Running a business involves communicating with customers, employees, and vendors. Two of the most common methods of doing so are texting and instant messaging, but how do they compare to each other? Take a closer look at the difference between texting and messaging to help you decide when to use each.
What is texting?
Texting refers to sending short electronic messages between mobile devices. Texting uses your cellphone’s carrier service.
Businesses use texting regularly for multiple functions. Text messages are used to communicate among employees.
More importantly, texts are the main element of SMS marketing. This involves both one-on-one communication and mass communication. The latter comes via automated systems that can send mass texts, even personalizing them based on data in the system. One example of that personalization would be inserting the recipient’s name.
An example of one-on-one communication via texting would be providing customer support or sharing tracking information for an order. An example of mass communication would be announcing a sale or new product.
MMS vs. SMS
There are two main types of messages when it comes to texting: MMS and SMS.
There are two main differences between MMS vs. SMS. The first difference is the length of the message. SMS messages can only be 160 characters, while MMS messages can be up to 1,600 in most cases. If an SMS is longer than this, it gets split into multiple messages.
The other difference is that SMS messages do not allow for any multimedia. You can only include text. By contrast, MMS messages let you add pictures, emojis, videos, gifs, audio, and more. This is why it is called a multimedia messaging service. By contrast, SMS stands for short message service.
What is messaging?
Instant messaging is different from text messaging in that it doesn’t rely on your carrier’s cellular phone service to send. Instead, it uses a messaging app along with any internet connection. That connection can be Wi-Fi or data.
Instant messaging also supports multimedia such as videos and pictures, just like MMS.
Types of messaging
While we already mentioned WhatsApp, that is far from the only option. The following are some of the most popular kinds of messages:
- Facebook Messenger
All of these require an application for the user to send and receive messages. It’s also worth noting that the individual popularity of the above instant messaging platforms varies significantly by region. For example, WeChat is very popular globally, but most of this popularity is focused in China and among people with connections to China who live elsewhere.
So, which should I choose?
The above information only touched on some differences between instant messaging and texting. To get a better idea of which one to use and when, take a closer look at the difference between texting and messaging.
The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to choose between the two. There are many situations when comparing texting vs. messaging that will give the advantage to SMS messaging. There are also situations when the opposite is true.
As such, you want to keep all of the following pros and cons in mind as you select between instant messaging vs. text messaging in a given scenario.
Pros and cons of texting
- Most people can receive text messages for free.
- Communications feel more personal.
- You can use bulk texting to send mass promotional texts.
- You get to take advantage of a 98% open rate.
- You can communicate with customers in real-time.
- Customers don’t have to download anything to communicate with you. The native texting app is already on their phone.
- You can text international clients.
- Clients do not need a smartphone to receive texts. This is helpful for target audiences with lower access to smartphones or less technological proficiency.
- Customers generally prefer texting.
- Internet connection is not required.
- You need to use MMS to send multimedia or messages longer than 160 characters.
- It requires your customers to have a phone number.
- There are usually higher fees for texting international clients.
- You need to get opt-ins.
Pros and cons of messaging
- When comparing chat messaging and text messages, messaging always lets you include multimedia. This is not possible with SMS (but is with MMS).
- Most instant messaging platforms let you send messages longer than 160 characters, as they are not typically limited in length.
- Customers do not need a phone number for some methods, such as Facebook Messenger.
- You can use bots for many applications.
- You can communicate with customers in real-time.
- Some instant messaging applications encrypt data.
- There are no additional fees for sending instant messages to international clients.
- Facebook Messenger, in particular, connects directly to your company’s Facebook page.
- It tends to be more intuitive for file sharing.
- Depending on the app or the shared information, there are potential security concerns.
- You cannot use instant messaging to send bulk messages, making it less useful for SMS marketing campaigns.
- Customers have to download the instant messaging app to communicate with you.
- You need to get opt-ins.
- Some platforms, such as Facebook Messenger, hide messages from accounts that are not friends with the recipient. This can dramatically reduce the open and read rates.
- There are numerous instant messaging apps. You will be forced to choose the one(s) that your customers use the most and will still end up excluding people. By contrast, nearly everyone has a phone that can receive text messages.
- Instant messaging requires an internet connection, as it doesn’t use the cellular network to send messages.
Messaging and texting vs. email
Now that you have a better idea of how messaging compares to text messaging for business, take a look at how both of these compare to email.
Email is more conducive to long messages
If you need to send a lengthier message or include many images, an email will have the advantage. People expect emails to be longer than they expect messages (or texts) to be. A message that is too long may frustrate recipients, but that is not the case for emails, as long as you format it in a way that is easy to read.
You can add more formatting to emails
Emails also have the advantage of letting you format them to make them more visually appealing, increasing the chances that the recipient will read the entire thing.
Messaging is better for quick responses
If you or the customer want a quick response or real-time communication, messaging (and texting) work significantly better than email. Email is ideal if you can wait hours or days for an answer. By contrast, messaging delivers real-time communication.
Messages are much more likely to be read
It is much more likely that customers will read the messages you send than your emails, as emails already have a higher risk of ending up in spam folders. On top of that, the expectation that messages are short encourages people to read them even if they only have a few seconds. Remember that text messages have a 98% open rate. The rate is lower for other instant messaging but still higher than email.
Customers prefer texting (and messaging) over email
Customers repeatedly indicate in various studies that they prefer texting over emails or voice calls.
Messaging feels more personal
If your goal is to build a personal connection with customers, you will find that easier to achieve with messaging instead of email.
Email lets you send a mass message (so does texting, but not messaging)
Emails make it easy to send the same message to multiple people at once. This type of mass communication is not possible with messaging apps, but it is with texting.
Bonus: Texting gives you the benefits of messaging, plus customers don’t need an internet connection
Remember that text messaging gives most of the same advantages as instant messaging, but with the added benefit of not requiring an internet connection. Instead, it uses the cellular network.
When communicating with your clients and marketing, both messaging and texting are good options. Most businesses will want to combine the two methods. Thanks to its high open rate, stick to texting for most marketing purposes, as outlined in our SMS marketing guide. Texting also lets you send bulk messages and doesn’t require customers to have an internet connection.
Then, consider supplementing texting with some messaging apps to appeal to a broader audience. This will let you reach customers via their preferred method.