SMS vs E-mail: It’s Time to Put This Rivalry To Rest!

Published on
December 21, 2016

With easy availability of multiple communication channels in today’s smart phone world, it becomes quite a task to pick the right communication channel.

But what is a right communication channel? Would you get your audience’s attention when you send a promo code over SMS or via E-mail? Should Amazon send out delivery notification as a push notification, via email or by SMS? The answer is: It depends.

How you get customers to interact in the most contextual manner depends largely on the content and timing of the communication.

Email and SMS are two popular methods of communicating with customers. But you’d have to ensure that you use both these channels the right way and maintain a good balance of communicating effectively and at the right time!

I’m not going to harp about how you have to build your e-mail and SMS templates to fit the breadth and width of the Mobile real estate. You know that already. With smartphones becoming an integral part of people’s daily lives, you ought to spend more effort on getting the content and the delivery of it right.

Here are some recommendations on when to use E-mail and SMS:


If statistics are anything to go by, then SMS is your best bet to engage with your customers. SMSs have an open rate of 98% and 90 percent of SMSs are read within the first three minutes of delivery!

You’ve set up your Salesforce account and have all of your contact and lead data stored in there. How do you communicate with all of them? Use an automatic SMS app such as the Open SMS Pro to get the job done!

Provide a superior user experience by using the SMS channel to deliver business critical information. Every time someone sends me an SMS saying my delivery is arriving or when an item is ready for pick up etc. gets me excited! – An e-mail stating the same wouldn’t get me as excited. For example, Amazon sends customers text messages when their order has been packed and shipped. This gives the customers a sense of importance and also gives them just the right amount of information they need. The SMS also prompts customers to browse the app to see their package’s current location and the ETA.

You can use the SMS APIs to facilitate two-way communication between you and your users in a hassle free and a familiar environment. Engage with your customers by providing a communication channel that is familiar to users.

SMS also has a high global reach. For those patrons who are not yet App savvy, interaction over SMS comes as a blessing. Scenarios such as number verification and two-factor are prime uses for SMS because it can reach everybody, everywhere, in a familiar way.

When shouldn’t it be used?

We’ve looked at why and more importantly when you should use SMS as a channel of communication. Let’s take a look at when you shouldn’t use SMS:

  • Don’t use SMS for information the user will need to reference later, such as receipts or confirmation codes. Any information sent by SMS should be readily actionable and should have a short shelf life.
  • Don’t use SMS for non-critical information which does not require the user to take action
  • Avoid embedding hyperlinks into SMS for devices in emerging countries where the user might not have adequate access to the internet. If a hyperlink is crucial to the message, make sure that the landing page is mobile-friendly

Note: If your users are scattered around the globe, make sure that your campaign provider is capable of sending SMS messages globally – without delay and in the right time zone. All communication with overseas user base should be sent at the hours the users are awake.


A non-work related or an advertisement e-mail reeks of non-urgency. An Email should be used when communicating basic information which is not time-sensitive. Use email for things that users need to go back to at some point in time.

Account related information (changes in passwords, account balance, loyalty points etc.) should be communicated via email. Acknowledgements of users’ achievements or milestones can also be sent via email. This would give them an opportunity to exercise their bragging rights at a later date!

When shouldn’t it be used?

Here’s a list of when you shouldn’t use the Email communication route to engage with your customers.

  • E-mail shouldn’t be used for urgent actionable items. Studies have shown that the average time for recipients to open an e-mail could be as long as 6.4 hours!
  • Don’t send out e-mails if you want to conduct negotiations
  • When your marketing pitch would have to change based on your customer’s response in real time

Both SMS and E-mail are excellent communication channels. But neither work at all times. E-mail is better when you don’t intend an immediate call for action or when the calls for actions have a relatively longer shelf life. SMS on the other hand has a wide reach and creates a sense of urgency. It also helps you engage with your customers in real time and on a personal basis.

However, in this war between e-mail and SMS, SMS seems to have an edge over e-mail! If you choose to go the SMS way, Open SMS Pro is AppShark's flagship SMS product. It is a simple and practical way to connect with leads and contacts!

Open SMS Pro has a host of features including conducting SMS Campaigns, sending SMS messages to custom objects, Workflow support, and the ability to chat live with customers from within Salesforce. It also allows users to send bulk SMS from any Salesforce or application. You can also chat and receive messages from any mobile. Do get in touch with us at and we will be happy to arrange a free demo for you!

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