SMS vs Email Marketing

SMS vs Email Marketing – Identifying The Better Marketing Strategy

Email marketing and SMS marketing are two of the most commonly used strategies today by most online businesses.

As per stats, email marketing has the highest ROI for any business, while SMS has a high open rate (about 98%).

But if you were to choose one of them, which one would it be?

The stats between SMS vs email marketing are quite clear. Emails have higher conversion rates on sales whereas SMS have higher branding potential. But here’s the thing. The stats cannot be the only reason you choose one of these strategies. The results will depend a lot on what industry you are in, your goal, and what product or service you sell.

For example, if you want to promote a discount campaign for your web development service, SMS won’t work. However, the news on new arrivals in your e-commerce store can be promoted a lot more effectively via SMS than emails.

In this article, we will compare both of these strategies and find out which one is more effective for your business and how you can use them get significant results.

Let’s get started.

What is Email Marketing?

You must have received an email from your favorite brand about an exclusive sale or a newsletter update. That’s an example of email marketing.

In simple terms, email marketing is the act of reaching out to customers and potential clients directly through their inboxes. It’s personal, customizable, and when done correctly, can feel like a tailored conversation rather than a sales pitch.

Over half of small businesses in the US count on it, and a solid 90% of marketers claim its the most effectiveness marketing strategy out there.

Similar to posted mails, emails are personalized for each individual. Your prospects will get your emails in their own personal mail boxes online. Unlike a public social post or a blogs, emails tend to make readers feel valued as you can be exclusive to each of them using personalization, such as use of names.

However, the best part here is, if you have collected the leads yourself, then you have a group of users who have subscribed and given permission for you to send them promotional or information emails. And if your lead generation process is done correctly, then these leads are actually people who are interested in your offers. Hence, you will be able to plan out effective email campaigns to convert your leads into paying customers, who will need less push compared to running an advertisement.

Overall, the main concept of email marketing is to use emails to achieve your marketing goals with higher conversion rates.

What is SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing is similar to email marketing, except they are much smaller and is sent to the prospects’ phone numbers.

Try to remember the last time you received a text message. You see that you recognize who sent them and in most cases, read them. It’s basically when you carefully plan marketing SMS to prospects for branding and often conversion purposes.

Now, unlike emails, people have more control over if you can send SMS to them or not. Which means this strategy should be used after making sure your campaign is not going to trigger the prospect to block your number.

However, the high open rate is definitely something you would want to take advantage of. Hence, it has become quite popular nowadays, especially for local e-commerce businesses. Utilizing an SMS CRM can help manage these campaigns efficiently, ensuring that your messages reach the right audience at the right time.

In 2022, more than half of businesses, 55% to be exact, used a text messaging service to reach out to their customers. Fast forward to 2023, and that number has shot up to 86%. This shows how SMS have proven to be a effective for several businesses in terms of ROI.

So both email and SMS marketing are great choices. But which one is the better marketing marketing strategy?

Comparing SMS vs Email Marketing In Terms Of Performance & ROI

When looking at the performance and ROI of email and SMS marketing, there are a few specific metrics you may compare.

Let us look at this comparison.

1. SMS Open Rate vs Email Open Rate

Having a high open rate is super important for your campaigns to be successful. Even if you write amazing copies, there is no chance for them to work if the prospects do not open their emails or SMS at all.

SMS Open RateEmail Open Rate
Has over 98% open rate globally.Has an average of 21% open rate globally.
People receive an average of 32 text messages a day globally. The odds of reading them are higher compared to emails.A person receives an average of 100 to 120 emails per day, increasing a chance to miss out or ignoring certain emails.
Almost everyone has a phone number which they are more likely to check frequently.People may have different schedules when they check their emails.

As per the stats above, SMS Marketing has a much higher open rate compared to email marketing.

2. Email vs SMS Click Through Rate

The click through rate is the next important metric which determines if you have done it right with your copy, offer, and the format of your email or SMS. Let us look at how it compares between email and SMS.

SMS Marketing CTREmail Marketing CTR
Has between 6-19% CTR.Has an average of 1.7% CTR.
Conversion rate is 29%.Conversion rate is 16.72%.

Again, in this metric, SMS seems to be the better option with a high CTR and Conversion rate.

3. SMS vs Email Deliverability

The success rate of your campaigns also depends on deliverability, i.e., the percentage of people who received your message via email or SMS.

SMS Marketing DeliverabilityEmail Marketing Deliverability
Average deliverability is 97%.Average deliverability is 84%.

Since you are sending SMS directly to the phones, they are more likely to deliver compared to emails.

4. Design Control On Email And SMS

The presentation of your content is very important. As a result, it is important to have control over how you design your emails or SMS.

SMS Marketing Design ControlEmail Marketing Design Control
Lack of ways to use colors and design elements.Full control to design emails with colors and images.
Can use emojis, which may not always be supported in a customer’s device.Full control with options to use bullet points, alignment, font, and spacing.
Limitations in formatting in terms of typography and content structure.Full control with options to use bullet points, alignment, font, and spacings.
Difficult to highlight sections and CTAs.Can easily highlight CTA buttons and important content.
Often has character limitations.Usually limited via overall email size. (Sizes per email client.)

This is an area where SMS falls short. Emails simply offer more control over design.

5. Cost Effectiveness And ROI For SMS And Emails

So, what is the cost when it comes to SMS marketing vs Email marketing?

However, the real question here is, what would be the ROI for each case?

SMS Marketing ROIEmail Marketing ROI
According to Thrive, you could earn about $5 for every $1 spent on SMS. That’s about 500% ROI.An email marketing analysis from Litmus found out an ROI of $36 for every $1 spent on emails. That’s 3600% ROI.

Summary Of SMS vs Email Marketing Metrics

SMS vs Email Marketing

Why Do Email Marketing Result In Higher ROI Despite Having Higher Numbers In SMS Metrics?

There are a few reasons, but let us consider the two main reasons why you can get a higher ROI via emails over SMS.

i. It’s Easier To Collect Emails Than Phone Numbers

This is a simple fact. People are more comfortable sharing their email addresses over phone numbers.

You see, people usually have dedicated emails for business purposes, and they willingly share them with others when they see benefits. But it’s a different scenario for phone numbers. They are more personal, and people do not appreciate too many promotions or unsolicited attempts to contact them via phone.

As a result, you will notice that your lead generation campaigns will deliver more results when you ask for emails than when you ask for direct numbers.

Hence, you have the option to collect 5 to 10 times more email leads, resulting in significantly higher profit.

ii. Expensive Products Are More Sellable Via Emails

Since SMS has design and content limitations, it’s quite difficult to promote high-ticket offers or moderately expensive offers via SMS. Hence, on average, you may expect higher profit generated via email marketing than SMS.

This, along with the option of having more leads, will ensure you can have a much higher ROI achieved.

SMS Marketing vs Email Marketing: Pros & Cons

Here, we have compiled the press & cons of each of the methods to understand the complications of using them.

Pros & cons of SMS Marketing

Breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of SMS marketing can help you understand if it’s the right choice for your business –


  1. Wide Reach: You can connect with a huge chunk of people who don’t consistently access the internet. In fact, 15% of Americans, which is about 52.5 million, are more reachable through texts than emails.
  2. Quick Reads: Most people read their texts within just three minutes. So, when you send a message, you’re likely getting your customer’s attention almost immediately.
  3. High Open Rates: Your messages stand a good chance of being seen, with a 98% open rate for text messages. This means nearly all your texts are getting read.
  4. Simple and Direct: Text messages are short and to the point. So, when you send an offer or update, your customers can understand it quickly.
  5. Cost-Effective: You can reach a lot of people without spending a lot. It’s a cost-friendly way to keep your customers in the loop.
  6. Personal Touch: When people get a text, it feels more personal than other forms of marketing. It’s like you’re having a direct chat with your customer.
  7. Easy Opt-In and Opt-Out: Your customers can choose to receive messages or stop them easily. This ensures you’re always messaging folks who are interested in hearing from you.


  1. Character boundaries: Each text message can only hold up to 160 characters, so brevity is key.
  2. Visual constraints: You’re limited to attaching one image per message, and it can’t exceed 500KB in size. This could limit the visual appeal of your messages.
  3. Consent Based: Before you initiate SMS marketing, the customer has to give you the green light. Legal standards around SMS marketing are pretty strict.
  4. High chance of opt-outs: Even though many people open text messages, there’s a higher likelihood they might opt out if they find them too frequent or not valuable.

Pros & cons of Email Marketing

Let’s have a look at the upsides and downsides of email marketing to see if it aligns with your business goals.


  1. Primary Communication Channel: With 61% of consumers using email as their go-to method for communicating with online brands, it’s clear that email plays a central role in online interactions, paving the way for better brand recall and higher conversions.
  2. Longevity and Accessibility: Unlike fleeting messages or posts, emails remain in inboxes. People can flag them, save them, and even use search functions to retrieve them at any point in the future.
  3. Cost-Effective: Sending emails, especially in bulk, comes with minimal costs, allowing for a wide reach without a hefty price tag.
  4. Diverse Automated Interactions: Email provides the flexibility to set up a variety of automated interactions, from welcoming a new subscriber to reminding someone about their abandoned cart.
  5. No Content Limitations: You’re not confined to a specific number of characters in an email. This allows for comprehensive communication, be it detailed product descriptions, newsletters, or storytelling.
  6. Rich Formatting Options: The ability to include multimedia elements, like videos, images, and audio, alongside branding elements, such as logos, means emails can be as dynamic and interactive as you want them to be.
  7. User-Controlled Subscriptions: The unsubscribe option ensures that your audience remains genuinely interested. It’s a transparent way of ensuring you’re only reaching out to those who want to hear from you, keeping the trust intact and steering clear of potential legal complications.

Understanding the strengths of email marketing is crucial when deciding how to communicate with your audience and where to allocate your marketing resources.


  1. Too Many Emails: Most people get over 100 emails every day, with a lot of them being ads or promotions. This makes it easy for your message to get lost among the rest.
  2. Not Always Reaching Inboxes: Even if you send an email, there’s no guarantee it’ll land in someone’s main inbox. About 1 in 5 emails might end up elsewhere, like the spam folder, or not delivered at all.
  3. Caught in Spam: Big email services have tools to keep out unwanted emails. Sometimes, your marketing email might end up in the spam box by mistake, which means it won’t be seen.
  4. Short Attention: It’s getting harder to hold people’s attention. Especially with the younger crowd, they might lose interest in ads really quickly, in just over a second.
  5. Not Everyone Opens Emails: On average, only 21 out of 100 people actually open marketing emails. So, there’s a challenge to get people even to take that first step and see what’s inside.

Though both email and SMS marketing have a few Cons, they both have so much more Pros.

Email Marketing or SMS Marketing – Which one should you use?

So far, we have compared every metric and ROI between the two. And we can easily conclude that email marketing is definitely the better choice if you want higher ROI.

But is it really? The answer is no.

Let me explain.

The numbers above are an accumulation of the metrics achieved by all the industries around the world averaged into a single number. But that only means some industries have higher open rates, CTR, or ROI, while others have lower numbers respectively when it comes to SMS vs email.

So, the first thing you need to find out is what metrics are usually expected in your niche. Based on that, you may decide which approach works best for you and for what strategy.

For example, if you run a multi-category online shop, then email marketing can be used in ways such as discount promotions, abandoned cart recovery, or basic email automation for product suggestions after products are sold. However, SMS can be used here to announce any new arrivals, limited-time offers, and branding of the shop with it’s best products highlighted in the SMS.

However, if you are a course creator for business growth, then SMS would be less effective as you would rather need to create a complete sales funnel journey to get the best results. People will hardly want to get SMS on a new course that has arrived. They would rather appreciate emails in that regard.

The best option here would be to use a mix of email marketing and SMS marketing for the best results in any marketing campaign.

It is evident that some campaigns are better off using SMS marketing, some will work better via email marketing, and in many cases, they both can work together.

Some Scopes Of Using Email And SMS Marketing Together

Following are some ways you may use email and SMS marketing in unison to get the best ROI from your marketing campaigns.

Use case#1 – Abandoned Cart Recovery

It’s easy to get distracted for buyers when shopping online. Sometimes, they may add products to the cart but end up leaving the site without completing their orders. At this point, a simple reminder and a couple of follow-ups can help win back a lot of these abandoned customers.

This is a scenario where you may use both emails and SMS to reach back to them with reminder emails.

In this case, both the SMS and email can be as little as 1-sentence, followed by a link to complete the order.

Use case#2 – Announcing A Special Limited-time Offer

It is important to create hype before launching a limited-time offer. Suppose you decided to offer a 30% discount on your products for the next 7 days.

You may send both emails and SMS

  • a few days before the campaign, announcing the start date,
  • one hour before the campaign goes live,
  • about two to three times during the campaign (with 1 to 3 days intervals),
  • one day before the campaign ends,
  • and a last call one hour prior to the campaign end time.

Here, the email can be a bit detailed and well-designed, while SMS can be a small summary of the offer with the main focus on the discount and the launch or end time of the campaign.

Use case#3 – Reminder And Follow-up Emails For Appointments

If you are collecting bookings or appointments via your funnels, then you may use SMS and emails to notify them about their meeting time prior to the meeting. Plus, you may send out follow-up offer links after the meeting.

This may not be a direct marketing approach but it’s a great way to interact with your potential prospects, which helps to gain their trust and increasing chances of closing the deals.

Use case#4 – Invite To Check Out New Arrivals

In the case of e-commerce, you may send out SMS and emails whenever you have new collections stocked up. For example, you may have brought in some new winter collections. So, you may invite people to take a look in both ways. An added discount will encourage more to visit and hopefully make purchases.

Use case#5 – Asking For Reviews

Collecting reviews and testimonials is an important part of running online businesses. And it can be easily collected by requesting one via SMS and emails.

Since it is a campaign for your existing customers, it has a higher CTR in both SMS and email marketing.

Some Reliable Tools For SMS Marketing and Email Marketing

Email Marketing ToolsSMS Marketing Tools
Mail MintTwilio

Final Verdict On SMS vs Email Marketing

So far we have seen how email and SMS marketing have their differences in metrics and ROI.

But, the final picture is, you are better off using both of them together, depending on the campaigns you run and the niche you are in.

There is no doubt that emails have higher revenue generation potential, but SMS marketing has a better outcome for branding, which is crucial to succeed with any marketing campaign.

Hence, in conclusion, you should use both if you want significant growth in your online business.

What do you think? Do you have any different verdicts or outcomes for your business? Do share it with us in the comments.


Sakiba Prima

Sakiba Prima, the Content Editor at WPFunnels is passionate about making WordPress work wonders for your business. With a flair for simple yet effective sales & marketing tactics and handy tooltips, she turns complex ideas into easy reads.

Sakiba Prima

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