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Difference Between Push Notifications and SMS Notifications

You need to get your messages in front of users. What's the best way to do this? Find out in this article about SMS notifications and push notifications.

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Check your phone. How many unread notifications do you have? 

Now unlock your phone. How many red notification bubbles are sitting on the corner of your apps? 

This is just a small experiment to show you how many businesses, organizations, and apps are trying to get your attention at any given time. 

With decreasing attention spans, it can be a challenge for any of these notifications to break through the noise. The average US smartphone user receives nearly 80 notifications per day, so how can you stand out? 

Digital marketers need to be aware of all the tools they have at their disposal to reach their audiences. Two of the most effective tools out there are SMS notifications and push notifications.

Let’s go over what they are, when to use them, and how to choose between the two.

What Are SMS Notifications?

SMS notifications are notifications that are sent when you receive a text message. With SMS notifications, you’ll receive notifications from your native messaging app, so permissions are not required. They act as text message notifications that are sent in response to an event or a transaction that has just occurred or is occurring somewhere else

SMS stands for “Short Message Service.” SMS notifications are sent the same way as any other text message. Usually, they’re limited to 160 characters. With our expanded messaging feature, however, you can send SMS notifications that are up to 306 characters long. While SMS can be used as a marketing tool, SMS notifications can be used for time-sensitive and safety purposes also.

screenshot of SMS notifications

Why Use SMS Notifications?

Many businesses and organizations choose to use SMS notifications because they work on every device, every time. There’s no app to download or software to install. Nearly all cell phones can receive SMS. Plus, customers actually prefer texts. 75% of people would like to have offers sent to them via SMS.

Consider the following: your friend needs to inform you about something quickly. Would you rather them send you a quick text, call you, or email you? If you’re like most consumers, you answered text.

When to Use SMS Notifications

SMS notifications can be used to send emergency text alerts, inform users about new features, and send out advertising messages—among other things. Here are just a few of the most common use cases:

  • Spread the word about upcoming events
  • Send internal messages to employees
  • Increase profits with sales and cart abandonment texts
  • Inform patients about upcoming appointments
  • Fundraise or find volunteers for nonprofit organizations
  • Let customers know about reservation confirmations

What Are Push Notifications?

Sometimes mistaken for SMS notifications, push notifications are pop-ups that appear on a mobile device. These messages may appear while customers are on their phones, or on the lock screen if the device isn’t in use. 

The maximum character count of a push notification varies from device to device, but the usual length is between 100 and 200 characters.

screenshot of push notificaitions

Why Use Push Notifications?

The main benefit of push notifications is that users don’t need to be in the app in order to see them. App publishers can send them at any time. Plus, many people opt-in to push notifications when they download an app. 

Statista found that 33% of survey respondents aged 18 to 34 years said that they always allow an app’s request for push notifications. However, the ease with which push notifications can be sent may present a danger.

The same survey from Statista found that 31% of surveyed smartphone users reported stopping using an app when it reached six to ten push notifications per week.

As with all good things, don’t overdo it when it comes to push notifications.

When to Use Push Notifications

Push notifications can be used for many things: ask users to take an action, let them know about new updates, and send them promotions. 

It’s important to note that users must have your app downloaded in order to receive your push notifications. The most compelling reason to use push notifications is to make sure users don’t forget about your app.

When used correctly, push notifications can help retention rates. Business Insider reported that push notifications increase retention rates by 23% after just three months.

3 Key Differences Between Push Notifications vs SMS Notifications

A push notification is the notification itself that can come from any app, and will appear on your phone’s lock screen. It is quite literally ‘pushing’ you to open your phone and read the notification.

SMS notifications meanwhile, are specific to your native messaging app. An SMS notification appears on your lockscreen, usually with an opening snippet of the text message you’ve received. 

Push notifications and SMS notifications can be used for similar purposes. However, the platforms used to send them are vastly different. 

When deciding between the two, here are three points to consider:

1. SMS Notifications Don’t Require Apps

If your business offers a mobile app, you may want to send out push notifications. If you don’t, SMS notifications are perfect for you. 

To add push notifications to a web app, you must have a basic understanding of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. SMS notifications, on the other hand, can be sent without any coding experience. You can send your first message in just minutes.

2. Customers Can Reply to SMS Notifications

Push notifications are convenient for one-way communication. If you need to provide customer service or want your users to be able to reply with questions or requests, you should probably use SMS notifications. 

Our platform allows for two-way conversations. And, all incoming SMS messages are free!

3. SMS Notifications Can Be Triggered by Other Apps

Effective notifications need to be sent to the right people at the right time. With our Zapier integration, you can trigger messages to be sent when events occur in other apps that you use. For example, you can send SMS notifications via SimpleTexting to new Constant Contact contacts. Or send SMS notifications via SimpleTexting to new Shopify customers.

Try Our SMS Notification Service for Free

It’s easy to add SMS notifications to your service. Our platform was designed from the ground up to be as simple to use as possible. 

Sign up for a free 14-day trial to see how texts can benefit your business. With our SMS API, you can plug your website or app directly into our platform.

Alfredo Salkeld
Alfredo Salkeld

Alfredo leads the marketing team at SimpleTexting. In addition to writing about SMS, he also talks about it—literally. He narrates our how-to videos.

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