SMS vs. Push Notifications: Which Is Best For Your Marketing Strategy?

What if, instead of reaching your audience through marketing channels, you could just reach each user directly?

It would be like having your brand right in their pocket… and it’s actually a lot easier than you might think.

Social media, blog posts, print ads… they’re all good strategies and all effective for growing your business. But they all require your audience to put in at least a little effort to meet you halfway-either on your marketing channels or out in the world.

That’s where two popular strategies can make a big difference, and they’re tools you’re probably already well familiar with: push notifications, and SMS (text messages).

Why Use Either, To Begin With?

These days, basically everyone you’ll be trying to target is already using a smartphone-and this is actually pretty crucial, especially as more and more shoppers and casual users turn to their phones more than their desktops to engage with brands, make purchases, and just generally keep their day-to-day lives running smoothly.

Using either of these strategies, businesses can:

  • Quickly alert users to flash sales, new offers, and limited space, and
  • Reach users right where they’re already (probably) looking: their smartphones

“Well wait,” you might be thinking, “I’ve been getting text messages for, like, 20 years… why are they a good tool for marketers to use now?”

Simply put: SMS and push notifications have recently had something of a renaissance, and are generating high engagement across the board, even compared to other marketing channels. That’s why these two channels might just deserve top spots in your marketing strategy as the 20’s really get underway.

The Upsides of SMS…

That’s because SMS offers a few truly unique benefits for reaching contacts and spreading your message that other media just can’t match, including:

Send links right to your landing pages

Create unique conversations with individual users

Easy to track prior points of contact & engagement

Allows for easy opt-out

Internet connection not needed to receive (but cell service is)

…And Common SMS Pitfalls

May cost $ per SMS

Can be annoying if used improperly

Requires a slightly higher opt-in from users

The Benefits of Push Notifications…

You probably know puch notifications as the little icons on the top bar of your phone that alert you of breaking news, messages from Facebook Messenger or other apps, and other app-based updates. Therein lies the major benefit of push notifications: they speak directly to the apps your users already have installed, which can open up some unique benefits for marketers.

Direct users right to in-app events

Geofencing features in-app allow for highly targeted messaging

Only require internet connection, no cell service

…And When Push Notifications Are Really Pushing It

Can be pretty annoying if used too frequently

Require app download to reach users

How To Get Started

If youre looking to ramp up your SMS marketing efforts quickly and with relatively little complications, our friends at Zapier have a great list of apps to try. Notable among these are tools like TextMagic and SimpleTexting, which can make setup and launch easy.

If you’re leaning more in the direction of push notifications, you’ll probably find a fairly wide variety of tools to run with-the most notable being Amazon Simple Notification Service (which also includes SMS functionality) or OneSignal, among others.

But before you go diving intot he tools, it probably wouldn’t hurt to grab your marketing team (and your partners) and plan your strategy…

Let’s Strategize

SMS is good for:

  • Transactional messages & confirmation

Push Notifications are a smart choice for:

  • Recommended content & updates

These channels may just be the major players in marketing in the 2020s, and with the right strategy and the right tools you could be poised to lead the charge. When you’re ready to get going, get in touch -we’d love to start building your strategy.

Written by Conor Snell, Social Media & Content Strategist at Altos

Originally published at on March 5, 2021.

We are a digital marketing agency specializing in web design and development, eCommerce, search, and social media marketing.