SMS vs. Email Marketing: Which Is More Effective?

If you’re looking to foster community around your brand, SMS and email marketing are likely the two top channels you’ve heard of. Perhaps you’re already leveraging one or both, and need to adjust your marketing efforts due to budget shifts.

Whatever the case, here’s a simple, yet insightful, guide to help you solve the SMS vs. email marketing dilemma. When revenue is on the line, you want to ensure what you're investing in generates real engagement, conversion, and loyalty. This is just one piece of our latest SMS marketing industry updates.

Let’s get started.

What Is SMS Marketing?

SMS (short message service) marketing is a marketing strategy that sends content, promotions, alerts, and/or other communications to customers via text messages. Leaning on mobile technology to drive messaging, SMS marketing often leverages customer segmentation—a tactic where you group recipients based on their interests, behaviors, or preferences.

Businesses use SMS marketing to have a direct line of communication with their customers and audiences to promote their products or services, raise brand awareness, and foster loyalty.

It’s a simple way to directly get in touch and converse with your target audience.

What Is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is another form of digital marketing that focuses on sending content to your target audience via email. The purpose is to nurture your relationships with leads and customers.  

The content in these emails can be anything from newsletters to promotional offers to product announcements and more. Like SMS marketing, you can segment your email contacts based on preferences and interests, or where they are in the sales funnel.

SMS Marketing vs. Email Marketing: 3 Factors Worth Considering

3 Factors Worth Considering

When comparing SMS and email marketing side by side, there are three core factors worth considering. These factors focus on metrics that play key roles in community building and impact:

1. Open Rates

While emails have an average open rate of 20%, SMS marketing has an incredible 98% average open rate. In addition, it usually takes people around 90 minutes to open an email. With SMS, users open the message within 90 seconds. 

In short, SMS marketing reaches customers far more quickly and reliably.

2. Engagement Levels

There are several ways to measure engagement on both marketing platforms. One of them is click-through rates (CTR).

Because SMS messages are shorter and usually have only one link for the user to click on, the average CTR is 6.1%. Emails have only a 2.6% average CTR. This is likely due to the longer nature of emails, which requires more attention and investment on the user’s end.

3. Conversion Rates

SMS carries an average conversion rate of 29%, while email has a 15.2% average conversion rate. In addition, SMS generates 17 times more revenue than email. SMS marketing is the clear winner when it comes to garnering results for organizations.

The Advantages & Disadvantages of SMS and Email Marketing

Advantages & Disadvantages

The statistics above illustrate the value mobile messaging can provide as a marketing channel. Still, SMS and email marketing both have their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a closer look at both sides:

SMS Marketing Advantages

  • Is fast, convenient, and common. People send four times more text messages than emails every day. Texting is easy and quick. It’s one of the most basic and habitual communication methods today.
  • Offers a personal space. SMS allows you to engage with your audience one-on-one in a space reserved for people they trurst. This is crucial in a fast-paced world where people are inundated with information and communication. The private, direct communication space SMS offers allows you to build smarter and more productive conversations and feedback loops.
  • Generates more ROI. As mentioned earlier, you generate 17 times more revenue with SMS marketing compared to email.
  • Provides two-way communication capability. SMS allows for interactive communication between both parties involved. This enables you to receive quick and direct feedback from the recipient and engage with them in real-time.

SMS Marketing Disadvantages

  • Sourcing phone numbers can be difficult. People don’t hand out their digits frivolously. It can take some time to move prospective subscribers further down the funnel to gain their trust and obtain opt-in permission.
  • Must consider strict mobile carrier guidelines. Mobile carriers have strict guidelines on how to utilize SMS. To ensure compliance, all 10DLC traffic must be registered via The Campaign Registry (TCR). TCR verifies your organization is legitimate, and assigns a trust score. 

Email Marketing Advantages

  • Message length. Email marketing allows you to fit in more word count, helping teams execute more detailed communication. This can be particularly useful for conveying complex ideas or concepts.
  • Long lifespan. Recipients can easily save an email or mark it as important. With the vast inbox search functions, users can always find a message when they need it.
  • Access to layout options. Thanks to the numerous layout options on email platforms, you can add useful graphics and media elements to engage users.

Email Marketing Disadvantages

  • Can be difficult to stand out and make a real impact. Let’s put things in perspective—a person receives, on average, 121 emails each day. Your email is likely a tiny pebble in a large world.
  • Takes time to build a quality, eye-catching email. Emails take quite a bit of time to write and design. This requires the help of copywriters and designers. You may also need to factor in A/B testing, which adds even more time.
  • Lacks quick two-way communication. Unlike SMS, email marketing generally does not have direct and immediate two-way capability. Building a personable and instant messaging relationship can be more difficult to build compared to SMS. If you're looking for immediate responses, email marketing may not be the ideal solution.

SMS Marketing vs. Email Marketing: Which Is Right for You?

Which Is Right For You_

With countless organizations vying for their attention, users today are overloaded with information on their devices. So, how do you rise above all that noise and build your brand community?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach in the world of marketing. It’s not a matter of choosing one or the other—it's about how you leverage channels in a way that elevates the intent and values of your community.

Both SMS and email marketing can be cost-effective ways to deliver your message and build a community of like-minded consumers. You can even use your email channel to generate SMS subscriber sign-ups. SMS can offer an additional and lucrative opportunity to further nurture relationships with those who matter most to your business.

For a real-life illustration of this, learn how news outlet Rappahannock News leveraged its daily email newsletter to grow its SMS subscriber audience. The Rapp News team has seen a steady growth of subscribers and engagement since its SMS campaign launch.

In a Nutshell…

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s critical to be strategic when investing in marketing channels. One channel can elevate another—and together, they can give you a quality, complementary marketing strategy for the year.

Consider adding SMS to your marketing mix to accomplish your community-building objectives.

Fuel Your Community Efforts with Subtext

Identifying additional ways to generate revenue this year doesn’t have to be challenging—that is, if you know where to look. Luckily, you’re in the right place.

Building a successful SMS community requires continuity and personalization. Subtext was built with those ideas in mind to establish a robust platform rich with impactful SMS features.

Join Subtext today by booking a demo

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