SMS Marketing vs. Email Marketing: The 2017 Comparison

By January 9, 2017 April 30th, 2020 No Comments

The email has been a thorn in the side of business professionals and small business owners for decades. The endless pile of messages in our inboxes, the constant battle of deciding what deserves our attention, the hundreds of different attempts at organization systems.

And yet, email has remained a mainstay of mass marketing communications. Over the years, it’s been cemented as a necessity for every type of marketing. Why is that? Email is one of the most common marketing mechanisms, but is it the most effective?

At txtsignal, we’ve seen how businesses utilize SMS marketing for clarity, immediacy, and effective business promotion. Let’s dive into the differences, and what they mean for businesses.


Just about everyone has a mobile phone.

Pew Research Center found that 91% of Americans have a mobile phone that is text-ready.

Text messaging capability is built into the default operating system of every phone produced in the last 13 years.

There’s nothing to download, no account to set up, and nothing to register for- text messaging is simply ubiquitous!

And not just that- unlimited text messaging is included on even the most basic carrier plans these days.

The availability of text messaging is part of its power. Most folks with a cell phone are within arms reach of their phone 24 hours a day. (Take a look at your own phone- I’m willing to bet it’s pretty close!)

So, there is a ready-made infrastructure for any business to tap into 290 million Americans.


SMS messages are delivered instantaneously.

Here’s a fact that should make any business owner or marketer sit up and take note:

98% of text messages are read within 2 minutes.

That’s a HUGE deal! Over a 24 hour period, that read rate nears 100%.

Compare that with email, where messages average a 20% read rate, over the entire lifetime of the email.

SMS marketing receives faster attention, driving a deeper, more personal connection.

Short (and Sweet)

With an industry-standard of 160 characters, text messages are short and can be read in seconds. This makes the impression that a business wants, but it doesn’t carry the burden of the viewer having to wade through a wall of text message.

For good or bad, most people’s attention spans are shortening. Text messages fit perfectly into how people are consuming information.

Emails never come with the “tl;dr” (too long; didn’t read) version. The text message is the “tl;dr” version of the message.

High Volume Capacity

The brief nature of text messages allows for easier consumption. It’s easy to read, respond, or handle 20-30 text messages per day. It’s light and more interactive than email, so it keeps the attention.

You know from your own experience, email zaps productivity and is more of a chore. You have to set aside time to “do email”.

SMS marketing eliminates the burden of email.

What Does That Mean for Business?

Of course, email isn’t dead. It still has its place in business and marketing- sometimes information necessitates longer-form content. It’s still a good way to distribute something like a newsletter.

The kicker is that many businesses still treat email as a one-size-fits-all solution.

Take a look at the difference in average performance for a single message on each platform:

SMS Marketing vs. Email

All too often, email newsletters suffer the same fate as the snail-mail version of the same types of messages- they end up stacked up on a virtual inbox, unread.

So what does that mean for business value?

More often than not, you don’t just want to get a message in front of your customers- you want them to engage. There’s always a next step that ties to one of your key business goals.

Meaningful calls-to-action are often either missing, not engaged with, or worse, go unnoticed.

Text messaging, especially SMS marketing, is about creating action.

Text messaging makes an impression because of the format and the speed. A well-crafted text message, sent at the right time, with an appropriate call-to-action creates customer engagement. Get your message out, into your customer’s hand, with an enticing offer and you’ll get engagement.

Engagement comes from a signal to engage, not from noise. Think about how many “subscribe to our email list” forms you skim over every day. Again, they have their purpose, but it can be hard to make something so commonplace stand out. Some of the more popular options for doing so including pop-up banners and message boxes asking for your email address. This assumes a lot, and frankly, can be annoying to your customers.

With text messaging, using a keyword-based call-to-action, you can build your customers list with your customer using only their phone.

It’s a pretty simple process: the customer texts a word (for example, “BREWSKI”) to a short phone number (called a “shortcode”) like “43506” and they are now an opted-in customer, ready to receive your next outbound message. It’s that easy.

Would you like to get your text messaging marketing list started today? Take time to try it out! It costs nothing, no credit card or commitment required. Send your first text message now, and be on track to succeed with text messaging.

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