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MMS vs SMS: Which Is Right for Your Marketing Campaigns?

Jan 17, 2022


When businesses need to communicate with customers via text message, SMS and MMS are the two primary options. SMS is an excellent option if you only need to send short text-only messages, while MMS is suitable if you want to include media.

Understanding the difference between MMS and SMS will help you determine the best ways to use them in your marketing strategy.

Quick Answers: 

  • What is an SMS? An SMS (Short Message Service) is the most common type of text message that contains only plain text. 
  • What is an MMS? An MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) is a text message that, besides text, also contains visual media, such as a picture or video. 
  • The major difference between SMS vs MMS is that an MMS text message includes some type of multimedia attached to it, while an SMS only includes basic text. 

So let’s compare SMS versus MMS on a more granular level to understand their best use cases and when you should use them in your SMS campaigns so that you can reach your customers most effectively.

Table of contents:

  • SMS vs. MMS: 3 Key Differences 
  • Should You Use SMS or MMS? 
  • When to Use SMS for Marketing 
  • When to Use MMS for Marketing

SMS Versus MMS: 3 Key Differences

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



1. Character Limits: SMS limits texts to 160 characters. MMS messages can handle up to 1,600 characters and 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 attached within. 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 they transmit more data. The price for bulk SMS and MMS varies by provider. On average, the cost of an SMS can range from $0.01 to $0.05.  This price can decrease with higher volumes. The cost for MMS can range from $0.02 to $0.10. However, the prices can decrease with higher volumes. Textedly’s SMS marketing packages start at $26 per month for 600 messages.


Should You Use SMS or MMS?

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 campaign 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 send lengthy messages.


When to Use SMS Marketing

If you only need a few sentences to pass on important information (like the use cases detailed below), SMS messages are your best bet.

SMS has a whopping 99% open rate, compared to an average of 30.5% for email. Most people always have their phones on hand, so your recipients will likely read your messages.

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 other 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.

Read more: 45 Free Appointment Reminder Text Message Templates 


Bill Payment Reminders

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

Automating this process is an effective way to increase on-time payments. For example, when companies send SMS payment reminders, late payments decrease by an average of two days.  

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

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

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 notifications ensure that the correct 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 turn 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.

Read more: 10-Point Checklist for a Successful SMS Marketing Campaign 


When to Use MMS Marketing

MMS allows you to enhance your messages with multimedia elements. For example, 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 specific web pages 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. 

To keep your images from displaying poorly, especially across Apple and Android phones, you will need to optimize your multimedia messages for mobile. Conversely, an audio clip that’s clear on one device may sound grainy on another. Therefore, it’s always wise 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, and non-traditional cards are far more memorable than the generic messages other companies send.

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 (like barcodes or QR codes) or personal redemption codes to each customer. Scannable coupons also protect your business because they prevent people from redeeming coupons multiple times.


69% of people would prefer to learn about a product or service by watching a video. Overall, people are twice as likely to share video content with their friends than any other type of content.

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 via MMS to promote an upcoming film release to their target audience.

Read more: 7 MMS Campaign Best Practices to Nail Your Message 


FAQ About SMS vs MMS

Which is more cost-effective for marketing, SMS or MMS?

Determining the cost-effectiveness of SMS and MMS depends on your campaign's goals. SMS may be more cost-effective for straightforward, text-based communication with broad reach. For campaigns that rely on visual engagement and interaction, MMS might deliver better value despite the higher cost per message. 

When it comes to measuring the ROI (Return on Investment) of SMS versus MMS marketing campaigns, you should consider the effectiveness in terms of engagement, conversion rates, and overall impact on sales or awareness, in addition to the cost.

Can I send links in an SMS message?

Yes, you can include a clickable link in an SMS message, directing recipients to websites, landing pages, or other online resources. Just ensure that the link is concise and relevant to maximize engagement and avoid character limits.

Are there any restrictions on the types of media I can send using MMS?

Yes, there are restrictions on the types of media you can send via MMS, which are influenced by a combination of technical limitations, mobile network carrier policies, and legal considerations. 

These restrictions can vary by region, carrier, and even the mobile device receiving the message. Here are some of the key constraints:

  • File Size Limits: Typically ranges from 300KB to 3.5MB, depending on the carrier.
  • Media Formats: Common formats like JPEG, GIF, PNG for images; MP4, 3GP for videos; MP3, AAC for audio. Compatibility varies by device and carrier.

What are the open rates of SMS vs. MMS messages?

Generally speaking, SMS and MMS messages have a similar open rate of about 90%. This is mostly because the recipients can’t tell the difference before opening the message. However, data shows that, once the message is opened, MMS tends to have a higher engagement rate compared to SMS.

Can I use SMS and MMS together in my marketing strategy?

Absolutely! Combining SMS and MMS in your marketing strategy offers versatility and engagement. Use SMS for quick updates and text-based promotions, while leveraging MMS for impactful multimedia campaigns or visually appealing content delivery, ensuring a holistic approach to reaching your audience.


Jumpstart Your Text Marketing Campaign With Textedly

Still trying to decide which texting method to use? Here’s the good news: There’s a place for both SMS and MMS in your marketing strategy.

SMS is best suited for situations that require information to be communicated cheaply, such as reminders, announcements or updates. In addition, MMS is ideal for creative messages or promotions that 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.