Email vs SMS Marketing Comparison Across 6 Important KPIs

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Several decades ago, email started to become the bread and butter for digital marketing. But in recent years, a contender named SMS brought itself back to life.  Does it need to be a conversation of email and SMS or email vs SMS?

Modern digital marketers today use both. Email and SMS continuously bring quality leads for businesses despite better forms of communications and advertising channels are continuously emerging these days. Read on and learn when and how to use email and SMS to benefit your business.

Difference In Marketing Performance Between Email vs SMS

Looking for the best way to win a customer’s attention is the primary duty of a digital marketer. Now, people see tens of thousands of ads every day and most of them aren’t even aware of it. All of that is thanks to social media platforms.

So because almost everyone uses mobile phones and the recent explosion of affordable business text messaging services, more companies try and rely on the power of text messaging. 

However, modern mobile phones can already connect to the internet and relay emails. And since email emerged earlier than SMS, does it mean that it performs better?

Below is a quick comparison to help you find out.

Open Rate

The astonishing 98% open rate of SMS makes the 20% of email’s look inferior. The high open rate makes sure that your target audience will see your ads makes a difference when it comes to marketing.

Click Rate

Adding URLs to your marketing campaign is an effective digital marketing strategy. The difference is where you place it. Adding it to your email makes a click-through rate of 2.5%. But including it in your SMS gives you a 10x boost because 29% of recipients will click it.

Spam Rate

This one is the culprit that caused the lowering of email open and click-through rates. Your email provider considers nearly half of all emails as spam. It rarely happens, however, when you use SMS for marketing. It is because legal regulations require customers to explicitly opt-in. Although 3% of SMS messages worldwide are spam. 


An average employee receives 121 emails daily. Given that email’s open rate is 20%, we can safely say that most employees only open 24 emails a day. 

On the flip side, an average American adult receives around 32 texts daily. Accounting for the 98% open rate doesn’t significantly impact the number of opened messages daily.

Which is more popular in your opinion?

Response Rate

You already know that it is more convenient to reply to an SMS compared to an email. It takes 90 minutes for an average person to respond to an email. You can attribute that stat to people’s behavior towards email nowadays. But when responding to a text, it only takes around 90 seconds. 


Email marketing not only requires a digital marketer and creative staff. Depending on the services, they may charge differently. Expect to pay a few dollars for a monthly service. But for email marketing combined with digital marketing management, a few thousand dollars per month as a subscription.

It is not the case for SMS marketing costs. You can afford an SMS platform subscription for a straightforward cost of $25 monthly. SMS platforms only need a one-time setup, and it will run your marketing campaign automatically.

When To Use SMS Marketing

In general, businesses and customers will benefit from SMS marketing for time-sensitive messages. Although it is not as personal as phone calls, the recipient will most likely take action, thanks to its high open-rate. These are the key points to let you know that you need to send a message through SMS.

  • Promos, price discounts, and limited product offers
  • Appointment reminders for virtual meetings and brick and mortar businesses
  • Notifications and urgent updates
  • Personal alerts such as one-time pin confirmation
  • Purchase confirmations and delivery notifications
  • Information requiring two-way communication such as customer service

When To Use Email Marketing

Because email can support sending files and long messages, it doesn’t have creative restrictions for the sender. Email also offers a more professional or personal touch compared to SMS. It can also leave a written trail of correspondence for records or legal purposes. So in the corporate world, using an email is more acceptable.

  • Experts recommend you to use an email if you need to send:
  • Newsletters
  • Educational content 
  • Detailed product announcements
  • Technical information for B2B campaigns
  • Publicity updates or press releases

Advantages Of Using SMS Marketing

No doubt that SMS communication is one of the easiest ways to communicate. But using it for marketing tells a different story. Legal regulations permit businesses to run subscriptions so that recipients can provide consent. Here are some benefits of SMS marketing:

Broad coverage: It only needs a mobile network connection, so it runs even without the internet. Aside from that, there are 160 1.6 million SMS users in the USA in 2020.

Casual tone: Consumers love to communicate with businesses with an organic feel. It doesn’t just boost sales, but it also gains loyal customers.

Straightforward and concise: Customers appreciate brevity. The 160 character limit doesn’t hinder SMS users from communicating effectively. It also applies to business marketing.

Open rate and urgency: Recipients open 97% of messages within 15 minutes after receiving them. Marketers can virtually guarantee that almost all the recipients will more likely convert.

Using SMS And Email Together

While both of these communication methods have pros and cons, businesses can use both of them simultaneously. These ideas can give you insight into how to use SMS and email together.

  • Sending an SMS that encourages customers for newsletter subscription
  • Broadcasting a product launch through email and sending discount coupons through SMS
  • Sending an order confirmation through email and sending shipping updates through SMS 

Sending one to two messages per week is the optimum frequency of SMS or email marketing messages. You can avoid sending a spam message that way.

Quick Takeaway

Building professional relationships with customers through email or SMS is more relevant today than ever before. While SMS isn’t meant to replace emails, it still performs better in terms of visibility. If your business is not yet trying SMS marketing, it’s not too late to leverage its power.

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