MMS vs SMS What is the Difference

MMS vs. SMS: What’s the Difference Between These Text Messaging Formats?

Reality check: What is MMS vs SMS?

Does it even matter? Which is more effective? Does one get higher response rates? And, not to be overlooked, how do they compare in cost?

Today I’ll share how MMS and SMS compare and why they’re among my favorite re-engagement channels to help businesses owners and marketers get clear on how these messaging forms work and how they can be used for best-in-class customer outreach.

MMS vs SMS: How Are They Different and How Do They Compare?

SMS stands for short message service. It’s what we all colloquially refer to as a text message by mobile phone. SMS is all text, and the length is limited to 160 characters.

MMS stands for multimedia message service. This is a text message that includes additional media, such as an attached file, a website link, an emoji, or a video. Should you decide to include text in an MMS, you have a maximum limit of 1,600 characters.

There’s some debate over MMS vs. SMS when it comes to text as a marketing medium. Here are the key takeaways:

  • SMS is text character-only messages with a 160-character maximum.
  • MMS enables text along with additional media, ranging from short videos to GIFs.
  • MMS has a 1,600-character limit.

MMS vs SMS: Which is right for you?

Perform A/B testing to determine whether your audience responds better to SMS or MMS messages. 

Some audiences respond better to straight-to-the-point text-only message. Others react more positively to diverse media with colorful imagery and moving graphics.

You know your audience better than anyone else, and can learn their engagement behavior by testing both MMS and SMS formats; examine your metrics to see if MMS vs SMS yields higher engagement.

What about pricing MMS vs SMS?

MMS costs more than SMS because sending multimedia files requires a greater transmission of data. The price varies from carrier to carrier. 

On average, sending an MMS is about three to five times the cost of sending an SMS. 

When to use MMS vs SMS messaging

SMS and MMS have their respective use cases. Know when to differentiate between using SMS and MMS depending on the situation.

When to use SMS messaging

Use SMS messaging to keep the message short and sweet. This is great for sending alerts, reminders, or confirmations. It’s also useful for text-to-join campaigns to build SMS subscribers

If you’re targeting a large audience, text messages keep the cost down.

When to use MMS messaging

Use MMS messages when you want to show off or highlight something new. Good instances for using MMS include:

  • Introducing a product with an image or video of the product in use
  • Announcing an event with an image asset or GIF
  • Sending a digital coupon
  • Sending digital birthday or special occasion cards

FAQs about SMS

Do you still have some questions about SMS and how it works? Here are the common inquiries.

What happens when SMS exceeds the 160-character limit?

Each carrier handles texts that exceed 160 characters differently. In most instances, the entire text arrives as separate messages. The separate messages form the entirety of the original message. You may be charged for the cost of the multiple SMS required to send the whole message.

How popular is SMS?

Why should SMS be a part of your marketing foray? Here are some stats courtesy of the business review site Finances Online.

  • SMS has a read rate of 98%, compared to just 20% for emails.
  • The average American consumer sends 13 SMS messages per day.
  • Americans sent a total of 2.1 trillion SMS messages in 2020.
  • 95% of users respond to an SMS message within three minutes of receiving it.

How is SMS different from iMessage and WhatsApp?

SMS messages are sent via your carrier’s cellular network. Messaging platforms like iMessage, WhatsApp, and Line are over-the-top (OTT) applications. These platforms send messages over the internet. Users need to download the message system’s app on their personal device to send an OTT message.

Pros and cons of MMS vs. SMS

One study revealed that MMS messages generated a 52% higher click-through rate (CTR) than SMS messages. (That’s a huge lift!)

Images and rich media often perform better than text-only messages. You do have to balance that with your costs since MMS will run 2X the cost of SMS.

And when it comes to some topics, industries, and the content of the messages, users may absolutely respond better to SMS vs MMS in some instances.

So which is better? 

You might know where this is headed. There are no absolutes in the comparison of SMS vs MMS. The only thing that can be done is to look at their respective pros and cons to see the overview of their differences, to test for yourself, and weigh your business needs.

SMS pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Quick and easy to send
  • Carriers may provide an unlimited texting plan
  • You can boost your campaign with SMS keywords

SMS cons

  • The text-only format may not elicit an optimal CTR
  • The 160-character limit may be insufficient for relaying more detailed messages

MMS pros

  • The media-rich format elicits a higher recipient engagement
  • You can send more in-depth messages with the 1600-character limit

MMS cons

  • More expensive to send; may not be ideal for startups on a smaller budget
  • Not all mobile devices can receive MMS messages

Benefits of Both MMS and SMS

  • Reach prospects and customers from their trusty mobile device
  • Connect with prospects and customers where they prefer to message with businesses
  • Automatically and instantly respond to customer and prospect inquiries
  • When text messages are combined with other messaging channels like email, conversion rate increases 10X or more!

Execute winning text and media messaging campaign with

Effective marketing requires diversification. The multiple approaches should include SMS, MMS, and OTT messaging. 

Use to integrate the messages from multiple platforms into a single messaging center. Organize your campaign for quicker message send-outs and response times. Request your free trial of SMS marketing platform today!

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