Email vs Text? Texting vs Calling? Which One's Best?
Kyle Kuczynski
Kyle Kuczynski
MessageDesk Co-Founder & CMO
Updated: Feb 08, 2021
A mailbox, a phone, and text chat bubbles next to a person texting on their phone

Learn the Differences Between Text and Email, Text and Calling, and Find Out Which is Best For You

People frequently ask us how SMS text messaging compares to email and phone calls. They want to know the clear winner.

But the frustrating answer is… it depends.

So what does IT depend on? Well…

It depends on your goals and objectives. When it comes to communicating with contacts and customers, every business or organization has different needs and expectations.

Are you a service-based business that deals with scheduling, appointment reminders, or invoice reminders every day? Then you might feel like there’s no replacement for making phone calls.

Are you a nonprofit sending important information to donors? Then your email list might be the most sacred object your organization owns.

But here’s what’s real:

Whether you email, call, or text, each tool you use should work together as part of a conversational messaging strategy.


  • What does a conversational messaging strategy look like?
  • What are the pros, and cons of texting, voice, and email?
  • Which communications tools work best and for what kind of message?
  • When should you use one communication tool over the other?
  • What tools work best for personalizing customer experiences?

Read on for all the answers to these questions. You’ll find everything you need to know about the pros and cons of calls, texts, and emails.

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What is Conversational Messaging?

It’s important to think about your communications strategy before you start comparing any tools.

Conversational messaging is a customer-centric, personalized messaging strategy. It’s simple: talk to people 1-on-1, face-to-face, like a real person. Your goal is to make marketing, sales, and service conversations feel as warm, friendly, and personal as possible.

Conversational messaging is all about treating contacts and customers in more human and personalized ways. Do so and your brand will start to win loyalty, praise, and admiration.

The best part is, small businesses and organizations have a lot of options out there. It's never been easier to access such a wide array of conversational messaging tools.

These conversational messaging tools include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Email
  • Voice calls and VoIP services
  • Text messaging
  • Chatbots
  • Website forms and widgets
  • Messenger (formerly Facebook Messenger)
  • WhatsApp
  • WeChat
  • Snapchat

Each allows for conversational messaging experiences with your contacts and customers.

Some of these tools (like text messaging) are even gaining in popularity with businesses, organizations, and consumers. In fact, 39% of businesses already use some form of text messaging with their customers.

But consumers are really the ones driving this trend. Some 74% prefer to talk to a real person vs an automated chatbot. And 3 out of 4 get frustrated when they can’t respond or take action after receiving a message.

So here’s the bottom line:

Whatever tools you use to communicate with your contacts and customers, they need to be conversational. Consumers want fast, easy, personalized, and responsive ways to communicate with businesses and organizations. That’s what conversational messaging is all about.

Texting vs Calling

Phone calls are obviously the tried and true standby when it comes to customer communication. They used to be the only way to get an instant response and this is still true to an extent.

Without question, phone calls aren’t going away - we’ll always need them.

But methods of communication are changing, and telephone culture is declining.

Some 76% of consumers recently reported that they don’t like talking to businesses on the phone.

And if you’re an unknown? Well, 1 in 4 consumers won't even listen to your voicemail.

People just don’t pick up the phone. This may not make sense given their supposed craving for more conversational experiences.

But it actually points to a powerful truth:

People want conversations to occur quietly, in their own time, and at their convenience.

This is why people prefer texting vs talking. Texting is a less obtrusive, more discrete, and yet still a near-instant way to communicate.

And because they're instant, texts get up to a 98% open rate. That’s higher than any other form of communication.

High open rates are also why texting is 7 times more likely to get a response.

Plus, texting is also more efficient than calling.

Phone conversations take much longer to complete, and you can only complete them one at a time. Advanced VoIP telephone systems and autodialers can make calling at scale more efficient.

But it’s still not as fast as texting. Texting makes it way easier to reach customers with the same message faster.

So what are the benefits of telephone communication?

It’s somewhat hard to quantify, but a human voice can make a world of difference when it comes to customer engagement. Talking on the phone can sometimes make or break a sale, close a deal, keep a customer, or secure a donation. There’s just nothing more human than a personal phone call.

This is where chatting on the phone can sometimes beat SMS.

Suggested Article: Stop Calling - Here's How to Engage Customers At Scale

Texting vs Calling Pros and Cons

Phone Call Pros Phone Call Cons
Universal mode of communication Susceptible to poor network connections, loud ambient noise, and malfunctioning handsets
Everyone owns a cell phone Can increases the chance of negative customer service experiences related to being on hold or feeling pressured to answer
Demands undivided attention from your audience once they answer Can only complete one at a time
A faster way to find solutions to complex problems and issues Fewer integration opportunities
Improves personal engagement with your audience Lower response and engagement rates

Email vs Text

Email is yet another tried and true conversational messaging technology. It’s actually the most widely adopted form of digital communication in the world.

Email has also proven effective for decades. Personalized marketing campaigns allow businesses and organizations to nurture customers, deliver engaging content, and personalize messages.

But email marketing can suffer from lower engagement rates.

In fact, the average person will send 25% more texts than emails. That’s an average of at least 15 texts vs 12 emails per day.

While the average person receives dozens of emails, only 17% of people have zero unread emails. Whereas 74% of people have zero unread text messages.

The truth is that many emails go unread and even get deleted without ever being opened.

It’s no wonder then that email also has lower engagement rates. We’re talking about 20% open rates and only 6% average response rates. And that’s on a good day.

Compare that to text messaging. Text messages have up to a 98% open rate and around a 45% response rate. In fact, 74% of customers will even respond to a text from a business within an hour vs 41% for email.

Customers are also much more likely to mark advertising emails as spam. So when it comes to receiving email, some audiences may never even have the chance to see your message.

Email vs Text Engagement Rates

Open Rate [3] Response Rate [3] Spam Rate [1]
Text Messaging 98% 45% 3%
Email 20% 6% 53%

But there are clear benefits to emailing vs texting.

The difference between text and email is that email gives you more space to tell a more visual and convincing story.

Whereas text messages will always have a character limit. This character limit may vary based on your messaging provider, but texts are meant to be brief. They require you to get to the point faster than email.

Email works great for long, in-depth customer communications. Whereas text message marketing is best for short messages, calls to action, and immediate engagement.

This means SMS is great for delivery notifications, appointment reminders, out of office messages and more. Texts can quickly encourage customers to take actions like, “schedule an appointment”, “pay invoice” and “redeem offer”.

Email is also a much more visual medium than text messaging.

Sure, you can send images and gifs using MMS. But you can’t style your text messages in the same way you can with an email.

Suggested Article: What's the Difference? SMS vs MMS vs OTTs

In the end, a well-rounded conversational messaging strategy will take advantage of the benefits of texting and the benefits of email. You need both. They each serve a different purpose.

Email Pros Email Cons
Email is universal Higher spam message rates
Everyone has an email address Emails are likely to go unread with low open and response rates
Effective for sharing files and important attachments Primary means of spreading malware through website links and email attachments
Can send e-blasts and newsletters with more in-depth content Dependent on servers, and may not be received in real-time
Provides a reliable written trail for your records or legal purposes Contacts need to be opted in to receiving messages

Social Messaging Apps (WhatsApp) vs Texting

Social messaging apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger now dominate the consumer messaging market.

They’re cheap, easy-to-use, and made for instant-messaging that tends to feel more personal than formal.

Like texting, the messages on these platforms are sent and received instantly in real-time.

But they have some drawbacks.

For users to send and receive messages they need to have an app and all of the messaging takes place on the app’s dedicated network. These networks are separate from the cellular networks you’d use to send SMS messages.

This is where SMS has the advantage. Everyone has a phone number and nearly every mobile phone comes equipped with a built-in, native text messaging app.

As a business or organization, this means SMS gives you access to a much wider audience. Social messaging apps are limited by the fact that each person in the conversation has to have the app.

So if a contact hasn’t downloaded the app, and aren’t logged in, they’ll never receive your message.

Social Messaging Pros Social Messaging Cons
It’s instant, and gets your important messages across quickly You need to have the app and be logged in to receive any communications
It can be brief, but there are no character limitations Can be overrun with spam messages
It’s free, as long as you have access to the internet If you don’t have access to the internet, you won’t reliably receive communications
It’s conversational and can open up two-way communication It can be perceived as intrusive
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Next Steps

Ready to start texting? MessageDesk is here to help with smarter, simpler ways to send text messages.

Visit our learning center for information on how to get started with MessageDesk. You’ll find a quick start guide to texting, a features overview, and an explanation of what MessageDesk is.

You’ll also want to check out our list of free SMS text message templates. Just copy and paste to start texting.

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