Push Notifications vs. SMS vs. Rich Media Messaging: Popularity, Cost, Trends, Engagement Rates, Opt-ins

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In this article we want to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of push notifications vs. SMS vs. Rich Media Messaging (RMM). We want to see the differences in cost, popularity, effectiveness, and the impact they have on customer experience and retention.

What Are Push Notifications?

Push notifications are messages or prompts sent by a company to their customers with their app. It requires the customers to download the app and enable notifications to be delivered.

What is SMS?

SMS (short message service) is a text based messaging service introduced in the 1980s which has become the most common form of texting used today.

What is Rich Media Messaging?

Rich Media Messaging is the extended and enhanced version of an SMS. It allows companies to interact with their customers through a more engaging medium. Companies can offer a more engaged customer experience through the use of images, videos, audio, files, GIFs, documents, signature requests, and more.

push notifications, sms, rmm features graphic

Use Cases for Push Notifications

  • Fitness apps can send reminders of progress, new workouts, achievements
  • Social apps remind users of new messages, events, notifications
  • Reading apps let customers know of new book deals, reading progress
  • Meditation apps remind people to take a break and meditate

Use Cases for SMS

  • Finance: overdue payments reminders
  • Marketing: offers, coupons, discount texts
  • Banking: SMS verification
  • Customer Service: feedback, customer satisfaction surveys
  • Utilities: overdue billing reminders
  • Travel: confirmations, bookings alerts
  • Healthcare: appointment reminders

Use Cases for Rich Media Messaging

  • Finance: mobile landing pages for payment reminders
  • Marketing: mobile landing pages for offers, promotions, coupons, feedback
  • Utilities: mobile landing pages for overdue payments, payment plans, meter reading submissions
  • Notaries: auto-attachment of contracts, documentation revisions, digital signatures
  • Customer Service: engaging feedback forms
  • Housing Associations: insurance documents, digital signatures, contracts
  • Travel: barcodes, QR codes for boarding passes, route changes, maps
  • Healthcare: patient triage, appointment reminders, rescheduling


push notifications, sms, rmm examples

These are just a few examples of what push notifications can do, but not everyone is fond of them. Apathy towards app downloads is rising. According to Google, 87% of users say that – even if they are loyal to a brand – they don’t feel the need to have its app on their phone. Similarly, 53% say they have never downloaded their favourite brand’s app.

Also, many people choose not to receive push notifications because they find them annoying. Some people go to the extent of disabling apps because of them. Send too many, and it runs the risk of crossing the line into spam. That’s why marketeers became very cautious when sending targeted messages. They had to rethink their communication strategies and explore other channels for their activities.

On the other hand, Rich Media Messaging is a popular channel for many industries that want to send proactive communications while engaging consumers. Since the mobile industry expanded, companies are more interested in communication channels that are cost effective, targeted and that allows them to send highly personalized content to customers.

Push Notification Statistics:

1. Localytics find that one weekly push will cause 10% of users to disable app push notifications.
2. Users turning off push notifications after receiving five or fewer per week falls from 59% in 2015 to 47% in 2017.
3. Too many notifications class as spam and will result in unsubscribes.

SMS Statistics:

1. Open rates as high as 98%
2. 90% of SMS are read within 3 minutes
3. 23 billion text messages are sent each day worldwide

RMM Statistics:

1. Increased customer engagement of up to 56%
2. 25% conversion rates
3. One of the most effective channels for debt collection with payments rates of up to 50%

Factor these in when sending push notifications:

  • Be aware of the odd hours when you send alerts.
  • Too much will put people off.
  • Non-targeted messages are irrelevant.
  • Notifications with invalid or expired offers will make people angry.
  • Clickbait notifications will annoy people.

push notification customer statistics

The Cost of Push Notifications vs. SMS vs. RMM

On the contrary to SMS and RMM, push notifications are considerably cheaper. But they rely on the customer downloading and installing the apps and on a 3rd party plugin or additional development work to be able to work.

A study from Adobe finds that, on average, mobile apps achieve half their lifetime usage in the first six months. And that’s factoring in all the apps that do very well.

So, if one in four mobile apps are abandoned after a single use, the push notifications changes are close to 0 in effectiveness. Starting from as low as 2p/message, SMS and RMM have amazing rates compared to other digital or mobile marketing channels. Speak to our team if you want to find our pricing.

Engagement Rates for Push Notifications vs. SMS vs. RMM

There are some rules that mobile marketers need to consider when scheduling push notifications such as sending useful, engaging, and clear messages, avoiding morning hours, not being sticky and so on. That brings results like 65% open rate.

On the other hand, SMS notifications with their incredible open rate of 98% can also be a handy promotional tool for businesses.
In our opinion, RMM makes all the difference because the conversion and engagement rates are the highest that mobile marketing has ever seen. Moreover, when it comes to reporting, VoiceSage can provide detail analytics for individual campaigns that empower companies to plan better. With open rates of 49%, CTR of 60% and 39% conversion rates, RMM wins the battle of engagement.

Download Our Rich Media Messaging Tip Sheet

Popularity of Push Notifications vs. SMS vs. RMM

Currently, nine out of ten companies demand the development of push notifications in their mobile applications, and 70% of those who require push notifications want social and geolocation features as well. According to the Mobile Messaging Report by Mobile Ecosystem Forum, text messaging remains third in terms of global reach.

Opt in and Out Differences

Push Notifications:
With push notifications a customer only must download the app and they will automatically start receiving notifications. They can turn them off in Settings. An internet connection is needed to receive push notifications.

SMS and RMM:
Even if a company already has a relationship with an intended recipient, it may only send them text messages if the recipient has opt-in consent. If the user opt-out of receiving SMS communications, it can be done on the same channel. No internet connection is required to send messages.

The Best of All Worlds

In conclusion, we advise to marry the three communication channels and use them wisely. They must complement each other. If push notifications don’t work for your brand, try SMS and RMM. Experiment to get to know the best frequency and timing. Try to save marketing for push notifications and use SMS and RMM for urgent alerts.

Send text message reminders that promote app downloads. Or even better, design your rich media messages to look like your app. The flexibility in design and campaign creation in RMM is user friendly and fast. Why not give it a try? Book a demo and we’ll show you the behind the scenes of the RMM.

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Published on: 20th January 2021

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