SMS vs. Email: Which Channel is Best for Sales Conversations?

a phone receives a text notification

SMS vs. Email: Which Channel is Best for Sales Conversations?

In 2020, the global email marketing market was valued at 7.5 billion dollars — and it’s expected to rise to 17.9 billion in 2027. That’s a 138% increase, and while it gives the appearance that email marketing is still the dominant way for companies to give their brand a voice, there are other ways to get the message across. 
Social media, instant messaging, and chatbots are helpful alternatives to email marketing, but SMS marketing surpasses them all in many important metrics. The instant access that SMS marketing provides results in higher audience engagement, leading many to ask, “Which is the best channel: SMS or email?”
It’s a tough decision, but when comparing SMS vs. email marketing, there are a few factors that can help you make the right choice. We’ll take a look at them now.

SMS vs. Email: What To Consider

As customer preferences evolve and new marketing tools emerge, the question of whether the best channel is SMS or email will always be at the forefront of marketers’ minds. We’ll look deeper into each of these as we go, but some of the most common marketing channel variables to consider are:

  • Open rate. More customers open text messages than emails — and it’s not even close. The average open rate for an SMS campaign is over three times higher than for emails, giving companies that use them a greater chance of having their messages seen. 
  • Deliverability. The reason for the higher open rate is that SMS messages notify customers immediately, and they’re more likely to open text messages promptly. Typically within 90 seconds, companies can gain their clients’ attention via text. 
  • Click-through rate (CTR). The percentage of customers who follow through on clicking the desired link, SMS messages have a 19% CTR, while marketing emails hover around 4%. Text messages not only elicit a faster response, but they’re also more likely to convert. 
  • Cost. Between message length, the number of messages sent, and service fees, SMS messages have greater variance than emails. Their costs differ by industry, but email campaigns are usually less expensive. 
  • Customization. SMS messages are usually limited to 160 characters, and with no visuals, they can be much more difficult to customize than emails. For campaigns involving graphics, logos, videos, or other personalization, emails are often the route to take. 

When deciding between text vs email, one variable remains the same: you must have the customer’s consent before you can begin sending messages. Offering rewards for opting in is one way to gain consent, but companies should make sure they only send messages to subscribers in order to maintain compliance. 

Why Email?


Email is the established marketing channel of choice and for good reason. Email marketing generates $42 for every dollar spent — a return on investment (ROI) you’re unlikely to find very often. That’s because it’s highly versatile, efficient, and consistent, but it’s not for every market. Here are the pros and cons.

1. Anticipation

Customers expect emails. As of 2019, 61% of customers preferred email as their primary mode of contact, in part because they felt this was the most trusted form of communication. The prevalence of emails also creates a greater sense of legitimacy, causing consumers to place greater trust in their brand. 
Some customers don’t just expect to be contacted via email — they may even look forward to receiving a message from a brand they enjoy. This is especially true at times of the year when seasonal promotions are at their highest or recipients sign up for updates or ongoing notifications. 

2. Segmentation

There are many high-powered analytical tools that deliver data-driven insights to marketers seeking to better understand their audience, and email campaigns are especially easy to dissect. Bounce rate, CTR, and a host of other campaign metrics can easily show the effectiveness of each marketing email sent, helping brands see which products drove the most interest and which demographics were most intrigued. 

3. Automation 

Roughly 319.6 billion emails were sent out every day in 2021, many of which were marketing emails. The sheer volume of emails that marketers send means that automation is a necessity, and sequence templates make the process simple. When combined with analytics software that shows when customers are most likely to respond, marketers can easily automate their campaigns to launch when the time is right.


The high ROI and customization that emails offer are other benefits that often make them the method of choice, but they do have some drawbacks that marketers should consider. 

1. Less Follow-through

Emails are viewed and acted upon much less often than texts. Across all industries, average open rates were 29.55% in 2021, a fraction of the 98% open rate of text messages. Moreover, CTR is roughly 4% across all industries — text message CTR is 19.4% — so not only are customers less likely to see email campaigns, they’re even less likely to convert.

2. Lower Visibility

Part of the reason for email’s lower conversion rate is that customers may never see the messages that are sent. Filters like Gmail’s “Important” list prioritize the messages that viewers wish to see, and many of those go straight to the junk folder because they are thought to be spam. 
If customers do choose to open an email, they’re unlikely to do it the moment it’s sent. The average email response time is 90 minutes compared to 90 seconds with text messages among millennials, and this delay could cause some to miss out on valuable promotions and offers. 

3. Spammy Appearance

Lower visibility is caused in part by spammy content. Impersonal messages, poorly designed logos, or stuffed keywords and links not only get blocked as spam, but they can also violate customer trust. Customization like adding graphics or logos can make messages look more legitimate, so the personalization capabilities of email are an important way to avoid the junk folder.

Why SMS?


As popular email marketing is, SMS messaging is rapidly gaining ground. Ideally suited for high-deliverability applications, text messages place brands in front of their audience faster than other channels. 

1. A Faster Response

As shown above, customers are much more likely to promptly respond to text messages than emails. This makes text messages an ideal way to communicate with on-the-go customers who don’t have the time to open their email accounts, and it increases the odds that consumers will respond to time-sensitive offers.  

2. High Engagement

Because customers receive their messages almost immediately, text messages often generate much higher engagement. They also have much shorter messages and concise links, making it more convenient for subscribers to reply. Of all totaled, 68% of consumers prioritize text messaging over phone calls, email, social media, and news headlines.

3. Internet-free

Unlike email, text messages don’t depend on the internet. The vast majority of mobile users can regularly access the web, but some customers may not have internet connection. By using text messaging, companies can broaden the reach of their brand. 


A rapid response time and high engagement rates are often why companies choose text messaging as their campaign channel, but there are still pitfalls to navigate. 

1. Character Quotas  

The 160-character limit means that SMS messages must be concise, have an immediate call to action (CTA), possess short links, and have no fluff at all. Such a direct messaging style is useful for brief alerts and updates, but it doesn’t work well when detailed features or longer content is needed. 

2. Costs 

Marketing email costs are usually lower and more predictable than text messages. SMS messaging is subject to carrier fees and regional expenses, so text campaigns can potentially be more expensive. 

3. Trust

With fewer graphics and logos to identify your brand, customers can sometimes be suspicious about whether or not the text they are receiving is authentic. When brand trust declines, conversion rates fall as well. You should only send text messages at times when subscribers are likely to expect them.  


Now that you know the benefits and drawbacks of SMS vs email marketing, here are a few applications where each best comes into play. 
The personalization and analytics-friendliness of emails are helpful for:

  • Newsletters 
  • Seasonal offers
  • Shipping orders 
  • Periodic updates 
  • Targeted sales 

The immediate delivery and convenient engagement of text messaging are best used for:

  • Appointment reminders
  • Delivery alerts
  • Quick notifications
  • Time-sensitive offers
  • Financial alerts
  • Future sales calls

Ultimately, a multichannel campaign strategy that capitalizes on the advantages of both is most likely to convert, but if faced with a choice between the two, consider the nature of your campaign and use the channel that fits the best.  

Aktify: Your AI Messaging Provider

One of the best ways to balance the personalized benefits of emails with the deliverability of a text campaign is to send real messages that don’t sound like they’ve come straight from a server. Aktify’s cutting-edge text automation software is based on advanced machine learning algorithms to create conversations that remove suspicion and delight consumers with an authentic texting experience. The result is higher conversions — to the tune of a 10X higher ROI — and a boost to the bottom line. 
If you’d like to improve your subscribers’ texting experience and elevate your profits in the process, contact us today. 

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