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Email vs SMS: Who wins as the best communication tool?

Businesses use various methods of reaching customers, with email as one of the most common forms. But more and more customers aren’t reading emails.

If you’re looking for another communication channel, you might want to consider SMS. Find out below how SMS and email fare compared to one another.

Why email communications don’t work anymore

1. Emails are too long

Email can be a great tool, but it also allows for long-winded communication. With no word limit or reason to remain brief, emails don’t require conciseness. Younger workers bring other platforms of communication to the workplace, such as texting and social media, that make information more readily available and consumable while on the go.

Workers today are often focusing on many different tasks at once. This means people simply do not have the time to read through lengthy emails; particularly when the email is not critical to the work at hand.

2. Low open rates and click-through rates

The open rate for any email campaign averages at around 22 percent. The average click-through rate – the number of recipients who have clicked through to one link in the email – is on the decline, currently sitting at four percent. That means most consumers are not finding email relevant enough to click on. It’s clear low open and click-through rates of emails prevent businesses from reaching all, or even most, of their customers.

3. Too many emails per day

In 2018, about 281 billion emails are sent and received worldwide every day. By 2022, this figure is expected to grow to 333 billion emails. For the average workers, this translates to over 120 emails a day. When receiving this number of emails, employees will read only the most important ones and ignore the non-crucial emails, leaving your business’s emails to sink quickly to the bottom of the inbox.

4. Email requires relevance and high volume for impact

You can’t send a single email to your customer list and expect it to have an impact. Email marketing requires both time and resources to sure it is highly relevant and consists of several pieces of contact to make a large impact on your target audience. It requires a balance between maximising audience interaction and accidentally spamming them. If you don’t email enough you risk a lack of brand awareness, but too many emails risks annoying your audience to the point they unsubscribe.

Why SMS offers better customer engagement

Text messaging has remained largely unchanged since it first appeared, however, for many reasons it is still a highly effective means of communication.

1. Better open rates, higher response rates

Mobile phones are powerful tools for communication in the business world. The SMS open rate is close to 98 percent, a whopping 390 percent more compared to emails. Further, 90 percent of texts are read within three minutes of sending, and the SMS response rate is close to 45 percent, easily beating the email response rate of four percent.

2. Text messages get to the point

The way people consume information is changing and SMS for business suits this change. SMS messaging requires the sender to be concise and to the point, making the message easily consumable for busy customers. Businesses can make an impression, without cluttering your customer’s inbox.

3. SMS provides instant communication

SMS for business provides quick and simple communication. In a survey summarised by Forbes, 76 percent of respondents stated they are likely to read a message faster in an SMS message compared to an email. As mentioned, 90 percent of SMS messages are opened within three minutes, proving SMS messages to be timelier than emails.

4. Text messaging is affordable for everyone

Simply put, SMS messaging is cheaper than email marketing. Emails require creative work, such as layout design and content writing, which takes time and effort to complete. In comparison, the higher response rate of SMS messages compared to emails means you spend fewer resources for a better return on investment.

5. SMS makes it easier to be personal

SMS messaging allows your business to tailor messages using specific information about your customers. By utilizing existing data on customer demographics, buying patterns and geographic location, you can target an SMS campaign to the right target audience. This means you don’t waste time and resources reaching out to the incorrect customers, instead reaching out to those who are most interested.

Why SMS email marketing together is best

They always say two heads are better than one.

The same could be said of your communication tools. If you’re already using email, consider adding not switching out for SMS. If you want to have greater impact with your communications, consider building cross channel campaigns that utiise a mix of different channels that complement each other.

Email, for example, is better for communications that aren’t urgent, have a longer lead time and require more detail and information. SMS, in comparison, is better for shorter, more pointed and urgent communications. Using them together can be really beneficial if you are strategic.

For example, some MessageMedia customers might send out email communications such as offers or payment invoices to clients and customers first. If customers don’t respond or open their emails, timed SMS messages are used to follow up or remind customers. As SMS cuts through like no other channel, this can help prompt customers to jump on a sale or make sure they follow up with payment almost immediately.

RELATED: Learn how easy it is to integrate SMS with other channels in HubSpot with our introductory guide to cross channel campaigns.

Leading online wine retailer Vinomofo wanted to reach more customers. They added SMS to their HubSpot email workflows with our integration SMS for HubSpot to improve their re-engagement campaigns. Not only did this deliver 120x ROI, and increased conversions by 21% – they also recovered 50% more customers.


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Final thoughts, further reading

While email’s power may be dwindling, it still has its advantages. Instead of comparing one channel with another, use them both to leverage their benefits and consider using them strategically to boost one when the other is less optimal.

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