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SMS vs Email Marketing

SMS vs. Email Marketing – Is That Even The Right Question Anymore?

SMS or email marketing? Time to quit being on the fence. Leverage both SMS and email to maximize your reach, refine targeting, & boost sales....

One of the paralyzing effects of choice results from a simplistic top-down overview of the options available. The distinctions appear sharp, the lines don’t meet, any scope of overlap seems impossible. If you’re experiencing analysis paralysis when choosing between SMS and email, it means at least this: you’ve understood the pros and cons of both options. 

But clearly, wanting both and neither is unproductive. That’s not a helpful position to be in. It’s a waste of time and mind. 

But what if you didn’t have to choose per se? The fact is, effective digital marketing exists on a spectrum. The best approach leverages the strengths of both. That’s been our approach so far when it comes to email and SMS. Coupled with the desire to engage with and respect the choices of our audience. (The latter part is critical; being people-centric facilitates intuitive decision-making.) 

In this blog post, you’ll learn how to utilize email and SMS marketing. Not necessarily in opposition to each other. But chiefly collectively. Let’s get started. 

The relationship between email and SMS marketing

Mentioning email and SMS together is not jargoning. The similarities between the two are real:

  • Both email and texts are checked on mobile devices. (Mobile clients make up 41.6% of email opens)
  • Both email and SMS are two-way communication channels.
  • Both email and SMS require users to opt-in. So both are forms of permission marketing.
  • Both email and SMS allow for segmentation and personalization. 

These similarities show how email and SMS marketing can complement each other. Using both together leads to more people taking action. In fact, according to Omnisend, campaigns using both SMS and email are 429% more likely to trigger purchases. This is because you’re increasing the channels of reception. If someone misses an important email, you can still contact them through text. 

This leads us to another significant realization: the differences between email and SMS marketing are just as strong an argument for a combined approach as their similarities. If not more so. The pathways of email and SMS are different. At more technical levels, their use cases also differ. Their starting points are not the same either. 

All this lends flexibility to your marketing campaigns. Betting on their unique roles, you can use SMS and email to streamline next steps based on the ever-evolving status of your communications with your audience.

“Done right, bundling email and SMS can jump start any type of customer journey, as each channel has its own qualities to build engagement, leverage them together, and you can shorten the nurturing phase with a seamless experience that meets customers on the channel of their choice, at that time in their customer journey,” says Elizabeth Ciccolo, former Senior Email Marketing Manager at MedBridge. 

We’ll explore some of the cool ways you can combine email marketing and SMS to maximize reach and drive engagement. But first, let’s understand in what ways each channel can contribute to your campaigns. 

Read more: How to get started with Klaviyo SMS marketing

Advantages of SMS marketing

1. Narrow point of impact

SMS is perfect for sending timely alerts, appointment reminders, flash sales, seasonal promotions, day-to-day offers, etc. 

The character limit also helps getting the message across. It’s direct targeting that commands immediate attention and doesn’t require much cognitive effort from the recipient (assuming you’re not firing texts to random strangers). 

Narrow point of impact by SMS

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2. High engagement

The average open rate of text campaigns is 98%. It’s likely that even the outlying 2% will eventually check their text messages. 

In this SMS, Beachwaver utilizes the engagement potential of text to send a cart abandonment reminder. Note the text’s brevity and informal tone. 

High engagement

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3. Personalization 

It’s unfortunate that SMS is often labeled aggressive. That’s because hustlers have been abusing the channel, desperate to be heard. 

But SMS is not essentially aggressive. If you text someone who opted in to receive your pings, you have no problem. But you don’t stop at consent. 

You still need to text the right message to the right people. Personalization is key. 

The following SMS from Rainbow is directed at a specific customer, Ruby, not a stranger who might be unaware of the brand.


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4. Measurable

Like email campaigns, SMS marketing is measurable. SMS analytics helps you to monitor, analyze, and optimize your campaigns for further improvement and long-lasting engagement. Here is an example of SMS analytics on Attentive. 


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Advantages of email marketing

1. Rich media, storytelling, empirical value 

Although certain SMS platforms accommodate rich media, email surpasses them in versatility. With email, you can incorporate images, videos, GIFs, animations, games, and more. 

What sets email marketing apart from SMS is its empirical value. Unlike SMS, email engagement extends beyond mere metrics; it strives for dynamic, sensory interaction. This unique approach facilitates brand awareness and fosters long-term relationships through storytelling. Here’s an example of rich media in email. 

2. Extensive behavioral data landscape  

While SMS marketing does offer segmentation and personalization capabilities, email marketing enjoys a broader psychographic reach.

Email campaigns benefit from a wider scope, enabling subscribers to interact with emails in various ways. This diverse interaction pattern gives marketers a plethora of behavioral cues, empowering them to target subscribers based on even the smallest actions. 

3. Long-form content

Long-form content is chiefly what gives email marketing its empirical value. 

There are no length restrictions. While subscribers do prefer skimmable content, they’re not unwilling to engage with emails. Remember, email is not just text. Subscribers are more likely to dedicate time to interact with your emails and enjoy the rich media elements they contain. Check out this email from Goldbelly. 

If your emails are relevant and valuable, that’ll translate into more scroll depth. Multiple CTAs will also prevent scrollback.

4. Effective lead nurturing

SMS and email marketing in action

Now that we’ve left the “email marketing vs. SMS marketing” debate behind, let’s explore how SMS and email can work in tandem.

1. Gift-giving campaigns

During seasonal campaigns, ecommerce brands often send detailed gift guides to their email subscribers. Yet, not all recipients proceed to make purchases. 

In such instances, brands can employ a final strategy by sending text messages to these subscribers on the day of the special occasion. Uncommon Goods seems to have taken this approach for Father’s Day. First, an email; then a short text with the URL. 

Gift-giving campaigns
Gift-giving campaigns

2. Transactional messages

Sending transactional notifications is one of the most common uses of the combined approach. You can send order confirmations via SMS and email the details.

In this example, IGP sends order confirmations via both SMS and email. However, the content differs between the two. The email notification includes detailed information such as the order number, amount, product image, recipient and sender details, and sender address. In contrast, the SMS only provides the order ID and tracking option. 

transactional notifications
transactional notifications

“Generally, SMS can be an effective way of building relationships with customers in a post-transaction environment. It’s great for providing specific and targeted information about a transaction,” argues Paul Christmann, Chief Innovation Officer at 

3. Encouraging cross signups

You can send a text encouraging email signups and send an email encouraging text signups. It’s a clever way to maximize your reach. In either case, you can incentivize the signup process by offering discounts. 

4. Limited-time sale campaigns

For a limited-time sale, combine SMS and email. A calibrated mix of email and SMS reminders will effectively encourage purchases. 

That’s how Purity Coffee leverages SMS and email for their Mother’s Day campaign.

Mother’s Day campaign

5. Abandoned cart reminders

Abandoned cart reminders aren’t limited to email. You can also send text reminders, as cart abandonment indicates strong interest from the subscriber. You should follow up with the leavers, potentially incentivizing the purchase over time. 

That’s a common strategy to boost sales. By sending reminders on both channels, Boston Proper witnessed a 177x ROI

Abandoned cart
Abandoned cart

Read more: 8 Abandoned Cart Email Ideas Best Practices

6. Giveaway contests

You can combine SMS and email to promote contests and drive sales. 

In this regard, Kodiak Cakes’ Father’s Day campaign is inspiring. The brand launched the campaign via email and SMS, offering subscribers a chance to bag a $100 gift card. Have a look at the campaign’s SMS and email avatars. Do you see the similarities and differences we talked about? 

Kodiak Cakes’ Father’s Day campaign

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Are you ready for email and SMS marketing?

Summing up, there are four main reasons why you should combine email and SMS:

  1. Unified data access
  2. More targeted approach
  3. Better reach
  4. Greater ROI 

Not sure which SMS and email marketing platform to springboard off? Our email experts specialize in over 50 ESPs, most of which include SMS and email marketing features. Let us guide you. 

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A realist at heart and an idealist at head, Susmit is a content writer at Email Uplers. He has been in the digital marketing industry for half a decade. When not writing, he can be seen squinting at his Kindle, awestruck.



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