What is the Difference between SMS and MMS?

What is the Difference between SMS and MMS?

Many people send multiple text messages every day without knowing the difference between SMS and MMS. This might be OK for the average person, but when you are running a business, you want to understand all the aspects of these two different types of messages. Let’s take an in-depth look at how SMS differs from MMS and how business owners can leverage both for their benefit.

In a nutshell, SMS only contain text, while MMS also include a picture or video. Both, however, can be defined as text messages.

What are SMS and MMS messages?

SMS stands for Short Message Service. It only contains text, no visual content, and each is calculated at 160 characters. SMS has been around for a long time – since 1992, to be exact – and is currently the most widely used communication option, with over 5 billion people around the globe sending and receiving SMS every day.

Unlike popular messenger apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat, which use a WiFi or a mobile internet connection, SMS works through a mobile network connection.

MMS is short for Multimedia Messaging Service. Unlike SMS, MMS messages can include content like photos, videos, audio, and GIFs. MMS also enables you to send text – up to 1,600 characters per message. This point is true for all smartphone devices, including Android, iPhone, and others.

Usually, MMS can include up to 500 KB of data, which is enough for a short video or audio clip up to 30 seconds in length.

Using SMS and MMS for Your Business

SMS and MMS messages are both great for an instant connection with customers: people are a lot more likely to read a text message on their phone than, for example, open an email. Text messages keep you in your audience’s line of vision and garner excellent open rates. About 98% of users will open an SMS, compared to only 20% of email users.

Both SMS and MMS have their pros and cons when engaging with customers. Depending on your business and what you hope to gain from text messaging marketing, one option may be preferable to the other.

SMS: Pros and Cons


      • By their nature, SMS is short and concise at 160 characters per message. This may seem limited, but this also means your message has a better chance of capturing the client’s attention
      • SMS is less costly to send than MMS, which is a major consideration if you have a lot of subscribers.
      • You can add a level of interaction by including calls to action eg. short links to webpages, payment gateways, appointment confirmations, surveys and more.


      • In some cases, 160 characters just aren’t enough to get your message across–no matter how creative your marketing team is. In which case, you enter into multipart SMS territory, meaning costs increase.
      • An SMS message is bare text: no photos, videos, or GIFs. If your business is visually based (like graphic design, makeup, or fashion), only having text to work with might hobble your marketing.

MMS: Pros and Cons


      • There’s just no way around it–visual content is more eye-catching. Text is easy to overlook, while a picture or video is more likely to make a customer pause.
      • You can send more text (ten times more, to be exact) in an MMS than an SMS. True, more is not always better, but with 1,600 versus 160 characters at your disposal, you have more space to work with.


      • Not everybody has MMS messages enabled on their phone. True, most of your clients likely have smartphones, but some will not. Some data plans also do not allow for MMS messaging.
      • MMS will always cost more to send than SMS – in most cases 5 times more. Most businesses don’t have an unlimited marketing budget, so you need to put your resources where they can make the most difference.
      • Sending the MMS is not the only higher cost involved: the visual content must be high-quality to attract a customer. If you are not a designer yourself, you’ll need to outsource graphics or video design to a professional, which will also cost money.
      • Varying handsets and screen sizes means that not everyone will have the same visual experience.

SMS vs. MMS: What about the Price?

No matter what marketing service you choose, MMS messages will always be more expensive. When sending an MMS message, the carrier will send much more data than an SMS. The nature of your business will help you determine whether the difference in price will be worth it for your company.

Should I Choose SMS or MMS?

To decide whether to choose SMS or MMS for your marketing campaign, identify the goals of your business, who your ideal customer is, and the sort of product or service you want to promote.

When to Opt for SMS

SMS can be great for a quick, concise message with a clear call-to-action in the form of a clickable link. It is ideal for order confirmations and time-sensitive alerts, delivery tracking, appointment reminders, quick updates, and password resets. It is one of the most cost-effective methods you can use to reach clients.

SMS is also excellent for text-to-join campaigns. In a campaign of this sort, customers can subscribe to receive future texts by sending a certain word. You can also ask people to reply with their email address for another update venue. If your goal is to get as many sign-ups as possible while keeping your costs manageable, SMS is the way to go.

Use SMS messages for marketing to boost client engagement with coupon codes, brief offers, and time-limited promotions.

SMS reminders are also effective in helping healthcare, insurance, and utility companies collect bill payments. Automated SMS reminders will prompt clients to pay on time and alert them of upcoming and overdue payments. A study found that SMS reminders reduce late payments by two days on average and increase timely loan payments by up to 9%. Financial businesses or banks can use SMS to send loan balance or credit card status information.

In terms of cost and guaranteed deliverability, SMS would be a more sensible choice than the extra effort, expense, and uncertainty of MMS.

When to Choose MMS

If you have the budget, want to focus on eye-catching visual content, or need room to include a longer message, MMS may be the right option for you. MMS text will allow you to include engaging multimedia content such as graphics, company logos, videos, and more. Using your company logo in MMS will help you emphasise your business brand.

An MMS would be suitable if you want to display your product, invite customers to an event, send a message of congratulations on clients’ birthdays, start a competition, or offer a coupon.

MMS is ideal for sending business cards, as well, allowing phone users to save contact information directly to their device.

When creating MMS content, keep in mind that media will be displayed differently on various devices. An image may appear differently on an Android or iPhone, and an audio clip might not sound clear on all devices. Also, MMS delivery is optional on handsets, so some recipients could miss out. It is impossible to determine if MMS has actually been viewed so you won’t know who hasn’t received it.

Bottom Line: SMS vs. MMS Marketing

SMS is the ideal solution when you need to communicate a brief message such as a reminder, update, or announcement. MMS is excellent for longer messages, showing off your product, and boosting customer engagement through graphics, audio, or video content. However, the expense and limitations in image quality and delivery guarantee are not desirable.

The ideal solution is a combination of SMS and rich content in the form of a call to actions. Links to webpages to view products/services and encourage immediate online purchase, prompts to reply keywords that initiate bookings, calls and support.

This combination ensures the highest rate of delivery, at the lowest cost and the maximum level of market exposure.

Contact touchSMS for Business Texting Services

Do you want to get in touch with your customer base through texting? Would you like to hear about our affordable, reliable, and efficient mass text plans? Call us today at +61 2 9518 7455, or at 1300 794 419 in Australia to get started and see what automated text marketing can do for your conversions.

Our services include live delivery reports, auto opt-out management, SMS customisation, email SMS, and much more.