Effective messaging and communication is the lifeblood of any successful business or app, and with the modern app economy, it is more important than ever to keep users engaged and active with our apps.
When the app market exploded in 2008, Push Notifications became very popular with iOS and Android app developers and mobile marketers as a way to communicate with their users and keep them active.
However, the function that has gone relatively unused by businesses has been the simple technology that everyone has had since 1993; SMS.
Both can be used for notifications and sending updates, but what is the difference and which is better for app developers and marketers?
SMS Notifications are text based, and simple messages and links can be a great way to drive users to a website or a download link. But the number of users opting in to SMS messaging services is often low. 37% of SMS users receive messages from brands compared to 60% of users giving access for push notifications (source).
|Very Simple||Basic, relies on text|
|Already integrated in every device||Can be opted out|
|6915 million devices – old and new||Often very generic|
|Requires no effort from the user||Cost per SMS sent|
|Users can interact with an SMS and send replies||Regulated|
SalesForce suggest SMS notifications offer two options for developers and marketers. One is the classic ‘subscription SMS’, where a user gives a mobile number and agrees to receive SMS messages. The other more productive method, is what they call ‘text-to-get’, where users opt-in to a service to get updates or messages. For example, a website could have a downloads box, where users enter their mobile number, and receive an SMS with a download link. This puts the user in control and gives a new interactive feature for a website.
Push notifications are the new method, where a downloaded app ‘pushes’ an update such as text alert or popup to the device to get the attention of a user.
|Can be embedded into the operating system (iOS)||User needs to have the app downloaded|
|Can be personalized based on data from the device||User needs to give permission for push notifications|
|Free||Only available on modern smartphones|
|Unregulated (ready on download)||One way method – can only send messages, cannot receive|
|Narrow, focused audience of existing users|
Push has been noted to be a less intrusive marketing/messaging method but whilst it is a very new and exciting technology, Push still has some friction that SMS notifications can overcome very easily such as users needing to give permission to receive push notifications.
There is a fantastic article on Andrew Chen’s blog about the data behind (iOS) push notifications and what converts for mobile apps. His data suggests that up to 60% of users opt out of push notifications if they feel there is no real value.
“(Users) only want to receive push notifications that are relevant, time-sensitive, and valuable.”
It depends on who your audience is. Marketers trying to find a new audience or spread the word will probably find SMS notifications are a better option, whereas app developers and those trying to boost user engagement will see push notifications as a powerful tool for them.
For marketers, I would say that SMS notifications offer a more widespread and effective function as it can send messages, offers and engagement triggers to a larger audience quite easily.
For app developers though, I would say that push notifications are a more effective, specialized form of communication. They are less intrusive, and can be set to push based on certain triggers such as low engagement, or a new update or feature. But SMS offers some great features as well, such as two factor authentication and reminders for users without the app.
Overall, SMS notifications and Push Notifications offer a great, modern way to communicate with users, and with some great opportunities.
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