Two Way SMS vs. One Way SMS | 1 & 2 Way Texting Pros & Cons
Kyle Kuczynski
Kyle Kuczynski
MessageDesk Co-Founder & CMO
Updated: Jul 25, 2022

Learn How Businesses and Organizations Use One Way and Two Way Texting Software

Did you know that 85% of customers want to communicate with businesses via text messages?

And that some 39% of companies already use text messaging to communicate with their contact, customers, and clients.

But before your business or organization can start texting with customers, you’ll want to understand the difference between one-way and two-way texting.

Each has its own uses and benefits.

Keep reading to discover more about:

  1. The main differences between one-way and two-way SMS
  2. Pros and cons of one-way texting
  3. Examples of how businesses and organizations use one-way texting
  4. Pros and cons of two-way texting
  5. Examples of how businesses can use two-way texting

By the end of this article, you'll be able to make an informed decision about when to use one-way and two-way texting to communicate with contacts, customers, and clients.

Read on for more.

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What is the Difference Between One-Way and Two-Way SMS?

One-way texting (a text message broadcast) is one-way bulk or mass text messaging sent to large groups or contact lists. One way texting isn’t conversational, so message recipients don’t typically reply. 2 way SMS means conversational texting. Two-way SMS allows the recipient to respond to your text message.

One-way and two-way texting also work the other way around. Your business or organization can receive one-way texts on a text-enabled business line and also respond conversationally with a two way texting device or 2 way SMS software.

1-way SMS vs. 2 way SMS (number type and message use)

Phone Number Type Message Use
One Way SMS #️⃣ Shortcodes (55555)
📞 Toll-free (888) 123-4567
✅ Promotional offers
✅ Marketing messages
✅ Alerts and updates
✅ Order confirmations
✅ Two-factor authentication
Two Way SMS ☎️ Local 10-digit (321) 123-4567
📞 Toll-free (888) 123-4567
✅ Conversational experiences
✅ Appointments and scheduling
✅ Reminders and confirmations
✅ Billing and payments
✅ Surveys and polls
✅ Feedback and reviews

Organizations typically use five or six-digit short code phone numbers to send and receive one-way SMS. These are a legacy number format.

Shortcodes don’t allow for conversational responses. This makes them well suited for promotional and transactional text messages. This includes bulk marketing messages, alerts, updates, two-factor authentication messages, and more.

Local ten-digit (10DLC) and toll-free phone numbers are well suited for conversational 2 way text messaging. They have lower messaging limits than short codes, but they can be approved for high-volume carrier-approved A2P text messaging.

Two-way texting, also known as 2-way SMS or inbound messaging, allows users to send, receive, and respond to messages. It allows businesses and organizations to communicate back and forth with recipients in more personalized ways.

Both customers and businesses can send and receive messages over a two way texting app.

For example, a business may advertise a number on their website and encourage people to text them with any inquiries. Or, a company can reach out first about a customer service issue, inquiries about orders, and appointment scheduling.

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Pros and Cons of One-Way Texting

Like other forms of one-way communication, one-way business texting has both advantages and disadvantages.

I'll start with the pros.

Pro: one-way texting makes it easy to send bulk SMS

With one-way text messaging apps, businesses and organizations can send a single message to multiple recipients simultaneously. This communication method is called bulk SMS.

Bulk SMS is a great way to send text message broadcasts and contact all of your customers at once. Especially if you need to send out an announcement about your business’s holiday hours or an upcoming sale.

Pro: one-way texting keeps you from getting flooded with responses

You’re busy and may not have the time to reply to all text message responses immediately.

One-way texts remove any expectation for a quick reply, taking the pressure off your organization to respond. All your recipients need to do is read your text message.

And since texts have up to a 98% open rate, you don't need your entire contact list to reply to know your message was effective.

Pro: one-way texting is great for many types of SMS campaigns

Many people may only associate one-way texting with SMS marketing campaigns to customers. However, one-way texting can also work the other way.

Some campaigns ask individuals to text a certain phrase to vote or receive promotional information. One-way texting lets customers quickly and easily participate in your organization’s campaign.

The best part is no one on your end has to engage in a conversation.

Pro: one-way texting saves time for everyone

One-way texting sent using a mass texting service can save time.

Instead of spending hours on phone calls or messaging back and forth, one-way texting gives recipients a short, direct message.

Plus, preset message templates, tags, and media and scheduling and automation features for one-way texting can reduce your team's time investment even further.

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Con: one-way texting makes it difficult to gauge feedback

While not expecting responses can be a time-saver, it can also limit your ability to measure your text message engagement and conversion rates.

With engagement limited to clicking a link or opting out of receiving more messages, it can be challenging to understand clients' reactions to promotional messages.

Con: one-way texting isn’t always friendly or personable

One-way texting doesn’t allow for conversations. This can make your messages sound impersonal and cold.

However, some one way group texting apps and one way communication apps do allow for custom messages and some personalization.

One-Way Texting Business Examples

One-way text messaging is one method both large and small organizations can use to implement SMS solutions.

The following are some examples of how businesses and organizations use one-way text when they send messages:

Special offers

Hey {{ FirstName }}! It's time to act fast! Our summer sale is just about over. Call us at [phone number] to set up your landscaping consultation, and mention the code [discount code] to get 15% off your quote. Text STOP to opt-out of receiving additional special offers.

Notice of upcoming events

Hello {{ FirstName }} This is your friendly reminder from the professionals at [tax agency] reminding you that the deadline to turn in your taxes is just [number] weeks away. If you need help preparing your tax return, call us at [phone number].

Announcement of community need

The [community name] community needs your help. If you can, please drop off any canned food items, new or gently used children's clothes, diapers, or non-perishable items at [church or non-profit name] on [address]. Text STOP to opt-out of receiving further updates.

Notice of weather delays

This message is to let you know that the [school district name] schools have a two-hour delay today, [date], due to cold weather.

Shipping status

Hi {{ FirstName }}, all orders placed are being processed currently. To check the status of your delivery please visit our website [link].

Pros and Cons of Two-Way Texting

Where one-way texting falters, two-way texting excels. Still, it has a few flaws.

I highlight a few of the advantages and disadvantages of two-way texting below.

Pro: two-way texting gives message recipients what they want

Since 76% of customers would rather not communicate with businesses via phone calls, two-way texting is an ideal alternative.

Plus, the majority of consumers prefer conversational two-way texting over one-way texting. They want the ability to respond to businesses' messages, whether to ask questions or take action.

Pro: two-way texting helps improve customer experiences

Instead of waiting on hold or listening to a robotic answering system, customers can get help when they need it.

Quick, personalized responses can help customer service teams communicate with clients in a friendly and effective way. It also helps show customers how much your organization values them.

Pro: two-way texting lets businesses and organizations gather customer feedback in real-time

Two-way texting lets customers express their interests, questions, and concerns. Businesses can understand their clients more and track more KPIs.

One of the easiest ways to do this is by sending a link in a text message. Business texting services like MessageDesk allow you to create short links that track when the link gets clicked.

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Pro: two-way texting is versatile

Two-way texting isn't only for sending texts to existing customers.

By including a click-to-text feature on your website, you can start more text conversations, engage with potential customers, answer any questions, and help close the sale.

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Con: two-way texting may come with a higher price tag

Text messaging always costs, but it tends to be cheaper when you’re only doing one-way text message blasts.

To achieve optimal text message delivery rates you’ll need to get a proper text number for your business and carrier registration approval. You can do this through a 2 way SMS service like MessageDesk, but it does incur some additional costs.

Con: two-way texting requires more time investment

Although less time-consuming than emails and calls, texting still requires your attention.

Since two-way messaging is a conversation, your team will need to take the time to personally respond to each text.

To save you time, look for a two way SMS software that comes with a team SMS inbox.

This business texting feature helps to make sure that conversations always get responses and that responses get to the right person on your team.

MessageDesk Team Inbox

Two-Way Texting Business Examples

I've included a few examples of two-way texting messages below.

Service confirmation

Hi, {{ FirstName }} This is [name] from [company] just confirming your housekeeping appointment for [date] at [time]. Please respond to let us know if you would like to keep this appointment or reschedule.

Scheduling appointments

Hi {{ FirstName }}! You are due for your six-month dental check-up. We would love to set up an appointment for you. Would [date] work for you?

Meeting follow-ups

Hi {{ FirstName }} Thank you for meeting with [lawyer's name] on [date]. Here is the link to the documents as discussed. Please review them and respond with any questions or concerns. We look forward to meeting with you again.

Activity sign-ups

Hey {{ FirstName }}! [Church/school name] is organizing a [activity name] event on [date]. We would love for you to participate! Please let us know if you can make it and how many people will be coming.
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Closing thoughts

Ultimately, deciding which type of SMS you use depends on your organization’s needs. You may even use both 2 way SMS messaging and one-way SMS messaging as you develop your communications strategy.

Whether you need two-way texting to manage customer service conversations or one-way texting to send out mass announcements, MessageDesk can help.

Feel free to start a free MessageDesk trial or meet with a messaging expert for more guidance.