23 January 2023
WhatsApp Business Platform and SMS are the two of the world’s biggest messaging channels. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering 92% of the world own mobile phones and 86% own smartphones. Both channels are extensive in their reach and boast impressive engagement rates. So, which is better? How do the two compare?
This blog post will outline the pros and cons of SMS and WhatsApp Business Platform to help you decide on the best approach for your organisation.
SMS as a communication channel: The pros and cons
- No need for an internet connection – SMS is available to any device with a working mobile network connection. No reliance on WiFi or cellular data.
- No need for a smartphone – smartphones might have become a normality for the majority of us but there are still many people who don’t own one. Unlike WhatsApp, SMS does not require a smartphone.
- No need for an extra app – all phones come with built-in messaging capabilities so there’s no need to download an app to receive SMS messages.
- Impressive open and conversion rates – compared to other channels, SMS boasts high open and conversion rates. Average open rate is up to 98% and conversion rate is 29% compared to email’s 21% and 2%, respectively.
- Any industry can use SMS – unlike WhatsApp, there are no restrictions on which industries can use SMS to contact with their customers.
- 160 character count limit – with SMS, you have just 160 characters to capture your recipient’s attention and entice them to take action. This is approximately 1-3 sentences.
- Ability to have two-way conversations isn’t built in – two-way communication allows your messages to feel more like a conversation, rather than a notification. If you want your customers to be able to reply to you (i.e. a two-way conversation), you’ll need a virtual mobile number as this feature doesn’t come as standard with SMS.
- No end-to-end encryption – whether it’s P2P (person to person) or ATP (application to person), SMS messages are not end-to-end encrypted. This lack of security measures means sensitive information should never be communicated via SMS.
WhatsApp as a communication channel: The pros and cons
- Impressive open and conversion rates – WhatsApp Business Platform boasts one of the highest engagement rates of all channels, with an open rate of up to 99% and conversion rate that averages between 45 and 60%.
- Generous character count limit – you have up to 4,096 characters, which equates to around 500 words. In comparison to SMS’s 160 characters (1-3 sentences), this gives you more flexibility to grab and capture attention.
- Two-way chats are available – two-way chats are available to every WhatsApp account where your business can have both user and business-initiated conversations. No virtual mobile number needed!
- Rich content can be sent – from CTA buttons to images, videos and audio, WhatsApp Business Platform’s rich features help you create more engaging experiences for your recipients. While you can also send rich content in SMS, with WhatsApp, recipients will not need to click on a link to view these features.
- End-to-end encryption – thanks to end-to-end encryption, only the sender and recipient can see what was exchanged between them. Even Meta cannot access these conversations. This means you can safely share sensitive information via WhatsApp Business Platform.
- Authenticity checks – Meta will verify the authenticity of every business account on WhatsApp Business Platform. Once verified, your business name will be visible, even if recipients haven’t added you to their address book. This helps boost customer trust, as your recipients can be safe in the knowledge that they’re speaking to a legitimate business and not a user pretending to be one.
- Branded profile, plus the opportunity to become an Official Business Account – every business account can brand their WhatsApp profile by, for example, uploading their logo as their profile picture or updating their description to feature their slogan. You even have the chance to become an Official Business Account (green verified tick etc), which can further boost customer trust.
Want to learn more about the top WhatsApp Business Platform features that can help improve customer experience? Explore our blog post here.
- Requires an internet connection – WhatsApp requires an active internet connection, whether that’s WiFi or mobile/cellular data. If your recipients experience internet issues, this can be challenging if you’re sending time-critical alerts via WhatsApp Business Platform.
- Requires an app to be downloaded – recipients must download the WhatsApp app if they’re going to receive messages via this platform. Not all mobile phones support WhatsApp – only smartphones do and even then, there are some older smartphones that no longer support the app.
- Certain industries are prohibited from using the platform – while most can use WhatsApp Business Platform, Meta has specific industry standards that prohibit certain industries from being allowed on the platform.
SMS vs WhatsApp Business Platform: Which is better?
At first glance, it may seem as though WhatsApp Business Platform has more benefits. Looking slightly closer, you may start to wonder whether SMS is better because this channel doesn’t rely on an internet connection and is compatible with all types of mobile phones.
Plus, more people have a mobile phone compared to a smartphone. So, SMS has a (slightly) wider reach, which is better. Right?
Truthfully, the two channels are equally great in different ways. Thus, the best approach may be to use both SMS and WhatsApp Business Platform to cast the widest net possible and engage with customers via a variety of message types.
SMS may have the wider reach and arguably be better known, but WhatsApp Business Platform offers the richer functionalities. SMS can be better for simple alerts and notifications, but WhatsApp Business Platform is better for engaging interactions and having conversations.
For example, an appointment reminder can be as simple as a plain text message that states the time and date of the appointment. Or it can be as elaborate as a CTA button linked to your healthcare provider’s booking system to reschedule and a location pin in addition to the time and date.
Use both channels and you can connect with your customers in a range of ways.
See how WhatsApp Business Platform work alongside SMS
Already use SMS as a channel and want to try WhatsApp Business Platform out as well? We’re offering a free trial so there’s no better time to explore the platform and see the richness of its functionalities first-hand.
Find out more about the trial and/or sign up via the button below.