Skip to content

SMS Marketing Simplified

Search Blog

Text Message vs Push Notification: Which is Better?

text message vs push notification

Many businesses rely on text messages and push notifications to engage consumers. While text messages have a 98% open rate, push notifications on some devices have an 81% opt-in rate. 

However, if given a choice between text messages vs push notifications, which one should you choose? In this quick guide, we’ll explore push notifications vs SMS. In doing so, we’ll outline the functionality so you can decide which best suits your business needs. 

The Differences Between SMS and Push Notifications

Although both SMS and push notifications engage consumers, they differ in important ways. For instance: 

  • A text message is an alert sent to a consumer via the consumer’s phone number. 
  • A downloaded application sends a push notification.

But the differences don’t end there. To understand the nuances, we need to extend the discussion. 

Communication Direction

Businesses often praise SMS marketing for its bidirectional abilities. In other words, text messages allow the receiver to interact with a company. The consumer can send the business feedback, communicate directly with an employee, or opt out (or in) to important updates. 

Push notifications, however, are unidirectional. This means that while a business can alert a consumer, the interaction ends there. 

In short, push notifications simply notify, while SMS messages promote conversation.

To better understand this distinction, imagine that your ecommerce apparel company texts consumers while your app sends them push notifications.

A text message might read: We saw you bought our new wide-brimmed fedora! What’d you think? 

On the other hand, a push notification might only notify the consumer that newer fedoras are in stock.

Technical Requirements

Because businesses send push notifications through specific applications, push notifications require more technical knowledge than text messages. And the increased technical proficiency applies to both the sender and receiver. 

For a consumer to receive a push notification, they must:

  • Download the company’s application
  • Enable push notifications

For a business to send a push notification, it must:

  • Write the code for an app (or hire a developer)
  • Occasionally update the app
  • Encourage consumers to use the app

To send an SMS message, a business may simply need the consumer’s phone number and consent

Open Rates and Preferences

Overall, consumers appear to prefer SMS messages over push notifications. According to Business 2 Community, while text messages have a 98% open rate, push notifications have a read rate of just six percent. 

At least two factors may account for this discrepancy:

  • Frequency – Consumers typically receive daily notifications from many apps. In fact, the average consumer receives 46 push notifications per day. This frequency may push consumers away.
  • Function – As stated above, push notifications merely notify consumers. As a result, consumers may be less likely to open a push notification if they know they cannot take any action.

Features and Characteristics

Text messages and push notifications also differ in their features and characteristics. These content differences include:

  • Message length – Text messages are almost always limited to 160 characters. Only some messaging services—like Texting Base—offer the ability to send longer text messages. Push notifications may be slightly longer but will usually never exceed one or two sentences.
  • Visibility – Many consumers can read texts right on their screens. This applies even when their phones are locked. Consumers may have to enter apps to read push notifications.
  • Timing – Businesses will generally text a consumer only during standard business hours. A consumer may receive push notifications throughout the day.
  • Message type – Because push notifications only alert consumers, they’re better for product alerts and news updates. Text messages may be better for alerts that require the consumer to complete an action, like clicking a link.

Let’s imagine your apparel brand from earlier to better visualize these differences.

A text message from your company might feature a written promotion followed by hat emojis and a QR code to use for your next purchase. 

A push notification will generally look more bland. It might only state, New pork pie hats in stock!

Which Should You Use?

Ultimately, your decision to use one format over the other comes down to several factors. These include but are not limited to: 

Your Business Type

For traditional ecommerce businesses, SMS messaging may be the best format. That’s because these businesses typically engage consumers to encourage them to take action.

Some business texting platforms even allow you to schedule texts so that consumers make purchasing decisions at optimal times.

If your business mostly sends content reminders, push notifications may be the more appropriate strategy. A few businesses in this category include: 

  • News agencies
  • Content-sharing platforms
  • Educational businesses

Your Messages’ Urgency

Some messages are more urgent than others. These messages may include time-sensitive and personal data.

For urgent messages, SMS messaging is a suitable channel. That’s because SMS messages have higher open rates. They also don’t require internet access. 

To that end, here are a few examples of urgent messages:

  • Event cancellations
  • Appointment reminders
  • Suspicious bank account activity

For example, suppose your hat company needs to alert a customer about a possible fraudulent charge. If you send a push notification, they may not open the message in time to take action.

A text message might entice them to act immediately.

Your Company’s Capabilities

As stated above, creating an app requires technical ability. It also requires a larger budget. For instance, even the simplest platforms can cost around $25,000 for peak functionality. Simply put, many businesses may not be able to afford this expense.

Text messages, however, are relatively affordable and less time-intensive. To start a successful SMS marketing campaign, you may only need a business texting platform and a contact list.

SMS vs Push Notifications: Enhance Your Text-Based Marketing with Texting Base

To send a text or a push notification is a common question fielded by many businesses new to SMS marketing. Fortunately, the team here at Texting Base has the answer.

Our business texting platform provides easy, accessible mass texting. That way, you can ensure your consumers receive your most important messages, and you can enable drip campaigns and conversation triggers.

All you need to do is sign up, upload your contacts and start texting. You can even try our platform for free for 14 days.

For all your business texting needs, welcome to Texting Base. 


Business 2 Community. Text Messages vs Push Notifications: Some Key Considerations.

Business of Apps. Push Notifications Statistics (2022).

Jumpgrowth. How much does it cost to make an app?