SMS vs. Email Marketing

    by Ira Byvalkevich
    25.07.2021
    Email vs SMS: this legitimate question concerns marketers from different industries and enterprises. What to choose if you have limited resources? Which of them will be able to deliver the most value in your exact case? Is there any significant difference between texting and emailing? 

    Different companies choose different positions in the discussion of “text vs email”. Someone prefers to use emails, someone focuses on SMS messages, and the decisions heavily depend on the industries and specifics of businesses, the results they have achieved from their previous efforts.

    In this article, we will try to sort it all out and evaluate the pros and cons of both bulk SMS and email marketing. 

    How can you compare SMS and email marketing?

    Email and text marketing are two different channels with their own specifics and features. The main and most obvious difference is related to the delivery methods: SMS messages, unlike email ones, don’t require Internet connection to be sent and accepted.

    However, there are significant similarities: the both channels directly appeal to the customers or prospects and are often used as outreach activities. 

    The logic of text and email marketing is pretty similar: you should choose your goal and determine the strategy, choose a targeted audience, export contacts through phone number or email finder, convey your message into content, launch the campaign and analyze its results. 

    However, these channels have different impacts and are designed for different purposes. It is possible to compare them by the following parameters.

    • Open rate: on average, the SMS open rate is around 98, while for email this parameter reaches 20% (source).
    • Deliverability: any SMS campaign demands explicit opt-in from the recipient, hence, it almost always has high delivery rates with only 3% of messages marked as spam; for email, the spam rate is significantly higher, as 85% of them are usually falling into the spam folder.
    • Market state: email is a more popular channel, hence, the competition between different newsletters in the recipient’s inbox is intense; SMS is less spread, and fewer companies use this channel to communicate with clients.
    • Response: SMS channel has a higher chance of getting a response, as other metrics are higher as well; moreover, people tend to interact with incoming SMS within several minutes after receipt. For email, this time might be longer.
    • Cost: usually, SMS infrastructure requires more resources than email ones; hence, your expenses on SMS marketing might be higher than on email. 
    • Content: SMS is short and concentrated medium with 160 characters restriction. Email letters allow longer messages and combine different types of content within themselves.

    As you can see, there is a significant difference between email and texting, and it is determined by the ways recipients interact with these channels. Hence, they are efficient for different purposes and for different audiences.

    So, let’s summarize the advantages and disadvantages both of the channels have. 

    Email is a channel clients are used to, and hence, they will expect to get promotional emails and will consider your offers there. Email marketing is also bound to have a high ROI, so even your biggest efforts will pay off. 

    There are also a lot of email marketing tools like email list management software that will help you automate your email activities and save a lot of time for your marketing managers.

    The challenges here include relatively low open and response rates, and difficulties with delivering messages, as there are a lot of spam filtering solutions that can disrupt your campaigns. 

    On the other hand, SMS messages have high engagement rates, they cause an almost immediate reaction and have a wider spread as they don’t require an Internet connection to be sent and received. 

    However, SMS marketing is pretty expensive. And that’s not everything: you also need to learn how to maneuver between character limitations and conveying strong messages. 

    When should you use email marketing?

    In the battle of SMS marketing vs email marketing, the latest wins when you need to create and share a customized offer. Email marketing also works well when you work on your brand awareness and share company news. Basically, it allows you to diversify your communication with clients and provide them with different types of content (articles, videos, etc.).

    Here are the most popular and efficient use cases of email marketing:

    • promotion of various products, special offers, etc.; email messages allow you to share more than one item, implement creative solutions and with their help, increase conversion and sales rates;
    • company news, PR, and publicity updates you might convey into interesting storytelling, blogs, or other forms to increase the interest in your enterprise, products, or services;
    • educational content that will give new useful knowledge to your customers; this way, you will be able to grow your brand image and create loyal fans;
    • order and delivery data to keep clients updated on the status and movements of your order; it will create an enhanced customer experience and represent you as a responsible company that takes care of its clients;
    • B2B campaigns, as email is considered a professional channel; reach out to your potential prospects with tailored-made offers and initiate negotiations that might turn into a strong, long-term partnership.

    How should you use SMS marketing?

    SMS will be more beneficial when you have a time-sensitive offer, need to get quick reactions from your customers, or you want the recipients to interact with your offer on their mobile devices.

    SMS marketing will be useful in these cases:

    • when you have a limited offer, the SMS message will create a necessary feeling of urgency and drive actions from recipients;
    • urgent updates or notifications will be great for SMS, as they demand quick and clear data exchange;
    • SMS can be used as reminders about upcoming appointments or other scheduled activities; the company has double benefits from it: firstly, it shows that you care about your clients and dedicate some efforts to help them; secondly, it decreases a chance that the client will miss the appointment, and you won’t need to reschedule;
    • SMS channel is the best for getting quick reviews and feedback; you might ask clients about their latest experience with your brand and work with complaints before they enter public space;
    • power up your customer loyalty program with SMS messages, invite them to sign up and become a regular for your business;
    • send incentive dedicated to a certain date, event or holiday, it would be a short and simple congratulation that won’t overload and will also push your conversion or sales rates;
    • initiate two-way communication and interact with customers to increase the engagement and improve the efficiency of your campaigns.

    Maybe it is better together?

    Should you really choose between email marketing vs SMS marketing? As we already mentioned, both of the channels serve for different purposes, hence, they aren’t mutually exclusive and can support each other in order to increase the quality of your communications with customers.

    So, if you have the capacity to run both email and SMS, we suggest doing it. You will be able to reach a bigger amount of people, diversify messages you might deliver to your customers, and power up better client services. 

    You shouldn’t also experience any issues from technical point of view: the market has a lot of platforms to automate and manage email and SMS activities. Moreover, there are dozens of vendors who provide services for both channels and unite required functionality within one platform. So, instead of switching between different interfaces and spending time getting to know two separate platforms, you might need only one.

    How to find a balance between SMS and email?

    How to understand what channel to use for a certain campaign, email or SMS? The simple rule will help you navigate this: SMS is the best for urgent, time-sensitive information and rapid two-way communication, while the strength of email is rich content that can be accessed and studied later.

    Hence, the balance depends a lot on your goals. Ask yourself: what result do we need to gain with this campaign? If your goal is to get a quick response, choose SMS. If you need to build a long-term plan or nurture your prospects, then email marketing will be more efficient. 

    If you are working toward some big purpose or occasion, for example, Black Friday, it would be wise to leverage both channels, but tailor different messages for different channels: for example, you can send short reminders or announcements with SMS, and share a list of relevant products for clients through email. 

    Your messages might also complement one each other, namely:

    • you might ask your SMS subscribers to sign up for your email newsletter;
    • you might send newsletters promoting your new launches and then announce a flash-sale or share a promo code for one or several items from the newsletter list;
    • you might send order details on the email, but share quick updates on order status via SMS to ensure transparency.

    However, don't overdo it. It is good to communicate through different channels with customers, but if you spam them with messages and newsletters, even the most generous incentive will cause only annoyance instead of driving loyalty to your brand.

    Ideally, specialists suggest sending one or two promotional emails per week, the same goes for SMS messages. Of course, you might test the frequency on your audience and find a perfect formula for your business, as a lot depends on your industry, people who you want to reach out, etc.

    Final words

    As you can see, the discussion “SMS versus email” has a lot of different aspects. However, the main thing is that both of these channels can exist together in your marketing strategy. It is quite possible that working with them both at the same time will bring you even better results from every channel separately.

    Hence, we suggest you not to think in terms of email vs texting, but to adapt both and find new creative approaches for your marketing.

    Written by:
    Ira Byvalkevich
    Back to blog
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