SMS Marketing vs. Email Marketing: Which is best to grow revenue and sales?

Updated January 5, 2023 | By Jake Meador
SMS Marketing vs. Email Marketing: Which is best to grow revenue and sales?

If you’re looking to improve your marketing in order to grow revenue, there are a number of channels you might consider using.

Paid search ads on Google can be effective in many industries. Or perhaps you want to focus on more direct outreach to customers via conferences or cold calling? These methods can be effective. But they also come with a high price tag.

  • Google Ads are increasingly pricey in many industries as search verticals become more competitive
  • Cold calling is inefficient
  • Conferences cost a ton to attend, to say nothing of the costs of travel.

And all of these methods ultimately rely on getting in front of people who have never heard of you and not only getting their attention but then winning their business.

What if you could instead focus on trying to win the business of people whose contact information you already have?

Instead of broadcasting to a large, mostly anonymous audience, you could send personalized messages to a defined audience.

There are two primary mediums that allow you to do this: email and SMS.

Advantages of SMS

Open Rates

Email is a more familiar marketing medium than texting, but it also has fairly low engagement rates precisely because everyone uses email.

Messages get sent out via email and routinely get lost in people’s inboxes or deleted without being opened.

In contrast, texting has an open rate estimated to be between 95 and 98%!

What that means is you can have a targeted audience, just as with email, and be confident of your audience actually seeing your message. There simply is no other channel out there that can match texting in this way. And this means that in the particular task of trying to grow revenue, texting beats email in many cases.

We have already covered one of the reasons for that: Texting posts higher open rates. But there are two other factors that also make texting a better choice.


First, one of the best ways to incentivize a sale is to make it harder for the prospect to say “no.”

You can accomplish this by offering a special deal or discount that creates a sense of scarcity or urgency—act now because later will be too late!

With texting, you can be reasonably confident that when you send out the message the prospect will see it in time to act.

With email, it’s less certain. In the first place, they may not see it at all.

Second, even if they see it they may not open it in time to access the deal. So for this particular technique for incentivizing someone to buy, you’re generally far better off using texting than email.


No one wants to feel like they’re just a transaction.

People want to be seen as people, not as a number in a spreadsheet. So bringing a more human feel to your marketing messaging can be a great way to build trust with prospects and move them closer to a sale.

Given that, the personal nature of texting can be a really powerful sale. Approach your text marketing as a chance to start conversations with prospects.

By its very nature, texting is a two-way medium. This makes it distinct from most marketing channels. So take advantage of that.

Use texting as a way to get to know your prospects, build rapport, and better understand what it is they value and what problem they are hoping you can help them solve.

This is far easier to do with texting than with email for the reasons we have already mentioned.

Advantages of Email

Despite these advantages of SMS, you don’t want to completely write off email.

Some advantages of email include…

  • It’s inexpensive
  • It’s easier to build larger marketing lists (although this advantage is tempered by the fact that the read and response rate is so much lower than SMS, so with SMS you can sometimes go a lot further with a much smaller audience)
  • It’s more conducive to longer content
  • It’s less potentially intrusive

The bottom line is that while SMS has a lot of powerful potential and is definitely an underutilized tool, email marketing is universally used for a reason.

Here’s a chart detailing some of the comparison:

Chart comparing SMS marketing vs. email marketing

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These tools are good for different purposes and you should be using both to the fullest extent that you can.

With all of that in mind, below are a few specific cases in which SMS is actually often better than email.

SMS Marketing vs. Email Marketing for Webinars

Anyone who has hosted webinars for any length of time knows that attendance rates often disappoint.

You put in the work to create an exceptional webinar. You promote it across your various channels.

You get a ton of signups. And then when it comes time to go live your audience is less than half of what you had hoped for based on the number of signups you got.

If this happened to you, the first thing you need to know is that you’re not alone.

The exact number varies from study to study, but most agree that the average webinar attendance rate is below 50%.

One study puts it at 46%.

The point is that less than half the people who sign up for your webinar actually end up attending.

You can improve your attendance rates

What can be done? Some people think email is the solution. So the webinar host might send a reminder email six hours before the webinar and then another an hour before. And this makes some amount of sense. After all, email is a huge signup driver for webinars.

According to one study, which we already linked above, email accounts for 57% of all webinar signups.

But whenever you’re making marketing choices, you need to consider the type of communication you’re sending and what channel best suits that particular type of communication.

It’s not surprising that email drives webinar sign-ups. Emails are longer forms of communication, so they lend themselves to selling, and our technology makes it very easy to sign up for a webinar from an email.

But is email the best medium for reminding people of something they’ve already signed up?

Answer: Probably not!

Reminder emails are easy to delete—think about your own email use. How often do you click emails that are just reminder alerts? Often all that these emails do is briefly draw a person’s attention to something before they promptly forget it again as soon as the email is gone. This makes sense: Often they’ll have 25 other emails sitting in their inbox that need to be addressed. In cluttered inboxes, simple messages, like event reminders, are easily lost.

So what works well for reminders? Text messaging. And don’t just take our word for it. One marketer reports seeing attendance improvements of over 300% thanks to text message reminder messages.

If you’re struggling with sagging attendance at your webinars, texting is almost certainly going to be the best solution to your problem.

Email or Text? Why Not both?

Different marketing channels have different strengths. Email is great for generating webinar signups. But it’s a crummy tool for reminding people of events.

SMS works far better for that use. So don’t make the mistake of thinking of your various marketing channels as being competitors with one another. Because each has different strengths, each can be used as one part of your marketing toolkit. Thinking this way about your marketing channel will give you more options with your marketing and greater success on your various projects.

With texting, you can take your established webinar audience and make it considerably more valuable to your sales team.

If you use Zoom or GoToWebinar for your meetings/webinar, check out the couple of sections below for an easy way to set up SMS reminders…

SMS Reminders for Zoom Meetings

According to the Zoom Help Center: > Zoom Meetings are designed to be a collaborative event with all participants being able to screen share, turn on their video and audio, and see who else is in attendance.

Zoom Meetings are free although they do have limitations on participants (100 participants) and length (40 minutes).

Zoom Meeting users use Mobile Text Alerts’ mass texting feature to remind their participants to show up to their meetings. Texts can be sent or scheduled before or after the meetings.

SMS Reminders for Zoom Webinars

According to the Zoom Help Center: > Zoom Webinars are designed so that the host and any designated panelists can share their video, audio and screen. Webinars allow view-only attendees. They have the ability to interact via Q&A, Chat, and answering polling questions. The host can also unmute the attendees. Attendees in webinars, can not rename themselves as well.

Zoom Webinars is an add-on plan which means you have to have at least one licensed host to purchase it. Zoom Webinars start at $40/mo/host for 100 attendees.

Zoom Webinar users use Mobile Text Alerts to automatically schedule SMS reminders before and after their webinars to double their attendance, replay views, and sales. Signing up and connecting your Zoom Webinar account can be done in less than 1 minute.

If you include the Zoom Webinar join URL in your SMS reminder message then you can track the number of people who click on it to join. This will help you measure the effectiveness of SMS reminders for webinars.

SMS Reminders for GoToWebinar

According to GoToWebinar: > GoToWebinar is a webinar software tool designed for engaging online events. Webinars help you reach your audience and build brand awareness so you can grow your business.

GoToWebinar Lite starts at $49/month and limits your webinars to a maximum of 100 participants.

GoToWebinar users use Mobile Text Alerts to automatically schedule SMS reminders before and after their webinars to double their attendance, replay views, and sales. Signing up and connecting your GoToWebinar account can be done in less than 1 minute.

If you include the GoToWebinar join URL in your SMS reminder message then you can track the number of people who click on it to join. This will help you measure the effectiveness of SMS reminders for webinars.

SMS Marketing vs. Email Marketing for Lead Generation

Most marketing channels are broadcast-based channels, meaning you’re using the channel to broadcast a message to a large and mostly anonymous group. This is true for:

  • Advertising in newspapers
  • Advertising on TV
  • Posting on social media
  • Marketing for SEO

In all cases, you’re sending a message out to an audience that is mostly unknown to you: You don’t know the person opening that magazine. You don’t know the person searching for a keyword on Google that you want to rank for. This isn’t necessarily bad, of course. You have to raise awareness before a person will buy from you and broadcast-based marketing channels are great for that.

That being said, broadcast marketing is also very limited because if you do not know the audience well, you cannot tailor your message to them effectively.

Certainly, you can make educated guesses about the audience. If someone finds you on Google, you know what they were searching and can probably guess at their question or problem based on their search term. But you still don’t have personal information about the recipient of the marketing message.

What sets email and SMS apart from these channels is that both email marketing and SMS marketing are personalized. You’re not broadcasting to a mostly anonymous audience; you’re sending custom, personal messages to a defined audience.

So which of the two personalized marketing channels is best for lead generation?

Email Marketing

Email marketing is the old faithful of the online marketing world. It was around before Google, before Facebook, and before LinkedIn. It predates smartphones and smart speakers. And, remarkably, it’s still quite popular.

That being said, what email does well is very different from what SMS does well and where email is weak, SMS tends to be quite strong.

Here is what email does well: It’s a highly customizable format that allows personalized communication.

So if you have a product that requires a lot of education before people really get what you’re doing, email can be great because the email format gives you the space you need to make your case.

Email can also be a great channel for media projects—a number of prominent media companies have turned to email in recent years as a bedrock for their business because email conveys large amounts of information incredibly well.

If you’re familiar with:

  • The Hustle
  • Popular Information
  • The Dispatch
  • Stratechery

...then you know how powerful email can be.

Unfortunately, there are two main problems that marketers run into with email, which we’ve discussed previously.

Number 1 is low open rates (around 17-22%). This means, obviously, that the majority of your audience won’t even read your email.

Number 2 is that most products are uncomplicated. They don’t require a whole lot of explanation in a long email - and doing email marketing right can be tricky.

SMS Marketing

SMS marketing is often a better way to generate leads.

The main reason (which we’ve already mentioned) is the high open rates.

SMS requires simpler messaging than email marketing; yet it’s a medium people actually pay attention to.

And you can still retain some of the customization that makes email so effective. You can segment your list of recipients as much as you want:

  • repeat customers
  • new customers
  • leads

You can also segment by what products a person has purchased, what they’ve said they are looking for or are interested in, and so on.

SMS is just as customizable as email on this point, but with a much higher engagement level.

SMS Marketing Is an Untapped Market for Driving More Revenue

If you have a solid list of contacts that you need to help become paying customers, SMS marketing is the best way to do that.

The combination of remarkably high engagement with a messaging format tailored to short-form marketing communication makes it an unbeatable platform for personalized marketing. And that means more sales… and more revenue.

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