SMS vs MMS: Understanding the difference and when to use each

Danny Rodriguez

6 min read Last Updated May 25, 2023

Business women deciding on SMS vs MMS texting for their business.

According to research from 2022, 70% of consumers opted in to receive direct text messages from businesses. Further, most businesses report SMS click-through rates between 20% and 35%.

Texting is fast becoming a core part of a company’s marketing and sales strategy. And there isn’t only one right way. You’ve got SMS vs MMS to work with, but it’s challenging to know which is going to prove more viable for your business. In this article, we’ll share what company leaders and marketers need to know about SMS meanings and MMS meanings, along with developing a great outreach strategy for each.

What does SMS mean?

For those wondering what SMS meanings are, it stands for Short Message Service. It’s more commonly referred to as text messaging. The technology was originally developed in the 1980s, and it’s among the oldest but most popular forms of texting technologies available. Another characteristic of SMS messaging is that messages can only contain text.

What does MMS mean?

For those interested in learning MMS meanings, it stands for Multimedia Messaging Service, which builds on the functionality of SMS. Instead of just text, you can also add pictures, videos, audio clips, GIFs, and other media to your messages. SMS messaging has a character limit of 160, but MMS allows for up to 1,600 characters.

Key difference between SMS and MMS

One mobile phone with the text SMS and one mobile phone with the text MMS.

The key difference between SMS vs. MMS is that with SMS messages, you can only send text and sometimes emojis. With MMS messages, you can add multimedia content to your message.

The comparison of SMS vs. MMS messaging also comes down to cost and character limit. We’ll be exploring the difference between SMS and MMS in more detail below.

Advantages to SMS

  • Compared to MMS, SMS messages are generally cheaper to send.
  • Most U.S. carriers offer unlimited texting with their plans.
  • SMS messages are short. They’re easy to consume by customers.
  • Most phones can receive SMS, but not all can receive MMS.

Disadvantages to SMS

  • 160 characters may not be enough to get your point across.
  • You are unable to send multimedia messages such as videos or images with this service.

Advantages to MMS

  • You can send videos, audio clips, GIFs, and more with your messages. Creating an eye-catching and compelling message is easier with MMS.
  • With a character limit of 16,000, you can send longer messages with MMS. These are perfect for sharing updates, promotions, sales, and so on.
  • MMS messages are three times as likely to be noticed and responded to than those using only SMS.

Disadvantages to MMS

  • MMS messages cost more. Because of this, if you’re budget conscious, you’ll want to limit your use of MMS and only send them strategically.
  • Some older phones do not support MMS, and there are also those who need the option enabled on their plan.
  • If you’re going to send media, it should be compelling. There could be additional costs to having assets professionally designed.

Cost differences between SMS vs MMS

The cost of SMS vs MMS will vary from one carrier to another. Due to the increased data requirements for sending MMS messages, they tend to be more expensive than SMS messages across all providers. The cost difference typically amounts to one or two cents more per MMS message, but if you’re sending many MMS messages, it can add up.

There can still be good reasons to use MMS messages despite the cost. SlickText says on average, MMS marketing campaigns boast 20 to 35% higher engagement levels than SMS messages. It’s also worth noting that preparing a compelling MMS campaign requires additional time, effort, and cost when compared to SMS. However, you’ll still want to test both to determine which works best for your target audience and business.

Should I use SMS vs MMS?

In the battle between SMS vs MMS, there are some factors worth considering. 

  • Consider your audience and what types of messages they’ll respond to more frequently. 
  • Consider what information you need to communicate. SMS will work well for shorter messages and MMS for longer messages.
  • If you need to grab your audience’s attention and can afford the cost of MMS messages, MMS is the right choice.
  • You may need to test several text messaging campaigns to determine what is going to work best.

SMS use cases

Example of SMS business text.

SMS is ideal for relaying short messages to your customers. You can use it to send the following:

  • Relevant product and business updates
  • Special events and promotions
  • Order confirmations
  • Shipping and tracking information
  • Appointment reminders
  • Loyalty programs and benefits
  • Account information

MMS use cases

Example of MMS business text.

When you need to send longer messages and when you want to grab the attention of your customers with videos and pictures, MMS messages are ideal. Some MMS use cases include:

  • Sales and product announcements
  • Photos of products and menus
  • Abandoned cart follow-up
  • Birthday messages
  • Coupons and promo codes
  • Unboxing videos or short sales presentations

Frequently asked questions about SMS vs MMS

Should I use MMS or SMS?

Both types of messaging are useful in business. SMS messaging is ideal for shorter messages and MMS is useful when you want to attach a video, images, or other media to grab attention.

Does Android use SMS or MMS?

Android uses both SMS and MMS exclusively. It does not, however, support other texting formats. If you’re undecided about MMS vs SMS Android, you can use either.

Can you use both SMS and MMS?

Yes. Assuming you have an MMS-capable device, you should be able to send and receive both types of messages to promote and grow your business.

Streamline your SMS and MMS within a single dashboard

Managing your SMS and MMS campaigns may seem like a complex task. But by  using the insights from this article, you can find clarity on which texting service is right for you. With Birdeye Messaging, you can manage all your customer communication from a single dashboard. Whether is SMS, MMS, email, or social media, Birdeye’s messaging software can help connect with customers using one inbox. Watch our free demo by clicking the banner below.

Watch demo

Originally published