SMS Marketing vs. Email Marketing

30 March 2012

This post looks at how SMS marketing squares up to the longer standing marketing method of Email. First, a quick overview of the benefits and draw-backs of the two marketing methods;

SMS Marketing Pros Email Marketing Pros
  • Send out time sensitive information
  • People nearly always have their mobiles with them
  • Compatible with all mobiles
  • High open rate
  • No spam filters
  • 29% response rate (SocialMediadd)
  • 45% customers notice all mobile advertising (SocialMediadd)
  • 65% of mobile phone users like promotional SMS offers sent to their phones (SocialMediadd)
  • 75% of Smartphone users prefer receiving offers via SMS (SocialMediadd)
  • Trackable – delivery reports, web link visits, response rates and opt-out rates
  • More space = more content
  • Much more visual
  • Lead to a desktop friendly web page (more capabilities)
  • Trackable – collect information on open rates, click-throughs, shares and more
SMS Marketing Cons Email Marketing Cons
  • Only 160 characters
  • Only lead to mobile sites (if web links are included)
  • May be seen as intrusive for those who do not recall signing up
  • Two-way engagement is limited
  • Limited tracking
  • Have to be at computer (not all email content is viewable on mobiles/not all phones can view emails)
  • Print out coupons – more effort and could get forgotten at home
  • Strict spam filters
  • 1% response rate (SocialMediadd)
  • Low open rate (typically between 15-30%)
  • People unconsciously filter out emails that appear to be marketing products or services

One of the benefits Email marketing has over SMS marketing is that you can include more content including pictures or video, and you can link through to a full ‘desktop website’ which allows for more interaction than mobile sites. However, both the open rate and the response rate is much lower than it is for SMS marketing, which makes the efforts of creating all that content less worthwhile.

Typically, SMS marketing is regarded as less trackable than Email marketing, however you can track SMS delivery receipts, visits to the web links which you may have included, opt-out rates, receive replies on specific promotions, and when using short codes you are able to track response rates. Click through to see our guide on measuring SMS marketing.

Mobiles do not have spam filters and a recent survey by SocialMediadd found that 65% of mobile phone users like receiving promotional offers on their phones, whereas Emails are subject to strict spam filters and many people ignore Emails which look like they are advertising.

Your marketing goals will always affect which method is best to use. Email marketing enables a more established method of two-way interaction, and the content for those who do open the emails is likely to be more engaging, whereas SMS marketing is great for sending out time-sensitive information and driving response. SMS marketing is also good for driving traffic to your mobile site and to any mobile applications you may have, and it takes much less time, cost and effort to set up and send out.

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