SMS vs WhatsApp. Is the fight really all its chalked up to be?
While hard to believe, phone calls are over 100 years older than their text equivalent, SMS. For one hundred and sixteen years, customers could only speak to each other over calls. Until one fateful day in 1992, Neil Papworth texted his boss at Vodafone, “Merry Christmas”. Customers adopted the trend and never looked back.
Or did they?
Just as customers shifted from calls to SMSs, the advent of smartphones and the internet has seen customers moving from SMSs to WhatsApp.
It’s easy to see why customers are moving away from calls and SMSs.
Texting is a far easier consumer behaviour. Texting, either through SMS or WhatsApp is the kind of all-encompassing activity that calling is. For example, it’s a lot easier to text someone (either on SMS or on WhatsApp) when you’re changing clothes or eating than it is to do while on call.
WhatsApp wins over SMS in terms of cost, customer preference, and user interface. WhatsApp only requires customers to have an active internet connection and a suitable phone; everything else is free. Customers also predominantly prefer messaging to any social media alternatives. And most useful of all, WhatsApp allows you to send media-rich messages that include images, video, and location.
WhatsApp is the most popular messaging application in the world. With 1.5 billion + users, more than one in five people use WhatsApp. That growth has not tapered with age, WhatsApp has over 400 million monthly active users in India alone.
Benefits Of WhatsApp:
- Easy to download the application.
- Completely free to download and to send/receive messages.
- Ability to send multiple pictures, files, audio files, documents, etc. on WhatsApp.
- You can check if the person you sent the message to has received and opened the message. This depends if you have enabled the read receipts on your account or not.
- Also, you can update your bio and your profile picture, so that your contacts have an idea who they’re talking to. It helps people who have just added your contact as well.
- You can easily know the last active hours of the person, in order to know when they were active.
Suggested Reading: How To Schedule WhatsApp Messages On Android and iPhone
Businesses move to platforms that their customers are on. When SMS was the primary mode of communication for users, companies jumped on board. Some would argue, a bit too eagerly. SMS was notorious for being a spam haven and that put customers off the platform.
Marketing played an important role in the development of both SMS and WhatsApp.
Companies use SMS to market company offers, promote products and services, alert people about discounts, and to notify customers about credit in their account.
For example, a typical message from Pizza Hut about a new offer could read “1+1 offer on Medium Pizzas. Offer only available till 12 pm, 2nd August 2019”. This message can be sent to any customer that provided Pizza Hut their number. This could be customers who ordered from the company before or simply called into their nearest outlet for a query.
However, SMS Marketing is easily weaponized. While it is convenient and cheaper than a call, it infuriates customers to constantly receive a barrage of messages. Companies continued with this because customers would read the messages that were sent to them; even if it was deleted five seconds later.
Here are a few messages that can be sent through an SMS-
- Ricky’s Auto Repair is having a Buy 3 Get 1 Free tyre sale until the end of August. Visit Ricky’s Auto Repair today on H.G Marg for sizes and prices.
- No more running out of the office at 5pm on Fridays to find a new dress! Jenna’s Closet is now open until 8pm. Find your closest store: lucy.com/stores.
- All your favorite books at your reach! Gottingham Bookstore is now mobile. Best deals for 5 days only, hurry! : m.bookstore.com.
- Your dental appointment with Dr. P. Naresh is scheduled for September 29, 4:30pm. ABC Dentist, 123-1234-1234.
- Your money is being processed! Please note it may take up to 2 hours for the funds to appear. Hal’s Building Society.
Companies can use SMSs to send promotional content, remind someone of an appointment, send a customer an update about the company’s latest feature, etc.
Since SMSs are usually concise (for financial reasons), they tap into the right bracket of customer attention span. This allows the customer to usually read the message properly and understand its essence.
Advantages of SMS marketing:
- Since almost everyone owns a phone, it becomes easy to reach out to people through an SMS. You can inform them about the new offer/package/discount etc. You check engagement by adding a link for them to follow.
- It can be considered better than emailing. As emails usually have long content and it’s not necessary that all mails are to the point. Which makes the customer lose interest.
- If you’re operating in a country where data is expensive or Wi-fi is less common, it becomes easy to send content through SMS.
- It allows you to convey the offers to the customers on time so that they can immediately notice the offer and take action. You can take real-time engagement.
- It’s commonly used by travel companies to alert the customers about any cancellations, updates, etc. eg- Conveying the change in the flight timing to the customer. It’s highly essential to give real-time updates when it comes to companies of such nature.
Suggested Reading: Customer Support Automation and Its Importance
SMS vs WhatsApp
Over time, customers and businesses alike became disgruntled with SMS. The movement towards WhatsApp was a product of several factors. From consumer behavior to the increased penetration of wireless internet availability, WhatsApp shone through the early 2010s.
For a customer, the driver of loyalty came from price, UI, and functionality.
For a business, adoption was a product of a large customer base, better analytics, and higher ROI.
WhatsApp also has various integrations that make it more effective for a business to use.
WhatsApp generates three times more traffic than SMS, which makes it much more suitable and appropriate for marketing. After witnessing the success of WhatsApp, WhatsApp recently launched its by-products- WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API.
Through either of them, you can message your customers easily and respond to their queries. WhatsApp Business account allows you to manually respond to the questions asked by customers. Or even, you can send messages to the customers.
Through WhatsApp Business APIs, businesses can get an AI chatbot for WhatsApp to automate their conversations which enables them to converse with the customers 24/7. They can set responses and even decide whom to send the message to, or set up a greeting/away message.
Related: Understand how to set away messages on WhatsApp and what their purpose is.
Benefits of WhatsApp business:
- It enables one to set pre-decided messages and schedule them to be sent to the customers.
- Through this, you can set away messages/greetings and schedule them during your first interactions and when your business hours are over.
- You can keep your interactions with your customers alive 24/7 by responding to their queries on time.
- Also, you can select the customers to whom you want to send a selective message. The automated message will be sent to them only. Or you can even decide who all you want to bar from receiving the message.
- The cost per message that you send via Whatsapp Business API, is way cheaper than a text message. Each message sent through WhatsApp Business API is a fraction of the cost of sending a text message.
- You can easily form groups, share files or even receive files from your customers.
- WhatsApp is much safer as it has end-to-end encryption, making it more secure.