SMS vs. Apps: Which Makes the Most Sense for Your Business?

SMS vs Apps

Any serious business obviously needs a mobile strategy these days. But the tricky part for many firms is choosing which mediums to use.

Between PPC advertising, email, mobile apps, and SMS, it can be a challenge to decide what to concentrate on. It’s especially difficult when you compare SMS and mobile apps head-to-head.

The Need for a Balanced Mobile Strategy

When it comes to developing a well-defined mobile engagement strategy, the word “balance” is vital. In order to be successful, you pretty much have to turn to a variety of mediums and resources.

As they say, “different strokes for different folks.” People are different and you can’t target everyone with the same approach … even if you’re working with a well-defined group of customers. Today’s consumers rely on many modes of communication and it’s worthwhile for brands to respect this.

Some of the various ways in which marketers engage customers include social media, SEO, PPC advertisements, email, SMS, and mobile apps. And though all of these can play a significant role in mobile engagement, the last two are particularly essential in 2016.

We appear to have reached a turning point where businesses are being forced to evaluate whether they want to keep using mobile apps or switch to SMS. The choice is obviously yours, but a growing body of research and the general trends suggest that one is substantially better than the other.

The Problem with Mobile Apps

Virtually everyone has a smartphone these days, which theoretically means that investing in the development of a mobile app is a good idea. However, the problem is that mobile apps aren’t as effective as some of the studies and statistics have led us to believe.

When you dig seriously into the numbers, it becomes clear that the vast majority of mobile apps don’t render a high return. Consider the following data points gathered by Greg Hickman of Mobile Marketing Engine.

  • The average smartphone user spends 70 percent of his or her time on just three most frequently used apps. The three most frequently used are generally popular sites like Facebook, YouTube, Google Search, Instagram, or Gmail. In other words, the chances of your app wiggling its way into this 70 percent are fairly slim.
  • Roughly 52 percent of all apps lose half of their peak users within three months of launch. This means less than 0.01 percent of all mobile apps are likely to qualify as financially profitable by 2018.

Major apps like Facebook and YouTube take up 70 percent of the average user’s time, but maybe you could find your way into the other 30 percent? Unfortunately, that’s probably wishful thinking.

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.

We don’t want to discount mobile apps altogether, though. If for some reason you can develop an app that’s actually downloaded and used by your customers, there are some inherent advantages associated with the push notifications they produce.

“Many consider push notifications to be a less intrusive marketing tactic than text messaging, since messages can be delivered without interrupting the user in their current activity, and never incur an additional cost,” marketing expert Sean Gera says.

Furthermore, since the FCC or FTC doesn’t regulate SMS, businesses don’t need opt-in consent to send notifications.

The Key Advantages of SMS

Mobile apps had their place in the sun a few years back, but we’ve currently reached the point of market saturation and smartphone users are moving in a different direction. Apps feel clunky and outdated, for the most part; so customers are migrating toward superior methods of mobile engagement. One is SMS.

SMS actually preceded mobile apps, but it’s a much more flexible solution. As such, it’s aged much better than apps have.

Specifically, SMS offers a brand the following key advantages:

  • First off, SMS is fast. You can send a message and the recipient will be notified within seconds. Since the average person reads an SMS within three minutes of receiving, you can send timely and relevant content.
  • Smartphone users are much more likely to open up a text message than they are to see a push notification and access the app. This is simply a result of the convenience of native messaging.
  • Mobile apps must be sought out and downloaded by the user. In other words, you have to get them to take action. However, every smartphone has a native SMS app already built in. This makes it much more convenient (and it’s impossible to delete!).
  • Apps are notoriously vulnerable to hackers. And since many apps require users to grant access to certain user data information, the fallout of an attack could be quite serious for your firm. On the other hand, SMS is strictly regulated and very safe.
  • It can take thousands of dollars to develop a mobile app. Then you may have to spend thousands more to 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, SMS has immense value for brands 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.

OpenMarket: The Obvious Choice for SMS

There’s something to be said for developing a balanced mobile engagement strategy, but at some point you have to acknowledge when one mobile channel has become vastly superior to another. At this point, SMS is far more effective than mobile apps and push notifications for business-to-consumer notifications.

At OpenMarket, we make it easy to get started with SMS. Our SMS solution is utilized by some of the world’s leading brands, and we work hard to ensure each customer receives a high level of customer service.

If you’re interested in learning more about our SMS solutions and the role they play in mobile communications, please don’t hesitate to contact us today. We would love to help you gain a better understanding of how OpenMarket might fit your business.

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