Text Messaging vs. Mobile App

When to use Text Messaging or Mobile App for your Business

With the growing popularity of smartphones and the use of mobile apps, are text messaging (also known as SMS) solutions taking a backseat in the world of mobility solutions?

Absolutely NOT. In fact, we are actually seeing a resurgence in SMS solutions.

With over 5.2 billion unique mobile subscribers in the world, smartphone connection is 65%1. As you dig deeper into this statistic, we find that this varies across countries and across demographics.Global mobile penetration (people having either feature / “dumb” phone or smartphone) is 103%1 in the world, which means an SMS has more reach than any app. It doesn’t require mobile data or an internet connection to be able receive a message, making this a good solution in remote geographies having only a network signal. Moreover, SMS is not limited by device compatibility (i.e. iOS, Android, Windows, etc.). Essentially anyone with a mobile number is reachable.

Although the market for mobile apps is booming, consider the following datapoints:

  • According to Gartner, 80% of customer service organisations will have abandoned native mobile apps in favour or messaging for a better customer experience by 2025.
  • 21% of downloaded apps worldwide are accessed only once during the first 6 months of ownership2
  • Smartphone users use 9 to 10 apps daily on average, 30 apps over a month3

Most apps downloaded today are not for business purposes. Users prefer to download entertainment, social media, and gaming apps instead. It’s rare that a business app secures valuable space on a user’s smartphone or mobile device.

Mobile messenger apps may be popular for the individual to socialise and chat easily, business is better suited to the world of SMS. Consider that SMS has 90%+ open rates compared to push notifications at less than 10%4. Moreover, unlike push notifications, text messages are usually read within a couple of minutes. Although many people choose to get in touch with businesses to ask questions and address issues, we’d find it quite intrusive if we started receiving marketing messages to our social accounts through apps.

Mobile apps can take thousands of dollars to develop. Furthermore, you may have to spend thousands more to port it across platforms, keep it updated, deal with bugs, and ensure it’s compatible with all the new devices that enter the marketplace. In comparison, SMS is much cheaper. You don’t have to worry about updates and can simply focus on crafting strategic messages.

Clearly for business, SMS has immense value for businesses that are willing to make the investment. It’s a superior form of mobile engagement that is available to everyone with a mobile phone and offers high returns to brands that develop clever strategies.

1 GSMA 2021
2 Statista
3 TechCrunch
4 Airship “Accengage Push Notification & In-App Message Benchmark for Mobile Apps”