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Comparing SMS Text Message Marketing to Email Marketing

SMS marketing and email marketing have roles to play in your overall marketing strategy. Each holds unique benefits in the way they deliver information to your current and future audiences. But, it can be confusing to know which will give you the most return on investment for each campaign that you’re running. Let’s compare the advantages and disadvantages of using SMS marketing and email marketing.

We compared SMS text message marketing to email marketing on key variables that marketers weigh campaign decisions on. Here’s what we found.

sms marketing vs email marketing

1. Open Rate

Consumers today are more distracted than ever. Think about it, have you ever been watching TV while scrolling through your phone, or reading work emails while listening to a podcast? As a marketer, you’re constantly facing the challenge of trying to grab the attention of your audience. Text message marketing has their attention. The average open rate for text message marketing campaigns is 98% compared to just a 20% open rate from an email marketing campaign. Not to mention the average person replies to a text message within 90 seconds, compared to 90 minutes for an email. Even though the world is distracting, text message marketing is a direct route to the attention of your audience.

2. Deliverability

Since SMS marketing requires the customer to either opt in or out, your list is made up of only engaged customers. On the other hand, marketing emails typically have larger lists, with more frequent sends. Even if you’re not doing it intentionally, emails have a higher chance of being sent to the spam folder, damaging your reputation, and breaking trust with your customers. With statistics like 49% of all emails being marked as spam, you’re already having to work much harder to even get your message into your audience’s inbox. On top of that, someone working in an office receives over 120 emails a day, where the average millennial only receives 67 texts each day.

Since there are fewer texts being received, the likelihood of seeing these messages is higher. Overall, using text message marketing means there is a higher chance of your message being delivered to your audience.

3. Cost

The cost to send an SMS message varies by country if its local, the length of the message and the number of messages sent, overall it does cost more than an email marketing send. Email marketing is the most cost-effective way to send non-time sensitive messages to a large audience. Since the customization in email marketing varies from business to business and send to send, the direct cost of each campaign can vary completely.

5. Click through rate

For both SMS marketing and email marketing, click through rate has the potential to be high, but, it depends on how well you craft your call to action. The click-through rate of any campaign is determined by the call to action. The average click-through rate of an email hovers around 4%, meaning that your email was opened, and the customer followed through a link based on your CTA. A good call to action lets your audience know what’s on offer and a good enough reason to click-through.

With text message marketing it’s more challenging to craft a compelling call to action because you’re limited to 160 characters. Since the whole point to the marketing effort is to motivate your audience to act on your offer, the link is the most important asset. When you use a branded link, the customer immediately understands what the CTA is, and is more likely to follow through.

Mobile phone provider, 3, sends out SMS messages to inform customers when their plans are close to expiring and of promotions, they are running. The use of branded links in their messages is multipurpose. First, it increases trust and the chance of click through, because the audience knows exactly where the link will lead. Secondly, a branded link acts as the clickable CTA. Instead of forfeiting space in your message, branded links help you to get your message across and capture your audience’s attention ins less time.


6. Customization

Email was the clear winner here, because of its ability for personalization. Whether you’re using HTML or text only sends, email lets you add attachments, hyperlinks, images, and videos. Email marketing gives you more freedom to customize messages to fully connect with your audience as your brand, from the colors you use to the type of copy, to the use of images, gifs, or video.

Email and text marketing should both play a role in your overall marketing strategy. The biggest takeaway is to weigh the costs and benefits of each, as both of these programs are both time and money investments that should be done with care and precision. Use email marketing as a “slow burn” to build relationships and communicate complex information and keep text message marketing for quick updates and reminders that require action.

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