SMS, push message or email: what should be used when?

Businesses have several ways to connect with their customers on their mobile devices. But when are push notifications actually suitable? And when are e-mails or SMS better?

Since then, at least since more people are surfing online than on their desktop, marketers should be thinking about mobile marketing. A central question often arises: Which marketing channel is best suited to reach customers for a specific purpose?

SMS notifications

With an open rate of 98 percent, text messages are one of the most effective ways to reach customers. Around 90 percent are read within three minutes of delivery. In addition, SMS offer numerous other advantages:

  • Your customers don’t have to install your app (if you have one at all) in order to be available to you.
  • Since customers have to sign up for SMS notifications, you can be pretty sure that they really want to hear from you.
  • In regions with poor internet coverage, your customers can still be reached easily via SMS.

SMS are particularly suitable for sending brief service information – for example when an order is being delivered or the order has been received. So your customers always stay up to date. SMS API can also be used for two-factor authentication.

However, SMS are not suitable for information that users still need to access later, such as receipts or order confirmations. Compared to email, SMS are harder to search through and easier to delete. Therefore, SMS should mainly be used for information that is required at short notice and can be implemented quickly. The limitation of SMS to 160 characters also limits the possible uses of this type of message.

Anyone who uses SMS in mobile marketing should also ensure that any links they contain lead to mobile-optimized target pages. Otherwise your customers will quickly become frustrated and will not be able to do anything with the content of the SMS. SMS campaigns should also be timed so that they reach customers when they are in all probability awake. This aspect is particularly important for global campaigns that span different time zones.

e-mail

Email is a good choice for information that is not time-sensitive. As the digital successor to the classic letter, e-mails also appear more official than other forms of communication. Important announcements, such as changes to terms of use, should therefore ideally be sent by email.

Another advantage of e-mails is that they can be easily archived. Even after a long period of time, customers can still easily access certain information. Even if an email has been (accidentally) deleted, it is usually still in the trash for a while and can be easily restored. In addition, the entire e-mail history including replies and forwardings can be traced. E-mails should therefore be used for information that the customer would like to archive, that he must refer to when responding or that he will probably want to read again at a later point in time.

When sending emails, you should make sure that your company is clearly identifiable as the sender. This prevents your email from being mistaken for spam or unsolicited advertising. If the e-mail is sent by a specific employee, the company name should still be immediately recognizable.

Push notifications

Push messages are messages that appear on the smartphone display without an app having to be open. They then usually lead the user to the app, to an app store page, website, landing page or a specific area within the app. They also offer the option of more personalizing content, for example based on usage behavior in the app. By providing a preference center, users can also better customize content so that the push messages sent are more relevant to them.

Similar to SMS, push messages are suitable for sending short, time-critical information. However, they should not be used for advertising for third-party providers, as this is perceived as intrusive and annoying. In addition to the pure transmission of information, push messages are also suitable for sending strong calls to action that increase interaction and occupation with the app, or to reactivate inactive users.

In contrast to SMS, they are cheaper, but also require the user to first install your app.

It’s all in the mix

Marketers shouldn’t limit themselves to any of the mobile marketing options presented here. None of them is better than the others per se. Rather, you should decide individually, depending on the purpose, whether you use SMS, e-mail or push messages. With each of these channels – and also with their interaction – you should pay attention to the frequency of the messages so that your customers do not feel annoyed. Here it makes sense, for example, to give customers a setting option for the frequency of notifications in their user account.

An effective mobile strategy requires a balance between relevant content and timing, as well as choosing the right channel for your customers.

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