What is the difference between SMS and MMS?

What is the difference between SMS and MMS messages is a question that many people often ask. The primary difference between SMS and MMS is that SMS is a regular text message that contains up to 160 characters and MMS is a text message that allows pictures, videos, and up to 320+ characters.

You might have heard of the term ‘SMS marketing’’ which refers to the method of marketing used by businesses.

SMS and MMS are two different ways of communication that fall under the category of text messages; the predominant form of communication used worldwide. 

Also, they are usually not perceived as two different forms of communication and are broadly referred to as text messages only. 

Resultantly, most people are oblivious of the distinct functions both can perform in their individual capacity.  

This article will help you figure out the difference between SMS and MMS easily and if you own a business it will also enable you to adopt the one you think is better as a part of your business marketing strategy. 

What is SMS meaning?

SMS stands for ‘Short Message Service’ and as the name indicates it only contains text. It is a short and concise text message that is capable of carrying text up to 160 characters and not beyond that.

If you intend to embed images or any other media in it, they will appear in the form of links that can be followed by a single tap by the receiver easily. 

What is MMS meaning?

MMS is an abbreviation and stands for ‘Multimedia Messaging Service’. The name clearly suggests, an MMS allows you to share multimedia such as pictures and videos along with the text.

The media usually includes pictures, videos, audio messages, GIFs etc. MMS has an added advantage over SMS text messages and its limit is far greater than a text message i.e. it can contain upto 1600 characters allowing one to add ample content contrary to SMS. 

The picture below clearly highlights the difference between SMS VS MMS. 

sms vs mms example

Weighing the pros and cons of SMS and MMS respectively:

SMS messages and MMS messages are used by various renowned companies around the world as they are extremely powerful marketing tools. 

Sending texts is an excellent way to engage your customers and generate considerable revenue out of your business by promoting it through SMS marketing. 

SMS messaging and MMS messaging differ from each other in various respects having respective pros and cons.

You can easily gauge what is more appropriate for you by considering the differences. 

The upside and downside of using SMS: 

SMS is a shorter message than MMS and hence costs less providing a cheaper method for business marketing and communication. 

SMS messaging is the most widely used form of text messages. The pricing differences between SMS and MMS messaging makes it a preferable option for a lot of businesses that cannot afford to invest exorbitantly on promotional activities. 

SMS messaging for business can be effective in creating brand awareness by reaching millions of people out there by sending texts only. 

On the contrary, there are a few drawbacks associated with texting SMS as well. 

Firstly, it has a restriction of 160 characters, so the message should be precise and brief. 

There is no denying that shorter messages ensure great engagement from customers. However, the limitation of characters can be at times a little problematic for businesses wanting to add greater content for publicizing their products and goods. 

Moreover, SMS cannot carry pictures and videos limiting a message to text only which can be boring for a lot of readers. 

The upside and downside of using MMS:

The ability to carry multimedia grants a superior status to MMS over SMS. Unlike SMS, it does not have a limited capacity of characters and can carry nearly tenfold content when compared to SMS.

Not only this, what makes MMS messaging an intriguing way of messaging is its peculiar feature to carry media easily. It allows sharing documents, location, and images with hyperlinks etc.

It is an effective way for capturing customer’s attention by showing them visual content in addition to the text which gives them a better idea about the product and might encourage them to purchase also. 

However, there is a downside to its users as well. It costs greater than SMS and considering the expenditure it poses, Sending MMS can be a less useful idea as part of a business’s marketing strategy.

The charges may vary depending on the company a business uses for sending bulk SMS or MMS, but generally an MMS costs 3 times more than an SMS. 

Another disadvantage of using MMS is that it can only be sent to smartphones and modern devices that are compatible with receiving and sending MMS. 

People without such devices will not be able to receive MMS hence the effect will be undermined and the message will fail to reach the entire targeted audience. 

Moreover, a company will have to undergo the hassle of hiring a graphic designer to constantly creating interesting content to be added in the MMS to attract and engage customers. 

However, there is no denying that visual representation is easy to process for a human brain and is highly effective. 

MMS and SMS are delivered through different protocols:

Another major difference between SMS and MMS is the contrasting methods of transmission. An SMS is sent using a conventional method that involves transmission from one server to another and does not require an internet connection. 

While MMS is sent through a relatively sophisticated communication method that allows it to send media. This involves the application TCP/IP protocol which enables the encoding and decoding of the message from the sender to the recipient.

That makes it easier for MMS to pack media files in the message and has a significantly higher limit of characters. 

Upon receiving MMS, the recipient will have an option to download the media sent through the message. TCP/IP requires the internet for functioning, so in a nutshell, the sender uploads the content and the recipient downloads. 

Moreover, an MMS takes more time to deliver than an SMS due to the greater amount of data packed in it. 

Which one to pick for business marketing?

It’s not just about knowing what’s the difference between SMS and MMS rather, it is about knowing what’s best for your company’s marketing needs. In 2019, worldwide mobile advertising spending reached about 189 billion U.S. dollars and it is expected to exceed 240 billion dollars by 2022. 

Advertising your brand through the right platform is important for increasing customer engagement. In the digital marketing era, SMS and MMS play a potent role in creating brand awareness and attracting your potential customers. 

It can be sometimes difficult for a brand to choose between the two that gives rise to perplexity. 

However, considering a few things can help you get rid of uncertainty. 

Firstly, it is important to understand the difference between SMS and MMS messages to be able to select the one that will work best to attract more customers thereby, increasing your sales.

For that very purpose you have to keep in mind a few factors that will help you determine what is a more suitable choice between SMS and MMS for promoting and advertising your brand. 

The key factor that is conducive to building marketing strategies is the budget of any brand. If your business affords to invest a significant amount in the promotional activities then you can easily opt MMS as it will also provide a visual representation of your product or service to the customer. 

Pictorial representation provides an extensive insight into the brand and people are more zealous to watch videos/ pictures than reading text. 

Most people find reading plain texts a tedious task to do because there is nothing much to attract them. 

For capturing the attention of such people, MMS can be a good idea as the picture/video will explain it all and they will not have to get through the boring process of reading anything. 

Secondly, you need to fully understand your audience to make the right decision. You should analyse your audience to figure out what will persuade your customers more to approach your brand. 

If your audience is mostly people having modern devices then go for MMS. Although, SMS is also capable of inducing favourable results too. 

Numerous worldly renowned brands use SMS text messages for promoting their businesses. Facebook, CNN, Ikea, Reebok are some of the famous companies that employ SMS marketing strategy to accelerate revenues. 

Reebok sms text example - 07.27.2020

However, it totally depends on the product/services, budget and personal preference of any business to choose between SMS and MMS for marketing.

For instance, if you have launched a new product and you want people to know about it you can send bulk MMS to let people have a look at it. If they like it enough they will have an urge to buy it too. 

Moreover, if you own a food related business then do not be reluctant to add visual content. 

The tempting sight of the food compels one  to order in the first place and satisfy their cravings. So in that case, MMS should be your priority for catching your customer’s attention and generating larger profits. 

Example of an MMS message on an iPhone

On the other hand, if your business is offering services that do not require visual content necessarily to attract your customer and you think you can do good without pictures then you can opt for just SMS also. 

For example, Edible Arrangements is a U.S. franchise that packs and delivers fresh fruit arrangements. Their text messaging highlights deals and limited-time offers, along with short links for ultimate shopability. 

Consumers can use the text to place an order today and have it delivered the next day easily. A customer in need of such a deal will definitely avail the offer to have a hassle-free experience and get the desired product delivered at the doorstep.

Edible Arrangements sms Text Message Example - 03.31.2020

Furthermore, a US based luxury clothing brand named Polo Ralph Lauren also uses SMS to apprise customers of the new discounts. This goes on to prove that SMS is beneficial too if it is opted by big luxury stores that generally have adequate budgets and can afford to choose MMS too. 

Polo Factory Stores sms messaging Example - 07.28.2020

Choosing the right SMS/MMS provider for marketing is crucial for your business:  

Choosing the right SMS platform is vital for marketing which offers cost-effective and useful plans for promoting your business. Being associated with express text in this regard can bring you several benefits while boosting your sales a great deal. 

It offers a wide range of plans for SMS marketing and you can easily choose the one that suits your budget and requirement. 

It can be your choice of network for a plethora of reasons i.e. it is easy to use, it is affordable and you are not bound by any contract or agreement. You can leave and join according to your discretion. 

It offers tremendous customer service and significantly improves your marketing. 

You just need to follow a few simple steps to be associated with express text. Download the express text app, create an account, choose a monthly payment plan, add your contact list and you are good to go.

The picture below shows the payment plans you can choose according to your budget to get started with the SMS marketing journey with express text. 

Express text sms and mms pricing plans

Both small and big companies use express text as it is a trusted platform. Some of the big names include Mcdonald’s, Mercedes Benz, Uber, Sheraton etc.

Moreover, for using MMS marketing you can choose MMS providers like Slick text as it offers a great image optimization and better delivery rates. Besides, they have another interesting feature of Auto SMS fallback that allows automatic conversion of an MMS to SMS on the devices that have no MMS compatibility. 


From the explanation given in this article, you should already know what is the difference between SMS and MMS now. SMS and MMS both offer a brilliant way of marketing. However, MMS is paramount as it is capable of showing your customer more about your brand. 

Restricting your brand to just one form of communication for marketing is not a good idea. 

An ideal marketing strategy should include an amalgamation of the two. Analyze your results by employing both types of communication for marketing. 

Compare and assess intelligently which one is inclined to generate greater revenues for your business. 

What you choose for your business is completely up to you. 

Modify and make adjustments to your marketing strategy every now and then depending on your product to be able to reach your customers in more exciting ways each time. 

Always endeavor to exhibit variety while connecting with your customers for keeping their enthusiasm intact which will also help to develop a strong sense of association between you and your customers.