We are all aware that SMS marketing has helped brands to improve various aspects of their business. From sales to persuasion, from rewarding loyal customers to the provision of high-quality services, SMS marketing has set some remarkable milestones for businesses.
But now, with the rise of messaging apps like WhatsApp in the last couple of years, people have started sharing multimedia, links and even shopping on this app.
When comparing SMS versus WhatsApp marketing we found that while these two services are similar in their overall goals, they differ in their execution.
Following is a high-level overview of each and our thoughts on the subject.
WhatsApp marketing versus SMS marketing
Choosing between SMS marketing vs WhatsApp marketing depends on your business's unique requirements. However, with WhatsApp becoming a part of the Facebook company (now Meta Platforms, Inc.) in 2014, and it launching WhatsApp Business in 2018, many businesses moved to this app to reach a wider audience.
In this section, we will look at why WhatsApp is the superior platform for your company’s marketing campaigns.
While using WhatsApp for marketing, you can make use of rich media like images, videos and documents among others. However, you can’t send this if you focus your efforts on SMS marketing as it lacks the engaging aspect of communication.
Since WhatsApp allows you to communicate in different formats, you can have a static text message or have an interactive media-rich message that drives engagement with your audience.
Here’s an example of a SMS marketing campaign:
Now here’s a WhatsApp marketing campaign from the same brand and you can immediately see the difference multimedia makes:
Use of visual CTAs
WhatsApp Marketing has the advantage of being more intuitive. People are used to interacting with visual CTAs, so it is easy for them to click through and do so in a way that does not require significant thought.
SMS, on the other hand, is limited to links and texts, which means that the process is not as simple and intuitive for users.
That is why we recommend using WhatsApp when you are trying to trigger a response from your audience— it makes it easy for them!
Here’s what a SMS marketing CTA looks like for the electronics online store, Croma:
And here’s how it looks on WhatsApp; immediately becoming much more interactive and intuitive to be clicked on:
If you want to communicate with your customers in a way that is modern and intuitive, WhatsApp marketing is the way to go.
WhatsApp marketing has an interface that is much more intuitive and interactive than SMS. With features like buttons and list nodes, your message will be more engaging and appealing to customers. On the other hand, using SMS is so… boring!
The end result is that you can communicate much more effectively with your audience on WhatsApp, with less effort.
Liberty to use more characters
WhatsApp allows you to send your customers a full message in one go as you can use 1024 characters in each text.
With SMS, longer texts are charged at the rate of multiple messages, so if you want to include a full promotional message without breaking the bank, WhatsApp is definitely the way to go.
No DND feature
WhatsApp gives you the same great experience as SMS, but with none of the drawbacks.
SMS can be blocked by do not disturb (or DND) services if a user requests it. That means any text message you send could be totally ignored by your customer and you might lose out on sales.
Why take the risk? WhatsApp is a way to avoid that problem entirely as there are no DND issues.
In the battle of SMS vs WhatsApp for business, the latter is the more cost-effective solution.
Most SMS providers charge you for failed messages, so if the number in your database is wrong or no longer active, you get charged anyway. With WhatsApp, you only pay for messages that actually make it to their intended destination.
You can keep on sending messages and not worry about any failed messages leading to a waste of money.
Ideal channel for two-way communication
First things first—your audience consists of real people who have real conversations every day. As a marketer, you need to think about how they communicate with each other and use that information to inform the way you communicate with them.
SMS marketing is all about one-way communication. You send your messages, and your customers receive them; that's it!
But WhatsApp marketing is a whole different story. It allows you to engage in two-way communication with your customers and build a deeper relationship with them. They can reply to your messages and engage with you, which can help you drive them towards a conversion.
From having a chatbot to sending them automated messages and even addressing their queries to providing stellar customer service directly via an agent, you can use this app to interact with your customers directly.
That can be a huge benefit for eCommerce businesses, especially in times of high competition when customer engagement is key to success.
Shop directly from the app
Want to increase your chances of making a sale?
Well, we have some good news.
If you use WhatsApp Business to send messages, you can add an "Add to Cart" button to your message, which means your potential customers can add the product to their cart from within the same app.
In contrast, with SMS messages, customers need to click on the link so that they can visit the website before adding products to their cart— which means more work for the customer and fewer chances for you to make a sale.
Higher open rate
Have you heard the news? WhatsApp's open rates are higher than SMS by 1 percent.
Sure, that might not sound like a lot, but if you are a marketer or eCommerce business owner, you know the world of difference that 1% will make.
First of all, compare those numbers: SMS is at 98 percent, and WhatsApp is at 99 percent. That means 1% more people are opening your messages on WhatsApp than on SMS. And when you put it that way… well, that is quite a notable difference!
The difference is even more amplified when you consider that this important marketing metric can, directly and indirectly, affect sales.
No extra cost for a marketing sequence
What if you could save on marketing costs just by changing the way you send messages? That is what you will get with WhatsApp.
With WhatsApp, there are no extra charges for follow-up messages in the same 24-hour window as a message. So you can do a marketing sequence at no extra cost.
For example, you could send your customers a WhatsApp message at 7 am that says, “Good morning!
Today is your lucky day. Our buy 1 & get 1 Summer sale starts today at 12 PM. Set your reminders!"
This can then be followed with a reminder that is sent at 12:15 pm saying,
"Hey, our Summer sale is live!
Don’t wait, stocks are running out fast. Buy your favorites before someone else does."
Use a chatbot to create a sequence of automated messages that are sent throughout the day, at whatever intervals you like. When the sales start or stop, and when special promotions go live or end— all of this can be communicated to your customers in real-time with zero overhead cost.
On the other hand, SMS marketing messages are charged for every SMS sent.
SMS marketing is great for getting your marketing message out there, but sometimes it can feel like you are yelling into a void in comparison to WhatsApp.
WhatsApp gives you the ability to converse with your leads and customers in real-time— which means you can have actual conversations with people that have seen your ads and are interested in your products.
Then again, this does not mean you should completely abandon your SMS marketing campaigns entirely. In fact, you can reap the benefits of both platforms and reach a wider audience and get those conversion rates up!
Still, WhatsApp gives you a more interactive interface and considering how people use WhatsApp so actively, we recommend adding it to your marketing mix.
Other major benefits include— taking advantage of segmentation and personalization on WhatsApp; 24/7 customer support and most importantly, it is more secure since WhatsApp provides its users with end-to-end encryption.
You can get customers to opt-in for WhatsApp messages by sending them a sign-up text message or making them tick a box on your website to get their permission. Once they have joined, you can send broadcast messages to all of your customers at once’ by automating the process.
With WhatsApp's deep integration into Facebook's advertising platform and advanced targeting options, you can quickly create targeted ads that reach only relevant customers based on location, demographics or interests using WhatsApp for Business.
If you want to get more leads and increase your sales significantly, it is time to hop on the WhatsApp bandwagon.