Comparison of Push notifications vs SMS vs Email marketing


Kevin Urrutia




February 09, 2024

Comparison of Push notifications vs SMS vs Email marketing


Email, SMS and Push notifications are three modern-day marketing channels with their own set of pros and shortcomings, making them appropriate in certain situations and less effective in circumstances otherwise. It is hard to decide which of these would be perfect for your kind of business. Irrespective of the business domain, you have oodles of challenges, and it is vital to influencing your target audience. So when should you practice SMS, Push notification and Email for marketing?

Here, in this article, we are going to evaluate these three marketing channels in detail. We would be comparing their pros and cons so that you can decide the perfect channel for your campaigns through an informed choice. Hence, here is push notifications vs email marketing vs SMS marketing.

Email marketing

You must have discovered dozens of articles about the downsides of email as a marketing channel. Undoubtedly, there are a few, but that does make them unproductive in all the contexts. Take eCommerce for instance, it is rigid to visualize not just marketing but also the utility communications without emails. Though push notification open rate vs email is completely in favor of the former, emails offer far exceptional ROI in numerous other illustrations.

Cons of Email marketing

  • Spam: Promotional email or merely call them ‘spams’ aggravate users. This is presumably the most prominent reason why email has lost its charm. Inadequate planning in terms of audience targeting forces the recipients to either block the Emails with spam filters or delete them without even reading.
  • Violation of privacy: Emails can easily violet the privacy and data protection rules when imperfectly targeted at people who do not want to receive them.
  • Poor click though: The ‘click-through rate’ for poorly targeted email campaigns is relatively much lower as compared with the other two channels.
  • Undelivered emails: You will have tons of undelivered emails as they fall prey to the spam filters and never make it to the regular inbox of the prospects. Spam filters can identify and block certain spam keywords in the subject and mail content.
  • Email content and template design problems: People check their emails on mobiles as well as desktops. It is a challenging task to design email templates fitting across multiple devices. Moreover, certain email providers have their own set of rules and preferences to let emails land in the regular inboxes. You would need to consider the design principles of all the email services to land in the maximum inboxes. For example, some people set their inboxes to receive text-only emails.
  • You need skills: To make your email campaign a successful story, you would need to possess the skills for content writing, image editing, keyword targeting, web designing, and lead generation.

Pros of Email marketing

  • Rich design: Emails offer numerous ways to design attractive templates for your campaigns. You can make a full use of plain text, Images, HTML and CSS to make your emails more efficient for marketing communications.
  • Attach files: Emails are only contenders in this list capable of attaching files with the regular mail content. It makes them competent to communicate some real lengthy communiqués to the prospects.
  • Scalable targeting: With your email marketing campaigns, you can reach any number of recipients. You can shoot from a few to thousands of emails at a time.
  • Audience segmentation: With correct email-marketing tool, you can subdivide your target audience into numerous segments and make sure a particular template is shot to an appropriate segment out of all prospects in the list. Based on segments like Gender, Age group and Location, you can send messages relevant only to the concerned groups.
  • Shareable: People can easily share a received email by just forwarding it to the interested people. This makes your communications reach even those people who were not in your email list but are interested in your business.
  • More than just marketing– In addition to promotional causes, emails are reliable for sending sensitive and official communications. For example, an email would be more effective for sending Transaction Receipts, Invoices, coupon codes and OTPs, as compared to SMS or push notification.


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SMS Marketing

SMS is yet another marketing channel and one of the oldest indeed. Brand utilize SMS channel for sending marketing as well as utility information to their customers. The promotional usage is, however, exercising a downward growth, because of an alternate solution- push marketing. We will see it in the later sections when comparing push notification vs SMS marketing.

Cons of SMS marketing

  • Only Short messages: SMS is limited to 160 characters only. Crossing the limits will simply break the SMS into parts, leaving them incomplete in individual context. That means, to deliver a longer message, you would be bombarding them with three or four incomplete messages. Users do not like such bombardments.
  • It is monotonous: In addition to the tiny character limit, you also cannot include anything other than text inputs in the SMS content. You lack the interactive images, links, colors and call to actions that are easily available in Email and Push notification marketing.
  • Spam filters and DND: Users utilize several applications to filter or block the spam emails. Many of them also rely on activating the Do Not Disturb services, stopping all marketing SMS at once. Most of the marketing SMSs are stuck in the filters. Hence, you cannot expect a hundred percent delivery of the messages in SMS marketing.
  • No way to ensure the delivery: Though SMSs can trigger read reports once delivered, there is no way to know if users have read your messages. Undoubtedly, SMS receive a massive delivery rate of 90%, but you cannot be certain if users actually read them after receiving.
  • Bound with regulations: You need adhering to numerous rules and regulations set for SMS marketing. Failing to adhere with them can make things hefty for your brand.
  • Not suitable for relation building: Except for some transactional updates, all marketing texts are promotional in natures. There are limitations on total numbers of texts you can send in a day. They are not fit for interactive purposes, as you have to be short and limited with the conversations. Hence, there is no space to form relationship of any sort.

Pros of SMS marketing

  • Undeviating and Instant delivery: SMS reach to the recipient in a very short time, less than 7 seconds to be precise. You can send and receive SMS without an internet connection. Comparatively, you can send Emails and Push notifications through internet only.
  • Best supplement channel: SMS helps in enforcing your brand among the prospects. By leveraging SMS marketing as supplement to Email and push campaigns, you can reach maximum audience with a combinational utilization. You can also exploit them for staying on top of your customers’ mind.
  • Can be Event-triggered: You can set up your eCommerce website to trigger relevant SMS based on customer’s intent and actions on the site. These specialized Event-triggered SMS can assist you in engaging with even the inactive customers using an accurate value proposition.
  • Cheapest options: With diminishing rates of mobile recharges and rentals, you can now utilize SMS for marketing with the cheapest cost. This probably is the most affordable channel among all the threes in our list.
  • Encouraging Open Rate: Studies have revealed that open rate of text messages is more than 95%, while email holds only 27%. These massive stats make SMSs more suitable for sending time-sensitive alerts to the prospects.
  • Simple setup: Starting with an SMS campaign is much simpler as compared to other twos in the list. You can subscribe to any SMS marketing service and put their API in your website code for triggering event-driven alerts. These tools come built-in with analytics to scrutinize your campaign performance in real-time.

Push Marketing

Email and SMS have been in the market for a long time. However, at present, the newest marketing channel-push notification is gaining immense popularity among the marketers. By disentangling many drawbacks in the other two channels, the trend is gradually shifting towards Push Notifications and Push Marketing. However, push notifications do own few other drawbacks, which press them more as a supplement instead of a complete replacement to the traditional marketing channels.

Cons of Push marketing

  • Behave like pop-up Ads: People have never liked pop-up ads. The push notifications generally pop out as Ads, which act as an intrusion to the regular activity. Many marketers fail to explain the purpose of opt-in; hence, users do not comprehend what they are signing up for. As a result, notifications may come as surprise to the user.
  • Drawbacks in long-term utilization: If every website and mobile app just starts sending marketing notifications, people would get irritated and block all the notification in one go. Simply, push notifications are fancy and they are worthy until few players are on the field.
  • Work only when loyalty is already there: New users need to opt-in manually to the notifications. That means users who choose to revive them are already loyal to your brand. New users who are just exposed to your brand will hardly opt-in to the notification in the first interaction alone.
  • Exposed to spamming: Just like any other communication channel, rouge marketers can misuse push notifications for spamming. They can utilize the real-time nature of mobile and web push notifications for bombarding a series of irrelevant messages to the subscribers.
  • Cannot replace traditional modes: You cannot merely rely on push notifications to send sensitive information. For example, invoices and payments are highly sensitive communications. Sending them on push alerts will not let the users save them for future reference. Such information is served better with emails only.
  • You need additional setup: You cannot use push marketing without a push notification service or tool. However, the push notification services are generally expensive. A full-fledged service will cost you around $150/1000 notifications.

Pros of Push Notifications

  • Measurable analytics: It is easy to track and evaluate push campaigns. Many push notifications services offer built-in analytics to evaluate metrics like open rate, read time, segmentation, delivery rate and conversion rate etc. Moreover, some of them also offer easy integration with third-party tools like Google Analytics.
  • Cost-effective option is available: Push notification services are expensive. However, with a little research, you can find a self-hosted push notification Such tools are either open-source or come with a fixed one-time cost. Instead of subscribing to a push service, you can own the tools for yourself and need not paying charges per notification.
  • Timesaving: Push campaigns can save a great deal of time by fully automating the behavior-based, location-based and preference-based triggering. I.e. you can set a few templates to be triggered after fulfilling the behavior constraint of each template. For example, you can trigger a cart abandonment notification to a user who exits your site without completing the checkout process.
  • Real-time marketing: Using push marketing, you can interact with customers in real-time. The automated triggers can help you reach the accurate audience at the right time, in the right place and with the precise offer.
  • You need limited personal details: With push notifications, your subscribers can typically opt-in to your alerts without disclosing their personal details. Unlike, Email and SMS, you do not need their email addresses or contact numbers to send push alerts.
  • Increased Customer Engagement: With push, there is an unbelievably improved rate of opt-in, click through and conversion. Subscribers need putting the least efforts in subscribing and reading the push alert and it takes not more than a few seconds for engaging with them. Many experts say that prospects are ten times more responsive to push marketing than other channels.


Push notifications are gradually becoming prominent among marketers across the globe. By boosting the app engagements by 88 percent, push notifications are effectively improving app retention and user engagement. However, we must also not overlook the fact that push notifications are still not a full-fledged marketing tool. They are still a supplement to the email and SMS marketing channels. I hope technology will soon come up with sophisticated potentials to eliminate all the drawbacks and make this tool a complete marketing channel.

Author Bio:-

Quora | Twitter | LinkedIn

Marry Ann is a branding consultant for PushMaze, a service that lets you send trackable push notifications for users. She mainly passionate about building brands in all aspect of online marketing.

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