MMS vs. SMS: What's the Difference?

03 Nov
Adopting a new kind of marketing and communication is always a challenge. Not only do you have to learn a new technology, but you also have to learn new terms and best practices that go along with a new channel or medium.

SMS and MMS text messaging is no exception.

Compared to email, text messaging engagement rates are no contest. For EZ Texting's 50,000 customers, text message open rates are more than 98%. Compare that to email open rates, which typically hover around the 20% range, and you can see how effective text message marketing can be.

But, one common source of confusion is the two fundamental types of text messages. You can send SMS messages, and you can send MMS messages. We get questions all the time about what the differences are between MMS vs. SMS, and which one is best. In this article, we're going to provide that answer so you can understand better which version of text messaging may fit your needs best.

MMS vs. SMS: What's the Difference?

Did you know that 80% of customers prefer to communicate with businesses by text? They don't want to call and be put on hold, and sometimes they get lost on your website.

You can use text marketing for far more than just sending out friendly messages to your customers. For example, you can:

  • Sending out reminders to your customers about upcoming events or sales
  • Sending offer codes for a free gift or a discount
  • Sending a note to customers on a special occasion, such as a birthday
  • Creating segmented lists so that you can develop targeted offers for your customers

The two types of texts you can send are SMS and MMS text messages.

What is SMS?

SMS Example

SMS stands for Short Message Service.

This technology actually goes back to the 1980's, making it the oldest form of texting technology. But, don't let its age fool you. SMS messages are the most frequently used text format on the planet today.

SMS texts are limited to 160 characters per message. If you send an SMS message that is longer than that, it will be broken up into multiple messages of 160 characters each. You've probably experienced this when someone texts you a long wall of words, and it comes broken up into multiple texts.

Most carriers today have the technology to automatically chain SMS messages together. This means even if you send an SMS message that is longer than 160 characters, it will arrive to the recipient in the same order it is sent.

The Pros and Cons of SMS Messaging

The biggest benefit of sending SMS messages is accessibility. To this day, there are a lot of people who don't carry the latest smartphones. Depending on their phone's functionality, some people, though a rapidly shrinking minority, may not be able to receive MMS messages easily.

Still, SMS texting is the most successful way to get in touch with all of your customers. On average, people see and reply to a text within 90 seconds of receiving it. That means that unlike an email, which could sit in their inbox until they get home, your text message marketing campaign will get in front of your customers very quickly, and they can act on it while they're out.

The downside of SMS messaging is that they are text-only, which means you can't add richer media experiences or graphics to your texts. And, the 160 character limit per text can also be a hindrance in some circumstances.

What is MMS?

MMS example

MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service.

This technology was built on the back of SMS, but expanded to allow people to send multimedia content. MMS messages can include pictures, animated gifs, audio, contacts, and even video files.

Whether you're a restaurant owner trying to invite people in to sample your delectable holiday treats or a hairdresser who'd like to get new clients, texts with media will drive more interest and engagement if the media is exciting and attention-grabbing.

Most MMS messages can contain up to 500 KB of data, which is enough for a 30-second audio or video file.

MMS Marketing: The Benefits and Drawbacks

Do you want your customers to act on the texts you send out and remember them?

Images are sticky.

According to Hubspot,

"When people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of that information three days later."

MMS messages combine that potent mix of visuals and text information. The biggest benefit of MMS is to be able to engage your audience with more visual content and make your messages more impactful to the senses.

The main drawback to MMS messages vs. SMS messages is the accessibility. Again, if you send an MMS message to contacts who have older devices, there's a chance that message may be undeliverable. This is rapidly ceasing to be an issue as older devices are going away, but depending on your target audience, it is worth considering whether or not they will have phones capable of receiving rich media in their texting apps.

Another potential issue for MMS, is that contacts may choose not to opt into MMS messages as according to LifeWire, "files sent via MMS count against both the sender's and the recipient's monthly data limits in their phone service plans." Since MMS messages are considerably larger in size than 160 characters of text, data plans should also be considered when choosing which type of text to send.

As an EZ Texting customer, sending a media-rich MMS message costs the same as sending a regular SMS message. So, the pricing remains steady regardless of which type of message you decide to send.

MMS vs. SMS: Which is Best?

Now that you know the difference, the obvious next question is about which is best for you. The truth is, both. 98% of the population has access to a mobile device that can receive MMS messages, and more than 90 percent of those people keep that device within reach at all times. But, that doesn't mean MMS messages are always the best kind of message to send.

Sometimes a quick, plain text message can perform better than a rich media text. It all depends on the circumstance, the mood of the message, and the desired effect.

The best choice is to choose a service provider who has advanced features for both MMS and SMS text messaging. And, of course, if you are considering MMS or SMS text marketing, EZ Texting is the #1 rated texting provider according to G2-crowd. Our 50,000 customers seem to think we're pretty great, too.

If you're ready to get started, our experts can help you develop your SMS or MMS marketing campaigns today. You can create an account here, or speak to a expert who can help you get set up and going in under 5 minutes.

Get Started Now!

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