MMS vs rich messaging

RCS, Apple Business Chat or MMS – which kind of mobile messaging is right for you?

OpenMarket – June 11, 2020

They say the medium is the message. Well, according to our Empathy in the Age of AI research, the medium certainly plays a big part in the messaging experience.

90% of CX leaders say fun or engaging messages help them deliver empathetic interactions – and 73% of consumers agree.

That’s why brands are always looking for new messaging formats and innovative ways to engage consumers on their go-to channel.

Enter MMS and its rich-messaging cousins RCS and Apple Business Chat.

These formats unlock new opportunities for brands to experiment with multimedia messaging and app-like experiences.

But do you know your RCS from your Apple Business Chat? Here’s a quick run-down to help you figure out which formats are best for you.

The evolution of messaging

Picture that famous image of the evolution of man, with a line-up of increasingly upright, intelligent and, um, hairless primates.

In the mobile messaging version of that image, SMS would be over to the left, with MMS in the middle and rich messaging striding tall to the right.

For many brands, MMS is the natural upgrade to their existing SMS campaigns. It gives them the benefit of extra features and acts as a gateway to rich messaging.

What MMS gives you

With MMS, you can incorporate images, GIFS, videos, audio clips and more into your messages.

The pioneers of MMS were the marketers who use it to share coupons, deals and personalized product showcases.

Customer support teams got involved too, using MMS’s longer character counts – as well as images and short how-to videos – to help customers solve their issues fast.

At OpenMarket, we help brands discover new, innovative use cases and take advantage of some of MMS’s lesser-known features:

  • Expiry dates for time-sensitive messages like promotions
  • Links to externally-hosted content, cached to reduce bandwidth and increase speed
  • Enhanced delivery receipts so you can track the status of messages
  • Valuable data capture via enhanced number look-up

Brands can now use MMS to deliver multimedia messages to business landlines and toll-free numbers – and it works both ways: your customers can send MMS back.

For a deeper dive into MMS, read our MMS guide.

The rise of rich messaging

The next generation of rich messaging to hit smartphones was RCS for Android devices.

Think of RCS as SMS on steroids – and a development of the capabilities unlocked by MMS.

RCS enables brands to deliver an app-like experience without the need for an app. Which is handy when an app can end up costing you $1,000,000 – or when you need the kind of global, reliable reach that app notifications can’t match.

Use RCS to take advantage of features like:

  • Rich media
  • Branding and verification
  • Suggested replies and action buttons
  • Automated, in-the-moment responses

Check out our RCS page for more.

Rich messaging is coming to iOS too

Apple Business Chat offers the benefits of rich messaging to iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch users.

Apple Business Chat will deliver a similarly rich experience to RCS: an app-like experience with multimedia content and rich links.

Apply Pay integration will make payments easy, and design features like list pickers and time pickers will give users intuitive prompts.

MMS vs rich messaging

So what sets rich messaging apart from MMS? Here are the highlights:

  • Rich messaging gives you that app-like experience with buttons and prompts
  • MMS gives you read receipts (proof that customers have received the message) but rich messaging gives you far more enhanced interaction data
  • MMS is more widespread in the US, although we expect RCS to grow at lightning speed, along with Apple Business Chat when it goes mainstream

As for which format is best for you – that depends on the type of messaging campaign you have in mind.

Many of the brands we work with use MMS as the natural successor to SMS, enhancing their existing campaigns. From there, they can make the step up to rich messaging when they’re ready.

Explore some more by checking out our guide to MMS. 

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