What is SMS marketing and how does it stack up against WhatsApp marketing? In this post, we’ll look at the differences between these two text-based messaging options for businesses.
SMS marketing and WhatsApp marketing are two popular text-based communication options businesses available to them today.
Whether you’re a new business looking at effective ways to market your product or an established firm hoping to widen your reach over your target audience, both of these are great ways to help boost sales and grow your business.
If you’re looking for a low-down on SMS marketing and WhatsApp marketing, you’ve come to the right place.
Today, we’ll take you through what they are, what each of them encompasses, as well as their respective pros and cons.
We’ve got loads to unpack so let’s get straight to it.
What Is SMS Marketing?
SMS, which stands for Short Message Service, is a form of text messaging used by consumers worldwide. Though it was first invented as early on as in the 1980s, it wasn’t until the 1990s that SMS began to take off.
First adopted by consumers to chat and keep in touch with one another, it didn’t take long for businesses to recognize the potential of SMS and include it as part of their wider marketing strategy.
Since then and till today, businesses continue to use SMS marketing to promote their products and services and keep in touch with their buyers.
Unlike other forms of marketing like social media, email, or ads, SMS marketing takes place exclusively on mobile devices.
Advantages of SMS Marketing
So what makes SMS marketing so popular?
While there are tons of advantages of SMS marketing, the main comparisons we’re going to make in this article are with WhatsApp marketing.
Use of Cellular Networks
One of the biggest benefits of SMS marketing is that it operates on cellular networks, as opposed to data packs and internet connections.
This means that texts sent via SMS marketing will still be able to go through even when internet connections are spotty.
No Smartphone Needed
Even though smartphones have become part and parcel of the daily lives of most consumers worldwide, there’s still quite a significant number of people who don’t own smartphones.
Recent statistics show that even in the US, 11% of US adults own cell phones that aren’t smartphones.
This figure rises to 19% for those with lower incomes (earning less than $30,000 per year) and even higher at 29% for those aged 65 and above.
That said if your target audience includes consumers within this demographic, SMS marketing could be a great way to reach them.
No Extra App Needed
Unlike WhatsApp, be it WhatsApp Messenger or the free WhatsApp Business app, SMS use does not require an additional app.
Today, all phones, regardless of whether it’s a smartphone, come pre-installed with SMS capabilities. This is independent of the phone’s make, model, brand, and country it’s sold in.
What Is WhatsApp Marketing?
Compared to SMS marketing, WhatsApp marketing is fairly new.
The concept only came about after WhatsApp Messenger was invented in 2009, and the official Business app was launched only as recently as 2018.
Despite its much shorter existence, WhatsApp has been a massive success story for both consumers and businesses.
Today, it’s used by billions of consumers worldwide and has become the default go-to option for many brands when it comes to text-based messaging. The company reported that as of July 2020, there were 50 million monthly active businesses worldwide using its free WhatsApp Business app – just two years after its launch.
The advantages of SMS marketing have been laid out in the previous section. But what is it about WhatsApp marketing that makes businesses prefer it over SMS?
Let’s have a look at some of the biggest benefits of WhatsApp marketing over SMS marketing.
Advantages of WhatsApp Marketing
Multimedia Messaging Options
Though classified as a text-based communication tool, WhatsApp does much more than that.
For starters, users can also integrate emojis into their texts to liven up their messages. If that’s not enough, they can also send stickers and GIFs to better illustrate their mood.
WhatsApp even goes one step further by allowing rich media files like audio (both voice messages and audio files) and video files to be sent. These are particularly practical for businesses that may need to offer a 360-degree view of their product, and certainly one of the advantages of a WhatsApp Business account.
Multimedia messaging aside, WhatsApp marketing also comes with a host of rich features.
Integrated options like the ability to share live locations, contact info, and a range of file types from .pdf to .doc boost communication possibilities with WhatsApp.
Users can also place voice and video calls whenever needed and within WhatsApp itself, which means that they don’t need to download a separate app or even leave the app to take advantage of these features.
For inspiration on how to use these to supercharge your WhatsApp marketing strategy, we recommend you check out these four inspiring WhatsApp marketing campaign examples.
One of WhatsApp marketing’s biggest selling points is its encryption.
As stated on their website, all messages sent via WhatsApp, including those sent to and from business accounts, are end-to-end encrypted. This means that only the senders and recipients can read (or listen to) what’s being sent – not even WhatsApp itself can decrypt and read your messages.
This is an extremely important feature for both businesses and consumers as it safeguards sensitive information like billing details, addresses, and more.
Plus, among one of WhatsApp’s newest features introduced in 2021 is its disappearing messages. With this, users can send media files that can only be viewed once by the recipient (at his or her time of choosing) before it’s deleted.
More Popular And Quick to Set Up
A recent study shows WhatsApp as the world leader in messaging apps. Of 90 countries studied, WhatsApp comes out as the population’s favorite in 53 of them.
Its popularity means there are plenty of consumers that can be reached via WhatsApp marketing.
And that’s not all.
WhatsApp marketing is also very easy to set up on both the free WhatsApp Business app and the WhatsApp Business API (more on this later).
If you’re using the free app for your WhatsApp marketing efforts, all you need is to fill in your business profile and set up your away messages and quick replies and you’re all set. For more on this, you may want to give this WhatsApp Marketing Tutorial a thorough read.
Another benefit that’s exclusive to WhatsApp marketing is its visual integrations with other popular apps like Instagram, YouTube, and Netflix.
For instance, when sharing Instagram content on WhatsApp, the post appears in its entirety in the WhatsApp chat instead of just the link. This means that recipients of this message can view and enjoy it immediately without needing to exit out of WhatsApp and open Instagram or a browser.
Likewise, there are also built-in players in WhatsApp for Netflix and YouTube so that videos from these platforms can be shared and watched within WhatsApp itself when shared.
WhatsApp Marketing Softwares
Now that we’ve laid out the pros and cons of SMS marketing and WhatsApp marketing, the next step would be to think about what type of software to choose to execute your text-based marketing efforts.
Here’s the good news: SMS marketing and WhatsApp marketing aren’t mutually exclusive. This means that you can easily do both.
However, if you’re looking to do just one, you’ll have to look closely at the benefits and limitations of each and analyze how they fit into your business needs.
Our general advice is that unless the advantages that are unique to SMS marketing are dealbreakers, WhatsApp marketing would be the better option. That’s because it’s able to offer what SMS marketing can and lots more.
Additionally, WhatsApp also offers a more advanced tool, the WhatsApp Business API, that gives brands more enterprise-level options to help to grow their business.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the WhatsApp Business API, we recommend you check out our post on the Differences Between Whatsapp Messenger, Whatsapp Business App, and Business API.
WATI is an official WhatsApp Business Service Provider (BSP) and can not only get you access to the WhatsApp API but also guide you through the entire setup process and answer any questions you may have. Simply get in touch with our team and we’ll respond in a jiffy.