Customer Experience

WhatsApp vs Email vs SMS: A marketer’s choice

Confused about which communication channel to use for your marketing campaigns? Compare WhatsApp, email, and SMS to make an informed decision

The key to effective marketing is ensuring that you as a brand provide relevant and timely updates to your customers. Today, many users spend a lot of time on conversational channels, which are the ideal platform for brands to tap into. Informal distribution channels offer brands a personalized and direct method to reach their target audience effectively.

These channels are excellent for broadcasting messages and updating the target audience. Your audience can also be segregated depending on where your customer stands in the customer's lifecycle, geography, service or line of business, and other key parameters.

Today, there are multiple avenues for brands to reach their customer base: traditional SMS marketing, email marketing, or WhatsApp. And while brands can provide relevant, specific, and timely updates to their customers, the consumer also benefits by getting essential information in an easy-to-consume format. In addition, customers can easily express interest or take the conversation forward, making communication a breeze! That's a win-win for both sides.

If you aim to take your customer experience and marketing to the next level, choosing one of these targeted marketing platforms is ideal. However, are you unsure about which one to choose? To help answer this question, we will explore the three most used marketing platforms and give a comparison of WhatsApp vs. Email vs. SMS to help you make an informed choice for your brand marketing needs.

What is WhatsApp Marketing?

WhatsApp is a cross-platform instant messaging and voice calling app used by over 2 billion people in 180 countries. The app, now owned by Facebook, is an ideal marketing platform for promoting your brand. The channel allows you to reach a wide audience, build strong relationships, and have 1-1 conversation to improve your conversion rate. WhatsApp marketing offers brands multiple features such as:

✅Reaching out to the customer 1-1 for specific information.

✅Broadcasting messages to a group of individuals or target audience.

✅Brands can also create select groups where all participants are visible and can interact (similar to a forum) or have a setting where only the admin can post, ensuring that the group follows a set protocol.

These features and the vast audience base make WhatsApp an ideal platform. WhatsApp also has a business app that allows companies to create a unique profile that can be managed by the brand. It enables customers to direct their queries to the brand's representatives.

WhatsApp Marketing Statistics

✅WhatsApp is used by over 2 billion people worldwide

✅On average, users spend 18.6 hours per month on WhatsApp

✅WhatsApp is the third most used social media platform, after Facebook and YouTube

✅On average, a user checks WhatsApp over 23 times a day

66% of customers feel more confident about purchasing from a company if it is active on messengers

✅WhatsApp has helped businesses increase their conversions by up to 112% (7x) compared to other platforms

Pros of WhatsApp Marketing

✅Messages can include videos, GIFs, and images, making them more dynamic compared to SMS marketing.

✅E-commerce companies can easily integrate WhatsApp chat to provide notifications and updates to automate abandoned carts, delivery, payments, and other related activities.

✅WhatsApp allows you to create multiple broadcast lists and add recipients so that you do not have to select individual contacts whenever you want to broadcast a message.

✅There is no way for a recipient to know whether a message was mass sent.

✅Customers can easily respond to your messages, start a conversation on the platform, and get a quick response.

Cons of WhatsApp Marketing

✅You can know if a customer has read your message, but no advanced analytics are available like time spent, clickthrough rate, etc.

✅New policies and regulations mean businesses must acquire explicit consent from customers before contacting them on WhatsApp. Customers can block or raise complaints, leading to strict measures against the brand.

✅Unlike SMS, a pre-installed feature available in every smartphone, WhatsApp needs to be installed. Its presence is thus limited to only those who know and use the app.

✅WhatsApp is unavailable in five countries: North Korea, China, Syria, Qatar, and the UAE (available but with limited features).

What is Email Marketing?

Despite many believing that email marketing is no longer viable, email is one of the top marketing channels, especially for business-focused communication. Email marketing and broadcasting is a critical feature in any digital marketing strategy, mainly due to the excellent personalization and audience segregation features that email provides. Email marketing or broadcast is when a single email is sent to a group of people at once. It can also be called an email blast, and one can use email broadcast services such as Mailchimp, Hubspot, Sendinblue, MailerLite, and others.

Email Marketing Statistics

4 billion users use emails. This number is expected to climb to 4.6 billion by 2025.

87% of B2B marketers believe email is their top free organic distribution channel.

✅In 2020, 78% of marketers said email is important to company success.

74% of Baby Boomers (1946 and 1965) believe that email is the perfect medium for brand communication, followed by 72% of Generation X, 64% of Millennials, and 60% of GenZ.

8 out of 10 people click on a welcome email from a brand. This brand email has 4x more opens and 10x more clicks than regular emails. So email is the best communication medium to establish a new connection.

99% of people check their email inbox every day; some even check it 20 times daily. In this group, 58% of individuals check their email right at the start of the day.

Pros of Email Marketing

✅Email marketing is ideal for personalized messaging to a particular target group.

✅Email designs are flexible and include multiple options like images, gifs, and videos. This makes the messaging dynamic and appealing.

✅Emails can be further personalized using tags, e.g., emails can use <name> tags to add the customer's name if it is saved in the database. This makes the email feel more personalized and relevant, a feature that SMS or WhatsApp marketing doesn't have.

✅Email marketing platforms also include detailed analytics like open rate, clickthrough rate, engagement, time spent on email, etc. Businesses can leverage these statistics for their specific marketing objectives.

✅Marketers can also understand which emails have not been opened and can try another campaign for this specific group. This detailed drill down on each contact or group is unavailable on other platforms.

Cons of Email Marketing

✅Although email marketing is widespread, there is a high chance of emails ending up in spam folders and the target audience not receiving them.

✅Since emails tend to be longer and are widely used, the chances of the recipients skimming through them or overlooking key information are high compared to WhatsApp or SMS, which have a limited word count.

✅With new regulations and data privacy protection rules, you need to explicitly get approval from the user to contact them via email or add them to an email blast list.

What is SMS Marketing?

SMS or Short Messaging Services came with the advent of the mobile phone and are still widely used worldwide. Brands employ SMS broadcasting due to its ability to reach a wide range of target users, its non-dependence on the internet, and its ability to provide information in a quick and easy-to-consume format. SMS broadcasting or marketing is text only, ideal for sending short, to-the-point updates.

SMS Marketing Statistics

82% of users claim they open every SMS they receive.

75% of customers said they want the brand to communicate special offers to them via text.

✅Customers are 4.5x more likely to respond to SMS over other communication channels.

Pros of SMS Marketing

✅SMS marketing is extremely easy, and you can send a broadcast message on any mobile device, allowing you to reach customers that do not own smartphones.

✅SMS provides information that is concise and easy to consume.

✅SMS broadcast messages do not require any internet or high-speed connection, making them ideal for a more expansive geography and target group.

✅There is no way for the recipient to know if the email was mass sent.

Cons of SMS Marketing

✅SMS has a 160-character limit. Thus, the amount of information an SMS can share is limited.

✅People respond negatively to unwanted texts

✅It is text-only and does not support media files.

WhatsApp, Email, or SMS: Which Option Should You Choose?

If you have come this far, you will probably have guessed that there is no straight answer to whether you should choose WhatsApp vs. Email vs. SMS. While each marketing channel has its advantage and weaknesses, selecting the right platform depends on answers to some critical questions like:

✅Do your customers prefer to interact on the platform?

✅Is the chosen platform ideal for your customer base? E.g., while businesses may want to use WhatsApp communication for their customers, it is not ideal for a company or formal communication.

✅Can the platform add value to your brand? How does it fit in with your business goals?

Since business goals and target audiences are unique, it is up to marketers to choose the ideal platform for their broadcasting or mass communication. While focusing on one platform is the ideal option, we highly recommend that brands create a multichannel distribution strategy, ensuring that they can provide updates on different platforms and reach customers as per their preferred medium of communication.

For example, your brand can use email communication for sharing newsletters, SMS communication for top-priority notifications, and WhatsApp for promotional messages. Or you can even allow customers to decide how they want your brand to reach out to them and on which platform.

Omnichannel customer engagement is the future of communication, and brands need to be leveraging not just one but multiple distribution options to ensure that they can provide timely and relevant updates to their customers. So, if you want to build stronger customer relationships, drive additional revenue, or optimize your customer lifecycle, leverage the power of multiple communication channels to get the conversation going.

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