Email and text marketing: What's the difference? (and when to use each)

text vs email marketing

It's no surprise that email and text marketing should play distinct roles in your overall business marketing strategy. These two communication channels hold unique features in the way they get your messages across to your audience. The most challenging part is determining which platform will give you the highest ROI for each campaign you're running.

Is email marketing effective? Should you focus on text message marketing? Which is the better way to approach your audience? With so many questions, it can be challenging to pick an ideal platform for your next marketing campaign.

Confused about which channel to choose to get the best results? No worries! In this blog post, we will talk about email and text marketing in detail and the critical differences between the two. We’ll take a close look and determine which one will work best for you. (Spoiler: You can choose both!)

But, before directly jumping into the comparison between email and text marketing and when to use each one, let's start with the basics.

What is Email Marketing?

I am sure you are familiar with email marketing. If you have ever signed up for a newsletter or company updates, you have no doubt been bombarded by countless emails telling you about their latest product or service. Even though it’s not the fastest or most efficient way of communicating with customers anymore, it can still be a highly effective online marketing strategy. All in all, a solid email marketing strategy can help convert prospects into customers.

What is Text Marketing?

Text marketing, also referred to as SMS marketing, is a relatively new business tool. While text messaging is a popular communication channel for individuals, it is just starting to be adopted by businesses as a tool to communicate with their customers.

Texting is the most-used mobile device feature since anyone with a phone can send a text message to any other individual using their mobile phone number. It's no surprise that the business world has started to see its massive potential for marketing and sales initiatives.

In the marketing world, businesses send text messages for varying purposes beyond just customer acquisition. With text messages, a company might conduct client service, confirm appointments, share shipping information, and sometimes even use the mass texting feature for frictionless communication. 

The data also shows that 85 percent of consumers would rather get a text from your business than a call or email. This statistic shows that you should probably consider text marketing as a supplement to your email marketing strategy. (Learn more about how your business can benefit from texting.)

Advantages and Disadvantages of Email Marketing

Email marketing is a great online platform for building brand awareness and initiating audience engagement. This marketing channel enables you to reach millions of people with just a click of a button. Here, we are going to talk about the pros and cons of email marketing.

Advantages

  • Email is better for cold outreach. While you, of course, need opt-in permission for mass emails, you can send one-to-one cold emails as part of your sales or marketing strategy. 
  • Email is a flexible platform that enables designers to utilize various styles, from HTML to plain text.
  • Emails are easy and cost-effective (to a certain point).
  • Email marketing has proven over the decades to have a considerable ROI.
  • Emails can give you access to a mobile audience, as 49 percent of all emails are viewed on phones.
  • An email marketing campaign's success is measurable. Most email platforms offer analytics dashboards for even basic packages.
  • An email marketing campaign is scalable. You can use it to reach both smaller targeted lists and large audiences.
  • You can share long stories and messages with email. There is no character limit like there is with text messaging.
  • Automation tools have made email more powerful. For example, using automated triggers, like recent purchases and website activity, you can reach the right audience, in the right place, at the right time with the best offer.
  • Emails are less intrusive, which means recipients can read your emails at their convenience (whenever they find the time).

Disadvantages

  • Spam filters are the most significant risk of all with email marketing, limiting deliverability.
  • Sending emails to your audience may not cost much more than a few dollars a send, but the expenses of launching email marketing campaigns add up in design and scale.
  • The number of emails people receive can be overwhelming. Often, this results in people ignoring much of the email in their inbox.
  • People typically turn off their email notification, especially for work or business email.
  • Sending too many emails can raise red flags for providers and may result in your email domain being permanently blocked by email service providers.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Text Marketing

The demand for text message marketing increases every day among small and large businesses. This is thanks to a combination of advanced technology and changing customer preferences. In this section, we will discuss the pros and cons of using text message marketing for your business.

Advantages

  • Texting creates a much more personal connection.
  • Texting is easy to use and highly interactive. It allows your audience to contact you back, quickly and easily.
  • Text messages are better for back-and-forth conversations, thanks to their speed and informality. 
  • Text messaging is suitable for timely deals since your customers are more likely to see the message quickly.
  • Text messages are delivered and opened in real-time, making them ideal if you require immediate action or are sending out meeting reminders.
  • Texting has high engagement rates with a 98 percent open rate and a 45 percent response rate.
  • Texting comes with an easy way to opt in and opt out.
  • It is a very cost-effective communication and marketing channel for small businesses.
  • Texts are easily accessible and do not need an internet connection.

Disadvantages

  • You need permission to send a text and must follow TCPA guidelines. Cold text messaging is not allowed.
  • Text messaging has limitations as far as design is concerned, although you can send images, videos and larger files with MMS (multimedia messaging service).
  • There can be restrictions on marketing your services or products.
  • SMS messages can feel intrusive when done poorly, making customers frustrated.
  • The costs of texting for business may be higher than those of email.

When to Use Email Marketing

There are many different uses for email and text message marketing. Knowing when to use each one could be the difference between a campaign that gets you the result you want and one that flops. 

As a general rule of thumb, email marketing is most useful when the information you want to share with your audience is not time sensitive. The average open rate of an email is 20 percent, which isn’t much compared to text messaging’s 98 percent open rate.

However, if your emails are targeted well and are communicating enough value to your audience, you could see higher open rates. If your email does get opened, it typically takes email users, on average, 90 minutes to respond to your email (vs. 90 seconds for an SMS). This is why flash sales and quick promotions aren’t best done over email, but newsletters and updates are.

Email marketing is also ideal when you have lots of information or long messages to share or send. You essentially have unlimited space in an email compared to a text message (though you don’t necessarily have unlimited attention spans). For complex or long-form messaging, email is your best choice, as long as your message is communicated well to the right audience.

Some campaigns that are best suited for email marketing could include:

  • Press or publicity updates
  • Newsletters
  • Product updates

Email marketing is a great channel when it comes to building brand recognition and sharing long-form content. Remember, sharing relevant and personalized content is the future of email marketing. Since most people consider promotional emails spam, keep your future email campaigns personalized with customer preferences and history — personalization goes beyond just using a customer’s name! You want your message to resonate with your audience.

When to Use Text Message / SMS Marketing

Text message marketing campaigns are best if you want a higher chance of your marketing messages being viewed, as the text open rate for texts is around 98 percent. Text marketing is one of the most engaging and efficient methods for sharing time-sensitive information with your audience.

Though there are several challenges, like getting customers' phone numbers and staying TCPA compliant, text messaging is usually the best method to capture your audience's attention right away.

Texting is best for marketing messages that are brief, with straightforward calls to action. For example, you could use text messaging to send a survey, confirm appointments, promote a flash sale, and more. With a 160-character limit on average, you will benefit from keeping your messages clear and concise.

One of the key uses for text messaging is one-to-one conversations with customers. Texting is innately less formal than email, and there is an immediacy to your communications that the other channel can’t match. Plus, text messaging’s response rate is 45 percent (compared to email’s which is 6 percent), which means you can actually have a back-and-forth conversation with a customer. You can build strong, more casual customer relationships through text.

Text messaging is an excellent fit for a number of different marketing campaigns, but are always best executed when done in the spirit of conversation. Some of the best examples of text marketing campaigns include:

  • Product sales or offers
  • B2C campaigns
  • Surveys
  • Reminders/appointments
  • Donation solicitations or asks


Text marketing enables you to reach out to your clients by sending instant messages in real-time. After all, 90 percent of people read their text messages within the first three minutes of receiving them. That's why it’s important to send texts during regular business hours and to make sure your team is prepared to respond if you receive any replies. (Learn how intuitive text messaging software can help get your marketing team aligned.)


Email and text marketing: Which one is better for your business?

The choice between email and text marketing is going to depend on what your needs are for your business and your customers. If you’re looking to build stronger relationships with customers or shorten your sales cycle, you might want to consider text messaging. But email marketing is a great tool for newsletters and product updates that don’t require a response (but that are still well targeted and valuable). 

Both email and text message marketing can help you take your business to the next level, but only with a well-thought-out strategy. You need to weigh both communication channels' costs and benefits as they require time and monetary investments and should not be executed without care.

Email marketing will tend to be more effective when you have to communicate complex information or longer-form stories. On the contrary, texting helps build personal connections, quick reminders, and updates that need immediate action.

In the real world, businesses aren’t forced to choose between email and text message marketing. Both email and text marketing can (and should) play significant roles in your overall marketing strategy.

If you're looking for real-time, instant communication with high engagement for your business, you should go with business text messaging. Incorporating texting as a communication channel in your marketing strategy can help you boost your business efficiency — and even boost your revenue with sales closed much faster.

The data does show that text marketing has a better open rate, engagement rate, conversion rate and customer acquisition cost than email. Undoubtedly, texting can give your business an edge over your competition. If you’re thinking about adding text messaging to your marketing strategy, we suggest using a software solution like Avochato, which makes it easier than ever to manage business text messages at scale.

Here are some more articles you might be interested in:

Here’s why everyone is adopting business text messaging software
How SMS can improve CAC and other marketing metrics
SMS is the channel your customers want
15 SMS marketing use cases