Toby Lester
2 minutes length
Posted: 24th January 2020

To send or not to send – SMS vs in-app messaging

Do you know your in-app notifications from your text alerts?  

Engaging with parents is getting easier; running a survey or collecting permissions? Use Online Forms. Planning parents’ evening and gathering appointments? Turn to your event management platform. Sharing the school newsletter? Look no further than email. 

But with all this choice, sometimes it can be tricky making the right decision about the information at hand. 

When it comes to sending short and sweet messages to parents, how do you decide between a simple SMS or an in-app message or email? 

First, what’s the difference? 

Unlike text messages (where messages are received to the user’s mobile inbox) in-app messages are received, accessed and managed in an application installed on the device.  

Both in-app messaging and SMS are a reliable and cost-effective form of home/school communication. However, when it comes to circulating particularly urgent or time-sensitive messages, SMS takes the lead. 

When should I be sending texts? 

Here are a just a few instances in which you should consider typing out a text before hitting send on an email: 

  • School closures 
  • Trip return updates and collection details 
  • Health warnings (headlice, measles, chickenpox etc) 
  • Club, event or fixture cancellations 
  • First aid notification  
  • Low dinner money balances 
  • Club and trip confirmation 
  • Meeting reminders 
  • Absence alerts 
  • Weather guidance for children (e.g ‘Remember sunscreen!’) 
  • Important event reminders (sports day, non-uniform day, show and tell etc) 

Why text? 

On occasions where time is of the essence, text prevails – and here’s why.

Mobile applications allow users to update their notification preferences – i.e. turn off notifications in order to take control of when they check their applications. With the average person having up to 80 applications on their device, notification-overload is fast becoming a modern-day headache.  

However, with such flexibility comes the risk of parents missing out on important school messages. 

If a parent is without WiFi or data, there is also a risk of missing important information until they are able to connect to the internet again. 

On the other hand, texts, more than likely, will reach parents whenever and where they are, alerting them immediately to important information about their child. Parents understand that a text from their school needs to be read immediately – an in-app notification may be missed or pushed to the side until they have time to check on it later.

If you’re exploring cost-effective texting solutions to support timely parent engagement when it matters most, look no further than ParentMail. Get in touch to find out more.