One-Way SMS VS. Two-Way SMS

Fast-paced technological developments have forced researchers to seek out new opportunities to connect people. In today’s world, mobile technology and its users have surpassed the use of desktop computers, as can be seen in the table below.

Therefore, the next logical step for the research world should be to follow this trend and target consumers and respondents via mobile surveys.

one way sms vs two way sms blogpost

There are two ways to gather valuable surveys by using SMS. These methods are One-way SMS surveys and Two-Way SMS surveys.


One Way SMS Surveys are a method used for creating online surveys that are mobile friendly. Instead of sending your survey via email, you can send a personal link to your participants’ mobile devices using SMS. This will allow your participants to access the survey via their mobile internet browser. It takes very little effort, as the respondent simply needs to click the link provided and tick a few multiple choice questions to complete the survey.

Growing participant pool

Mobile surveys may be the best way to reach audiences who frequently use their smartphones like Millennials and corporates. We expect the share of people using smartphones to grow at a rapid pace through 2020, when 87% of all mobile subscribers will have a smartphone, making One way SMS the best way to perform survey research.

Cost Effective

It is cheaper to use an online questionnaire as it reduces your research costs, it requires only one SMS to send out the link. You will save money on multiple outbound SMS.


An online survey provides an opportunity to customize your survey and style it to match your research needs by using images, logo, fonts, question types and even the URL of your survey. Ensure that your online survey provider supports mobile responsive surveys which enable you to maintain your survey design on all platforms.


2- Way SMS Surveys also known as the “ping-pong” method uses questions in the form of SMS messages that allow us to gather the opinions of a large sample through an SMS dialogue which resembles a chat flow. This survey method offers various benefits:

Mobile Phone accessibility

Some people may not have a smartphone or internet access due to financial constraints, but those that do not have a smartphone are usually own feature phones which make them reachable by SMS and can be surveyed by 2 way SMS surveys. This way the general population can be surveys rather than the results being skewed to more affluent audiences. For example, 2 way SMS Surveys have the deepest market penetration of any research method in South Africa.

Global coverage

You can send SMS messages worldwide and reach people in rural and inaccessible areas with no internet access. Online surveys require network speed and internet access meaning people with limited network coverage living in rural areas would be excluded from the sample, which could potentially skew the sample towards respondents who live in areas with internet access. Therefore, 2 way SMS surveys can cover areas where other survey methods are not possible.


It may seem like a challenge to some to be confined to the 160-character length of SMS, but it is a goldmine for researchers and marketers. It forces us to be clear and concise. Instead of having your respondents lose focus while reading long and boring questions, SMS gets to the point immediately and keeps the audience focused.

Let participants are in control

With 2 way SMS, you can provide an easy Opt-out and make it simple  for a person to stop receiving SMS by asking them. This goes against conventional research methods because it gives the ropes back to the respondent and lets them decide how long they want to interact with you. This way you are communicating and asking the questions in the way the respondents believes they are in control of the situation and your response rates may  increase.

3. Benefits from Both One-Way and Two-Way SMS Surveys

Phones may change, but SMS will always be part of all mobile phones and allows  you to reach large audiences. We can see many researchers formulating strategies to target either ‘smartphone’ or ‘feature’ phone users, which are treated as very different audiences in the research mix. However, as the definition between the two continues to fade this will allow researchers to consolidate their mobile survey modes, and move away from separate approaches to a target feature phone or smartphone users, instead concentrating efforts to target a much larger ‘mobile audience’.  Since SMS is one of the dominant methods for widespread communication use, there is not any reason to not use SMS Surveys for research

This article was posted in the category SMS and contains the following keywords: One Way SMS, Two Way SMSSMS Survey, one-way, two-way, research, survey research, online surveys
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