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SMS vs MMS: Pros and cons

They say a picture tells a thousand words. So if you want more profound engagement with customers, adding rich visual media such as images, videos, and more to your communications will help you drive better outcomes.

Deciding whether you want to upgrade to a more premium visual service like a Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) over SMS messages, however, can be tricky. That’s why we’ve put this handy comparison guide to help you make the best decision for your business.

SMS and MMS definition

It’s likely that you’re well aware of the SMS acronym but may have never heard of MMS.

SMS stands for Short Message Service, while MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service. Both get used by many businesses to send communications to customers, staff and stakeholders but in very different ways and purposes. We’ll examine this in more detail below.

RELATED: Learn everything you’ll ever need to know about MMS.

SMS are:
Short (160 characters)

Long (up to 5,000 characters)
Subject line (64 characters)
Text and pictures (410kb max .png, .apng, .jpg, .gif)

Difference between MMS and SMS text messaging

There are three significant differences for businesses that want to choose between sending MMS or SMS mobile marketing:

Versatile content

A significant difference between SMS and MMS texting technologies is the quality and quantity of your content sent to your mobile device. Limited to 160 characters and text-only, SMS can severely limit what your business wishes to do when sending and receiving texts.

With MMS marketing, you have more creative space to customise your messaging. For example, you can send multimedia or even add a subject line reminiscent of emails, which can jump out or entice recipients to keep reading. Additionally, there is no 160 character limit. Instead, you get the far roomier 5,0000 characters to lay out your message.

Higher engagement

Is higher engagement a top priority for your business communications? In this case, MMS far outpaces SMS. Most recipients are used to simple, non-branded text messages so imagine how attention will be caught and harnessed, with the addition of visuals and stand-out subject lines.

According to TechInAsia, MMS has:

  • Proven 15% higher click-through rate
  • Causes 20% fewer recipients to unsubscribe
  • 4x more likely to be shared with others

With MMS, you can even get users to send in images themselves if that works for your business. The opportunities for higher engagement are endless! If you want better results from customers, then MMS is the way to go.

RELATED: Learn how a text-in line using MMS by a trades work management platform helped drive down lead acquisition costs by 35% for their clients.

MMS vs SMS cost

As a more premium service, MMS as a messaging service can cost a little bit extra. For most providers, MMS can be about 5x time the cost of a single SMS.

If you’re working to a budget, consider whether the extra cost is worth the outcomes and fits the purpose of your sends. We’ll take you through a few examples below to help you make a better assessment.

If you’re still uncertain, our messaging experts can take you through the potential costs for a single campaign and what may help you get the best ROI.


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When do I use SMS or MMS messaging

It can be challenging to decide where to use MMS over SMS. Here are a few common messaging use cases where one is a better fit over the other:

Marketing campaigns or offer

If your brand is engaged in marketing, getting customers acting upon your messaging, offer, or campaign is of prime importance. While SMS does cut through, it may not cause them to work.

The addition of a visual can be a powerful trigger to act than words alone. In the example above, it’s the promise of winning that motivates the recipient to reply.

In other cases, it might be the visual reminder within an abandoned cart text that inspires a customer to finish their order. Travel businesses have used inspiring images of faraway vacations to lure shoppers into booking holidays 6+ months ahead.

If you want to add greater incentive for customers to act, add an image with MMS!

  MMS wins

Reminders and confirmations

SMS TEMPLATE: Your appointment with #DOCTOR# at #LOCATION# is confirmed. Please make sure to arrive 10 minutes early. We will see you on the #DATE#.

One of the most common uses for SMS is booking confirmations and reminders. Short and sweet, a simple text works perfectly to let patients and customers know that their booking has been received and scheduled by a clinic or salon.

Follow-up reminders are often automated a day before simply because they have one purpose: reinforce attendance. If you can condense communication to an informational exchange, SMS is the right way to go.

  SMS wins

Emergency information

SMS TEMPLATE: From #TIME# on #DATE#, there will be a mandatory quarantine for all employees who visited #LOCATION# in the past two weeks. Thank yo

As we have seen over the past year, having urgent communications ready to go in case of an emergency, such as a closure or OHS issue, is essential. Text messaging has often been relied on, from local businesses to entire governments, to get information to recipients fast and easily.

If you need to relay information quickly, keeping your messaging brief and without distraction can help. SMS is best, especially in keeping costs down, especially if further text broadcasts are required.

  SMS wins

Event invitations

Message: Rockstar VIP sales event, #DATE# #TIME#! Are you in? Book now by replying YES. Txt STOP to opt out.
Message 2: Thanks, #NAME#! Please find your ticket attached. See you on the #DATE#!

As with marketing campaigns and offers, event invitations look more inviting if you add a visual incentive. If a big drawcard to your event is network opportunities, save a few characters and imply that within the graphic and your subject line.

Additionally, consider using helpful visuals to make your booking process seamless. Send custom QR codes automatically to attendees after booking. This way, there’s no need for the customer to print tickets or dig through cluttered email inboxes on the day.

  MMS wins


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Final thoughts, further reading

Transitioning to MMS can be extremely wise for your business. The expansive use cases and higher engagement can prove advantageous for those hoping to get more from their SMS communications. Can MMS benefit you? Speak with one of our messaging experts if you’re still unsure.

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