Email marketing and short message service (SMS) marketing are two of the most effective ways to connect with customers today. SMS marketing is valued for its high engagement rates and ability to deliver time-sensitive messages. On the other hand, email is renowned for its ability to generate leads and build brand awareness over time. Which wins in a straight battle of SMS vs. email marketing?

With tight budgets and limited time, you need to choose how to optimize your results, and deciding where to put your efforts can be daunting. To help you make the data-driven choice, we’ve used our expertise at Business2Community to bring you the latest data on SMS and email marketing.

SMS vs Email Marketing – What You Need to Know

  • The number of email users is expected to exceed 4.73 billion in 2025 while the potential global reach of SMS marketing will exceed 5.61 billion mobile phone users.
  • Brands sent close to 23 billion promotional campaign emails and over 107 million SMS messages in 2023.
  • 93% of customers used email to interact with brands compared to 66% of consumers who used text messaging.
  • SMS messages have an open rate of 98%, while email open rates are around 39%.
  • 98% of people read SMS messages within a few minutes of receiving them, while only 22% do the same with emails.

SMS Marketing vs Email Marketing Reach

The number of email users is expected to grow by 2.5% in 2024 and 2025 to exceed 4.73 billion; that’s 59% of the global population and 88% of the world’s internet users.

Looking at SMS marketing’s potential global reach, Data Reportal research found that the number of unique mobile device users was 5.61 billion or 69.4% of the total global population at the start of 2024, up 2.5% or 138 million since early 2023.

Internet Stats

SMS marketing can reach a wider audience than email marketing because it doesn’t require internet access or a smartphone to send or receive messages – a basic mobile phone will do. In contrast, email marketing requires an internet connection and a device capable of sending and receiving emails.

As of January 2024, Pew Research found that 85% of Americans owned a smartphone, up from 60-65% 8 years ago. Taking “basic” phones into account pushes that figure up to 97%. So while 85% of Americans are smartphone users who can reliably access the internet (and emails) from their mobile phones, 97% of Americans can receive text messages on their mobile devices.

If you want to reach customers in an increasingly cluttered marketing landscape, understanding the shifting dynamics and growth trends of SMS and email marketing is crucial.

According to an Omnisend report, brands sent nearly 23 billion promotional campaign emails in 2023, a 33% increase year-over-year. On the other hand, they sent 107 million SMS messages, an impressive 55 million more than in 2022.


SMS vs Email share

According to Salesforce, email campaigns are losing ground while the share of SMS marketing continues to rise. This trend is reflected in the growth rates and share of message sends between the two channels in 2023.

In Q4 2023 email growth was 6% while SMS growth in Q4 2023 was 37%. Meanwhile, In Q4 2023, email had an 84% share of message sends (down from 88%) while SMS had a 16% share, up from 12% in 2022.

The use of text to engage consumers is fast approaching email. According to an EZTexting report, 70% of consumers received two or more commercial messages in 2023, up from just 46% in 2021 whereas 91% of consumers received two or more emails a day from a business or organization.

SMS Marketing vs Email Marketing Users

Data by Insider Intelligence states that US adults check their phones an average of 114 times a day and do so within the first 10 minutes of waking up.

Meanwhile, according to a Mailjet report, 85% of consumers check their emails more than twice a day, with the majority 55% doing so in the morning.


Contacting Companies

According to Insider Intelligence, email took the top spot as the most common marketing channel used by customers worldwide to engage companies in 2023. A whopping 93% of customers used email to interact with brands compared to 66% of consumers who used text messaging.

Hearing from Companies

In the Mailjet report, 75% of consumers surveyed across the US, UK, France, Germany, and Spain preferred to hear from brands via email in 2023, an increase from 42% in 2021. The same report found that 19% of consumers preferred to hear from brands via SMS, a slight decrease from 20% in 2021.

Signing up

According to a Validity report, the main reasons consumers signed up to receive text messages from a brand were to receive shipping notifications (41%) and special offers or promotions (38%).

As per the Mailjet report, the main reasons they signed up to receive emails from brands were to receive special offers (33%) and a one-time discount(24%)


According to the previously mentioned EZtexting report, consumers in 2024 preferred:

For… Customers preferred Text Customers preferred email
Appointment reminders 70% 16%
Account security 66% 19%
Emergency notifications 64% 21%
Delivery confirmations 62% 29%
Payment reminders 53% 34%
Order confirmations 44% 44%
Event invitations 37% 43%
Promotional offers 37% 47%
Polls and surveys 36% 46%
Customer support 43% 31%

Customer Preferences

Additionally, in the Validity report, 52% of consumers said they preferred to receive marketing messages from brands via email rather than SMS (19%). The most preferred types of texts to receive from brands were:

  • Shipping notifications – 52%
  • Sales and Promotions – 45%
  • Special occasion acknowledgments – 30%

SMS Marketing vs Email Marketing Engagement

As SMS messages are typically read within minutes of receipt, they are best used for updates and time-sensitive offers. SMS messaging is also effective for targeted messages that recognize and reward customer loyalty, such as discounts and vouchers.

Emails, on the other hand, provide a platform for long-form content, making them ideal for detailed promotional messages that build brand awareness and foster engagement over time. Through email marketing campaigns, businesses can personalize marketing messages, elaborate on offers, share stories, and gradually encourage customers to take specific actions or decisions.

Wondering how an SMS campaign fares against an email campaign? We explore all the key engagement metrics you need to know below.

Open rates

Open rates refer to the percentage of recipients who open a message. According to research by Gartner, SMS marketing messages have an open rate of 98%, while email open rates are around 39%, according to Klaviyo’s 2024 Email and SMS benchmark report.

Read rates

Read rates indicate the percentage of recipients who not only open but also read a message. 98% of people read SMS messages within a few minutes of receiving them, while only 22% do the same with emails.

Response rates

Response rates measure the percentage of recipients who reply or take a requested action. Gartner’s research further states that SMS leads with response rates of 45% compared to email response rates of 6%.

Placed order rate

This metric looks at the percentage of recipients who place an order after reading a message. According to the Klaviyo report, email campaigns have a placed order rate of 0.09%, while SMS campaigns have a slightly higher rate of 0.11%

Revenue per recipient

Click-through rates

The click-through rate is the percentage of recipients who click on a link within a message. SMS marketing boasts a CTR of 11%, as per the Klaviyo report, while marketing emails across all industries have a lower CTR of 1.47%.

Unsubscribe rates

Unsubscribe rates refer to the percentage of recipients who opt out of receiving further emails from a sender. The rate stands at 0.33% for email campaigns and higher at 1.49% for SMS campaigns, as per Klaviyo’s data.

Retention rates

Retention rate is the percentage of customers or subscribers who continue to use a service or remain subscribed over a specified period. Less than 5% of SMS subscribers ever unsubscribe, while 20% of email subscribers unsubscribe each year.

Revenue per recipient

The average email marketing campaign yields a revenue of $0.11 per recipient, while the average text marketing campaign yields a slightly higher revenue of $0.12 per recipient.

SMS Marketing vs Email Marketing Costs

To help you determine which channel is more cost-effective, let’s explore the costs associated with SMS and email marketing.

SMS messages typically cost between $0.01-$0.05 per message. However, costs may also include service provider fees, keywords, or shortcodes, and can add up quickly. Costs also vary depending on geographical location. International SMS messages can cost anywhere between $0.25 – $0.50 per message.

Generally, tiered SMS packages typically start at around $20 – $30 per month for the first 500 messages and can go up to $1,000 per month for 50,000+ messages.

Email Costs

Meanwhile, Active Campaign sets the cost of sending an email between $0.10 – $0.40 per email for consumer lists and $0.60 – $1.00 for a business list.

Again this can vary widely depending on several factors, such as the quality of the list, the email service provider you choose, bulk specials, and any additional services included.

According to WebFX, email marketing costs businesses between $51 – $1000 per month on average, with companies paying $751 – $1,000 per month on paid email marketing tools and $51 – $500 per month on email marketing agencies.

SMS Marketing vs Email Marketing ROI

According to the previously mentioned Validity report, SMS messages have an average ROI of up to $8.11 per message. At a cost of between $0.01 – $0.05 per message, that’s an impressive ROI of between 16,129% and 81,000%.

Email, according to Constant Contact, has an average ROI of $36 for every $1 spent. But, according to Litmus, recent developments in AI have shown the potential to increase email marketing ROI to 70%.

SMS Marketing vs Email Marketing Automation

Automated email or SMS flows are messages that are triggered when a subscriber takes a certain action such as subscribing, visiting a product page, or making a purchase.

As they are based on what’s important and relevant to customers, automated flows can increase engagement and boost revenue significantly.

In the Omnisend report, automated emails generated 41% of all email orders while accounting for only 2% of emails sent in 2023. Overall, automated emails outperformed campaign emails in every metric, including:

  • Open rates of 42.1% vs 25.2%
  • Click rates of 5.4% vs 1.5%
  • Conversion rates of 1.9% vs 0.07%

Email flows


Additionally, in the Klaviyo report, email flows generated an average of $1.94 revenue per recipient compared to $0.11 for email campaigns. Abandoned cart flows in particular generated $3.65 in revenue per recipient.

As with emails, automated SMS messages outperformed campaign messages with a 67% increase in click rate and a 26% increase in conversion rate, according to the Omnisend report.

  • Click rates for automated SMS were 9.4% vs 7.6% for campaign SMS messages.
  • Conversion rates were 0.28% vs 0.13% for campaigns.

SMS Spam vs Email Spam

As popular and as effective as these two marketing tactics are, they have a dark side. According to Robokiller, Americans received 464 million spam text messages a day in January 2023.

Things weren’t any better with email. According to Statista, Americans received a whopping 8 billion spam emails a day in January 2023.

In 2022, consumer losses from email spam amounted to $420 million, as per Statista’s data, while losses due to SMS spam according to IC3 data amounted to $52 million.

Spam SMS

SMS Marketing vs Email Marketing Best Practices

According to Validity, a majority of consumers (19%) ideally wanted to receive text messages once a week.

  • 17% only wanted to receive texts when there was an important announcement.
  • 16% wanted to receive texts 2-3 times a week.

For email messages, a majority of consumers (26%) wanted to receive emails once a week.

  • 23% wanted to receive emails daily.
  • 18% wanted to receive emails twice a week.

84% of consumers received SMS messages from a company they didn’t remember signing up with. Additionally, 96% of consumers reported feeling annoyed at least occasionally by text messages from brands.

The number one subscriber complaint was “messaging too frequently”, followed closely by “messaging with irrelevant offers”.

Communication Frequency

While SMS marketing is a massive opportunity to capture customer attention, tread carefully to maintain credibility with your customers.

  • Send messages only after receiving permission.
  • Provide clear unsubscribe or clear opt-out instructions.
  • Keep communications relevant and consistent.
  • Use SMS less frequently and more tactically depending on each unique customer journey.

Similarly, when asked about unsubscribing from email communications, getting too many emails from a brand was the top reason at nearly 20% in a Mailgun report. Other reasons included no longer being interested in offerings (18%) and irrelevant content (18%).

To get the most out of your email marketing strategy, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Always get consent from your customers to send them emails.
  • Comply with data privacy and use laws.
  • Prioritize personalized messages and offers.

The Future of SMS Marketing and Email Marketing

SMS marketing is poised for significant growth in 2024 and beyond, aligning in impact with the projections for AI. Research by Insider Intelligence indicates that 72% of US online brands anticipate an increased focus on omnichannel commerce, including SMS, to significantly affect their business this year.

This places SMS marketing and other omnichannel tools on par with AI (72% impact) and ahead of advancements in mobile shopping experiences (63%) and checkout/payment innovations (53%).

Email marketing continues to lose ground to other digital marketing approaches like social media marketing and text message marketing. Additionally, challenges like stricter spam filters pose a significant hurdle for marketers. However, despite these challenges, email remains a powerful tool for generating leads, building brand awareness, and increasing customer engagement.

Overall, both SMS and email marketing have unique strengths, making them ideal complementary tools in an omnichannel marketing strategy. Research by Mailjet reveals that combining these channels can lead to a notable 6.6x increase in purchases per user and a 46% increase in repeat buyers.

The choice between SMS and email depends on your specific business goals, target audience, and the nature of your campaign messages. Ultimately, integrating both tactics into your marketing strategy allows you to take advantage of the strengths of each channel, driving higher levels of engagement, boosting conversion rates, and enhancing customer loyalty.


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