SMS vs WhatsApp Business – Pros & Cons

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With highly cluttered marketing environments, more businesses are choosing mobile phone communication to connect with their consumers and build long lasting relationships.

But with so many different mobile communication apps, from Skype, to Facebook Messenger, to WeChat, and everything in between, which one is best?

The authors at SMS Comparison delve into the two most popular channels – SMS and WhatsApp, and explore why each have their place within the mobile marketing sphere.

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SMS Marketing

Sending a text message is not a new revelation. In fact, SMS messaging has been around as early as the 1990's, and using this platform for B2C communication was adopted not long after its creation.

Thus, there is no doubt that this channel has, and continues to be the core of mobile marketing.

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Pros

Immediacy and response times

According to many studies, SMS has the highest open rate over any other media channel, with 98%, and consumers likely to read text messages within the first 3 minutes of it being received. Therefore, with these fast response times and immediacy, SMS communication is highly effective for time-sensitive messaging.

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Businesses can capitalise on this timeliness through pre-planned SMS scheduling in order to send messages at the right times.

Accessibility

With American's on their mobile phone, or at least within arm's reach, at all times, everybody will be able to receive an SMS. What's even more effective, is that there is no internet or smartphone required to receive one.

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Consumers choose to opt-in (and opt-out)

In order to connect with your customers without invading their privacy, it's essential that businesses give people the ability to opt-in. Giving them this option will ensure that they trust your business and actually want to receive the marketing messages you're sending. In fact, 75% of modern day consumers are happy to receive relevant text messages from businesses once they have opted in.

Sending customers text messages they don't want to receive will drive away sales. Therefore, enabling them to opt-out is equally as important. This can in fact help with learning more about customer behaviors and businesses can communicate with them other forms of marketing.

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Cons

Text messaging is highly personal

As people's lives are moving more and more onto their mobile phones, this is a highly personal device which consumers are attached to. Therefore, SMS marketing has the potential to breach a customer's privacy if they do not wish to be contacted. Thus, people can respond in a negative way to unwanted text messages.

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Character limitations

Each text message has a limit of 160 characters. This means that businesses must get messages across in a short, sharp manner. Not only does this lead to limitations in creativity, but can cause messages to be vague, and the intent of the SMS to be missed.

Increase of spam

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Unfortunately, in a highly competitive environment, we are seeing an increase in businesses spamming customers with marketing messages through SMS and other media channels. Consequently, getting people to engage with and opt-in to SMS campaigns can be difficult, as they may be reluctant to trust business messages on yet another marketing device.

WhatsApp Business

With the growing popularity of free messaging applications, more business and consumers alike, are turning to such channels for their main form of communication.

As a result, a recent addition to the marketing field is WhatsApp Business – an easy to use application, catered to smaller businesses to communicate with their customers and employees. The smartphone app enables businesses to create a profile on any web-enabled device, and communicate with customers using various messaging tools.

Pros

Business identity and delivery information

WhatsApp enables businesses to create a branded identity through a business profile. This means that every time you message your customers, they will see your business name rather than an unknown phone number. This creates a sense of personalization, and enables people to immediately identify you.
WhatsApp also provides immediate, reliable delivery information, which can be viewed straight from the app. This enables you to know when your messages have been sent, delivered, and opened, in real time.

People are switching to messaging apps

More and more users are beginning to adopt messaging applications for their main form of communication. Specifically, WhatsApp has become the number 1 messaging app in over 100 countries around the world, with over 1.5 billion monthly users.

These statistics speak for themselves – it's important for businesses to be on the platforms that customers are predominately using. This number will continue to increase as WhatsApp is coming pre-installed on many smartphones.

WhatsApp Business API and auto-messages

Larger corporations that wish to communicate with hundreds of customers simultaneously can do so using the WhatsApp Business API. Businesses can integrate automated replies through short codes, even if you're not able to respond right away, you can send automated away messages.

Many SMS gateway providers offer an API for WhatsApp with affordable pricing and templated messages and auto-respond messaging.

Cons

Limited accessibility

WhatsApp is an Android and iOS application, meaning it requires a smartphone and internet access to function. Whilst most customers have a smartphone, they may not always have access to the internet, meaning messages may not be able to be received.

Lack of security

There has been much speculation around the security and privacy policy when using WhatsApp. The messaging app does not have enterprise data protection, meaning it accesses and utilises user data and stores address book data (including private phone numbers).

This can be a serious issue of concern for businesses, particularly as they are putting their customer's privacy at risk.

Single device only

Unlike utilising an SMS gateway API software on multiple devices, WhatsApp Business only allows one device to be used at a time. Therefore, only one person per business is able to be logged into the app, using a web-enabled mobile phone. Additionally, if somebody wishes to use WhatsApp Business on a desktop, their smartphone must be connected to the internet.

Conclusively, with more opportunities arising, it's important that businesses utilize innovative technologies to reach target audiences. Ultimately, the specific needs of a business will dictate whether or not SMS marketing or a WhatsApp Business campaign will be an effective form of communication.

Regardless, choosing the right provider can be difficult, so comparing the features, services, and prices of each company is necessary in order to choose one that meets your needs.