Black female checking phone messages

What Is MMS?

Multimedia messaging service (MMS) allows you to send multimedia content seamlessly through your mobile device. While MMS is most commonly used to send photos, it can also handle audio files, videos, documents, phone contacts, GIFs and more.

MMS also provides mass messaging capabilities. Bulk MMS is a simple, cost-efficient marketing tactic to help your business’s promotional messages reach a wealth of customers. You can even encourage your customers to sign up for your messaging service by offering an incentive. For instance, maybe you’ve seen an in-person or online promo that says something like, “Sign up for text alerts to receive 15% off your next order!”

With the average person spending over three hours on their phone daily, mobile devices are an effective way to reach your consumers. Although the 98% open rate often attributed to SMS is no longer true, SMS open rates are still higher than email. According to recent data from the same company that did the original research, 55% of text messages are opened and read. A Statista survey found that U.S. internet users opened and read 42% of commercial/promotional text messages, versus 32% sent via email. Click through rates for SMS range from 20 to 35%, compared to about 6 to 7% for email.

What Is the Difference Between SMS and MMS?

You’ve likely heard the term “SMS” at some point. Essentially, it’s a more formal phrase for texting. SMS stands for “short message service.”

SMS and MMS enable seamless communication for mobile phone users and were developed from similar technologies. Both message types are sent over a cellular network, requiring a wireless plan from a cellular carrier. Additionally, both platforms enable bulk texting, letting you send a thousand messages as easily as one.

Despite these similarities, MMS and SMS have a few key differences.

1. Character limits

Traditional SMS messages limit the user to 160 characters per message. A message exceeding this boundary is broken up into separate segments of 160 characters each, depending on its length. Cellular carriers typically chain these messages together, ensuring the recipient gets them in the correct order.

Meanwhile, MMS messages are more lenient when it comes to space and length. Their maximum size can vary by the carrier and the device receiving the message. However, most carriers can manage roughly 300-500 kilobytes (KB) of media and over 1,000 characters.

2. Supported media formats

SMS is restricted to text. You can still send media with SMS, but it won’t appear in the message itself. It is delivered to the recipient in the form of a link. When the recipient clicks the link, it takes them to the media online. While an SMS is more limited in supported media, it tends to go through much faster due to the smaller file size. This can help you reach your target audience’s devices more quickly.

MMS lets you embed media in your messages, including images, videos, audio clips, emojis and GIFs. It allows you to display colors, logos, graphics, animations and other attachments. Between endless multimedia opportunities and flexible character counts, MMS’ versatility provides more chances to get creative when planning your promotional strategies.

3. Supported media formats

SMS texts are available to more people. Nearly every cell phone can receive SMS texts, but not every phone can receive MMS messages. About 12% of Americans don’t have smartphones and may be unable to receive MMS marketing messages.

4. Cost

SMS messages are cheaper to send. SMS uses standard data packets to deliver messages over cellular networks. A text message travels from the sender’s phone to a cell tower to an SMS message center. It then passes through a cell tower near the recipient before finally reaching their device.

While MMS texts undergo a similar process, it’s a little more complex. An MMS message goes to a multimedia message service center (MMSC), which notifies the recipient’s phone of an awaiting MMS. The MMS is then delivered to the recipient from the MMSC. Since MMS messages have a more involved delivery process, it’s no surprise they often incur higher fees.

Furthermore, MMS involves much larger media files compared to 160 characters of basic text, so naturally, it costs more than its short-message counterpart. While the cost of each message is only a matter of cents, this expense can quickly snowball if you plan to use MMS for frequent bulk messaging or customer support.

If you plan to use MMS, you’ll likely need to triple the marketing budget designated for mass text messaging. You’ll need to expand your budget further if you plan on hiring someone to create photos, videos and graphics for your MMS campaigns.

When Should You Use MMS?

MMS makes sense if you’re sending a long promotional message with an elaborate graphic or video. It’s perfect for campaigns, surveys and contests. It uses eye-catching visuals to grab customers’ attention quickly. You can send a variety of interactive messages, including:

  • Event invites
  • Mobile coupons or discounts
  • Tickets
  • Vouchers
  • Sales promotions
  • Birthday cards
  • New product or service announcements
  • QR codes

MMS also comes in handy during the following situations:

  • Sending product video tutorials
  • Sending a prospective client a job quote broken down by line items
  • Requesting screenshots to troubleshoot support issues
  • Sending a photo of an alternative product when a customer orders an out-of-stock item

Furthermore, MMS is practical if you simply want to humanize your brand a little more. Even if visuals aren’t necessary, sending a funny meme or personalized message can be a great way to connect with your audience and build stronger customer relationships.

When Should You Use SMS?

SMS delivers short messages quickly and easily. You also don’t have to worry about texts not reaching customers who have incompatible mobile devices. SMS is ideal for messages that don’t require visuals or high character counts, such as:

  • Brief promos
  • Reminders for appointments, order pickups or coupons expiring soon
  • Time-sensitive alerts
  • Changes to your hours, location, menu or offerings
  • Routine customer inquiry responses
  • Order confirmations
  • Delivery notifications

As you can see, both SMS and MMS provide valuable benefits for facilitating communication with your customers. Thankfully, you don’t have to choose just one channel. A software provider with both SMS and MMS services lets you reap the benefits of both mediums.

Streamline communication with customers & boost your business’s marketing efforts

We offer SMS and MMS services as part of our CSG Xponent Engagement Channels package. Our customer engagement platform can help you:

  • Communicate with your customers clearly, quickly and consistently
  • Understand and anticipate your audience’s need when combined with JO software
  • Grow and maintain your consumer base
  • Upsell customers

CSG Xponent Engagement Channels

Whether you need to send simple text messages or dazzling visuals, our digital customer service channels enable easy two-way interactions that keep your customers engaged with your brand.

Learn more about our SMS and MMS capabilities

What Is MMS?