Best practices: Images in MMS messages

In general, MMS messages with static or animated images tend to have better CVRs and CTRs than messages that do not. This is especially true when images include complementary information like images of the product, more details about a sale, or examples of how to use a product. That said, you should always try to A/B test campaigns and journeys to iterate and find the approach that works best for your brand. Not sure where to start with A/B testing? Check out What should I test for in an A/B campaign?

An important note: images will appear differently for different subscribers depending on their device. Different carriers and devices will shrink -- or enlarge -- images to different sizes to accommodate different screen sizes. 

One last tip before we get started: once you find an image format that works for your brand, remember it, and use that format for most of your messages. This way, you’ll be able to quickly format large batches of images, minimizing the time spent tinkering with images.

MMS image cheat sheet

File format .JPG or .PNG for static images, .GIF for animated images, .MP4 for native video
Image file size Aim for 200KB
Image dimensions Easiest: Square 1:1
Largest viewable: Portrait 3:4

MMS image recommendations in detail

When selecting and creating images for messages, it’s important to keep a few guidelines in mind for file sizes, image dimensions, and image aspect ratios. Regardless of image size or dimensions, subscribers can tap on an image to see its full size:

mms-spec-tap.gif

Note: The above animated image and all other images in this article were captured with an iPhone 12 Pro. Images may appear differently on different devices, operating systems, or carriers.

File format

You can use the following image types in MMS messages:

  • .JPG/.JPEG
  • .PNG
  • .GIF (for animated images only)

File size

The smaller the better. File size has a direct impact both on message deliverability and send speed. You can include images up to a maximum of 500KB, but you’ll get the best results if you keep image file sizes around 200KB.

Native .MP4 can be up to 600KB.

Image dimensions

Images with larger dimensions will appear larger on subscriber devices -- up to a point. If your images exceed the maximum dimensions, subscriber devices will automatically scale them down. In general, it’s better to select images with dimensions that are larger and get scaled-down rather than vice versa (so long as the file size stays small!).

For example, here are two messages with portrait images that have the same aspect ratio, but different dimensions:

mms-spec-portrait-dimensions-frames.png
And another with three square images:

mms-spec-square-dimensions-frames.png

Aspect ratio

You’re not restricted to specific aspect ratios for your images, but you’ll have an easier time managing and preparing images if you use common aspect ratios.

Looking for a way to quickly see, create, and optimize your MMS for your next send? Check out FANCYMMS!

Square aspect ratios of 1:1 are the easiest to work with, although they can only ever be as large as the maximum message width:

mms-spec-square-dimensions-frames.png

Portrait aspect ratios like 9:16 and 3:4 will usually appear larger than other aspect ratios in a  message:

mms-spec-portraits-frames.png

Landscape aspect ratios like 16:9 and 4:3 tend to be shrunk due to most mobile devices defaulting to portrait orientation. For example, note that although both of the landscape aspect image ratios below both have larger dimensions than the square image, the square image appears larger in the text message:

mms-spec-landscape-compare-frames.png

Animated images in MMS messages

You can include brief animated images with the .GIF file format. The same suggestions as static images apply here, too, and use the same maximum file sizes and dimensions. 

When using animated images, you’ll get the best results if you:

  • Keep them quick! The longer your animated image, the larger the file size and the higher likelihood that subscribers won’t watch the entire .GIF.
  • Keep them simple! Quickly looping holiday banners, quick shots of products, or even memes work best here.

Also, if you're using Photoshop, here are some tips to further optimize GIFs in MMS messages:

  • Use the Perspective setting.
  • When exporting, use the Save for Web option.
  • For Dither Type in Transparency settings, don't use Diffusion if possible.
  • If you need to lower the GIF's file size, upload your GIF as a video, delete every other frame (or import every other frame), and then make the gap between each from longer from 0.4 seconds to 0.8 seconds. 

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