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SMS vs. WhatsApp Marketing (An Unbiased Comparison)

Updated: Sep 1, 2023


Text marketing vs WhatsApp marketing


In the age of mobile communication where more than 96% of people in the United States of America are using phones, SMS marketing and WhatsApp marketing have emerged as powerful tools for businesses to connect with their customers.


Both channels offer unique advantages and have their own set of features and ways. In this blog, we will explore the main differences between SMS marketing and WhatsApp marketing, respective to their limitations, messaging features, and benefits.



Understanding SMS marketing and WhatsApp marketing


SMS Marketing


SMS Marketing involves sending promotional or informative messages to customers' mobile phones via text messages. It’s the art of engaging your target audience through concise and compelling text messages, which are delivered straight to their mobile phones or landline devices if they have enabled landline texting.



WhatsApp Marketing


WhatsApp Marketing involves using the popular messaging app WhatsApp (currently owned by Meta Platforms Inc.), which is a tool for businesses to connect with their customers. It allows businesses to engage in interactive conversations, share promotional content, provide customer support, and run targeted marketing campaigns.



SMS marketing statistics vs WhatsApp marketing statistics


For businesses, to make an informed decision about either using SMS or WhatsApp marketing, it's essential to understand the statistics associated with each platform.

SMS Marketing Statistics


  • According to recent studies, SMS messages have an open rate of over 98%, making them an effective way to reach a wide audience.

  • SMS text messages have an average response time of 90 seconds, ensuring a quick and immediate engagement with the customers.

  • Approximately more than 75% of consumers are comfortable receiving SMS messages from brands they have subscribed to.

  • SMS campaigns have an impressive Click-Through Rate (CTR) of around 19%, which indicates high levels of user engagement.

  • Businesses have an average conversion rate of 29% through SMS Marketing.




WhatsApp Marketing Statistics


  • WhatsApp is the 8th most downloaded application on Android and has over 2.2 billion active users worldwide, making it an incredibly popular messaging platform.

  • WhatsApp has an engagement rate of over 70%, which shows its potential for businesses to connect with their target audience effectively.

  • WhatsApp Business API allows businesses to send proactive messages, ensuring higher visibility and customer interaction.

  • WhatsApp users spend an average of 28 minutes per day on the platform, providing businesses with extended exposure opportunities.

  • WhatsApp is used in 180+ countries across the globe and it’s the 3rd most used social platform in the world.



Differences between WhatsApp and SMS Marketing

While both SMS and WhatsApp marketing offer effective ways to engage with your customers, and they differ in several aspects such as reach, cost, character limit, Opt-in requirements, and many more, let's see the details comparison

01. Reach and Accessibility

SMS: SMS marketing can reach all mobile phone users, sending out messages to both smartphone users and those with simpler devices. This approach breaks barriers, regardless of whether they have internet access or smartphone capabilities, ensuring that your message reaches the masses. Any user having a phone can receive SMS, without the need for any kind of application. WhatsApp: WhatsApp marketing requires users to have the WhatsApp application installed on either an Android or iOS device, along with an active internet connection. This limitation results in a narrower audience reach compared to SMS.



02. Cost-Effective Connections

SMS: Unlocking cost-effectiveness, SMS marketing proves to be a budget-friendly choice, especially for businesses aiming to reach a wide audience with their compelling messages and offers. WhatsApp: While WhatsApp marketing may come with additional costs, it offers a rich and immersive platform for businesses to establish deeper connections with their customers, making the investment worthwhile for those seeking a more interactive approach.


03. Character Limit and Media Sharing

SMS: With a character limit of 160, SMS marketing demands the art of concise storytelling, allowing you to craft powerful and impactful short messages that leave a lasting impression, all within the confines of a single text.

WhatsApp: Break free from character constraints! WhatsApp marketing allows for longer messages and offers rich media-sharing capabilities, including images, videos, and documents. This enables businesses to provide more detailed information, allowing your brand to unfold its full creative potential.



04. Opt-in Requirement

SMS: SMS marketing usually requires customers to explicitly opt-in to receive messages, ensuring compliance with regulations and establishing a higher level of consent.

WhatsApp: WhatsApp marketing requires users to add businesses to their contacts or subscribe to their WhatsApp Business accounts, which can be a more involved process.



05. Delivery Confirmation

SMS: With SMS marketing, you can receive delivery confirmations, ensuring that your messages successfully reach the intended recipients. This provides an additional layer of assurance, and you can also track it with analytics.

WhatsApp: Unlike SMS, WhatsApp marketing does not provide explicit delivery confirmations, leaving businesses to rely on the platform's reliability and the engagement of their audience.


06. Automation Abilities

SMS: SMS marketing has limited automation capabilities, but it still holds its ground as a trusted channel for personalized and timely messages. You can use Keyword Replies to respond to texts containing specific keywords and keep your customers informed with the right responses for inbound messages by setting up Auto Replies.

WhatsApp: WhatsApp Automation is the use of the WhatsApp Business App or WhatsApp Business API to automate conversations with customers. These WhatsApp automated messages are pre-set replies to messages received from new or existing customers on WhatsApp. The replies are sent out automatically without needing any human intervention.



Limitations of SMS and WhatsApp Marketing

While SMS Marketing and WhatsApp marketing both are valuable strategies, it's important to consider their limitations to make an informed decision for all kinds of businesses.


SMS Marketing Limitations

Character Limit: The 160-character limit in SMS messages can be restrictive for delivering detailed information. Lack of Media Sharing: SMS does not offer the same level of media sharing capabilities as WhatsApp, limiting the ability to provide visual or interactive content.

Potential Spam Filtering: Due to the prevalence of spam messages, SMS marketing faces the risk of being filtered or ignored by some mobile carriers or devices.



WhatsApp Marketing Limitations

Internet Dependency: WhatsApp marketing requires users to have an internet connection, excluding potential customers without internet access or limited data plans.

Opt-in Limitations: WhatsApp's opt-in process can limit the number of subscribers compared to SMS marketing, as it involves an additional step of adding businesses to contacts or subscribing to WhatsApp Business accounts.


Privacy Concerns: Some users may have privacy concerns regarding sharing their phone numbers with businesses on WhatsApp, which could impact their willingness to engage with marketing messages.



Messaging Features of SMS and WhatsApp


Both SMS and WhatsApp offer unique messaging features that businesses can leverage for effective marketing campaigns.

SMS Messaging Features


Textual Content: SMS messages allow businesses to send concise and impactful textual content, making it suitable for short and straightforward messages.


Immediate Delivery: SMS messages are typically delivered instantly, ensuring quick communication and timely updates.


Broad Compatibility: SMS works on all mobile devices, ensuring compatibility across different platforms and increasing the chances of message delivery.



WhatsApp Messaging Features


Multimedia Sharing: WhatsApp enables businesses to share images, videos, documents, and even audio files, allowing for richer and more engaging content.


Group Messaging: WhatsApp groups facilitate communication with multiple customers simultaneously, enabling businesses to reach a broader audience or conduct interactive discussions.


End-to-End Encryption: WhatsApp's robust encryption ensures secure messaging and fosters trust between businesses and customers, especially when sharing sensitive information.



Benefits of sending text Marketing Messages over WhatsApp Messages

While WhatsApp marketing offers unique features, there are several compelling reasons why businesses should consider sending SMS marketing messages.



Wide Reach


SMS marketing reaches a broader audience as it is accessible to all mobile phone users, regardless of device capabilities or internet access. This ensures that businesses can engage with a larger customer base.



Less Intrusive


Customers these days do not want businesses to send promotional messages on WhatsApp. SMS messages are generally perceived as less intrusive compared to WhatsApp messages, as they do not require users to add businesses to their contacts or subscribe to specific accounts. This can lead to a higher acceptance rate and reduced customer resistance.



Immediate and Direct Communication


SMS messages have an incredibly fast response time, with an average of 90 seconds. This immediacy allows businesses to establish real-time communication and prompt customer engagement.



Higher Open and Engagement Rates


SMS messages have an open rate of over 98%, significantly higher than other communication channels. Additionally, the click-through rate (CTR) for SMS campaigns is approximately 19%, indicating a higher level of engagement and interaction with customers.



Cost-Effective Solution


SMS marketing is often more cost-effective than WhatsApp marketing, particularly when sending bulk messages. With SMS, businesses can reach a wide audience without incurring substantial expenses.



Regulatory Compliance


SMS marketing typically requires customers to opt-in to receive messages, ensuring compliance with regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). This helps businesses build trust and maintain a positive brand image.



Universal Compatibility


SMS messages work on all mobile devices, including basic feature phones. This universal compatibility ensures that businesses can connect with customers across diverse demographics and geographical locations.



SMS vs WhatsApp infographic
A quick comparison of SMS marketing and WhatsApp marketing


Conclusion

Both SMS marketing and WhatsApp marketing have their own merits and limitations. While WhatsApp offers multimedia capabilities and a high user engagement rate, SMS marketing excels in terms of reach, immediate communication, open rates, and cost-effectiveness.


Ultimately, SMS marketing shines with its wider audience reach, immediate communication, and higher acceptance rate, making it a preferred choice for businesses aiming to connect with a broader customer base.


By considering the differences, limitations, messaging features, and benefits discussed in this blog, choose the strategy that resonates with your business identity and sets you apart in the competitive landscape, make an informed decision, and implement the most suitable messaging channel for your marketing campaigns.

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