SMS and MMS: What’s the Difference?

Written by
Spread the love

Now more than ever, people use their phones to connect with the world around them. They share voice and video files, shop, pay bills, and complete many other tasks that weren’t possible a few years ago. As more people connect with each other using their phones, mobile messaging has become an essential part of marketing. One main reason for this growth is mobile messages get your content in front of people quicker than emails. Instead of sending emails that sit inside inboxes for days or even weeks unopened, more companies are sending SMS and MMS messages that are opened within seconds of being received.

However, the terms SMS and MMS are used interchangeably when they’re actually very different processes.

To help you tell the difference between SMS vs. MMS, we’ve put together an overview of what they are, what makes them different, and how to use them in marketing campaigns.

What Is SMS?

SMS stands for short message service. Messages are text-based and have a maximum limit of 160 characters.

SMS and MMS: promo message example

Every single mobile device — smartphone and otherwise — comes equipped with an SMS feature. As a result, SMS is a widely used form of communication. To send an SMS, all you need is the recipient’s phone number. SMS messages, also called text messages, are sent via cell phone networks and are inexpensive to send since they don’t use much data.

SMS is a convenient marketing tool — it’s used within several industries as a quick way to connect with customers. Marketers send promotional content, while utility companies send service notifications. There are many more ways to incorporate SMS into your marketing efforts. We’ll explore examples of this shortly.

Learn more about SMS marketing: How to Increase Conversions with SMS Marketing

What Is MMS?

MMS stands for multimedia messaging service. These messages are often referred to as text messages, but unlike SMS, MMS messages consist of media, like images, audio files, GIFs, and video.

SMS and MMS marketing campaign


Because you send media with MMS, the messages are larger compared to SMS. Messages can be a maximum of 500 KB or 1,600 characters. MMS is also sent through cell phone networks, but because of their size, they use more data than SMS messages. As a result, it’s more expensive to send MMS messages.

Despite the cost, MMS messages are an effective marketing tool. The majority of adults are visual learners, so receiving information via MMS appeals to their visual preferences. Whether recipients receive an appointment reminder or promotional offer, a visual message is engaging because of the various types of media you can send.

The main disadvantage of MMS is that not all cell phones are MMS-enabled. As a result, MMS messages appear as text when they’re sent to phones that can’t accept MMS messages. This drawback limits who can receive MMS messages — even when the sender has a phone number.

How to Use SMS and MMS to Encourage Customer Engagement

People in the UK check their cell phones every 12 minutes during the day. This constant connection with their phones gives you an opportunity to engage with your customers. SMS and MMS are very different applications, and with them, you have lots of options on how to interact with your customers. But how you interact with them depends on the types of campaigns you send.

Here are some ideas of the types of campaigns you can send using SMS and MMS:

Examples of SMS campaigns

Since SMS is text-based, use it to send campaigns that include short, simple messages:

  • Marketing promotions. For upcoming product launches or sales, send promo codes. These texts inform customers and give them an incentive to visit your store. Include a short message like, “Use code ‘SAVE50’ at checkout to save on your next purchase.”
  • Customer onboarding notification. When new customers sign up for a service, keep them excited about the experience by sending them a welcome message. Include a link to your website and a number for customer support.
  • Account notifications. Keep customers informed if there’s a change to their service. Briefly describe the change and include a number they can call if they have questions.
  • Two-Factor Authentication login. When users log into a secure area on your website, send an authentication code to their phone as a way to confirm their identity. This is an extra layer of security to make sure customer information is safe.
  • Appointment reminders. For companies that schedule appointments with clients — real estate, dentists, and doctors — they need to send reminders of upcoming appointments. For these messages, include the time and date of the appointment and a number to call if customers need to make changes.

SMS and MMS message example

To help you create more custom messages, here are more ideas of SMS marketing messages to send: 16 Essential SMS Marketing Examples [Including Rich Media]

Examples of MMS campaigns

Since you can send media, like videos and GIFs, with MMS messages, your campaigns can be more complex. Examples of MMS campaigns include:

  • New product launches. Include an image of new products followed by a short text message summarizing some of the key features. Include a link to your website to give campaign recipients the option to read more about your products.
  • Sales announcements. Record an audio or video clip with exciting company news and send it to customers. Go one step further and segment your customer list, so they’re receiving relevant information based on products or services they’ve bought or used in the past.
  • Coupons and promo content. Send images of coupons to customers. If you’re promoting an upcoming sale, include text like ‘Save 50% when you shop this weekend’ in the image of the coupon. Follow up with a text message with a link to your promotional landing page.
  • Event invitations. If you’re hosting an in-person event, send an image of the invitation with details. Ask recipients to respond with a ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ so you can track responses.

SMS and MMS campaign example


Before you send your SMS and MMS campaigns, there are a few best practices to consider:

  • Segment customers. Mobile messages have the power to grab attention. Don’t waste this advantage by sending generic messages. Segment your customer list, so specific groups receive relevant, personalized information.
  • Test different times to send messages. Just because your customers open and read your messages doesn’t mean they’re taking action. Send your messages at different times to see when customers are most likely to click on links or respond.
  • Include links to track conversions. Include links to your website to track how often recipients click on them and what they do once they’re on the landing page. This data will help you decide what types of links to share.
  • Include a call to action (CTA). Always ask recipients to complete an action. The action should relate to the objective of the campaign. For example, if customers show up late for appointments, a campaign to reminds customers should also ask them to confirm their appointment.
  • Include your contact information. To improve the customer experience, always include a way for customers to contact you. Let them know if they should respond to the message or call your support team.

Track your campaigns to see how many messages are sent successfully, how many are opened, and how many links are clicked. Based on what the data tells you, make adjustments to your campaigns. For example, if you send MMS campaigns, test whether sending follow-up SMS messages helps you meet your campaign objectives.

Choose VoiceSage as Business Messaging Partner

At VoiceSage, we’ve created a suite of products that help you send campaigns with ease. One example is our Interactive SMS product. Engagement is important for creating positive customer experiences and retaining customers longer. With Interactive SMS, you can set up a custom workflow that sends a series of texts over time. When new customers sign up or buy something, you can send them a series of texts that include:

  • Message #1: A welcome message
  • Message #2: A link to your online resource page
  • Message #3: An introduction to your customer support team
  • Message #4: An invitation to follow you on social media
  • Message #5: A promo code for new products

Interactive SMS also lets you send one-way bulk notifications. Depending on your business, you can send:

  • Service updates
  • Out-of-stock product notifications
  • Delivery status updates
  • Holiday greetings
  • And more.

If you prefer sending messages with media included, you can use our rich media messaging (RMM) product. RMM is similar to MMS but without the limitations. For one, you don’t have to send follow-up SMS messages with links. When customers click on a rich media message, the image acts as a link to a new page.

Here’s an overview of how RMM compares to SMS and MMS:

SMS and MMS feature comparison

Based on this comparison, RMM goes beyond the capabilities of both SMS and MMS to allow you to offer customers a more integrated experience. With RMM you can:

  • Send surveys
  • Create custom workflows
  • Manage customer appointments
  • Process payments securely

Plus, it’s easier to send rich media messages with VoiceSage, you don’t need a developer to set up campaigns for you. Simply upload customer details, create your message, and send it.

Learn more about how to use RMM: How to Win-back Lapsed Customers with an Improved Digital Customer Experience

SMS, MMS, or RMM: The Choice Is Yours

There’s a lot you can do with SMS and MMS. What’s important is you experiment with each option to figure out what types of messages lead to the most engagement.

To find out more about how we can help you incorporate mobile messaging into your marketing campaigns, book a demo today.

Book A Demo


Published on: 16th September 2019

Blogs and guides

News, opinion and solution guides for organizations operating contact centres

cloud communication platform

Cloud Communication Platforms: What’s the Catch and How to Choose the Best One for Your Organization

Business customer communication plays a pivotal role in the success and growth of any organization and usually this is delivered by a cloud communication platform….

Read more
rich messaging banner

Elevate Brand-Customer Communications with Rich Messaging

One powerful tool that is revolutionizing brand-customer interactions is rich messaging. In today’s dynamic and fast-paced digital landscape, effective communication is the key to building…

Read more
omnichannel customer journeys

Top Tips to Create an Omnichannel Customer Journey

Creating an effective omnichannel customer journey requires careful planning and execution. When customers interact with your brand, they will use a few or all your…

Read more

Book a Demo

Experience VoiceSage for yourself with a personalised demonstration

Book a demo with one of our customer engagement experts.
See how VoiceSage transforms outbound and inbound customer contact operations.

Book a Demo