SMS vs. MMS - When to Use Each Type

One of the questions we often here from clients is when to send out SMS texts or MMS texts. It helps first to understand the difference between the two, and then be able to understand when to use each type for different campaigns. In this primer, we will explain the differences between the two types of messages, examine the pros and cons of each type, and then provide you with some real life examples of when to use which type of text messaging, based on the reason why you are sending out the texts. If you still have questions, be sure to reach out to us for a one-on-one consultation.

Definitions of SMS and MMS

What is SMS?

SMS stands for Short Message Service. It is used when you want to send short messages of up to 160 characters, just like you do when sending out a regular text message. Sending out an SMS message typically costs only one credit.

What is MMS?

MMS stands for Multimedia Message Service. An MMS message can include an image or animated GIF, and a subject line. The message itself can contain up to 5,000 characters. Sending out an MMS message typically costs three credits, so as you can see, an MMS can be three times as expensive as an SMS. However, by using MMS, you are able to do the following:

  • Be more creative with your message.
    An MMS lets you include a bold headline and an interesting image to grab your customers’ attention. It also lets you create a more visually captivating message. You can easily create images by using a tool like PowerPoint, where you can take any picture and add text blocks to it with any font style, then simply group all of this together and save as a picture. Our staff at First Choice SMS will be happy to show you how to do this.
  • Create a more engaging message.
    MMS lets you add more content to your messages and offers by providing a higher character limit. This makes it easier for your customer to better understand what you are offering. By adding more words, you can provide more description to your message.
  • Get higher conversion rates.
    MMS has a much higher conversion and click through rate compared to SMS, along with fewer unsubscribe requests. As an added benefit, an MMS message is more likely to be shared than an SMS message. Thus, even though an MMS message would take up to three credits per message, you will most likely get more bang for your buck by sending out more engaging MMS messages.

The choice as to which type of messaging you want to use depends on your budget and the types of messages you wish to send.

What is the difference between using SMS and MMS?

SMS lets you send short blocks of plain text while MMS lets you send longer texts along with other forms of multimedia that includes images, audio, animated GIFs, and other types of content. SMS is perfect for quick informational updates alerts, promotional offers and links to additional information. MMS is perfect for sending out more complex items that include product information, tickets, QR codes and longer content. An example of when you would want to send out a QR code is if you are promoting an event where the “ticket” is a scanable QR code from the customer’s phone. Note that all devices can receive either type of messaging.

Here are examples of both an SMS and MMS text message. SMS on the left, and MMS on the right.

Use Case Options for MMS and SMS

To help you better understand when to use MMS or SMS, here are some typical use cases where one type works better than the other.

Use Case: I want to send out a special offer or conduct a marketing campaign.
Recommended Message Type:  MMS.

Adding a visually appealing image improves the conversion rate of your marketing campaign. It makes for a much higher chance that a recipient will click on the message to get to your site, landing page or other desired action.

To make your offer really stand out, consider doing any of the following:

  • Include a picture of an actual product that looks compelling (great for food or drink specials)
  • Show a picture of a desirable lifestyle or getaway if you are catering to one’s emotions.
  • If you are selling pet supplies, include a picture of a loveable kitten or puppy.

Use Case: I want to send out appointment reminders or confirmations
Recommended Message Type: SMS.

When sending appointment reminders, be sure to include the name of your business (or practice), along with the other personalized information. This way, your recipient will know that this is a legitimate text message, and not some sort of scam attempt. You can set up appointment reminders directly in your First Choice SMS console.

You can also use SMS to send out a confirmation message. This can be for booking an appointment, making a reservation, or purchasing tickets. You can then also link them to your website or app, or ask them to check their email for any additional confirmation or booking information.

Additional Use Cases where MMS is a Better Choice than SMS

Invitation to an Event

If you are planning an event and wish to sent out invitations using text, MMS lets you add a picture that will will do a better job of capturing the attention of your recipient than will a text SMS message. If you don’t have the ability to redeem QR codes as tickets, we suggest that you contact us to ask about options that let you do this, just like airports do in letting passengers use a QR code as their boarding pass. It is a lot easier for a customer to use their phone as their ticket instead of searching through their email box or having to print out a ticket.

Customer / Warranty Support

There are times when providing customer support where it is helpful to be able to see a picture of a broken item before providing a replacement. An MMS message also lets a customer scan a document or receipt with their phone and send it to you. You can initiate a customer support ticket by including the following on your receipts – “To request support or file a warranty claim, text SUPPORT to XXX-XXX-XXXX.” This will make it easy to get the process started, and provide you with the ability to obtain any multimedia information needed. By providing a service such as this, you will really stand out in the eyes of your customers.

Still Have Questions?

If you still have any questions about when it makes sense to use SMS or MMS messaging for your use case, give us a call or send us an email and we will work with you to help you determine which option is better for your business.

Let’s discuss how SMS messaging can help grow your business.

PHONE: 215-480-2737