SMS vs. Email Marketing: Which Is Better?

by Stephanie Koehler | December 12, 2022

Have you ever considered just how much the internet and smartphones have changed the marketing game? Advertising gurus of past generations couldn’t imagine the access we now have to people’s attention and time. At a moment’s notice, we can reach into someone’s pocket and drop a message, advertise a new service, or reinforce your firm’s brand identity.


There’s a flipside to this level of unprecedented access: everyone else has it, too. Figuring out how to get your message across in a sea of marketing noise becomes a question of format and approach. Let’s look at two messaging options: SMS/text message marketing and email marketing. Which one is better for your firm, and why?


Well, spoiler warning, they both have their merits, and the best medium for communication depends on the kind of message you’re trying to share.


What They Have In Common


These two forms of communication might seem indistinguishable: both SMS and email are primarily built around text (as opposed to images or video), and they’re usually delivered directly to a target individual’s smartphone or other devices.


Email and SMS marketing are both forms of direct communication with contacts using first-party data. First-party data refers to information a company owns, collected directly from that company’s customers or database-building efforts. This data is some of the most accurate and potent data at your disposal. It includes email addresses, phone numbers, and related metadata like names and addresses. Firms can collect first-party (with cj’s help!) through promotions like giveaways and public outreach campaigns.


Another similarity is that both SMS and email marketing must comply with FCC rules. This means that contacts must provide their consent to be marketed to in writing. Email marketing can also be consented to orally, while SMS messages can’t.


FCC rules also dictate that customers must be provided a way to opt out of receiving advertisements. Your marketing emails should have an effective way to unsubscribe from messages, and your SMS messages should include an opt-out command (like replying ‘STOP’). You may be tempted to hide or obscure an unsubscribe button, but doing so increases the chances your message will be marked “spam” by users. Always provide an opt-out option honestly and clearly.


When to Use Email Marketing


Email marketing is a powerful tool for firms to share information and resources with their clients and potential clients. Newsletters, eblasts and lead nurture email programs, help firms keep their customers informed about new services , upcoming events, and news related to the firm. Email can help to direct traffic to your firm’s website, which is an important step in acquiring new clients.


Another strength of email marketing is its ability to build brand awareness. By consistently sending relevant and engaging content to customers like blog posts, safety tips, and videos, marketing automation, and specifically cj’s Core Drip program, can help establish your firm as a source of educational and relevant information, which can lead to increased customer loyalty.


In contrast to email marketing, SMS marketing has some limitations. For example, SMS messages are often limited to 160 characters, which can make it difficult to share detailed information or offers with customers. SMS marketing is also limited to certain times: between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in the local time zone. Additionally, SMS messages can be more intrusive than email, as they are received directly on a customer’s personal device. This can lead to a higher rate of opt-outs and unsubscribes from SMS marketing campaigns.


When to Use SMS Marketing


SMS has its own specific use-cases, too. It’s an excellent tool for building and reinforcing client relationships. By sending automated, timely reminders, firms can improve their customer service and help clients remember important dates or events, which can be especially useful for appointments, deadlines, and payments.


SMS marketing is also great for sharing an actionable request. Because messages are delivered directly to a user’s phone, they are more likely to see and quickly respond. This makes SMS marketing an effective way to ask for feedback, request a call back, or invite a client to take a specific action.


Because SMS messages are short and to the point, they are well-suited for delivering information that is time-sensitive and requires immediate action.


In comparison to email marketing, SMS messages have a higher open rate and faster response time. While email marketing is a more flexible and customizable tool, it can be less effective at getting a timely response from contacts. Email messages are often buried in a user’s inbox and may be ignored or deleted without being read. SMS messages, on the other hand, are delivered directly to a user’s phone and are more likely to be read and acted upon. This makes SMS marketing a valuable tool for firms that need to reach contacts quickly and efficiently.


A Two-Pronged Approach Is Your Best Bet!


Both SMS marketing and email marketing are great ways for firms to use first-party data to reach their clients and potential customers. While SMS marketing is effective at delivering time-sensitive, actionable messages, email marketing is better suited for building a large database of contacts and segmenting audiences. SMS marketing and email marketing are both valuable tools in your marketing toolbelt; effectively using these tools in tandem is your best bet for maximizing your firm’s marketing potential.