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What Is MMS for Business?

David Gargaro
David Gargaro

Multimedia messaging could improve your customer engagement over SMS text message marketing. Here's how it works.

MMS messaging is popular among people texting their friends and for text message marketing for businesses. Although SMS messaging has been around longer, and is still widely used, MMS messaging has become more popular, thanks in part to the growth of smartphones. It is easier than ever to send text messages with GIFs, emojis, pictures and videos attached.

What is MMS?

MMS stands for multimedia messaging service. It is an extension of the SMS (Short Message Service) protocol. MMS is a text message that can include both text and media, such as pictures, GIFs, videos, audio clips, etc. It also allows an “unlimited” amount of text (depending on the service provider), while SMS allows a maximum of 160 characters.

MMS messaging is integrated into your mobile device’s text messaging interface. Once you add a graphic, video or emoji, your smartphone will send the multimedia part of your message by MMS. When someone sends you a multimedia message, your device will automatically use MMS to receive the file. If your device is not automatically MMS-enabled, the text message you receive will include a URL where you can view the file online.

Benefits of MMS for business

There are several benefits to using MMS for business texting:

How do businesses use MMS messaging?

Businesses can use MMS messaging in many ways.

Preceding messages with a subject line

MMS enables you to include a subject line, which is not available for SMS messaging. The subject line appears in bold over the graphic and below your name and number when previewing the message. You can use copywriting strategies to create a compelling subject line to engage your customer’s interest and curiosity to compel them to open the message. You can also include emojis in the subject line to make it catchier and more attractive.

Sending and receiving photos

People enjoy using their smartphones to take pictures when shopping, travelling, attending events, and for capturing special moments. This means your customers can take photos of products that interest them for potential future purchase. They can then use MMS messaging to share these pictures with you. You can then share photos of similar or complementary products with your customers through MMS.

Providing instructional images or manual 

Sometimes, customers will need help with using your product, as they might have lost the instructions that came with it. You can use MMS to send a user manual or specific instructional images to customers to ensure they are using the product correctly. You can also provide specific directions and answers to their questions.

Sending and receiving screenshots

Words are not always enough when people need help with understanding a problem. Unfortunately, you can’t always show the customer in person how something works. You can use MMS to send and receive screenshots to help customers troubleshoot product use issues and guide them with demonstrations. This will ensure that you and the customer are both looking at the same thing.

Sending a map or location  

Many smartphones are equipped with GPS or map apps, although they might not provide enough detail to find your retail location. You can use MMS to provide customers with customized map images to eliminate any confusion and make it easier to visit your store.

Sending images with hyperlinks 

While you can include text, images and videos in your text message, MMS messaging enables you to do more than provide customers with information. You can encourage customers to visit your website by including a hyperlink in the MMS message. You can provide links to valuable resources, and lead potential customers through your sales funnel. For example, add a link with a promotional image in your MMS message to lead customers to a specific landing page, where they can get more information and order your product.

Receiving images of documents

You no longer need to send documents by fax or wait for them to arrive by mail or courier. MMS enables you to attach a picture of a document. Your customer could sign a receipt or proof of purchase and attach it to an MMS message to provide proof of signature. MMS messaging can also be used to show signed contracts, timesheets or other documentation necessary for closing a deal.

Entertainment

People will often share entertaining videos and images with their friends. As a business, you can entertain your customers with MMS messages that include audio, video or GIFs, which is more effective than text alone. Sending birthday wishes or congratulations to customers via MMS is a good way to build relationships with current customers, as well as with potential clients.

How much does MMS messaging cost?

It costs more to send MMS messages than SMS messages, as MMS messages use two to three times more data than SMS messages. The cost depends on your text service provider and the volume of text messages sent. For example, costs can range from 5 to 10 cents per text message sent.

What restrictions are there on MMS business messaging?

It is legal to send business messages via MMS. However, you must follow your country’s legal guidelines, as well as the rules laid out by your carrier.

According to the U.S. Telephone Consumer Protection Act, your company must get the customer’s express written permission to send text messages to their phones and mobile devices. Getting written consent can involve signing a physical document or a digital signature. Under Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), if a customer does business with your company, they give you implied consent to contact them for the next two years. You can also request express written consent to contact them by text message.

How can you keep MMS costs down?

One of the easiest solutions is to send more SMS messages, as they cost less to send than MMS messages. You can be selective about when to use SMS messages versus using MMS messages. For example, you can use SMS messages for transactional messages (e.g., order confirmations, delivery tracking messages, appointment reminders, password resets). You can also choose SMS messages instead of MMS messages for text-to-join campaigns.

Different text carriers will price MMS messaging differently than their competitors. Some providers will offer higher limits or packages that support more MMS messages. Do your research to find the most affordable carrier for your business, especially if you plan to send a lot of MMS business messages.

MMS messaging costs depend on the size of the message, which are affected by the size of the image, video and audio files embedded in the message. Reducing the size of these files will help you to keep MMS costs down. Use the following tips to help to reduce MMS message file sizes and their associated costs:

  • Use the JPG extension for static images, as they are usually smaller than other types of file extensions.
  • Limit the number of colors and gradients used in images and GIFs.
  • Limit animation in GIFs to 3-4 frames per second.
  • Use MP4 files for videos, as they require lower bandwidth for transmission and playing.
  • Avoid sending videos with sound.
Image Credit: Jelena_Danilovic / Getty Images
David Gargaro
David Gargaro
business.com Contributing Writer
David Gargaro is a content writer and copy editor with more than 20 years of experience in multiple industries, including publishing, advertising, marketing, finance, and small business. He has written on B2B-focused topics covering business technology, sales, marketing, and insurance. David has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Actuarial Science from the University of Toronto. He served as the managing editor of a small publishing company, and self-published a book called How to Run Your Company… Into the Ground.