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Email Marketing vs. SMS Marketing: Which One Is Better?

2118 words11 min read

Up until now, email has been the preferred method to send messages and reach audiences effectively with low cost. However, with such popularity, marketers often have to compete in a noisy, crowded environment to get some emails opened. That is where a formidable opponent appears.

SMS marketing has emerged as a cost-effective, reliable way to get sales fast. You can share promotions, news updates, and reminders with customers. And the best thing about it is that users check SMS all the time.

Both email and SMS can work together to create an amazing communication experience for customers. But how do you use them? How do you create a consistent way to get in touch with customers and send marketing messages? The two methods are increasingly becoming more useful for different purposes. While emails are getting more personal, SMS is getting more focus on shopping.

In this article, I will show you the difference between email marketing and SMS marketing and how you can maximize your investment return by using one out of the two methods or even both. Let's get started!

Before you Read:

Email Marketing vs SMS Marketing: Pros & Cons

As the world is becoming increasingly mobile-centric, more and more businesses are using SMS marketing, especially after researchers suggest that SMS open rates are almost 98%, and it takes just 90 seconds for recipients to respond to a text message. That said, email is also adapting the ever-evolving world with new strengths and benefits.

Nothing is ever perfect, so let's see the pros and cons of email marketing and SMS marketing for a better overview:

Email Marketing

SMS Marketing


- Cost-effective to use: your cost for managing an email campaign can be very low.

- Build a relationship: a good email campaign can help customers know your company better, build trust, and buy more.

- Expand brand recognition: The design, tone, and content of your email help establish your unique brand.

- Quickly to launch: With many great email marketing services such as AVADA Email Marketing, you can create a campaign in a few minutes.

- Customization option: Emails can support a more personalized experience, with robust data and analytics

- Easy to share: Recipients can easily hit the forward key and send your company information to a friend.

- The number of global email users is 3.9 billion.

- Have a high open rate: Almost 98% of consumers open branded SMS.

- Reach customers instantly: People view text almost instantly after receiving

- Customers want it: A survey suggests that 85% of consumers prefer receiving a text message over email or a phone call.

- Can see the quick response: Mobile messages with the promotion can drive customers to brick-and-mortar stores.

- Quickly to launch: A short text is quick to craft and send, you even have character limitation.


- Difficult to get attention: Your emails may never get opened because of other emails or the spam filter

- Require consistency: An email campaign needs to be fresh all the time to keep users wanting more.

- Easy to unsubscribe: Recipients can easily unsubscribe and never hear from you anymore.

- Not available for every business: Explicit content or industry may not be allowed to advertise via SMS by laws.

- Messages may be too long: A long text message can be overwhelming for customers, which is different from emails.

- Need to grow a list: Getting an email is easy, but asking for mobile numbers is different. You will need a new strategy to do this.

Email Marketing vs SMS Marketing: Difference

When comparing email and text marketing, your decision will likely be slightly different for every scenario and your target customers. That's why you might not want to turn it into a black and white scenario. Instead, just look at how each method can help you with each problem based on its usage.

Let's take a look at the differences between email and SMS across important categories to understand them more:

Open rate

Consumers today are getting more distracted than ever before. Think about it, have you ever watched TV while scrolling through emails, or listening to podcasts? As a marketer, you have to face the challenge of trying to get your audience's attention.

Text message marketing gets customer attention right the way. The average open rate for SMS marketing campaigns is 98% vs. just 20% open rate from an email marketing campaign.

Read more: 16 Tips to Increase Your Email Open Rate

Click-through rate

For both SMS and email marketing, click-through rates have high potential, but it depends on how well you craft your content and call-to-action. The click-through rate of your campaign depends on this. A good call-to-action will let your audience know the offer and have a good reason to click through.

Emails have an open rate of around 4% (different stat for each industry). Meanwhile, SMS marketing can have 29% of recipients clicking on a link. Although SMS marketing is more challenging to create a completing call-to-action, the branded links still let customers immediately understand the CTA and follow through. Still, email has a better design system to create well-crafted CTAs.

Read more: How to Improve Email Click-through Rate?


SMS marketing explicitly requires customers to opt-in, so your list includes only engaged customers who want to hear from you.

In addition, email is often sent to larger lists at a more regular rhythm, increasing the likelihood that the recipient will mark the message as spam. Less than 3% of SMS messages are considered spam, compared with almost half of all emails.

Response Rate

For email, the message is sent to a list of subscribers through an email service provider, mostly in a one-way format. This works great for long-term interactions, but not always good for real-time response rates, as people may have turned off push notifications or just check emails at certain times of the day.

On the other hand, SMS works with more urgency. There is a strong connection to the text message inbox, as the messages arrive right through the user's mobile phone. And people check their phones much more than their inboxes. Research suggests that 46% of consumers check their phones even before getting out of bed.

Also, an average person responds to an email in 90 minutes, while it takes only 90 seconds to respond to an SMS.

Read more: How to Write a Follow-up Email (Get 90% Responses)


The data shows that up to 293 billion emails are sent every day. That means marketers have to work hard to stand out in crowded inbox environments.

Meanwhile, there were only about 26 billion messages sent on average worldwide per day as of 2017. And adults typically send and receive an average of 10 text messages per day, making SMS a society's standards.

What's more: Email inbox poses other reach-related barriers, such as the Gmail promotions tab, which organizes marketing messages into a sub-folder. According to research, only 45.1% of email users check this tab every day, which means it is even harder for brands to use email marketing effectively.

Because there is less competition and the number of SMS sent, there are significantly more opportunities for marketers who are early adopters of this form of marketing.


The cost to send a text message via mobile varies by country, the length of the message, and the number of messages sent. Overall, the cost is higher than sending email marketing. Email marketing is still one of the most cost effective ways to send messages to a large audience. Since customization in email marketing varies from business to business, the costs of each campaign can be very different. If you use an advanced platform, the cost can reach several thousand dollars per month.


Clearly, email is the winner here thanks to its ability of personalization and customization. Whether you're using HTML or just sending text, email lets you add attachments, hyperlinks, images and videos. Email builders give you the freedom to customize your message to fully connect with an audience, from the colors you use to the copy language, to the use of images, gifs, or videos.

Whereas, with SMS marketing, you can mostly just use text and have fewer data analytics to further improve your campaign.

Through comparison, here is a breakdown of email marketing vs SMS marketing:

Email MarketingSMS Marketing
Open rate
Click-through rate
Response Rate

Email Marketing vs SMS Marketing: Usage

As you can see, although SMS marketing has better reach and receives a better response, email marketing is still far from dying with its own features. Email will remain a digital channel with good return on investment, while SMS marketing can rise in popularity and face the same problem with spam messages in the future.

So, how do you use them? While email is suitable for long-term communication and less-timely interaction, SMS marketing creates an opportunity for real-time interaction with customers. This is why you should try to get the best of both worlds and provide quality messages on both channels.

You should weigh the cost and benefits of each method, compare them to your campaign goals, and run your marketing with care and precision to get the best results for your time and money. Here are specific situations that you can use email marketing, SMS marketing, and both.

Email marketing usage

In general, email is the best communication platform when you want to share time-insensitive information as a slow burn to build relationships and communicate your complex information. Email also offers more creative freedom, allowing more space to showcase images, graphics, and calls to action (CTAs).

Smart uses for email marketing include:

  • Newsletter
  • In-depth and educational information
  • Product visualization
  • Exclusivity
  • Deals, coupons, promotions
  • B2B campaigns include technical information
  • Feedback, advice, or action requests
  • A press release or public update
  • Building, establishing, and maintaining a community

SMS marketing usage

If your campaign's message is time-sensitive or requires immediate action, SMS is the best communication channel. Use SMS when you need to send:

  • Limited offers, coupons, and discounts
  • Appointment reminder
  • Meaningful content that’s straight to the point
  • Notifications and urgent updates
  • Personal alerts or account updates
  • Purchase confirmation
  • Information to customers who don’t want to visit apps or websites
  • Information requires two-way communication

Email marketing and SMS marketing

Email marketing can feel safer in many cases, especially if you've used it effectively before. However, combining these efforts with SMS marketing can really boost your campaign's results.

Here are a few ways to use email and SMS marketing together:

  • Send text messages to encourage customers to subscribe to an email list for the weekly newsletters and deals.
  • Send an email for an order confirmation receipt and SMS for tracking updates.
  • Send emails to inform customers about new product launches. Then, send a mass SMS to notify a flash sale for the new product.

Tip: Be careful and don't overwhelm customers with marketing messages. Limit your SMS messages to 1-2 per week. Email marketing frequency will depend on your industry and how often customers are currently hearing from your business. But in general, 1-2 email series per week is ideal for most companies.

Related posts:

Which one will you use?

Both email marketing and SMS marketing have unique advantages and disadvantages that can complement each other. If you take the time to optimize your list and messages, you can use them to boost sales at every point of the customer journey. Just so you know, we are going to include SMS features in our AVADA Email Marketing app very soon, so you can use both for the best results.

Now, which one will you use? Email marketing, SMS marketing, or both? Share your decision and tactic in the comment section below.

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