MMS vs SMS: Which Text Messages Should You Send?

POSTED January 20, 2021
MMS vs SMS: Which Text Messages Should You Send?


Text messaging sounds simple enough. So why does everything seem to get so complicated when you hear acronyms like MMS, SMS, and more? Doesn’t SMS refer to everything under the text messaging umbrella, or does it have a specific meaning?
To learn whether MMS messaging or SMS marketing is the best choice for you, you first have to have a clear idea of the landscape. Here’s everything you need to know about MMS vs. SMS.

What are MMS and SMS Messages?

First, a definition. Both MMS and SMS messages fall under the category of “text messages,” but they have two distinct uses.
What is SMS? SMS means short message service, which is essentially fancy-talk for a text-based message. This is a message that has a character limit, uses acronyms, or engages any other aspect of texting based on literal alphanumeric text.
What is MMS? This refers to multimedia messaging service. This is when you “text” someone another element, such as a video, a gif, or other multimedia content.
What you send depends on your specific needs. If you’re running a text messaging campaign that only sends out daily tips and advice, SMS will do just fine. But other campaigns may rely on additional media, and for that, a marketing campaign can only turn to MMS.

Why Try SMS Marketing?

Simply put, because a lot of people like it. These days, just about everyone loves getting a new text on their smartphone. It doesn’t have to be a multimedia message to engage our attention, either. Here are a few things you’ll need to know about the benefits of SMS marketing:
People are comfortable with it. A survey found that 75% of people are comfortable with SMS messages when they’ve opted in to a campaign.
People are looking for something. There’s a reason people always seem to be on their cell phone. They’re looking for something. In this case, another 75% said they want to get special offers via text. Special offers are ideal to include in SMS messages.
Higher engagement. Did you know that over 80% of millennials will open an SMS message within 90 seconds of receiving it? In fact, many millennials prefer marketing texts to alternatives like direct mail and email.
Less expensive to send. Pricing is generally more favorable with SMS because you’re sending smaller files—just plain text. A marketing strategy that doesn’t take cost into account won’t get very far.
High limits. Many carriers across the U.S.—service providers, in other words—offer high limits for SMS texting, giving you more flexibility for what an SMS campaign can do.
Billions of short messaging service texts are sent daily. It’s simply no longer a “new” method of communicating, but a tried-and-true strategy for marketing.

Why Try MMS Marketing?

By contrast, multimedia messaging service might seem the same as SMS texts, but it introduces an entirely new element into your marketing campaign. Whether the customer is on iPhone iOS or Android, adding an element like a gif, a video, audio files, or a picture can entice the customer into a very different state of mind. Here are some reasons to consider trying MMS marketing:
Mobile marketing has to be dynamic. The more you try to market to someone’s mobile phone, the more you’ll have to separate yourself from the noise. MMS allows different elements for accomplishing exactly that.
More persuasive marketing strategy plans. Let’s say you’re advertising something like a food service. You can entice the customer with words, sure, but sometimes it’s better to include a visual element you can only get through MMS.
Doing more than plain text. MMS stands to improve a marketing campaign because it introduces that three-dimensional element that goes beyond plain text. This can be highly enticing, attention-grabbing, and more.
High character limit. With MMS marketing, you’ll have access to character limits of 1,600, giving you much more freedom to connect with your target audience.
No matter which of the two texting technologies you’re using, you have to be aware of the strengths of each. Both come with positives and negatives when compared with the other. Your job is determining which positives mirror what you need most.

What is the Difference Between SMS and MMS Messages?

Sometimes, these benefits overlap. For example, there’s no reason your SMS can’t be as persuasive as a picture. But sometimes you need the extra oomph that can only come through a multimedia message. Here are some key differences between the two that should help you sort out which you’ll need to use in your next campaign:
Cost differences Simply put, pricing is different depending on which option you choose. MMS will cost you more. It requires additional data use to get a multimedia file across to your customers, you can expect those costs to add up. It will be up to you whether opting for MMS will be worth the high engagement and conversion rates to justify this cost.
Engagement. You’ll have to be mighty persuasive in an SMS message to create more engagement than you can through MMS messages. Simply put, people like multimedia messages! The good news is that even SMS messages will have higher engagement than alternative marketing channels, such as email campaigns.
Shareability. Some sources suggest that MMS messages can be as much as 10 times more likely to be shared by friends and family. This is something to consider when you factor in pricing concerns. Because MMS can drive more engagement for the dollar, it can sometimes be well worth the price of admission.

How Do I Enable MMS Messaging?

You’ll want to get connected with an MMS messaging provider that’s capable of offering you all the technology you need.
First, you’ll want to gather some essential information, especially as it relates to pricing. Only if you have a flexible budget will it make sense to start off with a major MMS campaign.
Second, you’ll want to run analytics. If you have a smaller budget, you can still run MMS messaging. But you’ll want to try it out first and find out what drives the most engagement and revenue for your company.
Finally, you’ll want to consult with the provider to ensure that you’re adhering to telecommunications regulations. You can’t exceed character limits, for example, and you have to make sure that you get phone number information from people who are voluntarily opting in to your MMS messaging campaign.
Consider all of these steps before you send out your first MMS messaging campaign and you’ll find you’ll run into fewer hiccups along the way.

Which Format Should I Use?

The choice is ultimately down to a few things. You’ll have to consider your budget, first of all. If your budget is tight, you might find it difficult to create the kind of mass notification engagement you want by using an MMS campaign. But if you have a flexible budget and you need to drive engagement, MMS can be a great option and even outperform the high engagement rates of SMS.
Does it all come down to price? No. You’ll have plenty of options to choose from here. For example, if you’re trying to entice someone to your restaurant, MMS messages can be advantageous because they’ll let you show off your food. The same is true for fashion and apparel brands.
If, on the other hand, you run a campaign that’s less about the visuals and more about the benefits, SMS messages can get that across as well. SMS messaging can be effective if you know how to write an attention-grabbing hook and inspire future action with links.
Ultimately, there’s no single catch-all answer for which format you should use. It isn’t a simple matter of whether you have a large or a small budget, for example. You’ll want to weigh a number of factors—including your niche, your competition, and what your customers want—to make the ultimate decision. Feel free to experiment with different solutions until you find the messaging that engages your customers the most.
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