[Guide] How to design the perfect MMS

[Guide] How to design the perfect MMS

An MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) is a visual version of an SMS, and there are many reasons why businesses love using them. Each message includes a subject line, longer body copy, and a multimedia creative (.jpg or .gif).

Before we get started, make sure you know the difference between MMS vs SMS. In some cases, an SMS might be better suited for what you’re trying to accomplish. However, if you’re looking to perfect your MMS design skills - this is the comprehensive guide you’re looking for.

1) Create a strong title

Each MMS message has two content components:

  1. Subject Line
  2. Body/Message Copy

Your subject line will appear in bold, and has a limit of 20 characters. We recommend that you use a strong call-to-action, compelling promotion, or feed the curiosity gap of your consumers to draw them in.

Here are some successful subject line samples:

  • Win a free trip! ✈ (18 characters)
  • 30% off: Winter Sale (19 characters)
  • Buy 1, Get 1 Free (16 characters)
  • Don’t miss this! (16 characters)
  • đŸ¥‚ It’s Happy Hour! (19 characters)
  • Exclusive VIP Invite (20 characters)
  • You’re invited (14 characters)
  • Here’s your gift (16 characters)

Tip: Don’t feel obligated to use the full 20 character limit. Most titles don’t need the full 20 characters to be effective.

2) Craft compelling body copy

Since an MMS has a 1,000 character limit, it’s tempting to write long copy. In most cases, long copy will harm your results, and reduce the visibility of your multimedia creative. Try to keep your copy length between 140-320 characters—the more concise the better. Many SMS campaigns are under 160 characters and are very effective.

Be sure to include:

  • A strong and intriguing offer MMS marketing is immediate. It’s perceived as a more flashy version of an SMS, which means you should offer a much larger incentive. A larger 30%+ discount available for a limited time will be more effective than a lower discount (25% and below) available for a longer time.
  • An expiration date (if applicable) Experiment with placing a cap of 500 promo code uses or a 24hr expiry in your message to add a level of urgency and exclusivity to your MMS campaign.
  • A unique link to a website (if applicable) Add a custom landing page and unique tracking parameters here to help measure your conversions
  • An opt-out mechanism (mandatory) All MMS messages allow you to set a custom URL opt-out. This gives you the opportunity to save an opt-out with another offer, or to get more feedback on why your customer is unsubscribing.

Tip: You can also shorten your body copy by placing content directly into your image or animated gif file, which we will show in the next section.

Sample MMS Copy * 240 characters

3) Static images vs animated GIFs

The most common question we receive from clients is whether they should send a static MMS or an animated gif.

Choose one based on what you’re trying to accomplish, but remember the cost of your MMS campaign is determined by the size of your multimedia file. Here are 6 examples of how to use animated gifs to grab your customer’s attention.

Size Matters

In most cases, the file size of an animated GIF is bigger than a static image. This means your total MMS campaign cost will be more expensive. Your file and colours will also be significantly compressed in an animated GIF. You can work around this by reducing your colours, however, this will limit your options.

If the price and the quality of the image are important, consider using a static image rather than an animated GIF. That being said, a well designed GIF can be just as small and colourful, and it can be more captivating than a static image.

Let’s look at a couple of examples to help you decide:

Dimensions: 640x1138px; File size: 241 kb JPG 80% quality
Dimensions: 480x720px; File size: 500 kb

The animated GIF is more than double the size of the JPG (500 kb vs 241 kb), but it can be reduced in a number of ways. Check out the file optimisation section below for more information.

4) Design the perfect image or animated GIF

Choose the right dimensions: For images, we recommend a tall aspect ratio of 9:16 and either of these two sizes:

  • 640px by 1138px
  • 1080px by 1920px

For animated GIFs, we have several recommendations:

  • 480 x 640 px (tall)
  • 480 x 720 px (tall)
  • 480 x 480 px (square)
  • 640 x 640 px (square)

In preview mode, tall creatives appear smaller than its landscape counterpart because of the width and height ratio, so make the important text large for legibility.

Determine the file size:

Pricing is based on 3 separate tiers:

  • 0 - 215 kb
  • 216 - 350 kb
  • 351 - 500 kb

We recommend that you keep your file under 350 kb to help ensure that your campaign is affordable and to get a better return on your investment. For MMS campaigns that are greater than 10,000 sends, we offer a discount. If you have questions about pricing, feel free to get in touch.

Design your masterpiece: Now that you have a file dimension and size in mind, let’s look at what makes a great design. In some cases, an image without text will suffice, but if you plan to add text or to create your own graphic, follow the rules below.

Hierarchy: Hierarchy can help you determine what your customers should be looking at in your creative first, second and everything following.

Since we read from top to bottom, your most important elements should generally be at the top.

In this example, we have 3 main elements:

  • Title
  • Description
  • Graphic

Your eyes should naturally be drawn to the title, then the graphic, and then the description. For others, they might be drawn to the graphic, then the title, and then the description. This is perfectly normal.

Dimensions: 640x1138px; File size: 212 kb JPG 100%

The goal is to ensure that your eyes aren’t drawn to several different elements or directions at the same time. If you don’t feel confused about what to look at first, then you’ve created a strong hierarchy.

Tip: Squint and look at your design. Your eyes will be pulled to the element with the most weight.

White space: This is the space between the text, graphics, and imagery in your design. It provides visual breathing room for your eyes and helps you process the elements of your design quickly and efficiently. It goes hand in hand with hierarchy.

The example above has plenty of white space between the text and graphics.


Fonts: Choose fonts that are easy to read, especially when the creative appears on a small screen.

Script and italic fonts are the hardest to read and shouldn’t be used for paragraph copy, but can be great for big titles and headlines.

For most intents and purposes, a sans-serif or serif font is the best bet. Check out Google Fonts for a wide variety of copy-friendly fonts; it’s free.

Dimensions: 600x600px, File size: 200 kb JPG 80%

In this example, a script font is used for the title, and a sans-serif font is used for the rest. If the fonts were reversed, the additional details on the bottom right corner would be frustrating if not impossible to read.

Colour: A nicely coloured creative grabs attention, and sparks emotional reactions.

For example:

  • Blue - trusting, dependable, and strong
  • Red - exciting, bold, and youthful
  • Yellow - optimistic, clear, and warm

Depending on the age and gender of your customers, they may prefer certain colours over others. Red is used to express a party atmosphere and to attract a younger audience in this example.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out How to Choose Your Brand’s Colours.

5) Optimise your file

If your completed design is a bit bigger than you expected, here are some tips to help you reduce its size.

Images:

  • Remove gradients or reduce the number of colours in your design
  • Save your image as a .jpg instead of a .png
  • Experiment with your .jpg’s image quality. Try reducing it from 100 to 60, which is still considered high quality

GIFs:

  • Lower your frames per second. The animation won’t be as smooth, but there’s lower data stored per second, reducing your file size. Try 3-4 frames per second
  • Experiment with the number of colours in your GIF. They have a maximum of 256 colours, so lowering it will reduce the size, but the quality will be affected
  • Simplify the animation by reducing the amount of moving objects and colour changes
Update: For even more tips, check out our new article: 7 Tips to optimise your GIFs for your next MMS marketing campaign

6) Test your MMS

Send your MMS to both an Android and iOS device and check if:

  • The multimedia creative is displaying correctly with legible text
  • The URL links to the correct website or landing page (if applicable)
  • There are no spelling and grammar mistakes

7) Bonus: Animated GIF Templates

While the design examples above were for static images, we have a collection of MMS animated GIFs to help inspire your next campaign.

Ready to send an MMS campaign or learn more? Get in touch with us.