SMS is dead, long live in-app

SMS Versus In-app


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Mobile is the number one channel to reach your target market today. According to Go-Globe, 52% of the time individuals spend on digital media is on mobile apps. The question is how do you engage with these individuals? The answer is with mobile messaging. It’s a prominent way to communicate with your customers. However, choosing the right type of messaging can be difficult, especially with the increase in channels available. Today we will discuss two types of mobile messaging; In-app and SMS.


Before mobile networks could carry internet data, businesses used SMS in their marketing communications. SMS is a short, text-only message sent from one mobile device to another. Some would say SMS is old and outdated.  In today’s world, mobile marketers require rich messaging technology to communicate with users in the moment. This messaging technology is in-app messaging. In-app messages are customisable notifications delivered to users actively using an app. They deliver only to engaged app users, unlike an SMS which deliver to a user  whether they are seeking engagement from the brand or not.  


Example of SMS. SMS versus in-app           Example of in-app. SMS versus in-app


SMS was introduced in 1992 and it wasn’t until 2009 that smart messaging such as push notifications came about. Rich messaging was introduced as recently as 2016. Now, 25 years on, we are in a mobile-first world with customers and marketers alike seeking less intrusive ways of meaningful communication.


Why should you use In-app over SMS?

SMS & In-app


The customer has control. In-app can be triggered with precision by a specific user behaviour, tap or app event such as session open or placed bet. With SMS this isn’t possible. SMS messages are scheduled around a special offer or sale. In-app is a less intrusive method of communication. This is important in today’s world as consumers no longer accept blast marketing messages but rather expect true value and individualisation in the moment. Automated real-time in-app messages can deliver these personalised moments.



The obvious advantage of in-app is the low cost, unlike SMS. Take Gruntify, for example, they saved over $700,000 a year after scrapping SMS and introducing push notifications. The price of an SMS in Ireland, for example, is $0.07 per message. If you have 1000 MAU this costs $70 each time you want to engage with them. Let’s say you want to send three SMS a week, approximately 12 SMS a month, that is a cost of $840 a month & $10,080 a year. In-app, on the other hand, is a better investment as you don’t pay per message.



The ability to measure each mobile campaign and gather valuable results is an obvious advantage for in-app messaging. For example, if a single SMS has an open rate of 100%, what does this tell you? Are you able to match the open rate to the Click-through-rate? Bare in mind for a person to delete an SMS message from their device they have to open it. That counts towards your open rate but is hardly the desired outcome.

Upon opening an SMS message it is almost impossible to track the next interaction that user has, if any with your brand. If you cannot measure the return on investment how do you know it is working? Why not use smart messaging and track from a user’s first interaction with your brand all the way to the last? Mobile marketing automation enables marketers to gather informative data from in-app messaging such as open, CTR, opt-out, bets placed, etc. Don’t underestimate the power of in-app messaging in your mobile marketing.


Increased Engagement

Unlike SMS, in-app messaging supports deep linking. Deep linking simplifies the process for the customer, directing them to a specific page allowing the user to take the desired action easily. For marketers, it is useful for tracking and determining which campaigns are most effective. Including deep links in your mobile messages will increase engagement and deliver returns to your bottom line.


Mobile Turnover

We discussed how in-app is cheaper, can increase engagement and is more personalised than SMS. All these factors contribute to the one metric that matters: return on investment. We advise all our customers to set goals and KPIs for each marketing campaign; these could be increased placed bets, increase engagement, tackling churn or increasing retention. However, to achieve such goals it’s important that you can measure them. If you can’t follow a user from their first interaction to their last then you are unable to associate these marketing campaign success to these goals.


Even Google is moving away from SMS, with the launch of Rich Communication Services (RCS) and in-app notifications and more recently Android O’s which will support push notification channels. Push notification channels will allow the user to opt out of particular channels and only receive messages they are interested in. This reduces opt out rates for brands. Instead of users opting out of all push notifications from a brand they can partially opt out of certain channels. This leaves the opportunity for brands to communicate with push notifications or in-app.


To conclude, in-app messaging is lower in cost than SMS, more easily tracked and the best mobile messaging communication tool available for deeper communication, better user engagement and return on investment.


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About Element Wave

Element Wave is the only Mobile Engagement Automation platform built specifically for the iGaming industry. Established in 2010 in Galway, Ireland, we are a next-generation technology & managed services company serving some of the biggest players in the industry. Our multi-award winning company specialises in mobile marketing to combat the growing problem of player churn. Contact us now for a demonstration to see how we can boost your mobile retention.


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Welcome to Element Wave

Check out our mobile marketing automation platform.

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Welcome to Element Wave

Check out our mobile marketing automation platform.

Request Demo | Find out More