Instant Messaging Apps V. SMS Texting – And the winner is…

What’s the difference between instant messaging and texting?
What does it mean for businesses?

The number of people using instant messaging (IM) apps is staggering – over 4 billion IM accounts have been created worldwide. Over a billion people use WhatsApp, over 900 million use Facebook Messenger, 650 million use WeChat and those are just the top three apps. The number of people using SMS texting includes pretty much everyone of the six billion people with access to a mobile phone. For comparison, only 4.5 billion people have access to working toilets (source).

Clearly mobile phones are taking over communications. Taken together instant messaging and SMS texting account for a whopping ~74 billion messages a day.

Businesses are noticing that their customers are gravitating to text based communications and wondering if they should add a texting or instant messaging channel to their customer communications strategy. But which one is more important? Does a business need both? What exactly is the difference anyway? Check out the chart below for some of the basic differences. 

instant messaging versus SMS table of comparison for texting with customers

On a straightforward tally by category, SMS wins but of course things are not that simple. What’s right for your customers and for your budget is what matters. As a baseline, SMS is a good way to start because it means you can include all of your customers, without regard to whether they’re tech savvy or can afford smartphones or feature phones. However, at the moment SMS is slightly more expensive and it does carry a cost for customers as well.

If your customer base skews towards the tech inclined and especially if you serve millennials, instant messaging might be the best way to encourage engagement from them. From a branding and marketing perspective, It’s what they’re expecting from modern brands they interact with. If your business fits this bill, you probably need both SMS texting and instant messaging support for the 1-3 apps your customers prefer.

How to find out what you need? Try it out! All OwnerListens packages come with a 14 day free trial. Set up your business and at the end of your trial make a decision based on feedback from your customers.

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