customer engagement
customer engagement
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 min read
July 26, 2021

SMS to Push Notifications: Should I make the Decisive Shift?


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“Merry Christmas.”

No, it’s not the holiday season yet. This was the first SMS that was sent by Neil Papworth on 3 December 1992. Clearly,  SMS is older than many of you reading this. It was popularized way back during the feature phone era.

Historically, brands have ‘communicated’ to their customers via SMS – It was easy to send and plain to read with no glam quotient attached. In other words, it served its purpose of communicating brand messages across a wide range of audiences with minimal effort.

Short for “Short Messaging Service ‘, SMS is an archaic but robust technology that relies on phone carriers and cell phone towers to send messages. You never need a smartphone; A mobile phone and a carrier signal are all that your customers need to receive your SMS.

This accessibility has helped SMS to stay relevant and be used by many companies to ‘talk’ to their customers even today. Here is a very common type of SMS that won’t be hard to find in your SMS inbox –

But in recent times, many businesses are resorting to the more advanced and pragmatic push notifications. Like SMS, push notifications are short and instant but are more colorful and richer than SMS due to their inherent support for media.

But who is right? Is SMS still useful? Or is it time to make the shift to push notifications completely?

Read on to find all the answers.

Why is SMS still popular?

SMS is more direct and personal. Even when you’re sending the same message to thousands of users, each user will perceive it as a message that was sent directly to them.

Typically, you can use SMS when you’ve got information that is highly time-sensitive, urgent, or transactional.  Appointment confirmations, product shipping reminders, delivery reminders, etc., can all be sent through SMS. When such messages are sent via SMS, it helps the users as they have a record of the same to refer back to.

Also, if the majority of your target audience is in an area where they can’t access the internet seamlessly (like rural areas), it’s better to send time-sensitive SMS messages to them.

Here is a really interesting fact about SMS –

“SMS has an open rate of 98%!”

Yes, you read it right – SMS has a staggering open rate of 98%. That means only two people out of 100 will ignore or delete your SMS even without opening them. On the other hand, the average open rate of email is only around 21.33%, according to MailChimp.

SMS is the clear winner when there is a competition between these two.

But who will be the winner there is a clash between SMS and push notification?

And the winner is…

It’s a tie – Such an anticlimax!

Each of them is a winner in their own category and is used for very different types of communication with customers. If SMS is perfect for transactional communication, then push notifications are ideal for marketing and informational communications.

Also, you have a lot more flexibility in terms of designing a push notification. For instance, when you build your app in Vajro, you can add an image, GIF, or even a video to your push notification – All these are great add-ons for your marketing and informational message, which is impossible in an SMS.

On that note, here are the four different scenarios where push notifications are ideal –

News and Updates

Sending updates about your product lines or your store via push notifications can be useful for your audience. They will know which new products have arrived and what changes you’re doing to the brand instantly via these notifications. Product updates, especially in e-commerce, need a lot of color. A push notification lets you do this, thanks to its inherent ability to support media.

Highlighting new features

When you add new features to your app, you can use push notifications to not just highlight those features but also provide a continuous onboarding experience (via multiple push notifications) to walk your audience through the new feature.


You can remind users to complete tasks like renewing subscriptions, complete checkout on an abandoned cart, finish filling out their profile information, connecting the app to their social media accounts, and more via push notifications.

Promotional Alerts

If you're running a sale on certain items, you can use push notifications to remind users to check your app so that they can avail of those promotions. Users typically respond very favorably to apps sending offers and coupons via push notifications.


On the surface, it might seem there is no rhyme or reason as to when to use push notifications and when to use SMS. But upon closer analysis, you will find both SMS alerts and push notifications serve very distinctive purposes in the life cycle of your business. They have unique value propositions that make each of them valuable to you.

But the first step is to always lay a foundation, and what better way to do it than via your own native app. This is where Vajro can help. We are a no-code app builder designed to help e-commerce brands with seamless app creation and maintenance processes. Our push notification feature lets you send informative and promotional content easily in a single click.

Want to know more? Talk to us now!

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