MessageFlow vs. Firebase Cloud Messaging: A Mobile Push service showdown

Team MessageFlow
15 min
Push
February 28, 2024

If you’re working on developing one, or perhaps already have a mobile app, you can increase its efficiency in a major way and improve your business outcomes by sending Push notifications to activate and engage the app’s users. Wanting to go fully independent with the process is commendable, although it requires huge amounts of time and resources to make it work. To answer the market demand of brands wanting to quickly start sending Mobile Pushes, multiple platforms have cropped up, with Firebase Cloud Messaging being one of the most popular freemium choices. The Google-backed solution has its merits, but is FCM indeed the best choice for your business? Let’s see how it compares to MessageFlow.

The Push challenge marketers are facing

Mobile Push notifications serve a distinct role of being a vehicle for user engagement, thus constituting a part of wider marketing efforts. Similarly to SMS, they offer an excellent opportunity to directly reach customers with personalized communication on their phones, taking up a variety of formats, which is their advantage over other channels. 

Marketers who have a mobile app in their stack naturally want to maximize its potential, and drawing users in via Push messages designed to generate a desired action is one way to achieve that.

Pushes are great but in order to be able to send them at scale, you’ll need a solid supporting  technological infrastructure. You can, of course, embark on the journey of building an entire, custom Push-sending system, however, this is a complex task that will require significant resources, including the implementation of server-side logic to:

  • manage user subscriptions 

  • handle message queuing 

  • interact with the Push notification services provided by platforms like Apple (APNs) and Google (FCM)

Moreover, different mobile platforms (iOS and Android) have specific requirements for handling Push notifications. You'll need to understand and implement these rules for each platform, which may increase the development effort.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg not including scalability, maintenance, or security and compliance challenges. Unless you're absolutely committed to your own vision and have a major long-term budget, shopping for a reliable, efficient system may be a better choice.

So, what are some of the Mobile Push notification service providers out there?

What is Firebase Cloud Messaging and who’s it for?

Firebase Cloud Messaging is a platform formerly known as Google Cloud Messaging. It allows mobile app developers to send Push notifications to Android and iOS devices at no cost via API from servers hosted by FCM.

In order to use this service, you need to register your user’s app instance with Firebase cloud messaging servers first, and then, on your server, write code that allows you to address these devices by ID, group, or topic, which tells the FCM server to send the messages for you.

Sounds straightforward enough, plus it’s free, so what’s not to like? Well, not so fast.

Features and shortcomings

FCM does indeed have most of the basic features you may expect from a Mobile Push solution but it also has some drawbacks which may not be obvious at first glance. 

First, there’s no data migration support, which makes you dependent on the platform once you get going. This is a lock-in strategy by Firebase, intended to keep you in, should you ever decide to switch providers.

Then, there's limited support for non-Google ecosystems. Much more emphasis is put on Android at the expense of other systems. Also, you can expect data caps for notifications, which limit you to mostly text messages if you want to keep using the service at no cost.

Several other reasons for why Firebase Cloud Messaging may not be the best option for a large organization looking to make Mobile Pushes an important part of their business include:

  1. Limited customization options for Push notifications.

  2. Restricted scalability for very high-volume messaging campaigns.

  3. Limited support for advanced targeting and segmentation, both crucial for efficiency and conversion.

  4. Relatively complex setup process, especially for developers unfamiliar with Google's ecosystem.

  5. Limited support for integrating with non-Google services and platforms.

  6. Challenges with handling message delivery in regions with unreliable network connectivity.

  7. Lack of advanced analytics and reporting features compared to specialized marketing automation platforms.

FCM seems tempting at first, especially being offered for free, which undeniably is a big boon for many, but then certain limitations become apparent, making the platform lose some of its original appeal.

But then, there’s also the elephant in the room - Firebase sadly isn’t really designed to be marketer-friendly. It’s geared more towards tech-savvy users possessing significant developer skills.

Firebase Cloud Messaging is:

For dedicated, tech-oriented teams with rather uncomplicated use cases, who can devote resources to continuous manual campaign tweaking.

MessageFlow: enterprise-level Mobile Push notification platform

Now, MessageFlow is way more than just a Mobile Push notification sending service. It’s in fact a comprehensive customer engagement platform. The tech infrastructure on which it runs has been built and developed over 20 years to provide developers with a complete toolbox to set up scalable, automated messaging campaigns.

Importantly, however, the platform also caters to marketers, offering an intuitive campaign builder which allows them to create and launch efficient Push notification campaigns within minutes with no help from devs needed.

Using MessageFlow you can create text, as well as Rich Pushes, add a custom notification sound, action buttons, or deeplink to any place within the app or website to make the user take desired action all by yourself. Once your campaign has run its course, you can access detailed reports and view its results.

A major advantage of our platform over Firebase Cloud Messaging is that it goes beyond Pushes, allowing you to run cross-channel communication from within a single panel. With its built-in integration with Email and SMS you can set up custom communication scenarios, for instance, schedule Pushes and Emails, adding a condition that an SMS will be sent as a follow-up only to those who haven’t engaged with the preceding message in any of the other channels.

After a brief integration with your mobile app you can start sending efficient, personalized omnichannel marketing communication that saves you money without the need to constantly dabble in documentation.

MessageFlow is:

An enterprise-level business communication platform that meets both developer and marketer needs. It’s a robust, well-established solution offering the capacity to set up messaging workflows using no-code tools (creation, segmentation, testing, scheduling, analytics), as well as a powerful API for close integration.

MessageFlow vs. FCM: Side by side comparison

Conclusions

In the modern mobile marketing landscape, not sending Push notifications means lagging behind. Luckily, making this channel a part of your operation is easy these days, with multiple Push platforms available, that will take the burden of developing your own infrastructure off your back in an instance. 

These service providers already have the entire backend set up and are offering the front to businesses in many niches. Firebase Cloud Messaging is a popular no-cost solution many companies may find useful, however, it has certain limitations and is best suited for highly tech-oriented teams which can steadily devote engineering resources to run basic Push campaigns.

Larger companies with complex and varied needs may be better served by a solution like MessageFlow, designed to be both developer- and marketer-friendly. The former can take advantage of the platform’s flexible and powerful RESTful API to set up the necessary app integration while the latter can then take over and use its convenient panel to start sending Pushes in a couple of clicks.

Get started with MessageFlow - your versatile Push platform

If you reckon MessageFlow could be a good fit for your organization, we encourage you to explore the website and learn more. Our comprehensive suite of customer engagement tools allows you to smoothly scale sending Pushes to Android, iOS, and Harmony OS in 190 countries at a 99.9% deliverability rate.

The communication process stays compliant with GDPR and has been ISO 27001 and ISO 27018 certified to protect the interactions with your users. Talk to our expert today and start sending personalized, difference-making Mobile Notifications via our reliable, 99.95% uptime platform in no time. Contact b.podolecki@messageflow.com to discuss ways in which MessageFlow can bring value to your business as a top-shelf solution in the niche.

Conclusions

In the modern mobile marketing landscape, not sending Push notifications means lagging behind. Luckily, making this channel a part of your operation is easy these days, with multiple Push platforms available, that will take the burden of developing your own infrastructure off your back in an instance. 

These service providers already have the entire backend set up and are offering the front to businesses in many niches. Firebase Cloud Messaging is a popular no-cost solution many companies may find useful, however, it has certain limitations and is best suited for highly tech-oriented teams which can steadily devote engineering resources to run basic Push campaigns.

Larger companies with complex and varied needs may be better served by a solution like MessageFlow, designed to be both developer- and marketer-friendly. The former can take advantage of the platform’s flexible and powerful RESTful API to set up the necessary app integration while the latter can then take over and use its convenient panel to start sending Pushes in a couple of clicks.

Get started with MessageFlow - your versatile Push platform

If you reckon MessageFlow could be a good fit for your organization, we encourage you to explore the website and learn more. Our comprehensive suite of customer engagement tools allows you to smoothly scale sending Pushes to Android, iOS, and Harmony OS in 190 countries at a 99.9% deliverability rate.

The communication process stays compliant with GDPR and has been ISO 27001 and ISO 27018 certified to protect the interactions with your users. Talk to our expert today and start sending personalized, difference-making Mobile Notifications via our reliable, 99.95% uptime platform in no time. Contact b.podolecki@messageflow.com to discuss ways in which MessageFlow can bring value to your business as a top-shelf solution in the niche.

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