SMS vs Email Marketing: A comparison of cost and performance

Marketing 16 minute read 10th June 2022

Marketing is an ever-evolving field. And what worked well one year may not work as well the next. So, if you want to stay ahead, you’ll need to consider and reconsider your marketing strategy frequently.

Email marketing has been the best and easiest way to reach a mass audience for many years. As such, it has been a firm favorite of business marketers. But things are changing, and you should know that text message marketing is fast becoming the star marketing channel.

It is not uncommon for companies today to use a combination of SMS and email marketing to reach their customers. If this is done well, each method can help garner significant interest and result in increasingly positive results.

But if you want to focus your efforts, you need to know how the two marketing approaches compare. This information will help you make the best decision for your business so that you can see the results you’ve been aiming for.

Below, we’ll take a look at how much SMS and email marketing cost and how they perform in comparison to each other. We’ll also discuss when you can use these channels to maximize your digital marketing campaign ROIs.

What is the difference between SMS and email marketing?

As you might know, email marketing involves sending commercial messages to a list of email accounts. SMS marketing, on the other hand, allows businesses to send similar (but shorter) messages directly to customers’ phones as a text.

While email marketing remains incredibly popular, it is facing growing challenges. One of the most notable of these is that consumers see thousands of adverts every single day. The constant presence of promotions has desensitized many and makes catching a customer’s attention even more challenging.

Amongst all of this ad chatter, text messages remain one of the least-saturated channels for promotional content. SMS marketing particularly plays into the fact that people now spend an increasing amount of time on their phones (an average of 4.8 hours per day in 2022).

Most business owners want to know how to connect with their current and potential customers. In trying to do so, they often ask which is better, email or text message? The truth, as with any marketing method, is that both SMS messages and email campaigns come with their own pros and cons.

sms vs email marketing cost effectiveness - Hours using phone

Let’s take a look at some of the most consequential ups and downs of each method so that you can better prepare your marketing strategy for success.

Advantages of SMS marketing

Explicit opt-in is required. This means that marketers are guaranteed an engaged audience who wants to receive more information from the company.

Text messages are limited to 160 characters. Consumers are more likely to open and read a message if they know it will be short, sweet, and to the point. Nobody likes having their time wasted, and SMS messages hardly take up any time at all.

SMS marketing is not as widely used as email marketing, and this allows businesses to begin conversations in a friendly tone that is more likely to appeal.

If you send a text message, it is received instantly. There’s no waiting around for you or your customers.

And text messages are opened about 98% of the time, far more than any other communication.

What’s more, no Wi-Fi is needed to send or receive a text. That’s one less barrier between you and your consumers.

And, did you know that only 3% of SMS marketing is considered spam? Unlike emails, which now often have dedicated spam folders, your message is more likely to get through to your customer. Plus, since most people aren’t dealing with an overabundance of spam text messages, they are more likely to view your message as something offering value rather than immediately dismissing it as another piece of spam.

sms vs email marketing cost effectiveness - sms span percentage

Given this information, it’s not hard to see why SMS marketing is so rapidly growing in popularity.

Advantages of email marketing

With emails, there is no limit on how much text you include. This makes it the ideal form of communication for longer-form content such as newsletters, business updates, or educational news.

Plus, emails allow you to send images as part of the message. People tend to respond to visual stimuli, and photos or graphics can be a great way to capture your customer’s attention and heart. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. This is as true as ever.

Email marketing also remains king when it comes to B2B marketing. This is likely not a surprise given that email is the most commonly used form of communication for businesses around the world.

So, there’s no getting rid of email marketing just yet. It still has plenty to offer and some major advantages that no other strategies can fulfil at this moment.

Disadvantages of SMS marketing

The character limit of SMS messages can make it tricky to include the information you want in your marketing message. Ultimately, if you have a lot to say, you won’t want to rely solely on texts to talk to your consumers.

You also cannot include any pictures in a text, which can make it challenging to fully show off a new product and visually capture your audience.

You should also be aware that there are strict rules around GDPR compliance and SMS marketing. If you fail to get explicit opt-in (for instance, by using a pre-checked box) or send too many messages (which may be seen as spam), then you won’t be compliant. Again, rules like these make it pretty difficult for businesses to rely only on SMS marketing.

It’s best to approach text message marketing with care to avoid these potential pitfalls. Knowing what to look out for is a good first step for that.

Disadvantages of email marketing

Where email has been the go-to marketing method of businesses around the world, it has also become overrun with promotions. And not all of these are genuine, there are also plenty of spam emails that no one wants to receive.

Many email providers have invented increasingly strict filters that put promotional email content straight into a spam folder to deal with the rise in spam emails.

Sadly, these folders also affect genuine promotional messages from real companies. If your email is sorted into a spam folder, the chance of people ever seeing, let alone engaging with, your marketing message reduces significantly.

How much do email and SMS marketing campaigns cost?

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of marketing. SMS campaigns are generally considered to be highly cost-effective, which is always a great thing to hear. Sending a text message every week to a subscriber list of 10,000 would cost approximately $400. Just remember that exact costs will vary depending on the provider and plan you choose.

sms vs email marketing cost effectiveness - sms marketing cost

In comparison, email marketing costs can span a much wider range, with the cheapest costing as little as $9 monthly, and rocketing all the way up to $1,000 and beyond. Generally, a self-managed email campaign will be the lowest cost option. But unless you have an internal email marketing specialist handling the campaign, you may find better engagement rates (worth spending a little extra) by working with a service provider.

And remember, you don’t have to limit yourself to just SMS or email marketing campaigns. There are other cost-effective channels out there, including influencer marketing. Many businesses overlook or are intimidated by this channel, but you don’t have to be. Check out our collaboration invite templates for help getting started.

Which marketing method is right for your business?

It is best to use a combination of SMS and email marketing if possible. Each route provides a unique set of benefits and you can make the most of these by using them together.

A hybrid approach allows you to send both long and short messages so that you can keep your customers consistently and effectively updated.

For instance, you may use email to provide customers with longer and media-rich content. It’s a great way to keep customers in the know about what your business is up to.

SMS messages, on the other hand, are perfect for sending time-sensitive information like delivery tracking information or announcing a flash sale.

Is SMS marketing still effective in 2022?

SMS marketing remains highly effective and is still relatively under-used by businesses in today’s market.

The open rate of SMS messages (98%) is hard to beat. Frankly, there are very few alternative communication channels that can provide any similar level of guarantee that customers will see your marketing message, let alone engage with it.

If you want to stay GDPR compliant and ensure your customers remain happy to receive messages from your company, we recommend only sending between 4 and 6 messages a month. This text frequency tends to have the best response rates.

Is email marketing still effective in 2022?

While email marketing may not have the same prevalence over other digital marketing approaches as it once did, that is not to say it isn’t effective. Email marketing is still a vital and indisposable form of communication between businesses and customers.

Which performs better, SMS or email marketing?

SMS has far higher open and click-through rates than email marketing. In fact, between 50 and 85% of emails sent are considered spam. This is in stark comparison to SMS messages, which have a far lower rate of spam or spam-like messages.

However, that doesn’t mean that email marketing is not worth it.

Ultimately, there is no rule to say that you have to use just one communication channel when planning your business’s marketing strategy. In fact, the most competitive businesses use a multi-channel approach to ensure they catch as many customers and as much interest as possible.

The best results are achieved when a business understands how and when to utilise each different approach to contact customers.

Now that you know more about email and SMS marketing, and how best to use them, it’s time to get back to the drawing board.

And before you go, consider that nothing is limiting you to just SMS or email marketing. Proximity marketing can also be a great way to harness your WI-FI and retain customers by using their location and personal data to aid your communication.

To find out more about the possibilities of proximity marketing and how it could help your business build lasting customer connections, visit Beambox today.

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