The Great Mobile Marketing Debate – Mobile Apps or SMS?

Mobile marketing – it’s all the marketing industry is talking about, and if your business doesn’t have a strategy, you’re likely to be left behind. But with new technology being introduced every month and an ever increasing range of options for marketers to use, how do you know which option is right for you and your business? Here we compare the two most popular channels for mobile communications to help you make the right decision – using SMS, or developing your own mobile app.

SMS v.s. Mobile Apps

Round One: Reach

Text messages can be received on almost every mobile handset ever created, from the oldest working feature phones to the latest and shiniest smartphones. As long as the user has signal, messages are received almost instantly, however users must actively opt-in to receiving messages for businesses to stay compliant.

Smartphones are currently owned and used by almost 80% of the UK population, and this is forecast to keep growing as new models are released. Apps can be developed for any operating system, although the cost of developing an app increases as the number of operating systems it must cover increases. 44% of phones run on the Android operating system, 15% on iOS and 20% on other systems, including Windows. Users must choose to download the app, have enough space on their device, and enable push notifications before messages can be received. As long as the user has a mobile internet or wi-fi connection, messages can be received almost instantly.

Winner: SMS

Round Two: Cost

Texts cost from 2.4p a message for companies to send, and are free for customers to receive.

Push notifications are free for companies to send, and customers only pay for the data used. App development costs vary depending on the requirements and complexity of the app, but are frequently in the tens of thousands.

Winner: SMS

Round Three: Effectiveness

SMS open rates are upwards of 98%, with 97.5% of messages read within five minutes of being received. Messages are rarely ignored, and calls to action can be highly varied, with the ability to receive replies, embed links, include contact details and add attachments.

Apps are typically downloaded by your most engaged customers, meaning that this small, core group are more likely to respond to your messages. App notifications can be received regularly, but the more apps sending notifications to a handset, the more likely the notifications are to be ignored. Calls to action direct the customer directly to the app – and only to the app.

Winner: SMS

Final scores: Apps 0 – SMS 3
Overall winner: SMS!

Get started with your mobile messaging strategy with our helpful guides to SMS marketing.