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Push Notification Vs. SMS: Which Should You Send Your Customers?

Mar 29, 2021

Push notifications vs. SMS: Which should you send your customers? As mobile marketing opportunities increase, so does confusion about which communication path to take. If you’re a marketer, you need to understand the difference between push notification vs. text and which is better to send to your customers for maximum impact.

It’s now commonplace to receive texts from services and brands as from our friends.

“Just a reminder, your dentist appointment is tomorrow at 8:00 a.m.” 

It’s also becoming more acceptable to receive push notifications from smartphone apps throughout the day. 

“While you’re in the store, here’s a special code for 25% off your purchase!”

So which route should you take? SMS and push notifications are both effective, but each is appropriate in different circumstances. 

Let’s look at how push notifications and SMS text messages are similar and different, review examples of each, and discuss when to use them for maximum marketing campaign effectiveness.

What Is SMS?

SMS (short message service) is a popular type of business texting that enables you to send messages up to 160 characters. It’s typically used for customer service messages, such as appointment confirmations, bill payment reminders, critical systems alerts and delivery tracking. Think about it like sending personal texts to your customers — just in a quicker, more scalable and cost-effective way. 

Read: 6 Tips for Mastering SMS for Customer Service

You might think SMS would fall into the same category as other OTT (“over-the-top”) apps such as WhatsApp, iMessage and Facebook Messenger. However, SMS sends messages to phone numbers and only requires a mobile network connection to use. OTT apps require WiFi or a mobile internet connection to function. 

SMS allows you to quickly and easily send a time-sensitive message to a customer with a high likelihood of him or her opening it. Research shows that SMS boasts open rates as high as 98%, compared to email open rates of just 20%. On average, people will respond to a text within 90 seconds vs. 90 minutes to respond to an email.  

That makes SMS especially useful in situations where you might need to get information to customers quickly without an internet connection. For instance, if you operate an airline, you may need to let customers know their baggage didn’t make it to their destination airport. Or, you may own a gym and need to cancel a training session because of a sick staff member. 

Ultimately, SMS is a quick and relatively cheap way to get in touch with your customers. With more than 5 billion people worldwide sending and receiving SMS messages, it’s a good investment for reaching your customers exactly where they are.

What Are Push Notifications?

Push notifications are the smartphone version of a browser pop-up ad. Mobile apps power push notifications. Their goal is to tempt you to stop what you’re doing and go back to the app. These notifications are often just distracting and eye-catching enough to work! You can use push notifications for anything from offers to greetings and special promotions. 

Push notifications are not regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) or Federal Trade Commission (FTC), meaning fewer constraints. They don’t require opt-in from customers since they already opted in by downloading the app. Plus, push notifications place no restrictions on character limits.

Push notifications allow you to communicate to customers based on their preferences, enabling you to compel customers to action using personalized, intriguing messages. Push notifications are great for promotional content, such as freebies or new product offers, discounts and more. 

For example, if you operate a streaming service, you might promote a new album release that could draw users back to the app. If you have a workout studio, you could ask your customers to rate their experience in their last class.

However, push notifications are relatively new to the marketing world. They can only drive users to a single app, and they can be intrusive and irrelevant. That’s why it’s essential to evaluate which method is suitable for you and your marketing or communications objectives.

Push Notifications Vs. SMS: Which is Better?

There is a time and place to send push notifications vs. SMS. SMS is generally the favored option. It is relatively cost effective, has an extraordinarily high reach and offers more versatility in CTA capabilities. SMS is ideal for appointment reminders and other informational messages you want to send your customers. 

Push notifications are limiting in that they can only point to one app. This can be a good thing, especially if you’re targeting current customers to increase your app engagement. But if you have a broader communications goal, SMS is the better option. 

Push notifications also require an internet connection and can seem too promotional. It's risky to assume your customers will ever see push notifications since they may not download your mobile app or delete it shortly afterward.

Start Sending Better SMS Campaigns With Textedly

SMS is an excellent way to communicate with your customers while remaining helpful, informative and non-intrusive. Ready to connect with your customers in this scalable, cost-effective way?

Textedly makes it simple to send timely and on-brand text messages to your customers. Whether you want to send a one-off text or mass group message, Textedly lets you create a customized SMS marketing plan that fits your business’ needs.

Need one more reason to try Textedly? It’s one of the few companies that allows you to send up to 300 characters per message instead of the traditional 160-character limit. What more could you ask for?

Sign up for a free trial with Textedly, so you can start leveraging text with your customers today.

Start Texting Your Customers for Free With Textedly