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Email vs SMS marketing: Which is a More Effective Marketing Channel?

Amie Parnaby
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Instagram SEO for increased business visibility on Instagram. SMS marketing

Email marketing is one of the well-known digital marketing channels that businesses use to generate leads with the aim of converting them to sales. But the increase in the use of mobile phones has made SMS marketing an alternative worth giving a try. 

The cost of acquiring a lead is becoming expensive, and marketers are thinking outside the box to identify a channel that will yield more return on investment. 

Email Marketing and SMS marketing are related, and businesses often want to know which is more effective as a marketing channel. That brings us to the main topic of this post – Email marketing vs. SMS marketing. My aim is to compare the two marketing channels for you to make an informed decision as to which will be more effective for you. 

What is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is a form of digital marketing that allows businesses to directly communicate with their target audience, who are on their subscribers’ list. The aim is to build relationships, nurture them, and in turn, sell a product or service to them. It involves businesses using any of the email marketing services and creating sign-up forms to collect emails from the target audience while offering a freebie in exchange. 

What is SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing is another form of digital marketing which involves sending promotional text messages to a target audience. It is a direct and immediate method businesses use to communicate to their potential customers about their products and services with the aim of having them take action. Unlike email marketing, you use the services of bulk SMS companies to text contacts on your list. 

Email vs SMS marketing: Which is more effective?

Now you know the definitions of email and SMS marketing, let’s move into comparing them as marketing channels. We’ll focus on core factors that you must consider when deciding which of them to choose.


An email or text message that didn’t get to the inbox of the subscriber is as good as not sent. After you hit the send button, what should worry you is deliverability. An estimated 269 billion emails are sent daily. Unfortunately, 50% of them end up in the spam folder. Many email users rarely check their spam folders. 

That’s normally because emails that land there are treated as unsolicited. While email marketing services work to improve on their deliverability, with some boasting of a 99.9% deliverability rate, it remains a headache many email marketers face.

 On the other hand, about 27 billion text messages are sent daily, with 97% getting to the inbox of the users. This clearly shows that SMS marketing has a higher deliverability rate. 

But why is it so?

 Having the phone number of a target audience is hard. Businesses that want to build phone contact lists familiarize themselves and sometimes offer something in exchange. This makes it easy for SMS service providers who facilitate this to validate local phone numbers and ensure they aren’t marked as spam. This is unlike email marketing, where some marketers unethically get subscribers in their email list. Thereby posing a bad sender reputation since mailbox service providers pay attention to the number of emails marked as spam. 

Integration into other marketing campaigns 

SMS and email marketing can integrate seamlessly. With platforms like SendPulse, businesses can build automated message flows that incorporate both SMS and email messages to recover an abandoned cart or confirm purchase and registration. 

You can also integrate either of them with other marketing channels, which is a strategy that positively impacts campaigns. It is a way of scaling the rate at which you generate leads that can convert to sales.

 For instance, while setting up your Facebook campaign, you can import the phone numbers of your contacts into your campaign to target them. This is because Facebook users register their phone numbers when creating an account. 

Facebook will match the numbers with the ones used to create accounts on their platform and show the ad to them. Also, you can send a promo code to your contacts with a link for them to participate in a Facebook contest meant to promote your products.

Email marketing has advanced features that support integration with other marketing campaigns.

For example, some email templates support linking to your social media accounts. You can use that to ask your subscribers to follow you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

If you use your blog to promote your business, you can integrate email marketing into it. Create and embed a sign-up, and offer a freebie in exchange for an email address. That way, you can convert blog visitors into email subscribers, which makes it easy to build relationships and promote your offers.

Open Rate

When a message or email is delivered, the next is to open it. SMS marketing campaigns have a 98% open rate compared to email, which struggles at 20%. In fact, 40% of people open within 5 minutes of receiving them, while emails can take up to 90 minutes.


This is because people move about with their mobile phones. And they don’t waste time checking their phones when they hear a ping sound or vibration in their pockets alerting them of a message. Another is that you don’t require an internet connection to read a text message on your phone, unlike email notifications where you have to it. 

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Higher CTR boosts the chances of converting your target audience to sales. When a user opens and clicks on a link in your message or email, it adds to your CTR. 

However, users have a shorter attention span than goldfish. So getting them to read through your text and click on a link to take action is out of your control. 

That’s where SMS  has an edge over email. Text messages are under 160 characters, and that makes them short and concise. People tend to read and take action, given that they have to spend less reading time. 

SMS marketing with links

This is different from emails, which are usually long and sometimes can be boring. 

Chances are that the reader will exit before reaching the call-to-action button. This accounts for why SMS and email marketing have 19% and 3.2% CTR respectively.


The cost of acquiring a customer should matter to you in marketing. Your aim should be to spend less on it while maximizing sales. SMS campaigns are cost-effective. Some service providers only charge you when you want to message your list. This isn’t so with email marketing, where you subscribe to a pricing plan. And you must renew it either monthly or yearly to continue to use the service, whether you emailed your subscribers or not.

 Keep in mind that you may hire an email copywriter to write a series of killer emails that will work like a charm on your audience.  Then design graphics to promote your brand and make your message more interesting. Text messages don’t require all these. Everything is done with text and under 160 characters.

Customization & Personalization 

Give it to email marketing when it comes to customization. This is why many marketers still prefer it to SMS marketing. It allows a lot of customization and personalization, which moves the needle in today’s digital marketing. There are different templates for any type of email you want to create, and you can use the drag-and-drop builder to design emails in minutes.

email marketing vs SMS marketing

You can add images, videos, call-to-action buttons, links, emojis, GIFs, and other files to make your message appeal to your target audience. Email marketing services roll out advanced features like list segmentation, autoresponder, campaign analytics, API, A/B testing, etc. to ensure a successful campaign. 


Email marketing is highly competitive, and businesses struggle to make the best impression in the inboxes of their target audience. It is an advantage to SMS marketing, which many businesses think isn’t trendy. At least your text message can stand out in the inbox of your contact.  

Making a choice between email and SMS marketing

Now you know how SMS and email compare against each other with regard to core metrics, the big question is: which is more effective?

Both have their strengths and weaknesses. They are also complementary marketing channels. 

SMS is best for short and time-sensitive information. It is cost-effective and has a higher open rate. I will recommend it to small businesses with a low marketing budget. 

Email marketing is best for long and rich media content. Its customization and personalization features make it a choice for many businesses, despite the that it’s a bit expensive and has a lower open rate compared to SMS. 


Making a choice as to which is more effective depends on your requirements. I have shown you the core factors that matter which are open rate, CTR, deliverability, cost, customization, competition, and ability to integrate with other marketing campaigns. 

SMS wins in all except customization, personalization, and integrations, which makes email marketing a force to reckon with in digital marketing. 

Guest Author Bio: Chuks Chukwuemeka

Chuks Chukwuemeka is a freelance SEO content writer & strategist who helps SaaS brands boost their rankings on search engines. He’s the founder of Depreneurdigest, a marketing blog, and loves learning new things about SEO. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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