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Which mobile messaging interface should your business use?

Technology & Data

Which mobile messaging interface should your business use?


In the second part of her ‘Building a Blueprint for Mobile Messaging’ series, Angie Bell outlines the uses and benefits of the four main mobile messaging interfaces.

See part one here »

How you reach your customers can make the difference between them reading your message and taking action, or ignoring your message and unsubscribing. Let’s unpack the strengths and advantages of each mobile interface, and highlight common use cases:

Text (SMS) and picture (MMS) messaging

angie-bell-twilio-small copyAs you look for interfaces where your messages are less likely to be missed or ignored, keep in mind that – according to ConnectMogul – 90% of SMS messages are read within three minutes of delivery.

SMS is its own experience; users leave other apps in order to read and respond to a text. In order to make this departure worthwhile, learn how to create a great customer experience through text messages. For example, SMS is an excellent option for retail businesses to assist customers at scale, or B2B businesses to communicate with leads.

Used for:

  • access security: e.g. two-factor authentication,
  • commerce notifications: e.g. appointment or bill reminders, ETA alerts, and
  • people coordination: e.g. dispatch notifications, instant lead alerts to sales teams.

In-app chat

Text messaging may be common, but there are times when your customers want more context from your business. With in-app chat functions, your team won’t waste time searching for a customer’s individual information, as their profile is accessible from the app’s backend.

Likewise, your customers won’t have to leave the app to talk to you. In-app conversations are continuous, with chat history and message-read status synchronising across mobile or web. Message activity can be stored in the cloud and updated in real-time for service analysis or product feedback.

The drawback with having the chat function built into an app is that the customer has to download and use the app in order for you to communicate with them.

Used for:

  • customer service: e.g. live chat with sales or support, live feedback, and
  • people coordination: e.g. team collaboration.


Push notifications

If your mobile app uses push notifications to communicate with users, those notifications will send customers right back to your app. People who opt in to an app’s push notifications more likely to open an app than those who opt out.

As an alternative to text messages – which carriers might charge customers for receiving – Apple and Google don’t charge an underlying cost for receiving push notifications on their iOS and Android operating systems. This makes push notifications a cost-friendly method of one-way communication. You’ll also know exactly when your notification has been delivered and read, thanks to receipts and real-time status updates.

The downside of push notifications is that you have to convince people to opt-in; push notifications are not enabled by default when a user installs an app. A customer will have to agree to them the first time they use the app, or go back and subscribe to them later.

Used for:

  • commerce notifications: e.g. delivery status, account activities, loyalty rewards, and
  • sales and marketing: e.g. promotions, coupons and sales.

Messaging apps

Facebook Messenger, Viber, Apple iMessage, WeChat, WhatsApp, and Kik are examples. Juniper predicts messaging app usage to triple to 100 trillion messages per year. Younger generations especially enjoy the social experiences these apps provide. Like in-app chat, your business can use all sorts of multimedia to communicate through messaging apps in a way that you can’t with SMS. Brands can create an experience that includes pictures, GIFs, videos, emojis, stickers, and location information.

Used for:

  • customer service: e.g. frictionless communications with sales,
  • commerce notifications: e.g. transactional and delivery notifications, and
  • sales and marketing: surveys and marketing promotions with a targeted audience.

Final thoughts

Each interface comes with its own strengths and drawbacks. To choose the best interface to invest in, your business needs to consider the size of your audience, the frequency of your communication, and the importance of the message.

Once you’ve selected your interface, you’ll want to make sure that your mobile communications are integrated smoothly into the natural flow of your business and your customer relationships. This could save your agents time gathering information, and help them route and prioritise your customers based on their needs. Remember, context is everything.


Angie Bell is director, Asia Pacific at Twilio.
Up Next: Learn how to integrate your mobile communications with your business systems.

Check out part one of the ‘Building a Blueprint for Mobile Messaging’ series here » 



Image copyright: stockbroker © 123RF



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