SMS or email marketing

The Effectiveness of Email Marketing Versus SMS Marketing

When it comes to email marketing and SMS, marketers aren't sure which marketing channel performs best. Is email marketing dying? Should you focus on SMS?
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Updated: 11/26/2019 with new email marketing and SMS marketing statistics as well as new industry specific SMS templates for review requests.

When it comes to email marketing and SMS, marketers aren't sure which marketing channel performs best. Is email marketing dying? Should you focus on SMS? Are these still viable channels to use? There seems to be a lot of confusion about this topic.

It's a problem.

You need to a consistent way to get in touch with your customers. In the past, email marketing was the default channel for marketers. Email was a simple way to attract customer attention consistently — an easy way to request reviews.

Not anymore.

Are experts right about the death of email?

In 2007 Slate predicted the death of email. Then in 2010, Sheryl Sandberg predicted the death of email. Over the years, several experts have predicted the death of email.

SMS has been touted as the next big thing.

There's just one problem. The experts were wrong about the death of email. It isn't dying so much as it's changing. The way we use email, it's maturing. As new patterns and technology emerge, email is becoming focused, more niche.

Does this mean it's dying?

Not at all. Research from Statista shows it's actually the opposite. Email usage continues to grow!

Statistic: Number of e-mail users worldwide from 2017 to 2023 (in millions) | Statista

Statistic: Number of e-mail users worldwide from 2017 to 2023 (in millions) | Statista


Well maybe email's growth is simply limited to professional environments.


Statistic: During what events during your day do you read e-mail? | Statista

Statistic: During what events during your day do you read e-mail? | Statista

See the pattern?

We're checking our emails primarily during work and our dead time. We're bored or we're in the middle of a routine or mundane task. Using the bathroom, commuting, waiting for a meeting, in bed, etc.


Maybe it's an older segment of the population. I mean millennials aren't using email right?

Bzzzt! Wrong again.

Young people are email prodigies

Adobe's email consumer survey found that young people (18 - 34) were obsessed with email. It's sticky with consumers and professionals overall. In fact, 66% of these young people reported reaching inbox zero - that's right.

adobe email survey graph - young people, inbox zero

They've actually done it.

What's more surprising about all of this is the fact that consumers actually want email from brands. Almost two thirds of consumers, 61 percent, prefer to receive offers via email.

consumers prefer offers via email

Dig deeper and you'll find the research backs this up. Email as a marketing channel is here to stay.

What's changing then?

Users are looking for balance. They're doing their best to manage email on top of the other demands on their time.

What about SMS?

The research on SMS shows some amazing results. It's a rapidly growing channel with a promising future for marketers but, what does the evidence say?

On the surface this seems clear.

It seems as if SMS marketing is the clear winner. With SMS, messages are delivered instantly. The content has to be short and sweet. It's cheap.

And the best part?

Customers can handle between 20 to 30 text messages per day!

It's beautiful.

Here's why this is a problem.

SMS vs. email: The hidden problem

Approx. 269 billion emails were sent and received each day in 2017. That number is expected to climb to 333 billion emails in 2022.

Statistic: Number of sent and received e-mails per day worldwide from 2017 to 2022 (in billions) | Statista

Statistic: Number of sent and received e-mails per day worldwide from 2017 to 2022 (in billions) | Statista

What about SMS?

Only 26 billion texts are sent in the US every day, not including app-to-app messaging. What's worse, consumer adoption is surprisingly low. Only 54% of consumers have opted in to receive SMS messages from brands or businesses.

sms optin

You see the obvious problem, right?

It's an issue of volume. These two channels aren't even close. Email marketing has widespread adoption. It's pretty unlikely that email will be dislodged or unseated overnight.

Then there's spam.

Nearly 6 in 10 SMS users receive spam on a weekly basis, whether they've opted in or not. This makes it harder for unknown brands to get their messages through to consumers. It can work, but there are challenges.

emarketer SMS spam

What does this mean for marketers?

Email marketing vs. SMS: It's not either/or, it's both

These channels have a unique role in consumers’ minds. A recent report outlined the reasons behind consumers opting in to SMS messages:

1. Coupons and deals

2. Personal alerts (e.g. low balance, account updates, notifications, etc.)

3. Being in the loop

4. More meaningful content

5. Don't want to visit brand website/app for information

6. Quick access to information.

On the other hand, email is multipurpose. It's something customers have grown accustomed to, where it's used for a variety of purposes.

  • Email is used to inform and educate
  • Provide coupons and deals
  • Build, establish and maintain community
  • Sell products and services
  • Provide exclusivity and prestige
  • Give deep, meaningful content
  • Request feedback, action or advice

There's some overlap here. What does this mean for you?

You can use both.

If you have to use one, email marketing is probably the safer bet. But using both options can yield significant results. Smart Insights found sending out a simple follow up SMS message "have you read your email?" increased email open rates by an additional 20 to 30%!

It gets better.

SMS, when combined with other channels like email, improves customer engagement levels. Customer retention rates are higher and it's an additional touchpoint you can use to learn more about your customers.

This is perfect if you’re using emails to request reviews.

Wait a minute.

What about differences in demographics? Won't this affect your response rates?


There are significant differences in demographics. A study from OneReach found only 75% of 50 to 64-year-olds used their phone to send SMS messages compared to 97% of 18 to 29-year-olds.

There's also gender.

This study found women tend to read SMS messages less frequently than men.

It's complicated.

Which is actually good news in disguise. This encourages marketers to spend more time getting to know their customers.


There's a significant amount of variation. What's true in one industry or demographic may not be true in yours. Spending time with your customers ensures that you get these details right.

Here's why.

Demographics tell you how to use these marketing channels

Lets say your customers are sophisticated users. You want to create a review request campaign. What's the best way to use these marketing channels?

It's simple.

1. Talk to your customers. Map their demographics and psychographics. Get a sense of who they are and what they're about. Identify their desires, goals, fears, frustrations and problems. Identify customer evangelists, passives and detractors. Tag them accordingly.

2. Segment your audience. Use 10x content to segment customers into groups. One group receives an email autoresponder sequence while others receive an SMS + email autoresponder sequence.

3. Over deliver. Give your customers the amazing product or service they deserve. Show them that you're (a.) focused on their needs (b.) able to solve their problems and (c.) interested in their well-being over the long term.

4. Request feedback. Create an autoresponder sequence to request reviews. Pair that with customer segments who have already self identified/selected both channels. Send SMS + email marketing content to customers who have opted in for both. Send web and email marketing content to everyone else.

5. Use SMS templates to trigger response. The goal of your SMS marketing is simple. Get the click. That's it. But how?

Remember our customer segments?

We're going to use those here. You'll want to use templates to attract a specific audience. You can start the conversation with a simple question via SMS.

SMS: "On a scale of 0 - 10, how likely are you to recommend us?"

This enables you to confirm your evangelists, passives and detractors. Here's how you use this information with your SMS + email segment.

Evangelists. Add them to a review request SMS + autoresponder sequence. These customers receive a variety of text messages requesting a review.

SMS: "Sounds like you're pretty happy! Is there anything we can do to make things even better for you? Tell us more [insert review funnel link]"

SMS: "Reaching out to our best customers (top 3%) for feedback. That's You! Would you be willing to answer 6 questions? Takes 2 min.[insert review funnel link]"

SMS: "I think you're amazing. Would you be willing to share your success story w/ me? Just have 6 questions. Takes 2 min. [insert review funnel link]"

Passives attract other passives with their reviews so we'll leave them alone for now.

Detractors can be converted to evangelists or we can gain valuable feedback on our failure. Here's a few SMS templates we can use for that.

SMS: "I'm so sorry we messed things up. Would you be willing to help us understand more about what went wrong? Feel free to be brutally honest [insert review funnel link]."

SMS: "We definitely screwed things up. I'm so sorry. Would you allow us to make things right? Tell us where we went wrong [insert review funnel link]"

SMS: "We dropped the ball. I'm so sorry. What was the most frustrating part of our [service]? [insert review funnel link]"

What about industry-specific templates?

Feel free to customize these industry-specific templates ahead of time.

Real Estate

Customize these templates for your real estate clients. These templates can work for Realtors, mortgage brokers, loan officers, home inspectors and more.


1/3 "It's official. You're a homeowner! [Client Name] I'm so excited for you today.

2/3 "Thanks for trusting us. Was there anything I could have done better?"

3/3 Would you be willing to share your feedback with us? [Review Funnel Link]"


1/3 "[Client Name] I'm so happy we were able to help you find your new home!

2/3 "Was there anything I could've done better?

3/3 "Would you be willing to take a minute and share your experience? [Review Funnel Link]"


1/2 "[Client Name] We did it! We got you into your new home. Are you excited? I know I am."

2/2 "[Client Name], did we make you happy? Was there anything we could've done better? Please share your experience with us. [Review Funnel Link]"


These templates are a bit more generic. You'll want to ensure that you're HIPAA compliant.


1/2 "[Patient Name], thanks for stopping in to see us today. I hope we were able to resolve your problem."

2/2 "Please let me know if we can do anything else to improve. [Review Funnel Link]"


1/3 "[Patient Name], thanks for your feedback. I'm so sorry we let you down today."

2/3 "I'd like to investigate these mistakes further and take action on this."

3/3 "Would you be willing to share your feedback? [Review Funnel Link]


These automotive templates can be used for dealerships, auto body shops and custom detailing outfits.


1/2 "[Client Name], You're the proud owner of a new [make, model]. How does it feel?"

2/2 "Did we take good care of you? What can we improve?" [Review Funnel Link]


1/2 "[Client Name] thanks for stopping in to see us today. I'm glad we were able to take care of your [problem]. How did we do?"

2/2 "Would you be willing to share your feedback with us?"  [Review Funnel Link]


1/2 "[Client Name], I wanted to thank you for trusting us to take care of your vehicle today."

2/2 "Would you be willing to share your feedback either way? No detail is too small or too big. Share your feedback here:"[Review Funnel Link]


Use these templates for hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and Airbnbs.


1/1 "We've enjoyed having you with us today [Customer Name]? What could we have done to make your stay better?" [Review Funnel Link]


1/2 "Hi [Customer Name], Did you enjoy your stay with us today?"

2/2 "Would you be willing to share your feedback with us?" [Review Funnel Link]


1/2 "Hi [Customer Name], [Your Name] here. I'm the [Your Title] at [Your Business]. How did we do?

2/2 "I'd love to hear your thoughts on your stay at [Your Business]. Are you willing to share?" [Review Funnel Link]

What if your customer is unhappy with their visit?


1/2 "Hello [Customer Name], [Your Name] here. I'm the [Your Title] at [Your Business]. I'm so sorry we let you down today."

2/2 "What can we do to make this up to you?" [Review Funnel Link]


1/2 "Hello [Customer Name], [Your Name] here. I'm the [Your Title] at [Your Business]."

2/2 "I'm so sorry things didn't go right during your stay. What can we do to make this right?" [Review Funnel Link]


These templates can be customized easily and appropriately.


1/2 "We're requesting feedback from our very best patrons. We want to know..."

2/2 "Did we make you happy?" [Review Funnel Link]


1/3 "Hello [Customer Name] We would be delighted to hear about your experience at our restaurant."

2/3 "Did we make you happy today.?"

3/3 "Would you be willing to share your feedback with us?" [Review Funnel Link]


1/3 "Thank you, thank you, thank you [Customer Name]!"

2/3 "You're one of our regulars, one of the customers who keep us going. Did we make you happy today?"

3/3 "Would you be willing to share your feedback with us?" [Review Funnel Link]


Weddings require timing and detail. Use these templates with care.


1/2 "[Customer Name], Your wedding was beautiful. Thank you for trusting us to help you on your big day. Please help us pay it forward."

2/2 "Would you share your feedback on our performance? We want to do an amazing job for couples just like you." [Review Funnel Link]


1/2 "Congratulations [Customer Name], you've tied the knot. We're so happy for you! Thank you for allowing us to be part of your special day."

2/2  "Did we make you happy? How can we make things better? Share your feedback here:" [Review Funnel Link]

Senior care

These senior care templates are structured around seniors themselves, engaged family members and disinterested family members.


1/2 "[Resident Name], Now that you've been with us for [duration], I wanted to ask. How are things going? Is there anything we can do to make you happier?"

2/2 "Please share your feedback here" [Review Funnel Link]


1/2 "Your [Resident Family Member] is all settled in. It's been a pleasure having [resident name] with us these past few [weeks/months]."

2/2 "We're interested in your feedback. Would you be willing to share your experience with us?" [Review Funnel Link]


1/2 "I want to thank you for trusting us to take care of your [Resident Family Member]."

2/2 "We're interested in your feedback. Would you be willing to share your experience with us?" [Review Funnel Link]

Home services

These templates are appropriate for a variety of home services.


1/2 "[Client Name], we did it together! We finished [on-time and in-budget]"

2/2 "Would you be willing to share your story on [review site]?" [Review Funnel Link]


1/1 "[Client Name], how did we do on your project? Would you be willing to share your story on [review site] either way?" [Review Funnel Link]


1/2 "[Client Name], thanks for trusting us to get your project done. You're an absolute pleasure to work with."

2/2 "Would you be willing to share your story with other customers just like you?." [Review Funnel Link]

These industry-specific SMS templates are excellent ways to attract positive reviews from engaged customers. If customers respond favorably, you win the chance to convert a detractor to an evangelist. You'll need to go above and beyond but it's definitely possible if you handle things well.

What about email marketing?

We've got you covered. If you're looking for templates you can use to request reviews here are a few templates you can use right away.

The death of email is overstated

"Experts" have predicted the demise of email for more than a decade. SMS was touted as the next big thing. As we've seen, the data didn't support their claims.

Email isn't dying, it's growing.

It's changing and evolving. But SMS is growing too. This isn't an either or proposition. It's a chance for you to achieve more with both. Young consumers are email overachievers. They're accomplishing more with email in less time. Older consumers are adopting both.

You can too.

Email marketing. SMS marketing. They're both effective with the right audience. If you're focused on a particular industry you'll need to determine what's best for you.

You'll need to test.

With a customer driven approach and a little creativity you'll have everything you need to find the communication channel.

About the Author

Andrew McDermott

Andrew McDermott is the co-founder of HooktoWin. He shows entrepreneurs how to attract and win new customers.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Nice blog and well explained about email marketing and its usage, Marketing your products or services by email can be a fast, flexible and cost-effective way of reaching new customers and retaining existing customers. Email marketingis important for building relationships with prospects,

  2. Thanks for sharing information on SMS Marketing. I really appreciate it

  3. It’ s a grest content

  4. good article

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