The Difference Between Web Push and SMS Marketing

As a digital marketer, you do not have an easy job. The web is saturated with great content, making visibility difficult even for the best of brands. Figuring out the right way to get your message in front of your audience is much more complicated than it used to be. Web push notifications have largely helped out marketers who feel that their messages are getting lost in a sea of emails and social media posts.

Another marketing tool that is gaining attention these days is SMS marketing, or text message marketing. Everyone is on their cell phone all the time these days, right? Why not just text your audience your messages and promotions? The theory behind this is great, and certainly you may find success from implementing this into your digital marketing strategy.

At first glance, it may seem that web push notifications and SMS marketing is very similar. Both web push and SMS messages send directly to a user and contain a link that directs him or her back to a specified landing page. However, there are plenty of differences as well that are important to note.

We think you’ll find that web push is a more complete and useful form of marketing; one that is more advanced and has far more capabilities. For one, the opt in process is far easier with web push notifications and the delivery is more clear cut. A user does not have to provide any personal information, such as their phone number, in order to opt-in. Your message is also delivered instantly with web push to a subscriber’s desktop or mobile device, even if they are not at your website, instead of delivering an SMS message to a text message inbox which may or may not send a notification.

Let’s now dive into some other areas to help make the distinction more clear:


Web Push: One click- user hits ‘allow’ and they are instantly subscribed. No form or follow up required.

SMS: Not a standard opt-in process. User either texts a certain phrase to a certain number (which has the potential for error if either is typed incorrectly) or has to enter their phone number on a form. User then has to check for a confirmation message and typically has to respond in order to officially opt in.


Web Push: Instantly delivered to a person’s desktop or mobile device, even if they are not at your website.

SMS: Delivered to text message inbox only. May or may not show up as a push notification (depends on the settings of the individual user).


Web Push: Short, but can have a title, body, and a custom icon.

SMS: Also short, but cannot have any images or a specified title.


Web Push: High visibility. The notification is shown instantly and usually does not have to compete with any other messages.

SMS: Can get lost in a crowded text message inbox, and may not be where a user frequently looks if they use a separate chat app such as WhatsApp, GroupMe, or Facebook Messenger.


Web Push: Easily recognizable. Can display your brand in title or body of message, or in custom icon. Not easily confused for spam.

SMS: Can easily be confused for spam. Sender shows up as a string of numbers, so when a message is delivered it is not immediately known who it is from unless a user takes the time to save the number to their address book.


Web Push: No real regulations, except that a user must be using a browser that has web push support, which is all major browsers at this point (Chrome for desktop and mobile, Safari for desktop, Firefox for desktop, and Opera for mobile).

SMS: Lots of requirements and regulations. You must follow proper opt-in/opt-out protocol. This includes displaying information on how to stop messages, frequency of messages, terms and conditions, data rate warnings, and more.


Web Push: There are no spam filters to worry about. You can’t get any fake subscribers and notifications can’t get caught in a spam folder.

SMS: A user can enable spam filters to weed out texts from numbers not in his or her address book. Potentially, your messages can end up in a spam folder that users may not know about or may not access.


Web Push: Plenty of tracking and reporting tools to monitor the success of your campaigns. Monitor open rates as well as conversion rates to see not only what messages are inspiring people to click, but also what messages are inspiring people to buy.

SMS: No real way to monitor how many messages have been opened and can only monitor things like opt-in or opt-out rates.  

Want to share that info? Here’s an infographic that sums us the major differences:

Web Push and SMS Marketing
Our infographic on differences between web push and SMS marketing

Hopefully this helped you gain a better understanding of these two tools. While SMS may seem simple, in reality the entire process- both for you and your audience, is much more complex and regulated. A lack of campaign data along with a high potential for messages going unread due to spam filters gives you far less confidence and control over your campaigns.

While there are certainly benefits of SMS marketing, we believe that those benefits and more are present in web push. For more detailed information regarding how web push works, consider reading our Beginner’s Guide. If you want to get started with Aimtell, click here.

We also recently compared web push and email marketing which you can take a look at here.

Tags: digital marketing, ecommerce, sms, web push and sms marketing*, web push notifications.
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