The complete guide to MMS

Borjan Cvrtila

In a world of instant communication, dominated by digital channels like WhatsApp, Viber and more, we’ve forgotten where it all started: SMS and MMS – the founding channels of instant messaging.  

The very first SMS ever sent was on December 3rd, 1992 and the message read: “Merry Christmas”. MMS was developed around the same time using similar technology and it was introduced commercially in 2002. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find what the first picture ever sent over MMS was, but we imagine it looked something like this: 

In the modern tech world, old often means obsolete. But you’d be surprised to learn that MMS is actually more relevant and engaging than you would expect. In the United States, we’ve observed 19% more interactions on our platform in 2022 than in 2021. 

In North America, it’s one of the most reliable ways for businesses to communicate in a rich and engaging manner:

2.2 trillion

MMS and SMS sent in 2020 in the US alone

Wondering why MMS is still relevant in the social media age?

This guide is your single source of everything you need to know about MMS and why it’s still a strong contender in the communication space. Let’s break down how you can utilize MMS to amp up your communication strategy. 

What is MMS?

Multimedia Messaging Service is a standard form of messaging available on all mobile phones. While SMS is text-only, MMS lets you send different kinds of media along with text. Instead of a plain message, you can include images, sounds and videos.

This allows you to create a fully customized, rich message specifically tailored to your communication needs. You can even choose different fonts and change the color of the text in order to emphasize certain words and improve engagement. 

What are the benefits of MMS?

Since MMS is sent directly to your customer’s phone without the need for them to download an app, you can be certain that your marketing message will reach its intended destination. This leads to some great benefits for your business: 

What is the difference between MMS and SMS messaging?

SMS has a maximum of 160 characters of plain text per message. MMS on the other hand has a much higher limit (depending on the provider) with the added capability of sending images, video, and audio.  

The price of MMS is also higher than SMS, but it has significantly more features. The benefits far outweigh the cost though: one of our clients reported a staggering 20x return on investment after a dedicated multimedia messaging campaign. If you’re still on the fence about which one is right for you, check out our detailed comparison.  

MMS + SMS = The perfect combination

MMS is most powerful when paired with SMS. While most users can receive an MMS without issue, some don’t have that capability included in their cellular plan. To ensure that your message gets to every customer, use SMS as a failover channel.  

In case an MMS can’t be sent to a particular person, an SMS is sent instead. Your message still arrives at its destination, but without the media. 

If you want to take an in-depth look at the differences between the two, check out this blog:

What are the features of MMS?

You might be thinking to yourself: “So what? It’s just SMS with pictures”, but it’s way more than that. Other than rich media capabilities, MMS also has advanced features which will help you craft and send powerful business messages that make an impact on customers. 

Send branded messages 

MMS lets you attach your brand name to every message. Instead of displaying just an ordinary phone number, your customers can see the name and logo of your brand which lets them know that the message is coming from a trusted source. The best part is there are no technical requirements on your side or the customer’s side.   

Create catchy subject lines 

We’ve all seen them in emails, but did you know that you can add subject lines to your MMS messages? They quickly grab the reader’s attention and give them an idea of what to expect from the full text. A well-written, catchy subject line can even result in 12% higher open rates and 75% higher click-through rates. 

Add time limits 

With MMS, you can place expiry dates on your messages which is essentially an auto-destruct feature. When you give your customers a sense of urgency, they are more likely to engage with your campaign because they know that time is running out.  

Use weblinks and previews 

Sending links via SMS is nothing new, but an MMS with great visuals makes the links more clickable. The accompanying image or video thumbnail creates a more appealing message which increases engagement between your customers and your brand.

10 examples of using MMS for your business

Whether you’re a small business or a multinational corporation, MMS solutions can improve your business in multiple ways. With 51% of customers saying they are more likely to make a purchase if they receive a text message that includes images and media, it is essential to reassess your mobile engagement strategy to include MMS.  

Here’s how you can use MMS messages throughout the entire customer journey.




Best practices for using MMS

Now that we’ve covered the top use cases of MMS, it’s time to move on to best practices to make each message count.  

There is a lot to consider. What kind of picture leads to higher conversion rates? Is a QR code better than a link? Which font is more engaging?  

In short, it depends.  

The best solution for a coupon campaign might not work for a product registration and vice versa. Every feature should be considered on a case-by-case basis, but we can give you some general pointers to keep in mind when crafting the perfect MMS message.  

1. Check if you have permission 

While you might be used to spamming your friends, different rules apply when it comes to marketing. Depending on the country you’re operating in, you might require informed consent from a customer to send them promotional material through MMS.  

This isn’t a bad thing, though. Asking your customers for permission makes them more inclined to trust you and those who decide to opt-in usually deliver higher engagement rates. Unsolicited messages are often met with outrage anyways, so it’s best to avoid them all together. It can land you in legal trouble and drive away customers in the long run.  

2. Grab your customer’s attention 

The key reason why MMS shows much better results than a simple SMS is the rich media. Using a catchy picture or a funny video grabs the reader’s attention and increases engagement by almost 300%. The image is the first thing anyone will see as they open your message, so you need to make sure it’s attractive and relevant.  

Don’t be afraid to use large, clear text in your visuals since phone screens are generally small. An image that looks perfectly readable on the computer might not be legible at all on mobile. A bold font in pictures can help make things clear, as well as choosing colors that contrast and complement each other.  

Try to avoid putting too much text in your graphics because this can make things cluttered. Keep only the most relevant information so the reader has an incentive to read more, but reserve the explanation for the body of the message itself.   

3. Write an engaging message 

When communicating through MMS, it’s best to keep it short and sweet. A really long message will probably not be read in its entirety and can even drive people away from reading it in the first place.  

Generally, you should keep the body text under 100 words and focus on the most crucial information that you think your reader is most interested in. This can be a discounted price, a one-sentence description of a new product or something else more relevant to the message you’re trying to convey. Be specific

If the point of your message is to invite people to a specific website, include a weblink. The user can immediately click on it right after reading and follow through with the rest of the campaign. QR codes are a good substitute, but keep in mind that some people don’t know how to scan them.  

Know your audience, then create your message. 

At the end, don’t forget to include a “call-to-action” to entice your readers to engage and guide them to the next step. It gives them an actionable task and usually contains an imperative verb. Something like this: “Click to learn more” 

4. Pick the right time 

While you can send an MMS at any time of day, it’s essential to choose the right moment. For example: the typical American worker will probably skim over your message if you send it at 7 a.m. when they just wake up. They will likely be more responsive if you send it after work. Weekends are also a great time for promotional messages, since people are more relaxed and more likely to engage. 

Finding the right time depends on the campaign and your customers, so feel free to experiment to see what works best. Also, customer data can be a great resource to help you optimize send times and pin-point who should receive what message and when with surgical precision.  

5. Don’t forget your brand 

You can spend hours creating the ideal message and finding the perfect picture, but if your customer receives a message from an anonymous number telling them to click a foreign link, you probably lost them. The number of scams increases year-by-year, and so does scam awareness. To make sure your customers know that it’s you, don’t forget to add your brand name and logo before sending out the campaign. You’ll save yourself quite a bit of trouble.  

6. Experiment with your messaging 

To make sure your campaign is successful, you need to constantly monitor messages and evaluate their performance. Even the most well-crafted messaging campaign can fail because people sometimes respond in unpredictable ways. 

If you want to achieve the best results, experiment with content to see what works. A/B testing is common in marketing and for good reason – it shows you what people find engaging so you can steer your campaign in the right direction. In order to do this and maximize ROI, you need an omnichannel customer engagement solution and a customer data platform

How to get started with MMS

Now that you know everything about MMS, you’re ready to create successful messaging campaigns and drastically increase engagement with your customers. The reliability of SMS combined with the power of interactive media makes MMS a very strong communication channel which shouldn’t be overlooked in 2023.   

There’s one last thing to do.

How to choose a good MMS provider 

When looking for an MMS provider, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here are a few things to look for when searching for a good provider: 

Number of direct connections 

For messages to be delivered reliably and at speed, it’s important that your communication platform provider has direct connections to mobile network operators globally.  

If they don’t have a sizeable number of connections, your messages will get routed through a third-party aggregator which could result in slow send rates or undelivered messages. This also makes it more expensive. 

With a good provider, you can be sure that your message will be sent on time, to the right people, in the right order. 

The Infobip advantage:

Infobip has 800+ direct operator connections all around the world, and 40+ data centers globally. This means real-time, reliable MMS delivery.  

Robust omnichannel platform 

An omnichannel communication platform gives you the capability to orchestrate the right use case for the right channel. With a great platform, you can create innovative marketing campaigns for any channel, automate communications and reach your customers globally.  

It produces higher engagement rates than single channel solutions, enables wider reach and most importantly – gives you options.  

If any issue arises with sending an MMS (be it network problems or limited capabilities on the customer’s side), you have other failover channels at your disposal.  

The Infobip advantage:

Our omnichannel communication platform lets you leverage data with a customer data platform, automate and personalize journeys with customer engagement solutions, provide support with a contact center and CPaaS capabilities with over 18 channels. 

Compliance and privacy regulations 

Local laws and regulations differ from country to country – for example, in France you can’t send any promotional SMS messages on a Sunday. On the other side of the world, Malaysia requires the message header to clearly state that the user is not being charged for receiving it. 

It’s important that your provider is highly compliant with the rules of a given country. A regional presence lets them be up to date on any changes that might affect your business.  

Look out for standards and certifications like these: 

  • ISO 27001 (2013) standard
  • Certified by BSI (British Standards Institution)
  • GDPR addressed and multiple data center locations

The Infobip advantage:

Infobip’s global presence keeps your communications in line with local regulations. We follow the highest standards of compliance, regardless of the country you’re operating in. 

CX consultancy 

Without the right partner, mobile messaging can be complex. With the right partner, it shouldn’t be.  

For example, you might need help with: 

  • Design and deployment of bespoke messaging solutions
  • Building and running campaigns
  • Data and analytics consultancy
  • Integrating your messaging infrastructure applications
  • Migrating SMS short codes with no downtime, hassle or missed messages

You should look for a provider that won’t leave you hanging when the bill is paid. They should help you get up and running by guiding you through the whole process; all the while keeping the door open for any questions you might have.   

The Infobip advantage:

Our professional CX consultants are always on hand to help with onboarding, building out effective strategies and achieving your goals. Available 24/7, we make sure that no problem goes unsolved. 

Availability, integrity and reliance 

To protect your customers from data loss, check that the provider’s platform has high availability. You’ll want to see geographically distributed data centers so local outages or natural disasters don’t knock out the whole network.  

The network architecture should be scalable, with no single points of failure or bottlenecks. Look for uptime service-level agreements of at least 99.99%. 

The Infobip advantage:

We offer highly competitive deliverability and a 99.99% uptime SLA, anywhere in the world. Our widespread data centers enable you to consistently and reliably send messages without worry.

Failover channel 

Lines should ideally be enabled with both SMS and MMS capabilities. If your customer can’t receive MMS messages for whatever reason, your message will automatically convert into a text-only SMS. This way you can rest assured knowing that you can reach your customer no matter what.  

The Infobip advantage:

We use intelligent routing to ensure that your message gets to the recipient in the best and most cost-efficient way.

Setting up your number

It’s wise to broaden and deepen engagement opportunities on what is likely to be your most important phone number. 

Enabling your landline for multimedia communication helps customers that may not want to pick up the phone to call. What’s more, if your current number isn’t MMS or even SMS enabled, it’s likely that you’re missing messages customers are already trying to send you. 

The Infobip advantage:

If you work with us, you can expect to have your number enabled within two weeks. If you don’t have a number already, we can source one for you. From here on, you’ll be able to set up automated conversation flows through that number.

Bring your own connection

Transferring your Short Codes to a new messaging solutions provider can be daunting. It risks downtime and undelivered messages which ultimately costs money. Your migration should run like clockwork – with no undelivered messages, no downtime, and no uncertainty.  

That’s where Infobip comes in. 

We’ve introduced: Bring your own connection – a service which empowers businesses with a hassle-free Short Code migration process. We do all the heavy lifting so you can concentrate on your business and customers. We also take care of ported numbers and identify which number belongs to which carrier. 

Why is this important? 

Short Codes are valuable assets. The challenge when switching communication providers is that each carrier follows different migration processes at different speeds. This means that even a few weeks after you start migrating, your messaging traffic could be traveling through different providers; not to mention the struggle of trying to figure out which customer belongs to which carrier.  

As a leading communication solutions provider, we have close relationships with all major carriers and long-established migration procedures in place.  

After we’ve covered everything you need to know from use cases to setting up, here are some FAQs.  

Frequently asked questions

Transform your business communications

If you want to utilize the power of MMS to grow your business and maximize ROI: you’ve come to the right place.

Our 800+ direct operator connections and more than 75 offices all around the world allow us to facilitate reliable and consistent messaging regardless of the region. If you combine it with other mobile channels that we offer such as SMS, Apple Business Messages, Google Business Messages and Meta – you’ve got almost 100% of the world covered. All just a few clicks away. 

Ready to start using MMS?

Check out our visual guide on how to use MMS.

Apr 25th, 2023
17 min read

Borjan Cvrtila