Blog Post

Email vs Text: Marketing Strategy

April 1, 2021
Table of Contents

Nowadays, companies have to be open to fresh ideas and new opportunities to expand their marketing horizons. Emerging technologies have always opened up new channels, from the advent of the smartphone to the latest social media platforms.

But marketing can’t just focus on the new and forget about the old. 

With so much competition and saturation in the marketplace, the best marketing plan will strategically utilize all the potential channels at your disposal, including email and text messaging. Each has its benefits and use cases. By understanding their strengths and weaknesses, you can maximize your ROI and ensure that your marketing strategy lands. 

But can email and text messaging work in tandem as part of your new marketing strategy? 

This guide will compare and contrast email vs text to answer that question and more.

What is an Email Marketing Strategy? 

Email marketing services are yet another way you can promote your business’ goods or services. Any time a company sends an email that isn’t directly related to a customer question or order placed, it’s considered a type of email marketing. This includes:

  • Newsletters
  • Press releases
  • Sales promotions
  • Exclusive subscriber deals 
  • General messages

An email marketing strategy allows you to incentivize customer loyalty. In exchange for their email address and time (the time it takes to open and read your email), they get to be the first to know about new products, deals, services, or actions your company is taking. 

Email represents a direct marketing channel for brand promotion that doesn’t feel too much like a sales pitch. When crafted and channeled properly, email communication allows you to: 

  • Keep your customers in the loop
  • Target a specific audience with a tailored message
  • Generate leads
  • Build brand awareness
  • Foster positive relationships with customers
  • Maintain engagement between purchases

But email marketing isn’t just effective—it’s easy to employ thanks to automation. 

You can craft messages, build send-to lists, set a release schedule in the software, and then sit back and watch the engagement rise. And while flooding your customers’ inbox can be a turnoff, a strategic email campaign is still one of the best ways to boost brand loyalty and interaction.

What is Text Marketing Strategy? 

What is SMS marketing, you may ask. SMS marketing is also a direct marketing strategy. However, sms marketing best practices have  a more narrow scope than email. While emails can be anything from a general newsletter to a direct sales offer, text messages are only sent to previous customers who have consented to receive such notifications and are usually limited to two general types of messages:

  • Campaigns – The most common type of SMS marketing, campaign messages are used to offer promotions and sales or to inform customers of an event.
  • Transactional – These messages are triggered by a customer’s action or an event. For example, if you place a food order, the restaurant may send a confirmation message with an ETA for the meal.

Typically, campaign messages are more urgent in nature. They’re time-sensitive, meaning there’s a limited opportunity for the person to act. Often, they’ll urge the customer to sign up, buy now, or donate in exchange for savings, deals, or exclusive releases.  

This urgency, coupled with a limited-time offer, inspires customers to act. It channels something innate in people—a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) of sorts—that makes it an incredibly effective marketing channel. 

Comparing Email vs. SMS: How Do They Stack Up?

While both serve different purposes and are best utilized as complementary strategies, you may still wonder how they compare one-to-one. There are a few categories that help differentiate one from the other. 

In some cases, one marketing strategy is more effective. And in others, they draw similar results. 

#1 Ubiquity

Both text and email are daily facets of modern life. 

Email is one of the most common digital communication tools in use today. People email daily for work and personal reasons, plus having a valid email address is necessary for many digital actions. As Statista notes:1

“[Email] has become a new type of digital currency, for valid email addresses now function as virtual keys that unlock access to online services such as banking and shopping. Today, the number of email users worldwide stands at a record 4.03 billion.” 

Similarly, nearly every American owns a cellphone. Per Pew research, 96% of American adults own a cellphone of some kind and 81% own smartphones. More importantly, smartphone ownership is nearly universal in the all-important 18-49 demographics.2

Worldwide, cellphone ownership exceeds email—5.13 billion people have cellphones—but smartphone ownership falls below—2.71 billion.3 The location of your core consumer base will impact the ubiquity of both smartphones and email addresses.

#2 Open Rate

While you can find both digital tools in practically every U.S. household, SMS messaging has fewer barriers to entry. According to Gartner research:4 

“Various sources report SMS open and response rates as high as 98% and 45%, respectively — in contrast to corresponding figures of 20% and 6% for email.”

Even still, a 20% open rate is nothing to scoff at. Compared to other marketing channels, it’s a wildly successful number. That said, the lower number is because email has some drawbacks that text simply doesn’t have. 

For instance: 

  • Checking email can be a hassle, especially if your inbox is flooded with messages. 
  • Sometimes, messages get lost or automatically sent to your spam folder. 
  • A person may have multiple email addresses that they check with varied frequency. 
  • Not everyone checks their email daily, especially on weekends.

To put it simply, most Americans have an email address, but their ownership doesn’t always correspond to impressions, opens, clicks, or conversions. 

On the other hand, most people check their text messages immediately upon receipt. Smartphones instantly display new messages, guaranteeing eyeballs on your marketing text.

#3 Click Rate 

The click rate is the percentage of emails that got at least a single click. 

Once again, SMS has a better percentage. A 2019 study found that the average click rate for email across all industries was 2.62%.5 This pales in comparison to SMS, where 29% of SMS marketing recipients click on links they receive.6 And of those, 47% went on to make a purchase for a conversion rate of nearly 14%.  

Even though SMS may be more effective than email in that regard, both email and text can have a high click rate. How high depends on your carefully crafted copy and calls to action. Texts have limited space, which makes it challenging to compose a compelling message. 

#4 Content Strategy

As discussed, each medium opens up different marketing opportunities:

  • Email – This is ideal for both long- and short-form content. It’s multipurpose and can be used for a variety  of reasons, including:
    • Newsletters
    • In-depth educational pieces
    • Product promotions 
    • Deals and coupons
    • Blog posts
    • Building and growing a community
  • SMS – The formatting constraints really limit your options for marketing strategies. Text messaging has to be short, to the point, and tied to a highly compelling sales pitch. Common short-form usages include:
    • Quick access to important information
    • Alerts or reminders 
    • Deals and coupons 
    • Product promotions  

SMS is more limited than email when it comes to the potential use cases and the depth of detail you can include.

#5 Customization 

There’s just no contest here. When it comes to this category, email is the clear winner. With email messaging, you have the chance to personalize every little detail. Not only do you have the ability and space to tailor your message to your audience, but you can also add: 

  • Attachments 
  • Hyperlinks
  • Gifs
  • Videos

Sure, SMS can include media elements like photos, gifs, and videos, but overall there’s much less room to play around with a highly creative marketing campaign. As a result, email is ideal for relationship building and long-form content, whereas SMS is better geared toward selling something right then and there. 

Launching Your Multi-Pronged Approach to Success

Both SMS and email are effective marketing strategies, especially when used to support one another. Together, they represent some of the most powerful marketing tools at your disposal. 

So, as you prepare your campaign, consider the following tips for each medium: 

  • Email
    • Avoid email lists – Instead, focus on getting customers to opt-in and then naturally grow your subscriber base.
  • Think long term – Email can help you nurture a connection with your customer, which can evolve into a lasting relationship. And that doesn’t always have to be tied to an overt sales message.
  • Only send promotional emails when you need to – With the prevalence of spam, the last thing a customer wants is to be bombarded with endless messages. Your customers trust you. Keep it that way by only sending relevant and engaging messages that will benefit them. 
  • SMS
    • Get to know your customer – A CRM can help you analyze message success and then segment customers according to history, demographics, and behaviors. This lets you target specific segments of customers with a message that may be more applicable. 
  • Get to the point! – You have a limited window of opportunity to convey a message and provide a call-to-action. Provide all of the relevant information in clear, concise, and compelling terms.  
  • Time it right – SMS marketing is tied to a feeling of immediacy, where customers have a limited time to act. Don’t give them a week to think about an upcoming sale; rather, let them know about it right before it happens. 

Instead of email or SMS text messaging, it’s time to adopt the mindset of email and SMS—plus every other communication channel out there. It can start to seem overwhelming, but working with an experienced digital marketing agency like Power Digital will grant you access to an even deeper level of expertise, sophistication, and personalization to balance it all. 

Harness the full power of both digital marketing tools—and an entire digital marketing team—to position your business for optimal success.  

email marketing services



  1. Statista. E-mail usage in the United States – Statistics & Facts. 
  2. Pew Research Center. Mobile Fact Sheet.
  3. Leftronic. 29+ Smartphone Usage Statistics: Around the World in 2020. 
  4. Gartner. Tap Into The Marketing Power of SMS.
  5. Mail Chimp. Email Marketing Benchmarks and Statistics by Industry.
  6.  Adobe. Marketing With 98 Percent Read-Rate and 10 More Compelling Stats.

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