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SMS vs. in-app communication. Which option to choose?

Anton Dyachenko
17 Jul 2020
SMS VS in-app communication

Communication is a core of human interaction, and it is essential to the long-term success of any business. Focusing on effective customer communication with clients can lead to increased sales, repeat business, and referrals, ensuring your business meets the customer’s immediate needs. Thus it’s vital for any app you develop to provide a secure communication way with your clients or your users with each other, keeping them active and engaged, right where they are. It will increase customer satisfaction, improve business productivity, and eventually generate higher revenue.

But with too many communication channels, the real question comes out, what to choose via SMS or in-app chat? Let’s find out the benefits and challenges of each so you can understand how to use them best.

SMS – benefits and limitations

SMS stands for Short Message Service. It is a non-real-time text messaging service, unlike voice, which is real-time. SMS text messages enable information to be sent to groups of people quickly and conveniently in much the same way as email, making it an increasingly popular e-marketing channel.

SMS text messages first became popular as a person-to-person (P2P) messaging service. Not long ago, there was a significant increase in SMS as an application-to-person (A2P) messaging service for businesses. It enables a business to send SMS text messages between a subscriber to an application. This cost-effective and highly personalizable communication tool allows companies to expand their database and run engaging campaigns, providing higher ROI. The SMS text message is also a proper channel for urgent communication.

The benefits of SMS

  • High open rate
  • According to Gartner, SMS open rates are as high as 90%, compared to just 20% of all emails, meaning a significant increase in the potential audience for businesses’ marketing efforts. On average, it takes 90 seconds to respond to a text and 90 minutes to respond to an email. This allows a company to reach its target audience, ensuring it a great investment.

  • Cost-Effective Channel Available
  • SMS marketing is the most cost-effective digital channel. It is cheaper when compared to voice messaging or web access. Text messaging offers a reliable way to reach every person that opts-in to receive messages, regardless of how many are on your subscriber list. You can send one message to all of your customers at any place and at any time. No subscription fees, extended contracts, or commitments are required, ensuring your SMS marketing strategy is flexible and savviest, fitting your business needs, so your ROI is always high. It is also possible to adjust your marketing campaign in realtime to increase effectiveness.

  • Easy to use
  • SMS is integrated across most of the phones’ native apps. Text messaging doesn’t require Internet access, allowing your users to still receive a text. It doesn’t oblige a smartphone to download messaging apps. Also, your clients can contact the customer support team anytime and anywhere.

When sending a text message, will it help increase your ROI?

  • Deals and coupons
  • A call to action content
  • Information to bring up-to-date customers
  • Personal notifications and account updates
  • Quick access to important information
  • Short weekly reminders

Challenges and limitations of SMS

  • Limited Advertising Space
  • An SMS text message has to be short, as there is not much space to convey the message. It can’t be as long as emails because texts are used for shorter and immediate responses that do not demand complicated explanations.

  • Restricted content
  • Another significant issue is an increase in fraudulent messages. You must specify from whom the message is and commercial communications must be recognizable as such. You have to send straightforward messages and never use customers’ private phone numbers.

  • Opt-in requirements
  • To engage your users might be troublesome via SMS marketing. It would help if you encouraged them to opt-in and, even then, you can’t be sure that somebody will open and read the messages.

In-app chat – benefits and limitations

In-app chat is a critical marketing and communication channel to increase engagement, build brand loyalty, and improve the user experience. In-app chat provides one-to-one service within an app, enabling users to communicate in real-time privately or in a group. Its features can be simple, allowing only messages to be sent between the users or can include a variety of advanced chat features like typing indicators, user profiles, user lists, or push notifications.

Chat also makes the users more productive by bringing context into the conversation. Contextual information such as recent activity in the app and data typed into fields can be shared between parties over chat.

The benefits of in-app chat

  • Seamless experience
  • In-app chat keeps users in the application itself, unlike emails, calls, or other messaging apps. Keeping users engaged within your app ensures that you won’t lose them to an interesting ongoing conversation on another app. It will help enhance users’ experience as well as increase your engagement rate. In-app chat also allows getting feedback from the customers without any survey, which can improve and innovate the app’s user experience.

  • Rich media
  • In-app chat allows businesses to engage with consumers in more meaningful and convenient ways. It supports multimedia messages, including text, images, video clips, GIFs, emojis, audio recordings, stickers, emoji, or location information. With its help, you can create a more comprehensive interaction with your customers across multiple networks, improve brand consistency, and increase customer satisfaction.

  • Interaction data
  • In-app chat reaches users on a deeper level by engaging them more effectively and providing a more secure environment. They can get instant access to chat history. Message activity can be stored in the cloud and updated in real-time. Some chat platforms provide offline messaging so that messages would be delivered even if the user doesn’t have an internet connection. When you are away from home or mobile phone network coverage, the offline message apps communicate through the mesh network.

When will you benefit from in-app chat marketing?

In-app chat is best suited for service apps with a high degree of complexity. It would be a beneficial component of a banking or financial app since people often need help understanding their accounts and managing their wealth.

Challenges and limitations of the in-app chat:

  • It requires a mobile or web app to be installed.
  • The functionality is built into the app. This requires the user to download and install the app to have access to the chat.

  • Not optimized for notifications
  • You depend on push notifications or SMS to manage notifications when the app is not opened. Otherwise, users will not see any messages received via in-app chat.

Final Thoughts

If you are an app owner wondering which option to choose SMS or in-app communication, QuickBlox suggests that SMS might be a better option for sending short functional and two-factor authentication messages. Integrating in-app chat features ensures a seamless, rich experience for users. It works best to attain the desired app success and to boost user engagement with the communication experience they expect. Finally, customers prefer the modern communication approach in comparison to text messages.

No matter how big or small your team, with QuickBlox communication tools, you can quickly and simply interact with users. QuickBlox provides the convenience of the chat-SDKs and APIs to implement your in-app chat.

Learn more about how QuickBlox can help you in a communication app success on our website.

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