their mobile devices.

Promotions and Coupons

MMS messages work well for announcing promotional offers, coupons, discounts and sales. 

You can make your MMS offers easy to redeem by providing scannable coupons or personal redemption codes to each customer. Scannable coupons also protect your business because they prevent people from redeeming coupons multiple times.


Two-thirds of people would prefer to learn about a product or service by watching a video, and 75% of all video plays happen on mobile devices. 

Sending a short video via MMS is a great way to promote your product or service using a medium people appreciate and enjoy.

For example, a movie theater can send movie teaser trailers to their customer base via MMS to promote an upcoming film release.

Jumpstart Your Text Marketing Campaign With Textedly

If you’re still trying to decide which texting method to use, the good news is that there’s a place for both SMS and MMS in your marketing strategy. 

SMS is best suited for situations where you need to communicate information cheaply, such as reminders, announcements or updates. MMS is ideal for creative messages or promotions that would benefit from enhanced graphics, video or audio content. 

The SMS vs MMS use cases outlined in this article are here to guide you, but don’t hesitate to get creative – the possibilities with text marketing are endless! 

If you need a hand executing your SMS or MMS campaigns, Textedly is here to help. Textedly provides easy SMS and MMS solutions for businesses, so you can start messaging your customers right away.

Get started with Textedly’s free trial to kickstart your SMS marketing campaign.

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