Text Message Marketing vs Email Marketing

🕒 8 min.

Whether you’re a service business, SaaS, or ecommerce brand, you need to be building a relationship with your customers.

In return, your customers will spend their hard earned cash on your products or services.

Text message marketing and email marketing are two of the most effective ways to stay in touch with potential customers.

But which strategy should you focus on?

In this article, I’m going to walk you through:

  • Open Rate and Click-Through Rate Benchmarks
  • Cost to Reach Your Audience
  • The ROI of Each Strategy
  • How to Combine Email and Text Message Marketing

By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of the differences, and which one you’ll want to invest in (spoiler: it might be both).

Let’s jump straight in.

Text Message Marketing vs. Email Marketing: How Do They Compare?

In this section, we’ll take a look at open rate benchmarks, costs of each channel, and the estimated ROI you can see through each channel.

1. Open Rate Benchmarks

Text Message Marketing

When was the last time you got a text or WhatsApp message and didn’t read it?

Text message marketing has exceptionally high open rates.

On average, texts are read 98% of the time, and 90% of those get read within 3 minutes.

If getting your message read quickly is key, it’s hard to beat text message marketing.

Email Marketing

The average email open rate across all industries is 21.33%, according to a Mailchimp study.

If your current campaigns are seeing anywhere from a 15-25% open rate, you’re doing a good job.

Email Open and Click rates in the United States

Unfortunately, open rates don’t always translate to action. 

For that, you should be looking at your Click-Through Rate (CTR).

The average click-through rate for emails is just 2.62%.

That said, if you have a big email list and those clicks lead to revenue, that will still have a big effect.

2. Cost to Reach Your Audience

Text Message Marketing

Text message marketing is cheap to get started with.

Individual texts don’t cost much to send, and providers like us at Instasent offer extremely competitive cost per text pricing models.

For example, if you wanted to send 1000 text messages per day, you’d only pay €0.0070 per text, or €7 per day.

Of course, costs can vary depending on the location, and whether you need to verify the identity of recipients before sending your text campaigns. All-in-all, it’s an affordable channel for most businesses, and you can find out how much it will cost in your location on our pricing page.

Email Marketing

Email marketing costs vary depending on your needs.

If you’re a brand new business, Convertkit and Mailchimp offer their email marketing platforms for free. When you hit a certain number of subscribers you’ll need to get your credit card out.

Example of email marketing pricing from Mailchimp

However, once you hit that subscriber limit, the costs will start to add up.

On average, most SMEs can expect to spend between $9 and $1000/month for their email marketing software.

You’ll also need to invest your own time (or hire someone) to create email sequences to engage with your subscribers.

3. ROI of Each Channel

Text Message Marketing

Text campaigns are ideal for real-time communication with your audience. Because of this, they usually work best for ecommerce companies. 

Most service or SaaS brands won’t see high ROI from text campaigns. It’s a channel that your audience won’t expect to hear from you on, and email is the most used communication channel..

Text message marketing has only grown in popularity in the last few years, so there are fewer large scale studies into the ROI it can generate.

That said, 65% of marketers highlight SMS and mobile marketing as a “very effective” channel, so it clearly has its place.

The ROI of text message campaigns will also depend on your audience demographics.

In the US, 18-to-24-year-olds receive and send 128 texts per day, compared to just 16 per day for those aged 55 and over.

If your audience is made up of millenials and Gen Z, text is a great way to get in touch with them. 

Email Marketing

Email is a tried and tested channel.

It’s also the most valuable marketing channel, with an ROI of $42 for every $1 spent.

Return on Investment by industry
Source: https://www.litmus.com/blog/infographic-the-roi-of-email-marketing/

It takes time to grow your email list, but if you do it correctly, the return will be worth it.

Remember, it’s not all about list size – quality matters. Companies who use double opt-ins see 13% higher ROI than those who don’t.

All in all, email marketing is a channel that’s going to generate good ROI if you follow your local privacy and anti-spam laws, and send your subscribers high-quality, valuable content regularly.

When is Text Message Marketing Best?

If you’re in B2B, you probably won’t use text message marketing that much. 

Longer sales cycles and more complicated decision-making processes mean impulse purchases are unlikely (no matter how many texts you send).

Where text message marketing truly shines is for B2C brands, especially for those in ecommerce.

It’s a perfect way to send messages that encourage action, such as:

  • Sending a coupon code to encourage a purchase
  • Notifying them that an item is back in stock
  • Scheduling an in-store appointment

You can text customers who have had an item in their basket for a certain amount of time, or send a text confirming their purchase has been dispatched.

85% of mobile users prefer a text over an email.

Texting is direct, personalized, and encourages action in a way that’s hard to replicate through any other marketing channel.

When is Email Marketing Best?

Texting has its place, but email marketing isn’t going anywhere.

73% of marketers rate email as an “excellent” channel, as it generates a large chunk of most companies’ revenue.

What marketers think of each marketing strategy

You can personalize your email campaigns by collecting personal details when someone subscribes to your email list, then use those details to customize your emails.

Like text message marketing, you can also base your email marketing on triggers.

Trigger emailing is a popular tactic, as you can send email based on defined actions like:

  • Signing up for a product demo
  • Viewing your pricing page
  • Engaging with your prior emails.

Three-quarters of email revenue is generated through trigger campaigns, because it’s the best way to get in touch with the right people, at the right time.

82% of marketers find that personalization improves their email open rates, so you’d be foolish not to do it.

Personalization's impact in customers and rates

Email marketing isn’t usually as effective as text message marketing for real-time communication.

But, that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable.

It’s perfect for long-term relationship-building, as you can send educational content, sales content, and everything in between.

How to Combine Email and Text Message Marketing

If you’re looking to get the best results, consider using both text and email in your digital marketing strategy.

Text message marketing is perfect for getting your audience to take immediate action.

But, if you’re sending texts to your customers regularly, you’re going to annoy them.

Your customers don’t want you texting them without a great reason, and in most cases, you won’t have that.

That’s where email comes in.

It’s the perfect channel for long term relationship building.

It’s more acceptable to regularly email your audience than to text them.

The two can be used hand-in-hand, as long as you use them for what they’re best for and don’t try to use them for similar purposes.

One thing to note is that if you’re already using email, and start using text message marketing, your email campaign conversion rate may drop. 

This isn’t because they’re not working, but because your text campaigns are. 

Successful text message campaigns normally result in fewer people needing to convert through email, as they’ve already taken action after the text you sent them.

Make sure to balance the channels appropriately, and use each one for messages that make sense for the channel.

Wrapping Up

Text message and email marketing are both highly effective marketing channels.

If you only send valuable messages, you can see high CTRs and high ROI from both channels.

Texts are best for time-sensitive messages, and are usually best for ecommerce brands, using them to help customers move towards a purchase.

Email marketing is best for long-term relationship building through regular, personalized communications.

It has the highest average ROI of any marketing channel. 

By incorporating both tactics into your marketing, you’ll get the best of both worlds.

Real-time messaging from texts to compliment your long-term nurturing programs through email.

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