SMS Marketing vs Email Marketing: Making the Right Choice

In today’s fast-paced digital marketing world, SMS (short message service) and email take center stage, each with its unique perks and pitfalls. Understanding how these channels stack up can help you choose what works best for your marketing strategy. Let’s break it down, looking at character limits, open rates, converting customers, permission rules, and automation tools. With the core facts, you can pick the right path based on your specific goals.

Key Differences Between SMS and Email Marketing

Character Limits: Room to Write

Email has plenty of space for in-depth stories and messages, while SMS caps messages at 160 characters. Which means, your content needs to be crisp and clever all the time. But far from stifling creativity, you can think of it as getting straight to the point. Which can prove to make or break your marketing efforts, depending on your execution.

Open and Click-Through Rates: Catching Eyes

A typical email campaign only gets about an average open rate of 28% of people actually opening and reading. The flooded email inboxes make it challenging to cut through the noise. SMS on the other hand, hits people right where they look first, demanding and getting attention fast with an impressive 98% open rate. Owing in part to the fact that nearly 53% of consumers frequently check their text messages.

Notably, these factors may vary depending on industry-specific dynamics. In 2022, commercial emails in the financial services industry had the highest click-to-open rate of 16.68% globally.

It’s also important to consider the nature of these channels. SMS, typically short and limited in content, make them suitable for time sensitive updates or alerts. While emails serve as a platform for newsletters, product features, and detailed communication that might not be possible or effective through SMS marketing alone.

Converting Customers: Turning Readers into Buyers

Beyond readership stats, let’s talk actual revenue generation.

It’s certainly true that SMS engagement rates are 6-8 times higher than email campaigns- which translated to increased customer loyalty and revenue.

However, as email marketing keeps maturing, it’s ramping up customer engagement as well. More and more people are using email every year, which is why we’re also seeing ROI figures improve steadily. In fact, email marketing efforts are projected to propel industry revenue to an annual $17 billion come 2027.

So keep in mind that email helps nurture customer relationships that pay off over time. But SMS marketing messages can drive that instant reaction when you want to kick off a flash sale or big product launch.

Permission Rules: Respecting Inboxes

Both SMS and email need people to opt-in before sending messages their way. Which makes total sense, no one wants unsolicited spam.

Although with emails, most brands go the extra mile to get someone’s explicit consent to sign up to their email list. That’s why readers tend to perceive email as less intrusive, typically.

Text message marketing on the other hand can sometimes come off aggressive if you’re not careful. Without much warning, it’s easy for SMS messages to catch consumers off guard and annoy them if overdone.

On the flip side, some consumers tune out dense blocks of email marketing campaigns too.
The brands that win big are those who deeply understand subscriber preferences and align content accordingly. They respect what makes one person ignore emails while another disables SMS alerts. It’s about striking that chord just right through consistent optimization, elevating customer experience.

Automating Messages: Customization Power

Now let’s talk about making messages more personalized and automated.

Email marketing channels feature really robust capabilities that SMS can’t quite match yet. Many email marketing platforms enhance personalization by tailoring content for each subscriber, considering metrics like purchase history, website visits, and open rates.

To demonstrate, say someone abandoned an online cart with hiking gear. An automated email can remind them to finish checking out with a personalized coupon code. Or if a repeat customer hasn’t purchased lately, a customized email re-engages them.

SMS automation exists too, but it’s still in its earlier stages. Typically, SMS can segment subscribers by location or purchase frequency, then schedule certain alerts to phone numbers accordingly.

Right now, it’s more one-size-fits all, like appointment reminders or notifications when an order ships. Which is very useful no doubt, but not yet as tailored for each target audience. In a way, email has that first mover advantage.

Ultimately, any message hits harder when the audience feels it was crafted specifically for them. Taking the extra effort, whether email or SMS, makes people take notice amidst all the clutter.

Marketing ROI: The Real Deal

How much does SMS marketing cost?

SMS is very cheap, often just a fraction of a cent per text, making it doable for almost any marketing budget. The technology needed to power SMS campaigns has gotten quite cost effective. This makes it easy to test the waters first.

How Much Does Email Marketing Cost?

Email can cost more to set up and run successfully. Expanding your reach takes building a large subscriber list, plus tools to manage and send out emails. Personalizing messages and automating workflows requires investing in the right software and expertise too. But even though it requires more money upfront, over time that investment pays for itself by building customer loyalty.

Research shows each SMS marketing campaign brings about $10 back for every dollar spent when you calculate sales revenue. For email marketing, that return jumps to an average of $42 for every dollar spent.

SMS vs Email Marketing: Weighing Pros and Cons

Here’s a summary:

SMS marketing advantages

  • Nearly everyone reads them
  • Real-time back-and-forth dialogue
  • Compact format amplifies clarity
  • Direct to mobile
  • Works on almost any budget

SMS marketing disadvantages

  • 160 characters only
  • Can feel spammy if overdone
  • Less advanced automation

Email marketing advantages

  • Flexible format options for multimedia content
  • In-depth analytics to inform strategy
  • More automation features and can segment audiences more precisely
  • Price tag allows capabilities SMS can’t match

Email marketing disadvantages

  • Easy to overlook in crowded inboxes
  • Lots of text can overwhelm consumers
  • Modest open rates on average
  • May incur subscription costs for advanced automation

Best Practices for Using SMS and Email Marketing

Speak Each Channel's Language

Every platform has a unique style, you wouldn’t blog like you text. Craft emails that read like emails, texts like texts. Match the mindset and the message lands.

Make It All About Them

Generic blasts don’t forge real connections; understanding does. Study your audiences, what motivates them, and you will gain their trust.

Don’t Be Needy

When it comes to frequency, experiment to determine ideal timing and volume, then stick to it. Acknowledge how often is too often.

Follow Opt-in Ethics

Inboxes are sacred spaces. Make opt-ins clear and fully voluntary. Show you respect people’s time and attention by only contacting those who explicitly signed up.

Track Performance

Monitor campaigns not just for numbers, but as a process of learning and refining strategies to enhance results.

The Verdict

Ultimately, savvy brands don’t limit themselves to one or the other; instead, they strategically harness the strengths of both. At the end of the day, it’s all about knowing how to do it right, at the right time.

At Freedom Media, we’re all about crafting messages that hit the sweet spot. Contact us today for a winning strategy aligned with your marketing goals.