Channel Strategy: Choosing Between WhatsApp and SMS

In the dynamic realm of business communications, selecting the right channel to interact with customers is more crucial than ever. The decision to use WhatsApp and SMS, or any other channel depends not only on the technology itself but also on the type of message to be conveyed and the audience being targeted. These considerations are fundamental in designing an effective channel strategy that not only reaches the customer but also engages and converts them.

Why WhatsApp and SMS

Impact of Message Type on Channel Selection Between WhatsApp and SMS

The content of the message deeply influences the choice of channel. For instance, messages requiring quick confirmation or containing sensitive information, such as fraud alerts or appointment reminders, might be more effective through SMS due to its high open rate and universal accessibility. Conversely, when the message requires interactivity, such as in customer support or dynamic promotions, platforms like WhatsApp offer a richer and more flexible medium, allowing for multimedia exchange and real-time responses from human agents or artificial intelligence.

Audience Consideration for WhatsApp and SMS

The demographic of the audience is another crucial factor in channel selection. Different age groups and sociodemographic segments have distinct preferences that can determine the effectiveness of the chosen channel. While young people may prefer the immediacy and multimedia richness of WhatsApp, older audiences may favor the simplicity and familiarity of SMS. Additionally, geographic location also plays a significant role; for example, in regions with limited internet access, SMS may be a more reliable option.

Integrating these factors into a company’s communication strategy not only optimizes reach and response but also reinforces the brand’s perception as attentive and adaptive to the needs of its customers. By understanding and applying these strategic considerations, organizations can maximize the impact of their communications in an increasingly saturated and competitive landscape.

Advantages and Disadvantages of WhatsApp

WhatsApp, a global messaging application with over two billion monthly active users, allows for the sending of text, voice, video, and document messages through a secure and encrypted platform. Its popularity is based on its ease of use, its ability to conduct enriched communications, and its cost-efficient structure, particularly in markets where SMS messages have high costs.


  • Multimedia and Interactivity: WhatsApp enables the sharing not only of text but also of images and files, facilitating richer and more effective bidirectional communication for customers.
  • Automation and Scalability: With tools such as bots and automated responses, and the ability to scale to a human contact center agent, WhatsApp can serve a high number of customers simultaneously, improving operational efficiency.
  • Enhanced Security: End-to-end encryption ensures that only the sender and the recipient can read what is sent.


  • Internet Dependency: Unlike SMS, WhatsApp requires the recipient to have internet access.
  • Perception of Informality: In some business, professional, or demographic contexts, WhatsApp may be seen as less formal than other channels such as email.
  • Commercial Usage Limitations: WhatsApp imposes restrictions on the number of messages that can be sent, which could be limiting for large mass mailings.

Advantages and Disadvantages of SMS

On the other hand, SMS (Short Message Service) is a veteran in the messaging space. With a history of over two decades, SMS does not require an internet connection, making it universally accessible. Although basic in its capabilities—limited to 160 characters per message—its reliability and high open rate make it a valuable tool, especially for urgent, critical, and high-importance communications such as notifications and transactional alerts.


  • Universality: SMS can be sent and received on any type of mobile phone, without needing internet or an additional application.
  • High Open Rates: SMS messages have open rates of nearly 98%, much higher than other types of digital communication.
  • Immediacy: Given its simplicity, text messages are often read within the first few minutes of receipt.


  • Variability in SMS Costs: The cost of sending SMS messages can fluctuate significantly and generally depends on contractual negotiations with integration service providers and telecommunications operators. This variability can complicate budget forecasting and management for a company’s communication budget.
  • Content Limitations: The capacity to only send text of 160 characters can be restrictive, although there are options like enriched SMS.
  • Spam Risks: The high amount of unwanted messages in this channel can lead to a negative perception of SMS as a communication channel and create doubts about the origin of unsolicited messages that do not correspond to a direct action by the customer (a direct action by the customer could be a request for OTP, for example).

Differential Use Cases for WhatsApp and SMS in Business Communication

The strategic use of WhatsApp and SMS may vary according to the specific communication needs of a company. Below are some use cases where each platform can be efficiently leveraged, classified by function and type of interaction:

Customer Service

  • WhatsApp: Ideal for real-time support, enables dynamic interactions and resolution of complex queries through integrations with artificial intelligence and escalation to human agents in call centers.
  • SMS: Mainly used for critical and urgent notifications such as OTPs (One Time Passwords), transaction alerts, and appointment reminders. The reliability of SMS ensures the delivery of essential information, even in low-connectivity conditions.

Satisfaction Surveys

  • WhatsApp: Becomes a powerful tool for conducting visual and interactive surveys. The ability to send enriched messages that include quick response buttons can significantly increase customer participation and provide valuable real-time data.
  • SMS: Although less used for surveys due to its textual nature and character limitation, SMS can be effective for short and direct surveys. It is especially useful for reaching a wider audience that may not have regular access to the internet or advanced devices.

Document Delivery

  • WhatsApp: WhatsApp’s ability to send documents of different formats makes it a useful tool for exchanging files with customers on demand, as the customer can request it if the channel has a chatbot enabled and thus continue inquiries and request more details about the document or their account. Companies can leverage this functionality to conveniently and securely send contracts, invoices, reports, and other important documents.
  • SMS: While SMS does not support the sending of documents natively, there are solutions (including DANAconnect) that allow companies to share secure links to download dynamic attachments. This option can be useful when quick and direct document delivery is needed en masse for documents regulated by government entities such as invoices and statements, especially to recipients with limited internet access or messaging applications. SMS with dynamic download links offers a practical and accessible alternative for document delivery in certain scenarios.

Marketing and Promotions

  • WhatsApp: Excellent for personalized marketing campaigns and interactive promotions. Companies can use their contact lists to send personalized offers en masse, product updates, or news directly to customers’ phones, thus fostering a more direct and personal connection.
  • SMS: Efficient for the rapid rollout of urgent promotions or discounts. Its high open rate ensures that most customers will see the message shortly after its sending, which is crucial for limited-time offers.

Strategic Integration into Communication Flows of WhatsApp and SMS

To maximize the effectiveness of multichannel communication, companies should integrate WhatsApp and SMS into their communication flows so that they complement and reinforce each other’s strengths. For example, a customer might receive an SMS as a reminder of an appointment and then continue with an interactive conversation on WhatsApp to adjust details or resolve doubts. This integration not only improves the customer experience but also optimizes company resources by directing each type of communication to the most suitable channel.

Results Measurement and Optimization

To ensure that the channel strategy is effective, companies should continuously measure performance and make adjustments as necessary. This includes analyzing Conversion rates, responses, and ROI of each channel.

Key Metrics:

  • Conversion Rates: Measure how many recipients complete a desired action after receiving a message.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Use surveys and feedback to understand how customers perceive communications through different channels.

Challenges and Legal Considerations

It is important to consider the legal and privacy challenges associated with omnichannel communication. Complying with privacy regulations and other local norms is crucial to avoid penalties and maintain customer trust.

Legal Considerations:

  • Explicit Consent: Ensure that customers have given explicit consent to receive communications through the selected channels.
  • Data Protection: Implement appropriate security measures to protect customers’ personal data and ensure confidentiality.


Adopting a strategic and well-thought-out approach to multichannel communication not only improves the efficiency and effectiveness of business communications but also increases customer satisfaction. By choosing between WhatsApp and SMS or a combination of both, and by integrating these channels into a broader strategy, companies can ensure they reach their customers most effectively, adapting to their constantly changing needs and preferences.

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