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SMS marketing vs. WhatsApp marketing: which is the best for your business?

SMS vs. WhatsApp marketing: a comprehensive guide to choosing the best for your business

SMS marketing services and WhatsApp marketing tools are becoming popular, providing businesses with effective ways to reach their target audience.

Over 91% of customers want to get SMS messages from businesses, and messages sent using the WhatsApp Business API have a 99% open rate. This just proves how both of these communication channels are essential for businesses looking to communicate with their customers in a timely manner.

Instant messaging, including SMS and WhatsApp, generates better marketing results with an impressive open rate of around 98%.

When comparing WhatsApp and SMS as business communication channels, enterprises of any size may wonder what the difference is. Let's explore the basics of mass SMS marketing and WhatsApp marketing platforms to understand their differences.

What is SMS marketing?

SMS broadcast message template

SMS marketing , also known as short message service marketing, is a strategy used by companies to advertise their products or services via text messages delivered to customers' phone numbers via mobile carriers.

Businesses create a text message with promotional offers or details about a product or service and send it to a group of subscribers who have chosen to receive messages from the company. Usually businesses use sms marketing platforms, these help sending SMS in bulk to maximise marketing efforts.

SMS marketing is a good way for businesses to quickly and directly reach their target audience. Text messages are read more often than emails, making them effective for marketing purposes. Businesses must get customer consent before sending text messages to avoid legal problems, as unsolicited messages can be seen as spam.

Small businesses, medium or big enterprises, can all benefit of bulk sms marketing. Using it for sms marketing campaigns, appoint reminders or only engage existing customers on targeted communications which can help boost sales, or marketing activities.

Why use SMS marketing

Showing an SMS blast example from mobile app

Businesses use a SMS marketing software as part of their overall marketing strategy for several reasons:

  • High open rate (~98%)

  • Instant delivery, effective for time-sensitive promotions or urgent messages

  • Wide reach, since almost everyone has a mobile phone

  • Does not require an internet connection

  • Requires a lower budget as compared to print advertising or TV commercials

  • Personalized communication through analyses of customer data

  • Opt-in ensures people who are interested in your products or services receive a SMS

Fast forward to 2023, we now have a variety of instant messaging apps to send text messages, and consumers are shifting from SMS to other popular social media channels such as WhatsApp. Hence, it is also crucial for businesses to start adopting WhatsApp marketing tactics to attract and retain customers.

What is WhatsApp marketing?

Sending out WhatsApp Broadcast Messages for WhatsApp Marketing

WhatsApp marketing is a way of using WhatsApp's business messaging to promote products or services to customers. It means businesses can connect with potential and current customers on WhatsApp and have one-on-one chats. Usually, companies use WhatsApp Marketing software to send automated messages directly to their customer's WhatsApp accounts.

Examples of WhatsApp marketing include sending promotional messages through WhatsApp Broadcast. This can provide customer support through the app, and sharing updates about new offerings. This kind of marketing can be very effective because it lets businesses interact with customers in a personal and direct manner.

Why use WhatsApp marketing?

SleekFlow platform automation feature for WhatsApp marketing messages

Similar to SMS marketing, WhatsApp marketing is effective in capturing the attention of consumers and increasing customer engagement. They are also beneficial because:

  • High open rate (~99%)

  • WhatsApp has a large user base of over 2 billion monthly active users worldwide

  • Personalized communication and interactive features such as chat buttons and widgets

  • You can attach multimedia content (images and videos) to WhatsApp messages.

  • You can easily share updated WhatsApp catalogs.

  • Cheaper than SMS marketing, especially if sent to a smaller audience using the free WhatsApp Business App.

  • Real-time analytics for WhatsApp marketing campaigns

  • Opt-in ensures that people who are interested in your products or services receive messages.

Sending bulk WhatsApp marketing messages you can scale up your marketing activities and boost sales in ways email marketing has never reached before.

Pricing for SMS vs. WhatsApp marketing

girl blasting sms on marketing platform

A quick comparison of the pricing for SMS vs. WhatsApp marketing:

  • SMS marketing

SMS broadcast messages are charged per message sent. Pricing vary between $0.25 to $0.50 per message, depending on your chosen carrier.

This mean that sending marketing messages to a large customer base, you'll need to set aside a large budget for your SMS marketing.

Budget planning is a an important aspect of SMS marketing, to not overspending and ensuring to effectively reach the target audience. Working with an SMS marketing provider can be beneficial in managing costs. These providers often offer packages or bulk pricing options, which can lead to cost savings when sending messages to a larger audience. They also provide valuable features like message tracking and analytics, allowing you to assess the effectiveness of your campaigns and make informed decisions about your marketing budget allocation.

  • WhatsApp marketing

WhatsApp broadcast messages can be free on the WhatsApp Business App, but you will only be able to include 256 recipients. To send to a large audience, you will need to use the WhatsApp Business Platform.

There will be conversation fees charged by WhatsApp and a monthly subscription fee required for the WhatsApp Business Solution Provider (BSP) assigned by Meta. However, a WhatsApp conversation includes all messages sent within the 24-hour window. The fee per conversation also varies depending on the country and the type of messages sent, making it more budget-friendly for businesses to scale.

To understand how WhatsApp conversation fees work, check out our latest 2023 pricing guide.

What’s the difference between SMS and WhatsApp marketing

Here's a table summarizing the main differences between SMS and WhatsApp marketing, now that you know what they are.

SMS MarketingWhatsApp Marketing
ChannelPhone numberWhatsApp
DeliveryUses phone's messaging app, does not require internet connectivityRequires internet connectivity
MultimediaLimited support for multimedia contentSupports larger and more varied multimedia content, including WhatsApp catalogs that can be updated from time to time
CostTypically charged per message sentFree or charged per 24-hr conversation
EngagementLimited interaction, typically one-way communicationReal-time, interactive engagement, ability to have one-on-one conversations
Open ratesHigh open rates, typically up to 98%High open rates, typically up to 99%

Choosing the right instant messaging platform for Your business goals

SleekFlow Campaigns easy broadcast to list of recipients

SMS and WhatsApp marketing both have their advantages and disadvantages, but the truth is, you don’t have to choose either one.

On SleekFlow, you can achieve your marketing goals using both SMS and WhatsApp marketing. You can compare the results and see which instant messaging strategy works best for your business, products or services. The fastest way to find the most effective solution is to test it out on your customers.

SleekFlow, as an omnichannel social commerce platform, understands your business needs. You can use Twilio and WhatsApp Business API or WhatsApp Business Platform to send marketing messages through SMS and WhatsApp. 

SleekFlow, as the official WhatsApp Business Solution Provider (BSP), offers a wide range of cost effective solutions for you to guide customers through the shopping experience seamlessly. By completing your SMS and WhatsApp marketing strategy on SleekFlow, you can benefit from many other features:

  • A team inbox for working together on conversations and smoothly transferring tasks between departments, improving conversion rates.

  • In-chat payment links for customers to pay instantly for better customer experience

  • Automated workflows and chatbots to assist customers and sell through all popular social messaging channels 24/7

  • Social CRM tools for proper customer segmentation and accurate retargeting

  • Integrations with existing CRM platforms or e-commerce platforms. Complete customer details (such as lead stage or purchase history) right next to the chatbox

Want to see how other businesses succeed in doing WhatsApp marketing via SleekFlow? Check out our success stories.

Get marketing solutions tailored to your business needs on SleekFlow. Start today.

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