SMS has become increasingly popular as a way for enterprises to communicate with their customers. But as brands compete for their audience's attention, the limitations of SMS communications have only become more apparent.
IP Messaging helps businesses overcome these challenges by opening a new channel for communication, which removes barriers like character limits imposed by SMS.
What Is IP Messaging
IP messaging creates an instant connection between devices, so they can send and receive messages that include text, images, and interactive features like clickable buttons. And as long as both parties have reliable internet, there isn't any delay between when messages are sent and delivered.
To set up a connection, IP messaging uses a suite of protocols known as TCP/IP, which consists of two primary protocols:
- Transmission Control Protocol (TCP): TCP is a set of rules that devices use to establish a pathway to send messages back and forth.
- Internet Protocol (IP): IP helps devices identify each other by acting as a unique identifier — it's the name devices use to call each other rather than sending a message out and hoping someone receives it.
Two of the most common examples of platforms that rely on these protocols for IP messaging are WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
SMS Communications vs. IP Messaging
Typically, SMS and IP messaging are talked about together because they're both great conversational marketing tactics to connect with customers. And prior to IP messaging, SMS was the most popular option. But both methods of communication come with benefits and drawbacks.
SMS stands for Short Message Service. More commonly known as text messaging, it's a way to send text from one device to another. Because SMS uses a telecommunications network to establish a connection between devices, it's most commonly used by phones. However, SMS messages limit users to 160 characters of plain text, which means messages have to be concise.
Even though modern users often send text messages that are much longer than 160 characters, today's phones still can't send an SMS message with more than 160 characters. Instead, the cell phone breaks down long messages into smaller data packages that don't exceed the character limit. Then, it sends those individual SMS messages to the intended recipient in rapid succession so they all arrive at the same time. And once the receiving phone has all of the pieces, it puts the text back in its original order so the end user receives one coherent message.
And while most individuals know that they can send a photo via text to any of their friends, technically, messages with media aren't SMS messages. Once a media file is attached to a message, then it becomes an MMS message. MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service — or, as T-Mobile calls it, "deluxe texting."
The biggest differentiator from SMS is that IP messaging uses the internet rather than a telecom network. The ability to send messages over the internet means IP messaging comes with more capabilities and applications than SMS, including using unlimited text and the option to send media. And since businesses can typically only send SMS messages one-way, IP messaging is often a better option because it allows customers to respond.
The best way to understand what these differences look like is to compare IP messaging examples like in-app chat to basic SMS. Thanks to IP messaging, in-app chat allows users to talk to one another or brand representatives without ever leaving the app. By comparison, SMS messaging is typically limited to basic uses, like consumers subscribing to text alerts from their favorite brands.
3 Benefits of IP Messaging
Because IP messaging relies on the internet to send messages and has few limitations on what messages can contain, it comes with three primary benefits.
1. Send and Receive Messages in Real Time
IP messaging creates an active and open connection, so devices can communicate without having to re-establish that connection every time users want to send a new message. That means users can talk to each other in real time, either with each other or with brand representatives.
According to Forrester, 42% of consumers say they want businesses to offer live chat on their websites. And IP messaging is what allows brands to meet that expectation. But without it, customers can't ask clarifying questions or send any other kind of response. And they can't build connections with each other either.
For example, the sports card trading app Collx allows its users to evaluate their cards' values simply by uploading a photo. But the app originally limited user interactions to just buying, selling, and trading sports cards. And after integrating IP messaging into its app and building live chat capabilities, Collx saw 75% retention rate for chat users.
2. Create Engaging Messages
IP messaging makes it possible to send all kinds of media, including interactive elements like clickable links. And including media makes messages more impactful and engaging, especially compared to other types of communication like SMS, which at best includes a URL that individuals can copy and paste. And that allows brands to create a more dynamic experience within their apps and web applications.
Adding media like video within messages also increases the chances that the recipient will remember the entire message. In fact, individuals remember 95% of a message "when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text."
Just take Bandsintown as an example. The concert-finding app wanted to expand its capabilities to help individuals engage with their favorite bands and each other. Adding chat to the app allowed Bandsintown subscribers to send customized messages to each other. And because the in-app chat relies on IP messaging, users can engage even more by reacting to messages with emojis.
3. Personalize the Customer Experience
Because IP messaging establishes a connection that allows messages to send and receive information from each other, businesses can use it to collect information about consumers. Then, they can use insights from the data they collect to improve the customer experience at a personal level.
Integrating IP messaging with a CRM allows brands to create individualized profiles for users. Then, they can use the profile to collect and store data that gives them a more complete picture of who the individual customer is. And that includes how happy they are with their brand experience.
For example, the payment app Tabby offers support through in-app live chat. And by monitoring metrics like the number of chats opened and how quickly they're resolved, Tabby gains greater insight into how effective its support is.
Things To Consider Before Using IP Messaging
To set up your own IP Messaging framework within an app or on your website, you first need to decide between building it yourself or buying a chat API. Typically, buying an IP message integration is the best option because it saves time and money. Building a robust live chat requires advanced development experience, and unless you already know how to build every feature your chat needs, you'll need to hire someone. The more complex the chat capabilities, the more expensive the development will be.
Before you buy a chat integration, it's important to find a software partner that can meet your needs. That means you'll first need to outline the features and capabilities it should include. Then, you can look for a partner that can meet your needs as a business, including understanding the ins and outs of your industry. For example, gambling apps need gamification, chat moderation capabilities, and strong security to protect users' personal and financial information.
To make a final decision about who to partner with, you'll need to evaluate the software development kits (SDKs) each offers. You'll also need to learn more about how the vendor operates by asking questions like:
- How do you share product updates with customers?
- What support do you offer when there are updates?
- How often do current users experience system outages?
- What customization options does the chat API offer?
If you aren't able to find a chat integration that will meet your needs, you'll still be able to build it yourself. Just be prepared to invest in research and development, which will require a longer timeline and a bigger budget than buying the use of an API.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an IP message?
An IP message is sent over the internet using a suite of protocols known as TCP/IP. These messages are part of a two-way communication system known as IP messaging, which allows users to send a variety of media files to one another.
How secure is IP messaging?
Typically, all messages sent through the internet are encrypted as part of the transmission process. But how secure the encryption is depends on the specific platform used for communication. For example, Business Insider says that WhatsApp is more secure than other similar applications because of its "built-in end-to-end encryption." And that means every message that's created, sent, and received within the app is encrypted, which makes it incredibly difficult for outsiders to access.
Is OTT the same as IP messaging?
Yes, over-the-top (OTT) messaging is another way to refer to IP messaging. It’s a way that internet-connected apps like Facebook Messenger establish a connection between different devices for two-way communication.
Does SMS use IP?
No, SMS does not rely on an IP address to establish a connection. Instead, SMS relies on a telecommunications network and its provider to establish a connection and send messages between devices.