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Email vs SMS

Email vs SMS

What is the best way to get your message out?

Credit: Dreamstime

Communication is the lifeblood of productivity. Email is often considered to be the most efficient, cost effective and targeted medium of consumer communication in the enterprise world. Since its inception in 1971, it has replaced the “flyer in the letterbox” for some and the “schedule on the signboard” for others. However, certain limitations have diminished its virtues and credibility over time. Being email’s younger, trimmer, often blunt and sometimes ill-mannered sibling, SMS fills the gap of these limitations, but does it have a dark side of its own?

The beauty of email is that it is truly universal. The Radicati Group reports that there were an estimated 3.9 billion active email accounts in 2013, with that number expected to rise to 4.9 billion by the end of 2017. Costs associated with email are also favourable, with most EDM companies charging modestly on a “per recipient/contact basis” and others on a “per email sent” basis and most of these systems include the ability to tailor emails by providing HTML templates. But do all these great features make email the marketing messiah?

Few realise, and even fewer publicise that while email is one of the most widely accepted means of communication, it also has one of the lowest interaction rates. Attributors include:

  • Spam Filters
  • Delayed response
  • Subject line description
  • Lazy list management
  • Poor deliverability

MailChimp recently reported that, because all spam filters function slightly differently, it can be difficult to nail down the exact criteria for avoiding it. Even legitimate campaigns can get trapped in spam filters based on issues you may not even be aware of, like your sending name, email address, or from information shared from other spam filters. By the same token, the entered email subject line can trigger spam filters to prevent delivery of your email. For example, a recent MailChimp campaign with the subject line:

SALE ends soon - up to 50% off all bras at Kara!

resulted in an open/read rate of just 1.9 per cent of its intended recipients. What’s wrong with it? Apparently everything! Forget using the words sale, soon, percent off and the exclamation point if you want any hope of this email arriving. So now you’re left with:

end - up to off bras at Kara

Hmm.. Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. Needless to say, sometimes the point you are trying to make with email, is the point that keeps you from making it. Combine this with a contact list that is more than a year old and you’ve probably swung and missed completely. In actuality, the most proactive businesses, with the most carefully composed email and meticulous contact list management, can only ever hope for an average 22 per cent open rate for any EDM campaign and of that, only 4.2 per cent will click through to where they are directed.

While all of the legislation regarding electronic marketing applies to both email and SMS, text messaging still manages to avoid many of the above road blocks. There are almost as many mobile phone subscriptions (6.8 billion) as there are people on this earth (seven billion)—and it took a little more than 20 years for that to happen and offers a huge number of potential recipients. The Daily Mail writes that the majority of mobile phone users look at their handset on average 9 times per hour – that’s about every 7 minutes! Unlike email, SMS has an interactive open rate of 98 per cent and 90 per cent of those people will open their message within 3 minutes of its delivery. While the cost of using SMS can be more than that of email, it is also lightning fast, concise, doesn’t have to battle spam filters, has a high conversion rate and is far more reliable.

A mobile marketing solution like Hemisphere Connect incorporates all the benefits of an email platform and applies them to SMS sending. Features like sending one messages to many recipients, setting up templates, scheduling messages ahead of time, sophisticated reporting of messages sent and replies and a simple pre-paid structure that ensures you only pay for what you use. From as little 15c per message, Hemisphere Connect allows you to integrate SMS into third party CRM’s and databases; making it easier to communicate to your customers. While email continues to be a credible and valid form of communication, SMS adds a dimension of personalisation and immediacy to your campaign. Email clients such as Outlook echo this sentiment with the native Outlook Messaging Service (OMS) in Outlook 2007 & 2010 which allows you to send SMS directly from Outlook; signing up to Hemisphere Connect allows you to activate this feature.


Levenstein, J. 2013. Email Statistic Report. The Radicati Group Inc. http://www.radicati.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Email-Statistics-Report-2013-2017-Executive-Summary.pdf

MailChimp. 2015. About Spam Filters. The Rocket Science Group. http://kb.mailchimp.com/delivery/spam-filters/about-spam-filters

MailChimp. 2015. My Campaigns are Going to Spam Folders. The Rocket Science Group. http://kb.mailchimp.com/delivery/spam-filters/my-campaigns-are-going-to-spam-folders

MailChimp. 2015. Best Practice for Email Subject Lines. The Rocket Science Group. http://kb.mailchimp.com/campaigns/previews-and-tests/best-practices-for-email-subject-lines

ACMA. 2015. Key Elements of The Spam Act. Australian Government. http://www.acma.gov.au/Industry/Marketers/Anti-Spam/Ensuring-you-dont-spam/key-elements-of-the-spam-act-ensuring-you-dont-spam-i-acma

Woollaston, V. 2013. How often do you check your phone? The average person does it 110 times a day (and up to every 6 seconds in the evening). The Daily Mail Australia. 9th October 2013. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2449632/How-check-phone-The-average-person-does-110-times-DAY-6-seconds-evening.html

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