In this article, we will deal with the differences between Push and SMS notifications. Of particular interest in this review is the fact that SMS is one of the oldest methods of interaction with customers. It appeared with the spread of mobile communications. At the same time, browser push notifications are only gaining momentum as a technology and have not reached the peak of its popularity yet.

What are Push Notifications?

Let’s talk about the strengths and the weaknesses of each channel as well, as how they help businesses grow.

Definition of Push and SMS

SMS (Short Message Service) is a text message received to a device via a mobile network.

SMS includes 160 characters. It contains a main text, a link, a phone number. Businesses use this marketing channel to deliver short notifications to its customers. This type of messages is available only for devices with a SIM card.

Web push notifications are short messages from a website that a user receives through Internet.

Read about the differences between mobile and browser push.

The notification includes a title, a main text, an image, URL and buttons, as extra option.

Web push pops up on mobile and desktop devices. Businesses use this notifications for quick connection with its loyal audience.

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The history of text messages as SMS began about 30 years ago.

  • In 1992, the first SMS was sent from a computer to a mobile device;
  • In 1994, Nokia released the first keyboard phone for typing, which supported messaging between two subscribers on the same network.
  • In 2000, in America, it became possible to send SMS between different mobile networks. At first, only 35 messages were sent per month.
  • Still, in 2010, there were more than 6 trillion text messages sent worldwide.
  • Despite the widespread use of instant message apps today, SMS is still in demand around the world. This channel has special popularity in the business sphere.

The history of web push notifications began with the creation of an alert system for mobile applications in 2001.

  • Apple was the first company who implemented technology in their Safari browser.
  • Since 2015, after Google support, the development is massively used. Today, Chrome, Opera, Firefox browsers support web push for both desktop and mobile devices (OS Android).
  • Now, a large number of websites of all directions install technology to collect a subscriber base and so create a convenient and fast consumer alert system. In 2018, push provider sent more than 7 billions notifications.

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How to Choose Between SMS and Push Notifications

In order to understand which marketing channel to choose for business needs, it is necessary to examine their pros and cons.


4 main benefits

  1. The most important channel benefit is almost 100% guarantee of message delivery to the addressee. If the subscriber’s phone number is valid and the mobile network is stable, the sms notification will come to the user, even to another country.
  2. The second important advantage is fast message delivery. This factor highly depends on the state of the mobile network. Nevertheless, in urban areas with good coverage of the operator’s network, SMS arrives at the addressee’s device in a matter of minutes.
  3. The third unique advantage — the mobile audience of SMS can potentially be much wider than that of various online newsletters (WhatsApp, Email, etc.). The fact is that this audience includes both smartphone owners and users of button phones. Moreover, there is access to residents of territories with low network bandwidth, and simply to those who prefer button phones to smartphones. That is, with the help of SMS you can reach even the consumer who is not actively using the Internet.
  4. The next plus of SMS is the ability to store the received information. After delivery, you can view information again until it’ll be removed.

4 main disadvantages

  1. The main drawback of sms marketing campaigns is a relatively low CTR (traversing from messages to the website) of 7%. Therefore, business uses SMS mostly for service notifications, banking and travel alerts.
  2. SMS messages often come not in time, when a subscriber is busy (driving, in a meeting, etc.). So, sms remains unread, or viewed casually. Besides, with the development of instant messengers, SMS has almost lost its communicative function, because many users do not perceive them as a way of interactive contact.
  3. Another downside is the difficulty of collecting customer base. In order to collect the phone numbers of users for distribution, a hard work needs to be done. Often, the consumers is reluctant to share their contact information. Only in the case of a high brand trust level, a user can leave his personal data. To do it must be further stimulated: hold promotions, offer to register and get privileges or preferential terms / bonuses.
  4. Often text messages become intrusive and reduce user loyalty to the brand. In order to unsubscribe from receiving SMS, they need to write to the company’s support service or send a stop code.

Push Notifications

A website visitor becomes a subscriber to the notifications by clicking on the “Allow” button in the service browser window (automatically appears).

To show this window website must be connected to the push service.

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After the click, the user’s info is added into the subscriber database, and the website owner can send him notifications through the personal account of the service. The user doesn’t need to leave personal data.


  1. The first advantage of push is quick and easy collection of subscriber base. To start collecting the database, just connect the push notification service to your website. The visitors interested in the website content can subscribe to notifications in 1 click. The main reason for the rapid growth of the base is a simple subscription process. The visitor of your website does not need to provide the personal data. Therefore, they agrees more willingly to receive notifications than, for example, if it’s necessary to fill out a standard registration form with an email, or when authorization is required through a social network account.
  2. The technology allows you to unsubscribe from the notifications in the browser settings. It turns out an exclusively voluntary and unobtrusive interaction.
  3. The next plus is a simple traversing from the message to the website. To go to the website pages from a notification, just click on the push itself.
  4. In addition, to improve the efficiency of mailings, you can choose the best time to send push notifications based on service statistics.
  5. Another important tool for working with clients correctly is segmentation of the subscriber base. In the service, you can divide users into groups by device type, geography, interests. This is how targeted push campaign works.
  6. Even at the planning stage of the campaign, you can predict the effectiveness of the channel by using a calculator. Here, on the current data of the website, it’s possible to obtain indicative data on the increase in attendance and profits after the technology launch.
  7. Push notifications are available both for mobile users (smartphones, tablets), and for desktop audiences (PCs, laptops). Besides, the cost of push notifications is much cheaper than SMS.


Learn about all the benefits of push technology by registering and getting free trial.


  1. The delivery of notifications depends on the user’s status on the Internet (online / offline). On the desktop, the subscriber does not receive the message until he opens the browser with an active Internet connection. On the mobile device, web push comes even when the browser is closed, when the smartphone screen is unlocked (Android OS).
  2. Like SMS, push notifications contain a limited amount of text. Therefore, the message should be capacious, sharp and intriguing. However, in addition to the text, the notification uses image, button and link.

In September 2018, the changes for Windows 10 took effect. Now the push on such devices after displaying on the screen is redirected to the Notification Center, where it can be viewed later. The same function is implemented on Mac OS.

Comparing two channels

We present a comparative table of the considered marketing channels. Therefore, we can clearly understand the differences between SMS and push.

Database acquisition Long-termFast
Delivery guaranteeabout 90%up to 75%
CTR, %up to 7%up to 35%
Costfrom $0,02 per messagefor 1000 subscribers from $4 per month
Contenttext, linktext, link, image, buttons
Audiencemobile usersmobile and desktop users

Delivery terms
Availability of mobile networkInternet connection

To take advantage of both tools, you can use the multi-channel approach. Connect different types of mailings together to solve different tasks.

In addition, to optimize costs, you can use the chain method. It’s the sequential sending of messages through different channels. For example, a very common approach is to include Push and SMS in the chain. Therefore, if the addressee has a network, he will receive a service message via push, if the system refuses, the message will be redirected by SMS.

If you have any questions about using the marketing channels, please contact our support team. We will help you with correct campaign launch tailored to your request.

Push Notifications vs SMS – Which is More Effective?
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