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Email and SMS are two of the most important marketing tools that marketers have at their disposal. But which one is better? Here’s a look at the numbers.

By volume

If you determine success by the total number of messages being sent then email wins by a landslide. Every year 74 trillion (yes, trillion!) emails are sent compared to just 8 trillion text messages. That amounts to 269 billion emails per day and 2.4 million emails sent per second vs 22 billion texts sent per day and more than a quarter of a million sent every second.

Email’s strength may also be its weakness. While the average office worker receives 121 emails a day, the average millennial receives just 67 text messages a day. Add that to the fact that approximately half of all emails are spam and the sheer volume of emails can be seen as a downside to the channel.

By open rate

If you determine success by the percentage of messages that are opened by the recipient then SMS wins by a landslide. The SMS open rate is 98% compared to just 20% for email. The response rate for SMS is 45% compared to just 6% for email.

The average response time for SMS is 60 times faster than the average response time for email (just 90 seconds for SMS compared to 90 minutes for email).

An estimated 95% of text messages are read within the first three minutes.

sms vs mms

Which should you choose? Why not both?

The question of which channel is “better” is kind of irrelevant in the end, because there’s no rule stating you can only use one. Both channels are extremely cost effective compared to most other marketing channels so there’s no reason you can’t fit both in the budget.

Each channel is good for different things. Survey respondents say they prefer SMS for time-sensitive communications such as flash sales, appointment reminders, fraud and service outage alerts, and order/shipping notifications.

With email, you can get away with sending messages more frequently whereas people may tire of getting daily text messages and may begin to treat text messages from your brand like they do spam in their email inbox.

Each helps the other

SMS can be a great way to build your email subscriber list and email can be a great way to build your SMS subscriber list. If you’re occasionally sending exclusive offers to just one channel, then customers have to be subscribed to both if they want to be notified of all the deals.

You can use SMS for shorter, time sensitive communications and email for newsletters and other longer communications that aren’t necessarily time sensitive.

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