Should you use email, SMS or both?

SMS vs Email diagram

There are countless options available to marketers considering how best to contact their customers. Email and SMS are two of the most popular methods of direct communication, but which is best? Each channel has their strengths and it is important to consider these when devising your marketing plan.


SMS has been around since the early 90’s, so it’s not exactly a new channel. The ubiquitous nature of mobile phones means that almost every potential customer on the planet can be reached. What marketers need to do is ensure that the pool of customers they are contacting are the right ones, and this is best achieved by using an opt-in database of numbers you have collected yourself.

Some SMS stats:

  • The average open rate for SMS is 98%
  • There are 7.3 billion confirmed active mobile devices in existence.
  • 90% of participants in an SMS campaign felt they had gained value from it.
  • 80% consumers say they have not been marketed to by SMS.
  • 57% of consumers said they would be interested in opting-in to an SMS loyalty program.
  • The opt-out rate for SMS marketing campaigns is only 5%
  • 97.5% of texts are opened within 5 seconds of being received
  • Research suggests that SMS offers / coupons are ten times more likely to be redeemed than those shared over email.

SMS is great for limited time offers, alerts and urgent messages. If you want to be sure that your message will be received almost instantly and improve the chances of it being acted upon, SMS is the channel to use.


Once upon a time, email was a new, exciting channel – revolutionary as a replacement for traditional ‘snail mail’. As technology has developed, email is no longer considered to be the fastest way to communicate, but that does not mean that it does not have its place in the modern marketing mix.

Some Email stats:

  • The average open-rates of marketing emails vary from 20-50% depending on the content
  • There are 3.6 billion email accounts in existence.
  • Email ad revenue in 2012 came to £97 billion
  • Email open rates increased 300% from 2010 to 2012 as smartphones became ubiquitous.
  • Of all the emails opened, 50% are opened on a mobile device
  • 144.8 billion emails are sent every day

Email is particularly useful for non-urgent professional communications, where large amounts of information are to be conveyed and records need to be kept. As with SMS, it is important for the recipient to have opted in; else your messages could be caught in spam traps and sent to junk folders, meaning that the opportunity has been wasted.

Our Messenger platform adds a number of advantages to traditional text messaging. These include the ability to record and store a history of conversations, excellent reporting features so you can measure the reach of your campaign, and one of e-mail’s best features – attachments. We’ve also created a surveys & forms tool, allowing you to create and send out mobile-optimised data capture forms.

Both email & SMS have their strengths, and rather than just choosing one method for all communications it would be most sensible to pick the channel based on the objectives of your campaign. The most important thing when devising your campaign is making sure that you are giving your customers what they want – and wherever your customers are, that’s where you need to be. This is where SMS really has the edge. People carry their phones with them all the time, and whilst smartphone users can pick their email up on the go, not everyone has a smartphone. SMS also has the advantage of not relying on mobile internet – meaning that for messages that get where they need to be when they need to be there, SMS is unbeatable.