SMS and MMS are two types of text messages you can use to communicate with customers in your text message marketing efforts. They allow you to speak to your customers directly in a personal manner that is effective at driving engagement and conversions.

But SMS and MMS are not the same thing, and your customers will engage with them differently. So it's important to know the differences so you can choose the best type for each message in your marketing campaigns and automated flow to reach your business goals.

SMS vs MMS: What's the Difference?

To get the most out of each message you send to customers, start by understanding the difference between these two messaging types.

MMS is media-friendly

SMS (short message service) is a simple text-only format. It's the most basic type of text message and doesn't support images, videos, or other attachments. You can include emojis, though, so you can add a little brand personality.

MMS, short for multimedia messaging service, is a more advanced text messaging format that allows you to include multimedia files like photos, videos, GIFs, and contact cards.

The media makes MMS messages more suitable for sending dynamic content to grab your customers' attention. But don't underestimate the power of SMS messaging! Plain text can make your brand feel personal, so both have their place.

MMS texts can be longer

MMS messages can also be longer than SMS messages. SMS texts are limited to 160 characters, while texts sent by MMS can be up to 1600 characters. MMS messages also have a data limit depending on the carrier. Most limit them to 3.75MB.

But you don't want to spend that large allowance on an essay-long text message. Customers still expect texts to be brief. So instead, use the extra bandwidth to send captivating media.

SMS is cheaper than MMS

The exact price of your SMS and MMS messages will depend on which text message marketing platform you use, but usually, it's about 2-3 times more expensive to send an MMS message. So you'll want to be smart about when you choose to use MMS to get the most bang for your buck.

For example, say you sell shoes and have just launched a new collection, you might want to use MMS to show off new styles with photos. But if you're sending a more informational text, like alerting customers to a flash sale, an SMS will get the job done.

SMS is available worldwide

Finally, SMS is available globally, while MMS is only available in the United States and Canada.

So if you have customers outside of these countries, you'll need to develop a comprehensive text messaging strategy that includes SMS.

If you don't take that into consideration, customers may feel that you have inconsistent communication when they only receive some of the text messages you send. As a result, they may feel like they're lacking context when they didn't get your last text with the pictures of your latest products but receive an SMS that references it.

So for global audiences, create an alternative SMS sequence for your text campaigns and flows alongside any that include MMS. Then you won't miss out on opportunities to engage with these audiences.

SMS messages have consistent deliverability

MMS messages require the recipient to have cellular data or an internet connection. If they don't, the message just won't get delivered. And if they have spotty coverage, an MMS can take forever to download, which can be frustrating for a customer.

An SMS message just needs cell service. So even if an SMS message is sent when a customer has no cell service, it will be delivered once their phone has service again. And if coverage is spotty, there's no load time once the SMS is received.

When should I use SMS vs MMS for ecommerce marketing?

Regardless of which you choose, SMS and MMS messaging are both great ways to build lasting relationships and grow a loyal customer base for your online store.

Each type will be more effective for different campaigns and different audiences. So run A/B tests continuously to determine which helps you reach your business goals for different kinds of messages.

In general, though, you'll want to opt for SMS when you want to convey a short message quickly—like an announcement for a flash sale or a welcome message thanking the customer for subscribing to texts.

Run A/B tests continuously to determine which helps you reach your business goals for different kinds of messages.

Order logistics are also best communicated via SMS. Tracking updates and delivery confirmation messages don't need any media to go with them. But these quick communications can help customers feel assured that their order is on the way.

SMS is also ideal for engaging a customer in two-way communication. For example, you can send short surveys through text where the next question arrives after each answer a subscriber sends. Or you could ask a customer how they liked their most recent order.

One of the most powerful ways to use SMS for conversions is for automated order placement. For example, say you sell coffee. You can ask a customer if they're ready to re-order, and they can easily place a new order for their favorite beans. It's an easy way to increase retention and customer lifetime value at a low cost to you!

Get the most out of your text message marketing with a platform dedicated to ecommmerce

To achieve the best results with your text message marketing efforts, you'll want to test your copy, MMS vs SMS, any media included, and the timing of every message. Track engagement and sales to home in on which messages are performing best.

This is where a dedicated ecommerce SMS platform can help. Emotive helps you drive more conversions faster with personalized and automated two-way conversations.

Emotive connects directly to your ecommerce platform so you can track the impact your text message marketing efforts have on your business. Set up automations based on behavioral triggers to text your customers at the right time, whether that's when they've abandoned their cart, after a purchase, or when they haven't visited your store in a while.

Learn more about how Emotive can grow your revenue through full-funnel text message marketing.