MMS Image and Video Best Practices

Written by Kyle Claypool • August 31, 2021
MMS Marketing

If you’re trying to get your audience excited about something via a text message marketing campaign, including the right image or video can be extremely powerful. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, and with a standard SMS message you’re limited to 160 characters…

Doing it right can be easier said than done though for many reasons:

  • Different carriers and phone manufacturers handle multimedia differently. Some carriers cap MMS message file sizes at 1MB while others allow up to 2MB, while the MMS 1.3 protocol caps files at 600KB
  • Different peer-to-peer messaging platforms and service providers have different rules about images and video.
  • Phones come in a thousand different sizes and resolutions, so there’s no one-size-fits-all best answer.

All of that being said, here are some guidelines and best practices to help your next MMS campaign stand out.

Sending MMS Images – Best Image Dimensions and Size

Keep your image under 600KB

The larger your image, the more likely it is to fail to deliver, for one reason or another. Large images on websites can easily be compressed to 100KB, so this should not cause any trouble for you. Keep reading for information on how to resize and compress images.

Use a portrait (9:16) or square aspect ratio

Your recipient will almost definitely be holding their phone vertically. The messaging screen makes the space issue even worse. A taller image will fill more of the screen, thereby maximizing the impact of that first impression.

Experiment with the dimensions that work best for you, but 640×1,138px is a safe choice. You might try up to 1,080×1,920px for a high-detail image. Just keep an eye on your file sizes!

Here’s a comparison of a 1,920×1,080px image and a 1,080×1,920px image. Which one leaves a stronger first impression?

(Maybe this is a bad example, as there’s a 60% chance you thought or said “Aww puppy!” either way.)

Save your image as a JPEG at 65-75% quality

This alone can reduce your image size by 80% with no noticeable loss in quality.

Don’t worry if you don’t have any experience with image editing or you don’t have fancy tools like Photoshop. There are some great free, web-based tools available, like PhotoPea. Simply drag your image into the browser, then click File > Export As > JPG, and choose your final dimensions and image quality before you save:

Definitely avoid transparent PNGs. They are much larger files, and could show up terribly depending on the recipient’s phone settings, i.e. Dark Mode or Light Mode background.

Using Video In Your MMS Marketing

Ever get a video message from a friend and it’s blurry beyond recognition? That’s (probably) not what it looked like when they sent it to you. 

In a recent test, we sent a 38MB video from one phone to several others. On the receiving end, the video was 3 different sizes on 3 different devices, ranging from 40.1MB to 0.81MB. Data transmission is expensive (at least compared to text), so carriers compress your content dramatically before sending it.

Worse yet, a standard horizontal format (4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio) may initially appear with a severely cropped thumbnail and then distort the video to play within the MMS message. 

And finally, if you try to send a large video to a big contact list, there’s a good chance your MMS marketing platform won’t support it or the cellular carriers won’t deliver it.

There’s no perfect solution here, but there are a few things you can do to ensure that more people see your video as intended:

Use vertical-format (9:16 aspect ratio) video. 

When reading texts, virtually everyone is holding the phone upright. Cater your content to the format in which it will be received. 640x1138px (9:16 ratio) is ideal for the most common smartphone screens. This is the best way to avoid the distortion issue shown above, and the lower resolution will help you hit that 600KB target.

Here’s the problem with horizontal videos sent via MMS:

In the screens below, you see the original thumbnail shown in the MMS message, the distorted video once you click Play, and the full (but small) video when you click to make it full screen:

Thumbnail preview of the video is severely cropped, cutting off nearly half the picture.
When you click play, it smashes the video into that same size box, distorting it.
When you click Full Screen, it looks right, but is small until you turn your phone.

Note: this is just one example from one device. Different devices and versions of Android and iOS will vary, but vertical videos almost universally perform better than horizontal videos.

If you create or crop your video for the vertical format, it’ll look a lot better when first received, and you won’t have to worry about content being awkwardly cropped or the aspect ratio being smushed.

Keep your MMS videos under 600KB. 

I know… that’s tiny. This means you’re going to be limited to 10-20 seconds of very compressed video.

Pro Tip: Need to compress your video? Download HandBrake (free video compression tool) and import our custom presets designed to compress video for ideal MMS delivery.

Sending GIFs Via MMS

If you’re wrestling with using a static image vs. attempting to compress a video enough to send via MMS, an animated GIF may be the perfect compromise.

All the same rules above apply to GIFs. Square or portrait aspect-ratio images will appear larger than landscape images. Keep them under 500KB. Approximately 480x720px is a good size. The GIF itself should be just large enough and just long enough to get your audience’s attention.

Closing Thoughts

The goal of a texting campaign should be to share a simple piece of information or to compel your audience to take an immediate action. You can’t get a long, complicated message across in a text, and nor should you try. 

More often than not, you’re probably pushing people to click a link in your message, so the purpose of any multimedia is to capture their attention and to generate enough interest to get them to click through. Keep it simple, keep it small, and follow these steps to ensure that it gets delivered looking the way you expected!

Ready To Start Texting?

Let’s schedule a demo so you can see why campaigns, nonprofits, and companies have trusted MudShare to send hundreds of millions of texts!

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