SMS vs Messenger: Which is best for your company?

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

It's for good reason that there's been all sorts of buzz about Messenger Marketing lately. It's better than SMS marketing in every way except for one...let's get into it.

Wait...before we jump into all the bold word sections below I want to point out where Facebook Messenger stands between Email and SMS Marketing. Email Marketing is great, but it is oversaturated which leads to low open rates and click-through rates. SMS Text Marketing has very high open rates, but can truly piss your customer/client off. I don't know about you, but my text message inbox is a private place that I don't want companies blasting into all the time. Industry leaders suggest only sending 2 text message blasts out per month because of it.

Messenger Marketing plays in a nice middle ground between Email and SMS. Messenger yields a cool 85% open rate, a bit lower than the 99% open rates of SMS, but it's also not quite as personal of a space as SMS. Plus, as time goes on people will continue to get more and more use to receiving messages from businesses in Messenger and it will become commonplace.

Rules to follow

SMS Text Marketing

The rules of SMS Marketing are similar to Email:

- You have to get consent

- You have to provide opt-out options.

- You have to make sure you let them know that "Msg&Data rates may apply".

- You have to abide by the CAN-SPAM Act as well as the GDPR

Facebook Messenger Marketing

Facebook Messenger on the other hand has a whole slew of rules that formulates the only downside, BUT this could also be its biggest strength as these rules may prevent Messenger Marketing from following in the footsteps of Email Marketing.

Messenger Marketers are not permitted to send automated messages/broadcasts to their users if the user has not interacted with the Messenger Chatbot within 24 hours...

Unless they utilize one of the following:

- Message Tags

- One Time Notification (OTN) Tokens

What's a Messenger Tag? I'm glad you asked! Message Tags are tags that can be placed on your messages that fall under the following categories:

- Post-Purchase Update Tag

- Confirmed Event Update Tag

- Account Update Tag

- "Other" Tag

All of these tags, except "Other", can be used to send automated messages/broadcasts out to your Messenger Subscribers. If you use the "Other" tag to send a message outside the 24-hour window, your account could be suspended.

OTN Tokens are given to your Messenger Bot by the users you are messaging. At the end of a conversation, you can reach out to users with a "hey before you go, would you like to be notified when we have a new discount available to you?". If they choose yes, notify me, you'll be granted an OTN Token that allows you to message them one time in the future related to the topic that you choose.

A big setback here is that you are only allowed to message them once and then you have to ask for permission again. Leaving you in a "permission loop". Hopefully, Facebook comes out with a more long term token in the future to solve this problem.

Let's say you don't want to use EITHER of these tactics to message users outside of 24 hours...You're in luck!

There are 2 other ways to continue messaging other users on Facebook Messenger outside the 24-hour window.

  1. Get them to re-engage with the bot on their own, this can be down through Email, SMS, Mobile Wallet, or even some other Growth Tool/Entry Point that you use.

  2. Utilize the Live Chat feature to message a user within 7 days of them interacting with the page.

  3. Sponsored Messaging (paid). We are seeing extremely low costs at the moment, about $0.02/message. Although we expect this price to go up as it works off a bidding system

Phew, okay we're done talking about the Messenger Rules. Maybe I'll write another blog post that goes into all of this a bit more in detail...there's a lot.

Global Reach

Facebook Messenger is worldwide. "WeLl SMs is WoRlDwiDe tOo", yes but it's fragmented. The suppliers of SMS are different in every country. Costs are different and more importantly, the setup is different and needs to happen in every country where SMS campaigns are launching.

If you’re a business that wants to send out messages to people in the US, Canada, Mexico and the UK. That means 4 separate SMS setups, 4 different costs and potentially more than 1 aggregator. Aggregators are the SMS suppliers/wholesalers, such as Vibes Media.

If you launch a Message Broadcast on Facebook Messenger to the same 4 countries, it only requires a single launch and of only incurs 1 cost (free within the 24+1 rule) and the build is to a single API.


Facebook Messenger BLOWS SMS Marketing out of the water with this one. We create ChatBots that will automatically upload information to your CRM or Google Sheets for you, can calculate custom quotes/estimates for customers/clients, can pre-qualify leads, and LOADS of other things. Anything that has an API key can link to a Facebook Messenger ChatBot. There's a 99% chance that any software applications you use has an API key.

Data Collection

Facebook Messenger is connected to...well...Facebook! I don't know if you knew this or not, but Facebook knows everything about you. Seriously though, that mole under your left nipple? Yeah, they know about that. But for real, this is a huge selling point for Facebook Messenger Marketing because it makes collecting data 10x easier. No more sending people to online forms for them to fill out. Just ask them directly in the bot and they can CLICK their email and phone number to give it to you. They don't even have to type it out! So with as little as 3 clicks, you can gain:

1. Messenger Subscriber

2. First Name

3, Last Name

4. Gender

5. Language

6. Email

7. Phone Number

Let's see SMS Marketing do that... The path of least resistance always wins. Just ask water.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for why Messenger being connected to Facebook is such a big deal though. It allows you to seamlessly integrate with Facebook ads and it also allows you to instantly add people into your Facebook custom audiences when they perform certain actions in the bot...this opens up some next-level granular targeting possibilities.


SMS Marketing

It's fairly normal for a business to pay about a penny per SMS text message that they send out. This means that if they are sending out a million texts they are going to be charged $10k just for doing so.

Sending out Messages on Facebook Messenger on the other hand can be free if you are only interested in sending out plain SMS-like messages. If you want to incorporate things like conditional logic and API integrations you'll need to upgrade to the Pro version of ManyChat. Which starts at only $10 a month! As your subscriber count increases, you can expect to pay more, but it's very reasonable considering everything it allows you to do!


In summary, the best practice involves the use of both Messenger and SMS Marketing, but if I had to choose one...I would 100% choose Facebook Messenger. The ability to step back and allow chatbots to automate different aspects of your sales, marketing, and support is unbeatable. SMS is good for little reminders, such as for webinars, but is mostly used by us to opt people back into Messenger Bots to reset the 24-hour window.

If you're interested in learning more about how Messenger Marketing can be implemented into your business to automate and enhance your business infrastructure feel free to schedule a call with us today!

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