What’s the difference between SMS and MMS?

Topic: MMS, Uses of SMS

A text message of up to 160 characters without an attached file is known as an SMS, while a text that includes a file such as a picture or video is known as an MMS.

SMS stands for Short Message Service. Invented in the 1980s it is still one of the most popular and universally loved business messaging platforms.

MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service. It uses the same technology as SMS but allows users to send multimedia content.

SMS and MMS have different features for a reason and when used together, can enhance an organization’s ROI, reach, and engagement.

How are MMS and SMS similar?

MMS and SMS do have a couple of things in common, which leads people to sometimes use the acronyms interchangeably. They were built using the same base technology and both MMS and SMS are delivered over a cellular network, which means recipients need a mobile device with a text messaging facility to receive them.

Using SMS and MMS for your business

SMS and MMS messages are both great ways to make an instant connection with customers. People are far more likely to read a text message on their phone than, for example, to take a sales call or open an email. Text messages keep you in your audience’s line of vision and support excellent open rates – of up to 98% compared to about 20% for email.

 SMS – the pros

·        By its nature, SMS is short and concise at 160 characters per message. This means that your message can be highly targeted and has a great chance of capturing your customer’s attention.

·        SMS is cheaper to send than MMS, which is a consideration if you have a large subscriber base.

·        You can add interactive elements including calls to action, links to landing pages, payment gateways, appointment confirmations, surveys and more.

SMS – the cons

·        In some cases, 160 characters just aren’t enough to communicate your message. If you need to add more copy, you can fall into multipart SMS territory, meaning costs increase and customer experience becomes less than ideal.

·        An SMS message relies on copy content: If you work in a highly visual business, the lack of photos or videos can be a problem.

MMS – the pros

·        Visual content is eye-catching – a video or picture can really grab attention and make a customer take stock of what’s offered.

·        You can include more text in an MMS than an SMS. More may not always be better, but it does give you more scope.

MMS – the cons

·        Not everybody has MMS messages enabled on their phone – some data plans don’t allow for MMS messages.

·        MMS costs more than SMS, so it’s best to optimize to deliver the ROI you need.

·        Varying phone and screen sizes means that not everyone will have the visual experience you intended.

When to use SMS

SMS is excellent for quick, concise messaging with a clear call-to-action. It is ideal for order confirmations and time-sensitive alerts, delivery tracking, appointment reminders, quick updates, and password resets. It’s also one of the most cost-effective methods you can use to reach customers, staff, and clients.

SMS messages for marketing can be used to boost client engagement by offering coupon codes, VIP access, special sales, and time-limited promotions.

SMS is also excellent for text-to-join strategies. If your goal is to grow your database and get as many sign-ups as possible while keeping your costs manageable, SMS is the way to go.

SMS reminders are also effective in helping local government, healthcare, insurance, and utility companies collect bill payments. Automated SMS reminders can prompt clients to pay on time and alert them of upcoming or overdue payments. Financial businesses or banks can also use SMS to send mortgage and loan application updates, current balance, or credit card status information.

Learn more: SMS marketing: how to tap into the power of SMS

When to opt for MMS

If you have a healthy budget and the expertise to produce high-quality photography and video content and want to share eye-catching visuals, MMS may be perfect for you. MMS text will allow you to include more content than SMS alone while using rich multimedia to increase engagement.

An MMS would be suitable if you want to display your products at their bright and shiny best, share a video walkthrough, or troubleshoot a customer question. When developing content for MMS, bear in mind that media will be displayed differently on various devices and that message receipt is optional, so some recipients could miss out.

SMS vs MMS – the bottom line

SMS is an ideal solution when you need to communicate a time-sensitive message such as a reminder, update, or announcement. MMS is excellent for longer messages that showcase your product and can support improved customer engagement thanks to rich graphics, audio, or video content.

SMS and MMS messages each have unique advantages, and luckily you don’t have to choose one or the other. To reap all the benefits of SMS and MMS, you simply need to know the right time to use each type of message to ensure the highest rate of delivery, at the lowest cost to maximize your market exposure.

Author Avatar
Mary Henry

Mary has extensive experience in communication, PR and journalism - most recently across SaaS businesses. A keen researcher and storyteller, Mary is highly skilled in making complex concepts accessible, and in putting customers at the heart of her communication. She has supported all kinds of businesses to tell their brand, product and people stories - from global multinationals to start-ups across retail, travel/leisure, banking/finance, government and educational institutions.