Will Whatsapp kill off bulk SMS messaging services?

Topic: Industry News

whatsappWhatsApp, the cross-platform mobile messaging app used by over one billion people worldwide, recently announced that they would be making their app free to download (it was previously $0.99 USD/year in the US). To ensure that they don’t have to use third party ads to make money, they are instead taking steps to commercialise their app by testing ways to allow brands to communicate with their consumers.As a business, this presents an opportunity to reach your customers through a new channel, potentially more cheaply than email, SMS and voice. Does this spell the beginning of the end of bulk SMS messaging services?The WhatsApp founders have always been extremely anti-advertising, referring to it as:“…The disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought… Remember, when advertising is involved you the user are the product.” – Jan Koum, Founder, WhatsAppWith this in mind, it seems unlikely that they’ll permit broadcast advertising messages on their platform, preferring instead customer-initiated contact. A bit like sending a direct message to an airline via Twitter.If they decide to allow broadcast advertising on WhatsApp, a new set of challenges presents itself. Consider email; it’s a business critical tool, so you’re forced to receive messages, and sending those messages is cheap or even free. Hence why it’s the king of spam messaging.What happens when people abuse a communication tool? A few things:Consumers switch off. In the case of WhatsApp, the consumer can go as far as deleting the app. Even if they don’t delete the app, they may learn to identify commercial messages, and ignore them. So despite being one of the good guys, your customers are no longer going to see your messages.Whatsapp obviously don’t want people to delete their app, so they’ll have to introduce measures against spam, such as spam filters or increasing the cost of advertising to one that is too high for spammers to pay.To preserve the integrity of their platform, WhatsApp might even make a separate area within the app for brands to advertise. Taking this route naturally reduces the visibility of your message, as customers would have to actively seek out this content.If WhatsApp are somehow able to marry the purity of their ‘advertisement-free’ experience with allowing brands to communicate with customers, it’s likely to be popular,Consumers will start to receive an influx of messages, and your message could get lost in the clutter.It’s also worth remembering, of course, that although WhatsApp is extremely popular, there are 2.08 billion smartphone users worldwide, and 4.16 billion mobile phone users (source: Statistia). Each of these devices is delivered with the ability to receive text messages.For these reasons, bulk sms messaging services like Esendex, don’t have too much to worry about. SMS is the only communication platform that boasts a 98% open rate (Frost & Sullivan). Not only can you be confident that a huge majority of your recipients will receive the message, but you can also rest easy that almost all will read it.In relation to SMS, not only are there laws protecting consumers from spam, the networks also use SMS filtering to recognise and block spam messages.SMS is, and will remain, a tool for businesses that will cut through the clutter and differentiation a company from its competitors.If you want to start using a Esendex as your bulk sms messaging service, give us a call on 1300 764 946 or sign up for a free trial.

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Liz Wilson