At engageSPARK, we’re often asked the question: which is more effective – IVR or SMS? So we decided to write an article comparing the benefits of IVR (or automated phone calls) versus SMS campaigns. 

IVR (interactive voice response) is a technology that allows you to interact with people via automated phone calls using pre-recorded audio messages – at scale. These interactions can be

  • one-way, meaning our system calls people and plays back a message you pre-recorded in any language, or
  • two-way – meaning our system calls and plays back questions or prompts that you pre-recorded and the recipients reply to the questions or prompt by pressing keys on their phone or speaking into their phones.

The same is true for automated SMS campaigns, except that the messages and replies are sent/received via text messages instead of automated calls. So the question is: which one is better for your purposes?

Automated Calls (IVR)

IVR, or interactive voice response system, is an automated calling system technology that enables callers to access information via pre-recorded voice responses without speaking to an agent. Callers can use menu options via touch-tone keypad selection or speech recognition to route their call to particular departments or specialists.

Features of Automated Calls

The most common features of automated call systems include:

  • Customizable caller ID: You can alter your caller ID after making sure the phone number is legitimate so your clients can recognize who is contacting them.
  • Custom company greeting: Every caller can be greeted with a unique text message.
  • Bulk voice message broadcasting: Company owners can call a large list of contacts simultaneously with these agentless dialing systems.
  • Scheduling calls: Each outbound call can have a defined date and time set by businesses.
  • Voicemail detection: The voice message will be played again after the tone of an answering machine or voicemail automated calling service answers the phone call.
  • Voicemail-to-text: The system can send a text if the recipient of the call does not have access to voicemail

  • Automated answering services: You can record messages for common customer trouble spots.
  • Customizable routing rules: To enjoy automated lead distribution and deliver smooth customer care, you can route your calls depending on the CRM or help desk data. You can set up skill-based routing based on the agents’ scores or time-based routing based on their working hours.
  • Real-time metrics: You can learn more about the typical response time, agent performance, and other factors by using a live dashboard with real-time monitoring and reporting options.
  • Advanced features: The majority of systems provide cutting-edge capabilities, including phone call recording, video conferencing, meeting recording and transcriptions, transcriptions of voicemails, call transfers, polls, and surveys.

Who Can Benefit From Using IVR System?

  • Banking

IVR (automated phone call) systems are crucial to banking institutions’ ability to engage customers and run a 24/7 operation system. Customers can check their balances and business histories and make payments and transfers using telephone banking. However, customer satisfaction in banking has deteriorated as online channels have become more prevalent.

  • Medical

Pharmaceutical corporations and contract research organizations conduct clinical studies and manage the enormous amounts of data generated using IVR (automated call) systems. The caller will reply to inquiries in the language of their choice, and their comments will be recorded and may be entered into a database simultaneously to verify authenticity.

Drug supply management and patient randomization are examples. They are also used to record questionnaires and patient diaries.

  • Surveying

Televoting in television game shows, which can result in astronomical call surges, uses some of the biggest installed IVR platforms. In the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network), call gapping is frequently implemented by the network provider to prevent network overload.

Survey companies can use an IVR (automated call) system to ask more personal questions if the researchers are worried that a responder might not feel as comfortable answering them to a live person. This is especially useful for topics such as drug use or sexual behavior. Sometimes, an IVR system can be combined with a human interviewer in the same survey.

How Do Automated Phone Call Works?

An example of computer-telephony integration is an IVR system (CTI). You’ll need a telephony board and specialized IVR (automated call) software to incorporate the IVR system into your contact center, enabling you to pre-record caller greetings.

These recordings can be tailored to a caller’s requirements. By doing this, clients will hear a different pre-recorded message while attempting to log into their account than when calling to purchase your business. In addition, these interactive technologies work in a way that allows the end user to traverse your contact center and find the right answer quickly.

For example, when you phone the business as a customer, the IVR system will react by playing a pre-recorded message greeting and requesting that you select an item from a predetermined menu. For instance, you will obtain a certain service if you push the number “one” on the keypad.

Customers may now direct their calls to the appropriate parties, which benefits your employee. This leads to fewer incoming calls, cheaper operating expenses, and higher team member productivity.

Benefits of Automated Phone Calls (IVR)

  • Increased First Contact Resolution

Being moved between several different customer care representatives and having to rehash their issues each time is one of the most annoying parts a customer can experience when calling customer service. By routing calls with a specific issue to the appropriate department the first time, an IVR (automated call) system can help to resolve this problem.

The customer’s experience will be significantly improved if their problem can be resolved and their queries can be addressed by the first person they contact, as opposed to if they had to be transferred numerous times before discovering a solution to their problem.

  • Improve Morale by Freeing Consultants From a Mundane Task

Routine calls and frequently asked questions can be routed using an IVR (automated call), allowing callers to use IVR self-service while freeing up staff to address more complicated calls or queries via several channels.

Instead of repetitious queries like account balances, appointment confirmations, or payment collection, it can dramatically increase efficiency and give agents more important tasks.

  • Increased Customer Satisfaction

Client satisfaction is crucial for companies to enjoy repeat business and a solid reputation. Which organization wouldn’t want that? However, it can become annoying when customers are sent around to several agents without the required assistance.

Waiting in a large line is equally annoying. IVR prioritizes calls based on their type, enabling customer care agents to handle issues more rapidly and cut down on the line. Customer satisfaction continuously increases a business’s reputation, which increases revenues.

  • Support for Busy Times and Disaster Recovery

With IVR (automated call) contact center technology, companies may offer callers the opportunity to self-serve and leave text messages. The IVR self-service function can assist the contact center by relieving strain on your employees during periods of high demand brought on by crises or seasonal peak activities.

Simple operations can be automated, such as frequently asked client inquiries about account information, order status, or payment due dates. During these busy periods, messages and menu options can be swiftly and easily changed thanks to a modern IVR service.

How to Send Your Automated Calls

1st: Setup Your Contacts

Upload a CSV file to construct your member list quickly. Or, enter your contacts manually if you don’t have a file. Once your contact list has been saved, you can contact your subscribers whenever necessary.

2nd: Create Your Recorded Message

Record your questions or messages you are planning to send or pick an audio file you’ve already saved.

3rd: Send Your Automated Calls

Choose the audience and timing for your message. That’s basically all there is to it. After that, we take over and quickly send your message to your contact list.

How Much Do Automated Call Systems Cost?

Using hardware or software installations is not necessary with automated call systems, which are economical options. Depending on the supplier, you can purchase a basic plan with constrained features at a really affordable price.

Some companies offer unlimited minutes and texting, others impose monthly minute costs. You might receive an annual pricing reduction if you purchase a yearly pricing plan. In addition, for numerous extra user accounts, a volume discount is also available.

Check out engageSPARK’s subscription fee and usage fees.

SMS Campaigns

A text message delivered to many recipients, typically for marketing objectives, is known as an SMS campaign. The most common messages are those that offer sales and discounts. SMS campaigns are proven to be the most effective marketing strategy, especially when used alongside other channels such as email or online push notifications.

Another name for texting is SMS or short message service. And just like social media or brochures, texting is crucial for marketing. Because of its advantages, SMS marketing is a fantastic option for any company trying to expand its consumer base. Here are reasons that including texting in your marketing plan might benefit your company.

A text message delivered to many recipients is known as an SMS campaign. The most common messages are those that offer sales, discounts, and news. SMS campaigns are proven to be the most effective marketing strategy, especially when used alongside other channels such as email or online push notifications.

Another name for texting is SMS or short message service. And just like social media or brochures, texting is crucial for marketing. Because of its advantages, SMS marketing is a fantastic option for any company trying to expand its consumer base. Here are reasons that including texting in your marketing plan might benefit your company.

Features of SMS Campaign

  • Segmentation

Both email and SMS marketing strategies may (and should) take advantage of segmentation. For example, given that you have this data on your subscriber list, you may choose the necessary criteria, such as gender, country, and age, and then produce slightly different messages to satisfy the needs of various audiences simultaneously.

  • Scheduled Campaigns

There are two simple ways to send SMS campaigns: send SMS immediately after creating an attack, or establish a specific time to send it. For instance, if you know that 3 o’clock is the ideal time for your audience to receive an SMS from you, set the time to 3 o’clock, and the campaign will begin immediately.

  • Automated SMS Drip Campaign

Like email drip campaigns, SMS drip campaigns are event-based setups that regularly give your customers marketing content.

A specialist SMS campaign provider is required for drip marketing campaign automation. Smaller companies may be able to run more campaigns using more accessible systems that permit mass SMS marketing.

  • Previewing

It’s a fantastic opportunity to see how your SMS campaign will seem on a mobile device. In addition, you can preview your text message by pressing the phone icon.

Who Can Benefit From Using SMS Campaign Services?

Whether you’re a small business owner or the corporate communications lead, text messaging can be a fantastic supplement to your digital marketing efforts. This is because they perform the singular task of reliably conveying crucial information.

However, certain firms gain significantly from SMS campaigns:

  • Ecommerce stores: SMS is an excellent e-commerce marketing medium for sending out promotional campaigns or order/shipping confirmations.
  • Travel companies: Because customers require real-time information while on the go, SMS is crucial for the tourism industry. This covers gate adjustments, flight cancellations, weather alerts, etc.
  • Service businesses that require appointments: Send SMS reminders to ensure that your clients never again forget an appointment. This prevents wasting time, money, and other resources on appointments that people don’t show up for.
  • Large organizations with 100+ employees: Email is sluggish for urgent information. The easiest approach to guarantee that every employee receives the information you want to provide them at the appropriate moment is to use text messages for internal communication.

How Do SMS Campaigns Work?

Let’s look into how you can send your first SMS campaign in four easy steps:

Choose a Text Marketing Software

First, you will want text marketing software because your cellphone is insufficient for the task. This is because you can only text about ten people at once using the messaging software on your phone. Additionally, there is no mechanism for receivers to stop receiving text messages.

Choose a Phone Number

You have a variety of phone number alternatives to pick from. For example, you can use toll-free phone numbers, shared short codes, and dedicated short codes to deliver text blasts.

It is recommended that companies utilize toll-free numbers. There is a dedicated toll-free phone number included with each SimpleTexting account.

They are the most adaptable contact number and can be used for two-way and mass messaging. If you, however, decide that you want to start offering text-based customer care or sales, this gives you freedom.

Build an SMS Subscriber List

You’ll need to gather phone numbers as soon as you register for a text marketing program. After all, you won’t be able to send a text message to customers if you don’t have their phone numbers.

Even if you have your customers’ phone numbers, you will need their consent before sending them marketing texts. You can accomplish this in various ways so that your clients begin receiving text messages.

  • Keywords: Customers can subscribe to your SMS texts by texting one or more keywords to your number. After creating a keyword, you can email it to your email list or use social media to promote it.
  • Web forms: You may convert website visitors into text subscribers using a web form.
  • Import: You’re good to go if you already have a list of contacts and they have permitted you to text them.

Send Your First SMS Campaign

Depending on your platform, sending an SMS campaign will be handled differently. For example, to send your first campaign, you need a call to action that fits inside 160 characters and a list of your SMS subscribers.

SMS Campaign Benefits

The benefits of SMS marketing are obvious. For all marketing goals, they provide a very responsive and receptive channel. SMS marketing is frequently employed in various situations due to its astoundingly high open rate (up to 98%) and remarkable click-through rate (up to 36%). Promotional offers, CPA marketing, significant updates, scheduling, etc., are popular applications.

Other benefits of SMS campaigns include:

Extraordinary Open Rates

Text messages have the highest rates of any form of communication, making them one of the most important benefits of a text message campaign. SMS marketing is a tremendous tool for companies trying to provide rapid and efficient customer care because 98% of text messages get opened.

Work Well With Other Marketing Channels

You can combine SMS marketing with your company’s other forms of marketing. Customers might find it simple and easy to relate to your message.

For instance, you may send text messages to customers who purchase from your online store, offering them discounts. Alternatively, get in touch with those who ignored your promotional email.


All types of organizations have a plethora of opportunities thanks to SMS marketing. You can use SMS campaigns, for instance, to let customers know about new services or goods and to entice them with special discounts and deals. Text messages can also be used to update and notify clients or to remind them of upcoming appointments.

Easy and Instant

When sending text messages, there is essentially no waiting time. Your text SMS will be delivered to your consumers as soon as you click the send button.

SMS marketing needs little preparation. You don’t need to gather supplies or wait for printings. You only need to write your text message and distribute it to your audience.

How Much Does an SMS Campaign Cost?

Although industry estimates place the cost of text marketing at just pennies per text, the total campaign cost of SMS message marketing will include several additional factors. This consists of the cost of text message development and the cost of complementary marketing campaigns to support SMS list development.

Depending on your needs and subscriber list, pricing may vary. Start-ups and small firms can justify their SMS marketing expenditures because the cost is inversely proportional to list size.

Comparing the Benefits of Automated Calls (IVR) Versus SMS Campaigns

Higher Response Rates to IVR Than SMS

After sending and receiving millions of text messages and automated phone calls via our customers’ campaigns, we’ve seen some key trends: in general, the response rate to IVR (automated calls) is much higher than for SMS. For example, an automated call survey gets a 40-75 per cent response rate on average whereas an SMS survey only gets a 1-7 per cent response rate.

Furthermore, IVR campaigns are more inclusive and broadly representative of responses. This is because illiterate or semi-literate respondents can participate in voice programs, but not so well in SMS surveys.  In other words, the sample size of SMS respondents is narrower, because it’s only selected for those who are more literate. 

(Watch more videos on the engageSPARK Youtube channel)

IVR Campaigns Are Free for Participants

In addition, IVR campaigns are free for participants and there is no Telco hassle.  Automated phone calls are always free for the recipient (outside the U.S. and Canada), whereas with SMS campaigns, the participant has to pay in order to reply by text message.

It’s difficult and expensive to get a toll-free SMS short code, which would allow you to circumvent this problem. But with IVR campaigns you can get around it easily and rapidly.

Also, the responses tend to be more honest with IVR campaigns. This is because people are put on the spot to answer immediately when they receive an IVR call while with an SMS they can take their time to send back the “right answer” because they have time to think about it.

IVR Campaigns Cost Less per Interaction Than SMS Campaigns

The cost per response is typically lower for IVR (automated calls) because of the higher response rate.  If you send out an SMS campaign and get a response rate of 5 percent, that means 95 percent of your SMSs are wasted.  But if you get a 60 percent response rate with IVR, you have only wasted 40 percent of your text messages. 

While the cost per SMS is often cheaper than for Voice Call minutes, it takes several SMSs to pack the same content as one Voice minute, so this is misleading. In addition, with IVR you only pay for answered calls, while with SMS you pay regardless of whether the SMS is read by the recipient.

It’s also easier to make an engaging IVR campaign that drives a high response rate. If you use a live voice instead of an SMS, tone, age, and gender can all help to be persuasive and inspire people to react or engage with your message, rather than just using a dry text message.

IVR Campaigns Generate More Data

And finally: you’ll get more data using IVR campaigns. With automated calls you know exactly who listens, for how long, what keys they pressed, and why.  You can also segment the calls to include only the ones who listened to the whole message, versus those who dropped off in the middle of it.

But with SMS campaigns you don’t have that option – you don’t know who actually read the message. Whether it was delivered doesn’t mean that it was read, and that makes it harder to interpret the results.

How to Create a Successful Voice IVR Survey?

If you want to learn more about creating a successful Voice IVR Survey check out our IVR guide for NGOs.

How to Create a Successful SMS Survey?

Still interested in doing SMS? Get a copy of our infographic with best practices for SMS Surveys!


SMS campaigns and automated calls are effective communication tools. Even while text messages are fantastic, we’ve seen that individuals prefer phone calls in times of distress. The personal aspect of phone contact may be even more crucial.

People must remain connected while so many people are staying put in shelters. Recognizing someone’s voice is reassuring and makes it simpler to appreciate the sentiment of a message. Another factor to consider is the audience. Older folks may not feel as comfortable texting or find it impersonal.


Are Automated Calling Services Worth the Cost?

An automated calling service can help businesses struggling to handle increasing support calls. However, in these circumstances, the price of losing clients due to missed calls or subpar customer service may be far higher than that of automated calling service.

Companies with protracted sales cycles may also consider using an automated dialing service. Making more calls to prospects (and follow-up calls) can be crucial to developing such a company. Automated calling software can assist in this situation by qualifying leads, keeping track of them, and prioritizing calls to maximize return.

Do SMS Campaigns Work?

SMS campaigns have an astounding 98% open rate, and a 45% response rate encourages customers to act. In addition, SMS texts are helpful because they convey a sense of urgency.

What Is the Automated Voice Message Called?

Voice broadcasting is another name for automated voice messaging. It can also refer to functions of interactive voice response (IVR) systems used in commercial phone systems. It is used to transmit voice or text messages in bulk.