email vs sms: which channel you should choose and why

Email vs SMS: Which channel you should choose and why.

Hi everyone! The way that we communicate with our customers is changing – and SMS is coming in hot. But, it’s really important to understand when to leverage SMS (especially when using it instead of email). I have a lot of great resources on email marketing on my blog, so please feel free to check those out for a more email-focused look. 

Did you know that the average open rate for text message marketing campaigns is 98%, compared to a 20% open rate for email marketing campaigns? (Source)

That’s huge! SMS is a great addition to any Lifecycle or B2B communication strategy, but understanding its place is key for success. 

Let’s dive in

When should I use SMS?

Email is a great medium for sending longer, richer messages that include images and attachments, and can be saved for a later date. SMS, on the other hand, is the perfect communication channel for concise, timely information or discounts. Email and SMS are complementary channels, and if you use them correctly, you can create a seamless customer communication experience.

75% of people wouldn’t mind receiving an SMS text message from a brand if they opt-in for the service. (Source)


For example, you can send your customer an appointment confirmation receipt via email, and follow up with an SMS message reminder on the day of the appointment. Similarly, you can send a brief mass text message to encourage your customers to subscribe to your email list for exclusive offers and promotions. 

Creative approaches like these provide your business with more opportunities to begin or continue rewarding conversations with your customers.

When deciding between sending an email or SMS message, it is important to ask yourself these questions:

  • How time-sensitive is the communication?
  • Does the message require two-way communication?
  • Will the message contain rich media?
  • Will your customers have to access this message at a later date?

The main criteria to take into account when incorporating SMS to your existing email program are archival and urgency. If your message requires urgent action or is time-sensitive, SMS is the more effective communication channel. If your message needs to be saved by your customers for a later date, email might be the best way to go. 

It’s also important to consider using both channels for important information, but remember not to message too frequently on either channel (please).

Choosing the right provider

Don’t have an SMS tool? Here are my top SMS providers that I’d recommend to someone just getting started: 

  • Haymarket
  • Attentive
  • ESPs with SMS:
  • Braze
  • Klaviyo
  • Iterable

I’ll be writing more on each of these tools soom, but for now you can get a snapshot into Klaviyo by reading my recent post: Monthly Tool Spotlight: Klaviyo.

Some reminders when incorporating SMS into your strategy….


1. Get permission 

Like email, it’s important that you get permission to send messages to your customers through SMS. You can request that your customers opt-in to receive your text messages through an online form or by texting or responding to the message with a keyword or phrase. 

For example: “Text MOBILE to 75757 to subscribe to our texting list and get 20% off your next purchase!

2. Use shortcode 

Shortcodes are 5 or 6 digit phone numbers specifically made for mass mobile communications. Every time your company sends a marketing message, it goes through the same shortcode, making it an important component of your brand identity. 

Use a shortcode with a catchy repetition of numbers that is easy to remember (such as 55055) in order to maximize your SMS efforts. 

3. Ensure deliverability 

Comply with state or local regulations and wireless carriers’ messaging policies to ensure SMS deliverability. By choosing a reliable API, you can send and receive SMS with custom shortcodes, engage in two-way conversation, and use images and attachments that are automatically optimized for mobile.

4. Keep it simple

Use keywords and clear calls-to-action to send concise, relevant text messages to your customers. And remember, every carrier receives SMS differently. Limiting your message to 160 characters or less (but a max of 250) will make sure that your messages come through as one, cohesive unit vs in multiple messages.

5. Don’t over send! 

Keep in mind your sending frequency, and don’t over send on either channel. Be strategic with not only how, but when you communicate with your customers. It is already overwhelming enough getting too many irrelevant emails, but imagine blowing up someone’s phone? SMS is a little more personal and thus needs to be strategized & impactful.

The key takeaways:

By incorporating SMS into your existing marketing strategy, you can reach customers at every stage of their lifecycle with your brand on the channels that they prefer. 

By optimizing your marketing efforts to meet customer preferences, you demonstrate your dedication to providing top-notch service and empowering your customers. 

Leveraging SMS with email is a great way to build brand awareness and increase customer loyalty. So, start strategizing now. What is one way you can incorporate SMS to compliment your email messages? Let me know in the comments below!

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