While most of us use these terms interchangeably, the difference between SMS and MMS is distinct. You send numerous text messages daily, but you might have to think long and hard when asked, "What is SMS?" Worse yet! You'll be more confused by the question, "What is MMS?"

SMS and MMS messages are both text messages. While SMS only supports text content up to 160 characters, you can send videos and picture messages using MMS. SMS stands for Short Messaging Service, and MMS is Multimedia Messaging Service.

SMS and MMS are the two most popular acronyms you'll come across while dabbling in topics related to business texting. To understand which is best suited for your brand, you must first learn the critical difference between SMS vs MMS and how your business can benefit from them effectively and efficiently. 

What Is SMS Messaging?

SMS or Short Messaging Service was invented in 1980 and is one of the oldest texting technologies. SMS messages are capped at 160 characters, and longer texts are split into multiple messages.

Despite its character limit, SMS messaging is the most convenient form of mobile communication and is supported on all mobile devices. Users don’t need to download additional messaging software to send text messages, nor do they need an active internet connection. Being invented in the 80s, short message service doesn’t support interactive media files.

Pros and Cons of SMS

If you consider using SMS for your business, it's wise to keep these factors in mind.

Pros

  • SMS messages are precise and concise.
  • SMS messaging is more affordable.
  • Most US carriers offer SMS plans covering unlimited texting. Meaning your subscribers don't have to pay for the service.
  • You can schedule an SMS for any time of the day or night.
  • The recipient does not have to keep their mobile device switched on as the message is being sent.

Cons

  • SMS messages don't support images, videos, and rich media.
  • SMS messages have a 160-character limit.

What Is MMS Messaging?

First developed in 1984, MMS or Multimedia Messaging Service is an enhanced version of text messaging. The primary feature of MMS is the ability to receive and send media like videos, GIFs, images, etc. Furthermore, MMS allows 10 times the character limit of an SMS, giving both users and businesses a maximum of 1600 characters. 

Because of its complexity, sending and receiving MMS is more expensive than traditional text messaging. Because of that, generally, MMS isn’t enabled by default on most mobile devices, so users have manually do it.

Pros and cons of MMS

Before using MMS for your business mobile marketing, you should know its advantages and disadvantages. Here's everything you must know about multimedia messages.

Pros

  • MMS messages are captivating as people tend to gravitate towards messages containing interactive media.
  • MMS allows text messages with a huge content volume as the character count is 10 times SMS.

Cons

  • MMS messages typically cost more. If your business needs a cost-effective mobile marketing strategy, you may have to limit the number of MMS messages per month.
  • Not all devices enable MMS by default. This severely limits outreach since many customers don't do it. And the others that do might not have an active MMS plan.
  • Your business will have to hire a professional to design banners and videos for your messages, increasing the marketing costs.

The Main Differences Between SMS and MMS Messaging

The main difference between SMS and MMS is the type of messages you can send. SMS messages have a 160-character limit, severely restricting your messages. MMS messages have a maximum limit of 1600 characters. Furthermore, MMS supports multimedia messages, including audio, video, GIFs, and images. MMS messages are more expensive to create and send compared to SMS messages.

Three factors can classify the critical differences between SMS and MMS. 

  • Character limit
  • Price
  • Supported media

MMS Offers Way More Flexibility

While SMS is restricted to 160 characters, MMS messages support 10 times more data. Even though wireless carriers tend to limit the length of multimedia messages, they can still carry much more data than traditional text messages.

There Are Different Pricing Plans for SMS and MMS Marketing Campaigns

Sending MMS messages typically costs more than SMS as it involves transmitting more data. The cost difference depends on the carrier. If you're on a tight budget, limit the number of monthly MMS messages to keep the costs down.

You Can Embed Rich Media Using MMS

MMS allows you to embed rich media files like audio, video, GIFs, etc., directly into the message. You can include links to rich media files with SMS, but the experience is hardly the same.

SMS or MMS? Which One Is More Helpful for Your Business?

The best solution for business texting is to use a combination of SMS and MMS messages for the best results. Depending on your marketing message, pick a texting technology suiting your requirements and spread the word.

SMS messages are your best bet if you want to send urgent information since they are simple and don't distract the audience with fancy media. Simple text-only messages are ideal for scheduling appointments, sending reminders, following up on clients, etc.

On the other hand, if you want to promote your products or services, MMS is a more appealing way of presenting the information. MMS messages make a better impression as people get to see what you offer. Here are some of the most effective text messaging strategies you can adopt today for your business.

Choose the Right Texting Option

Choosing the right texting option is one of the most critical factors in business texting. The decision depends on your budget, goals, and the number of subscribers. If you have to cater to a large audience on a tight budget, SMS messages are your best bet since these are inexpensive.

Short message service is ideal for sending quick updates, reminders, and promotions. Meanwhile, if you're promoting your latest products or services, MMS messaging services are the perfect choice as they are visually appealing and offer a different way of conversion. While MMS messages are expensive, they may give your business a higher conversion rate.

Find the Right Messaging Services

There are several factors to consider while picking a messaging service for your business. The key factors are ease of use and affordability. Look for a two-way messaging service provider to hold honest conversations with the audience and give them an engaging experience.

Textback.ai offers bulk SMS services for businesses along with two-way communication. It's user-friendly, affordable, and the perfect solution for sending customized alerts and notifications to your subscribers.

Shorten Links

Finding a reliable link shortener is crucial if you plan to include links in your messages. Since SMS messages are limited to 160 characters, you can't send lengthy messages. Short URLs make your messages look crisp and professional. Shorten your links using Textback.ai's marketing tools.

The Difference Between SMS and MMS Pricing

MMS messages are more expensive than SMS messages. The exact amount depends on the service provider. Multimedia content is heavy and requires a higher data transfer volume than standard text messages.

Generally, each MMS message charges up to three times the standard SMS price. The exact prices depend on your requirements and preferred plan. For instance, if your preferred plan includes 1000 text messages every month and your subscription list consists of 250 people, an SMS to your subscription list would exhaust 250 out of the total 1000 quota. Conversely, sending an MMS to the same list of subscribers would consume between 500 and 750 messages from your total balance. So, is sending MMS messages worth the extra investment?

On average, MMS campaigns generate 15 - 20% higher returns on investments compared to SMS messages. They are 10 times more prone to be shared on social media. However, it all boils down to the circumstances and use.

Another crucial factor affecting cost is the type of business number you currently use. For instance, dedicated short codes are expensive compared to 10-digit long codes. Get yourself a 10DLC number to keep costs in check. Textback.ai can help you with registrations. Get in touch with your experts for more information today.

SMS vs MMS Use Cases

If you need to pass on critical information urgently, SMS messages are the best solution. Nothing trumps SMS marketing in getting your message across to the audience by boasting a whopping 98% open rate within the first 15 minutes. 

Most people have their mobile phones handy and are more prone to checking your message as soon you send a text. Texting is the way forward if you want to reach a large number of customers in the most cost-effective way.

On the other hand, MMS messages use rich media to enhance the content. For instance, you can spruce up your text messages using logos, high-quality graphics, short videos, and designs to engage the audience uniquely.

You can embed links to specific web pages you want to promote in your MMS messages. You can also include your brand logo and color theme in every message to maintain consistency across your marketing channels.

Use Cases of SMS Messaging

SMS messaging services are the most powerful when used in the following scenarios.

Appointment Confirmations and Reminders

No-shows are a significant problem for the service industry. Healthcare professionals, real estate agents, spas, and salons lose revenue every time someone ditches their appointment without informing them. While calling people to remind them of an appointment works in most cases, it's a labor-intensive and time-consuming process.

Voice calling is prone to human error, especially in larger businesses. Automated text messages are far more effective in sending bulk appointment reminders and reducing missed appointments. Update clients about changes in the schedule, and send appointment confirmations using Textback.ai.

Bill Payment Reminders

Collecting outstanding bills is time-consuming and burdens the healthcare, insurance, and utility industries. Automate bill payment reminders alerting customers of upcoming payment due dates and overdue payments.

Automatic bill payment reminders drastically reduce missed payment deadlines. Banks and financial institutions can send automatic alerts to remind customers of loan balances and other credit arrangements. Subscription-based companies can also send text reminders for upcoming service renewals to increase customer lifetime values.

Crucial System Alerts

Unprecedented downtimes, data breaches, and system malfunctions can substantially damage a business' reputation and affect customer relationships. Informing customers of unexpected delays can improve the situation.

Businesses can instantly alert customers via SMS and take charge of the situation. Reassuring customers that you're on top of a situation is the best way to make them feel valued and restore faith in the brand.

Tracking Deliveries

Real-time tracking information is a boon for customers as they can plan their day accordingly. Delivery giants like FedEx and DHL use automated text messages to inform customers of the real-time delivery status.

Most e-commerce giants also text customers with real-time shipping details. Constant communication fosters better customer relationships and motivates the delivery partner to reduce unnecessary delays.

Reminder to Join Campaigns

When promoting your keywords or short codes to a large audience, you expect a significant volume of registrations. Automate your SMS campaigns to welcome new users and keep your costs down while making them feel important.

Sending MMS messages is a bit of an overkill when the audience has already taken action in your favor and needs personal engagement further to take them through the call to action funnel.

Transactional Texts

Automated texts sent in response to customer actions are generally SMS messages. Texts confirming order details, OTP, and other updates are better handled via SMS. You can also send time-sensitive data through SMS to initiate a quick action.

Use Cases of MMS Messaging

Even though MMS can do everything an SMS message can, there are unique use cases best suited for MMS messages.

Promotions and Coupons

MMS messages work wonders when sending promotional offers and discount deals. Empower your MMS messages by including scannable codes for customers to use at their convenience. Scannable coupons also help you keep track of customer activity while eliminating the possibility of a person redeeming a single coupon multiple times.

Animated Cards

If you'd like to send customers holiday messages or thank you cards, MMS messages are far more convenient than traditional messages or emails. Your customers are more likely to open animated cards compared to generic messages. MMS is also useful for sending business cards as the recipient can automatically save the details on their phone.

Videos

Research shows that 69% of customers prefer learning about a product or service through informative videos. That's not all! People are twice as likely to share video content on social media than other types of content. Sending an MMS video is an excellent way to promote your business.

Product Launches

The idea behind a product launch is to generate curiosity and fanfare among your target audience. Since MMS messages allow you to share more information, they are even more powerful and influential.

Events and Competitions

The most important principle for competitions and events is invoking mass participation. Since MMS messages boast a higher conversion rate (70%) compared to SMS, it's the obvious choice.

The Difference Between iMessage and SMS/MMS

iMessages are the built-in messaging platform on every Apple device. They're similar to text messages but offer more flexibility and functionality than traditional text messages. This is because, unlike SMS, they're sent over the internet, bypassing every limitation of an SMS message. 

Sending and Receiving Messages

While text messages are exchanged as part of a contract with a network carrier, iMessages are sent over the internet. Text message balance is calculated separately from internet balance, even if it's a part of the same cellular contract. Users cannot send SMS and MMS messages over Wi-Fi without the help of other applications.

On the other hand, you need to have active cellular data networks or an internet connection to exchange iMessages.

Types of Messages That Can Be Exchanged

We can categorize text messages into SMS and MMS. iMessages, however, are programmed to exchange both SMS and MMS messages without third-party applications. That's not all! Apple programmed the messaging platform for additional flexibility. And users can send files, media, stickers, location, and other information on the platform.

Device Compatibility

Text messages are not limited to any specific phone maker or contract provider. Most modern mobile devices, including certain tablets, can send MMS and SMS messages. iMessages are specific to Apple devices like iPhones, Macs, and iPads. Their functionality is limited within the Apple ecosystem. When an Apple user texts a non-apple user, the messages are sent as either SMS or MMS, depending on the content, which comes with additional fees.

Message Length

Text messages are limited to 160 characters for SMS and 1600 characters for MMS. On the other hand, iMessages have a far higher message length. Apple does not reveal the maximum character count, although several users shared receiving error messages when trying to type over 20,000 characters.

Status Indicators

There are no universal status indicators for text messages. Certain Android devices allow users to toggle the "read" indicator on and off, informing the sender that the recipient has read the message. Other status indicators include delivery confirmation and typing indication.

iMessages have read receipts and shows when the other person is typing. There is a third status indicator showing whether the recipient is also using iMessage. If the text bubbles are blue, both users have iMessage enabled. If they are green, one of the users is either a non-Apple device or iMessage disabled. This is a crucial feature for people who want to know whether they're using a data plan or incurring charges for standard texting.

FAQ

What does SMS stand for?

SMS stands for Short Message Service, commonly called texting. It's a method to converse using text-only messages up to 160 characters. SMS is affordable and perfect for sending urgent information like appointment reminders, payment notices, OTP, etc.

What does MMS stand for?

MMS stands for Multimedia Message Service. The technology supports interactive media like videos, audio, images, GIFs, emojis, etc. MMS messages can accommodate up to 1600 characters. MMS messages are best-suited for convincing potential customers to take favorable action, like subscribing to your newsletter, attending an event, participating in a contest, etc. 

What happens if I exceed the SMS character limit?

Lengthy messages over 160 characters are split into multiple messages. Larger messages are split into 153-character segments and sent individually. The recipient's cell phone re-assembles the message.

Do all phones support MMS?

Not all cell phones are MMS enabled. Multimedia content has conflicting resolution issues due to the varied screen size of different cell phones. Moreover, not all carrier plans have MMS activated. So, even if your mobile device supports MMS, ensure your monthly rental plan includes the service.