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Combining SMS and WhatsApp: The new age of messaging for businesses

Combining SMS and WhatsApp: The new age of messaging for businesses

In an age where customers are more likely to respond to text messages over emails and phone calls, the role of messaging for businesses is undeniable. Over the past few decades, SMS has been one of the trustee platforms of companies to use for communication with their customers.

The role of SMS has not declined as it is still one of the most efficient and fruitful ways of messaging. However, with the rise of WhatsApp and its popularity amongst people, we can observe two main platforms competing with each other for business communication. This leads to the same question in every company's mind: Which one should we choose? This is, of course, a relevant question. On the other hand, the question that should actually be asked is: Do we even have to choose? This article will discuss the pros and cons of each platform and explain why the combination of both is the most beneficial for companies for high reach and engaging content. 

SMS and WhatsApp: A pros and cons list

The pros and cons of SMS compared to WhatsApp

Once started as a social communications channel to connect with friends and family, SMS has been evolving into a trustworthy communication platform for companies for a few decades now. From when it started until now, SMS has been one of the most widely used platforms of sending business-related notifications to customers. Even with the increasing popularity of other forms of communication, SMS does not leave the market for business communication. Why is that? What are the benefits of using SMS that make SMS a highly preferred way of commercial and business communication? 

  • SMS is trustworthy: As previously mentioned, SMS has been a trustworthy platform for a long time now. Everyone knows how it works, everyone knows it has been around for a considerable amount of time which means companies are now loyal to it. SMS is the trustee friend that businesses spent years together with.
  • SMS is accessible to everyone: Everyone with a mobile phone has access to SMS and can receive SMS messages. No need for the internet, no need for an app, no need for a high quality device. Even people who still use flip phones can receive SMS messages. 
  • SMS is less crowded: With every year, less and less personal communication is being done over SMS. With the rise of social media platforms' direct messaging and WhatsApp, people are moving over to other platforms for their personal space to chat with their loved ones and friends. Therefore, an SMS inbox is highly likely to be less crowded than any other platform. In an age where email inboxes are never cleaned up and consist of hundreds of spam emails, SMS is a cleaner way of communicating with customers. This also can ensure that a company does not enter into the personal space of a person without their own initiation. 
  • SMS messages send instantly: SMS does not require much service or any internet to be sent. Therefore, it is sent and received instantly. This makes it the perfect platform for time-sensitive messages such as one time passwords (OTP), appointment reminders, and date-based discount codes.

SMS has a list of its own benefits, however, as mentioned above, it is an older platform and it does not allow for much innovation. On the other hand, WhatsApp is a different case. 

The pros and cons of WhatsApp compared to SMS

  • WhatsApp provides rich content: WhatsApp allows for multimedia text marketing. Anything a company can think of can be added to a WhatsApp message to make it more eye-catching and engaging. Photos, PDFs, audio, videos…etc. You name it, and WhatsApp will offer it for you. 
  • WhatsApp allows for conversation-based engagement: WhatsApp makes it easy to communicate with customers in a two-sided conversation. After they receive a commercial text from WhatsApp, customers can easily direct any questions they might have to the company and get a response back. This makes the business communication feel more personal. 
  • WhatsApp offers business features: WhatsApp business offers a business profile to companies where they can use different types of business-friendly features. These include automated messages and quick replies to increase efficiency. 
  • Conversational commerce is possible with WhatsApp: Conversational commerce allows businesses to be in contact with their customers through the process of customer service or the process of buying a product. This form of communication allows them to connect with customers through every step of their purchase and on a more conversational basis. With WhatsApp, conversational commerce is highly possible unlike SMS.

When you look at it through this lens with all of the benefits, they both seem great. So why not choose just one and focus on it? Are there any downfalls of each? 

SMS Downfalls

SMS is a less engaging form of communication. One-sided promotion messages or reminders are quick and efficient through this platform, but the same cannot always be said for conversation-based messaging. In addition, SMS limits the form and contents of the messages. With a 160-character limit, it is much harder to innovate and explore possibilities of text-based marketing over SMS. It also does not allow for multimedia messaging.

WhatsApp Downfalls

WhatsApp is internet and app-dependent. There is no possibility for customers to receive your message if they do not have the app downloaded on their phone. In addition, for time-sensitive messages, the internet is a big problem. If someone does not have a good internet connection or for example if they have turned off their data roaming, they will only receive a message after they are back on a good internet connection. This means that WhatsApp is more of a long-term messaging platform: communication that needs to be received at the exact moment will not work efficiently with WhatsApp.

In addition, since there is no word limit or content limit, an excess amount of media and words in a WhatsApp text will make it look more like spam. This means, companies need to be very careful about what they send through WhatsApp. This is more of a challenge than a downside!

Combining SMS and WhatsApp: There is a way to overcome the downfalls! 

There is a high possibility that if you only use one of the platforms that you will not be able to reach a part of your audience. Only using SMS will not always allow for engagement with customers that would like a more personalised experience. Only using WhatsApp will not allow for reaching people with either a very busy personal inbox or who do not have the app downloaded - according to GlobalWebIndex, there are still more than 30% of internet users who do not use WhatsApp. As no one would want to exclude some of their customers from their messaging, a combination of SMS and WhatsApp is the perfect solution. 

SMS can be used for quick broadcasts of new products and discounts, OTPs, appointment reminders, and all types of messaging that is instant and time-sensitive. WhatsApp can be used for more personalised communication. After information has been sent through SMS, you can follow-up with a multimedia message over WhatsApp. If all of your audience receives their first informative message over SMS, you can also redirect them to WhatsApp for any questions and more customer-initiated communication. 

In addition, SMS and WhatsApp can support each other as backup platforms for communication. For instance, if a company were to send an SMS to a customer who does not currently have a SIM card in their mobile phone, this message would fall back and they could use a WhatsApp message as a backup option for contact. Similarly, a customer might not have WhatsApp downloaded on their phone or have access to the internet at the time of communication. In this case, SMS can be used as the backup contact option. This means that nobody would have to be left out of communication with the combination of SMS and WhatsApp. This is especially valuable for OTPs or appointment reminders. 

So, what should be your first step in combining SMS and WhatsApp?  

Expand your reach and content by combining your use of one with the other. For example, Spryng offers both platforms: you can have access to both SMS credits and WhatsApp Business messaging through the same trustworthy and secure service. With always accessible customer service, Spryng can also respond to any questions or issues you might have about SMS messaging. In addition, with a WhatsApp Business Solution Provider (BSP) like Spryng that has direct contact with Meta, you can get support about your issues directly from a Meta-trusted provider. 

Now, you can easily get a quote from this link or talk to an expert from Spryng about the possibilities of combining SMS and WhatsApp. We are reachable 24/7 in English, Dutch, French, and German. 

If you would like to start your free trial already, you can do so via this link.

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