MMS vs. SMS: What’s the Difference? With Examples of How to Use Each with Customers

Woman looking at mms text on her phone

When it comes to texting, there are acronyms abound! Two of the most popular are SMS and MMS. In this blog post, we’ll go over each, what they stand for and a few examples of how to use them with customers.

What is SMS?

SMS stands for Short Message Service. An SMS text message is comprised of plain text and is limited to 160 characters. Links can be included in SMS messages, but not photos, videos or other forms of media.

What is MMS?

MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service. An MMS text message was created with the same technology as SMS but enabled for sending photos, video, audio and other forms of multimedia content. MMS has a longer character count per message compared to an SMS message.

What is the difference between iMessage SMS and MMS?

If you text with the iMessage app on your iPhone, you are not using SMS. You are instead using OTT, which stands for Over the Top. This category also includes WhatsApp, WeChat and other similar apps. The main difference between SMS and OTT is that SMS messages are sent over a cellular network and OTT messages are sent over an internet connection.

What is the difference between RCS, MMS and SMS?

RCS stands for Rich Communication Service, and it’s the texting protocol that will eventually replace SMS and MMS texting. RCS offers a branding opportunity for businesses by allowing them to add their logo and customized color scheme. For customers, RCS offers a robust experience that includes features such as rich carousel cards, group chats, read receipts, photos, GIFS and maps –similar to what’s currently offered with OTT apps.

Carriers are expected to roll out RCS on a wide scale in the near future, but for now, only Android phone users have access to the messaging platform. Learn more about RCS benefits for business here.

Is MMS better than SMS?

MMS isn’t necessarily better than SMS, but it offers benefits to your texts that SMS doesn’t. The benefits depend on your messaging goals with customers. If your intent is to send a straightforward message, perhaps requiring a simple yes or no from the customer, or a quick back and forth, conversational exchanges, SMS is the way to go.

MMS can be used when you have more to say that doesn’t fit into the 160 characters of an SMS message (although some texting-for-business providers offer a much higher character limit). Or MMS can be used when a message can be communicated more clearly with the help of a multimedia file.

When to use MMS and SMS with customers

Using SMS to reach your customers is a smart choice given that we’re all unresponsive to phone calls and emails (robocalls, spam, scam attempts are partially to blame for that). SMS messages are a good option for plain text exchanges in uses cases such as:

That said, MMS can also be used with any of these mentioned examples. MMS allows your business to expand on your messages with visuals or let your customers get their message across more clearly with photos.

MMS is especially helpful in service and support situations where a customer may want to send proof of product damage, text documents for review to confirm accuracy before sending in the originals or send photos to assess things like job scope or property damage.

Of course, you’re not limited to how you can use MMS with customers. Let’s look at a few examples.

Examples of when to use MMS messages with customers

Adding visuals to your texts can help boost information retention for your customers and make certain messages stand out more. Research shows that 65% of people are visual learners and benefit from being able to see what they are learning. You can create more of an impact with your messages when adding a relevant, visual component to it.

When running a promotion, simply adding a photo of what’s on sale may make the deal more enticing for your audience.

A sample text conversation using MMS

Have clients send text photos of their preferred hairstyle, nail design or beard style to better prepare for an upcoming appointment.

An example of a text conversation using MMS with a hair salon

Medical office
Save time for your patients and give them the convenience of snapping a picture of their insurance cards so you can record their information.

An example of a text exchange with a medical office

Have your clients text a photo of asset damage to process claims faster.
An example of using MMS with insurance clients

Does MMS cost more than SMS?

The cost can vary, but if you’re interested in using text messaging to communicate better with your customers, texting-for-business software is available at fair, straightforward pricing with the benefit of features that businesses need to grow.

Zipwhip pricing is spaced out in three tiers and includes both SMS and MMS messages in each package.

Interested in learning more about how texting can help you reach customers faster? Download our free e-book The Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers.

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