Email marketing is one of the most popular strategies that businesses use to reach their customers. It’s time-tested, convenient for everyone, and brings excellent results. In theory.
It is the perfect example of easier said than done. You might be putting a lot of time and effort into your email marketing campaigns but still experience a lack of engagement from your subscribers. And that's not necessarily your fault – sometimes emails just get lost in digital inboxes, or people simply forget that you’ve sent anything to them.
Here’s where it makes sense to add a new player to your marketing mix – text messages.
If you’ve never thought of combining SMS and email marketing to achieve your goals, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, you’ll learn the key reasons why you should do it and discover a few ideas and tips that you can adapt to your next marketing campaign.
The benefits of email marketing
Emails provide marketers with a variety of opportunities, which is one of the key advantages of this marketing technique. You can use different mediums, like images, GIFs, videos, etc., and clearly convey your message since emails are great for long-form content.
Here are some other email marketing facts and benefits to be aware of:
- Email marketing allows you to reach a global audience – the number of email users worldwide is set to grow to 4.6 billion by the end of 2025.
- Email signups are going up - the average weekly signups per account have increased by 34.9% since March 2020, according to Mailerlite.
- One of the highest ROI – ROI from email marketing now stands at $36 for every $1 you spend, Litmus has found.
- Email marketing will continue to grow – by the end of 2027, the global email marketing market is predicted to reach $17.9 billion.
The benefits of SMS marketing
As for SMS marketing, it’s steadily becoming a marketing channel that businesses can no longer ignore. You have to reach customers where they are, and where they usually are is scrolling and texting on their smartphones.
In fact, 46% of people in the US admit that they spend between 5 to 6 hours on their phones daily, and that’s not including work-related stuff!
Therefore, companies that use SMS can notice a positive change in their customer engagement and strengthen client relationships thanks to text messages' direct and personal nature. Not to mention the highest open rates of all marketing channels – 98%, which can significantly improve your overall marketing results.
Differences between text and email marketing
You can use both email and text marketing to achieve similar results-focused marketing goals. Some of those goals can even be the same; you just use a different channel to achieve them.
Which one you choose to use can mostly depend on the possibilities of the channel and your business objectives. For instance, if you want to present a new product to your subscribers, a channel that allows you to add more details, like email, would suit this purpose better.
So the main differences that can determine whether it’s better to use SMS or email marketing for a specific case are the following:
- Message length. SMS character number is limited to 160, while email has no such restrictions. However, for the highest click rates, the average length of emails is recommended to be 20 lines of text (200 words max).
- Format. SMS messages mainly contain text (although you can also send images or GIFs using MMS). Emails offer wider opportunities, allowing you to add videos, attachments, and other interactive content.
- Open rates. SMS open rates are as high as 98%, while email marketing open rates reach 20.56% on average.
- Response time. The average response rate for SMS is around 90 seconds, Gartner studies have found. On the contrary, emails take about 90 minutes for an average user to reply.
- Delivery. SMS can reach people even if there’s no internet connection around. As for email, access to the internet is a must.
- Use cases. SMS is mostly used for time-sensitive information (limited product offers, flash sales, reminders, etc.), while emails are used for more detailed content (newsletters, tips, testimonials, etc.). Email marketing works better for educating and nurturing clients, and SMS is great for sealing the deal.
Why combine email and text marketing
As you can see, both email and text marketing have their strengths and weaknesses. You will face situations when emails will seem like the better choice, and in some other cases sending a promotional SMS message will make much more sense.
But this is where it gets interesting.
The differences between SMS and email marketing can actually work for your benefit when used in conjunction. For instance, the urgency, straightforwardness, and high open rates of text messages can help you increase the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.
To put simply, these two channels can perfectly complement each other and bring better results than you’d get using either of them separately.
By combining SMS and email marketing, you:
- Benefit from an extra channel of communication
- Can target your customers more effectively
- Take full advantage of the mobile-first approach
- Can boost customer engagement, response rates, and other important metrics
Let’s explore some ways you can use text and email marketing together.
Striking a balance: 5 ways to use SMS and email marketing together
1. You can use SMS to improve the results of your email campaigns
Since email open rates are nearly five times lower than SMS, combining these two channels to get people to read your latest newsletter can go a long way.
The problem with marketing emails is that if you don’t open them right away, you can easily forget to get back to them and lose them in the clutter of other marketing messages. In fact, an average consumer tends to have 96 unread emails in their inbox and only 0.5 unread text messages. Priorities are clear, right?
Therefore, sending an SMS message with a reminder to check the latest updates/offers/discount code/etc. that you’ve sent via email can increase the chances that more users will open it.
2. You can follow up on special announcements
This one works both ways – following up an email with an SMS (and vice versa) can encourage more subscribers to perform an action you’ve originally intended them to.
For instance, let's say you're distributing a survey to gather your customers' experiences that they’ve had with your business. You’re sending a text message with a direct link to a survey, asking for feedback. Some of your subscribers answer, but you need more.
You can then send a follow-up email with more information and maybe even some incentive to encourage people to share their opinions. This way, you can collect the answers you've missed from SMS and even gather some new ones (assuming some people are part of just one of your lists).
3. You can use both channels to grow your subscribers' list
If you already have a substantial email subscribers list and want to get more subscribers for your SMS campaigns (and vice versa), make sure to let your customers know about these possibilities the next time you send them an email or a text.
In fact, you can include this information at the end of most emails you send to your customers (as long as it’s relevant). For example, if you’re announcing a new product launch, you can offer email subscribers to opt-in for SMS campaigns and be the first to get the latest updates.
Similarly, you can ask SMS subscribers to text you their email address in exchange for some incentive or benefit.
4. You can use email and text marketing data to target your customers better
The vast majority of email and SMS marketing platforms also allow users to follow their campaigns’ results and get some valuable insights that can help to improve performance in the future.
For example, you can see the predictions for a contact's likelihood of purchasing through your email campaigns or identify topics your SMS subscribers are most interested in.
So the good thing about combining SMS and email marketing, in this case, is that you'll be getting data from both platforms, which you can use to get a clearer picture of your audience. Therefore, knowing them better will help you target specific customers for sales, increasing your chances of succeeding.
5. You can use SMS to build buzz about upcoming events
Final on this list but just another of many ways to combine SMS and email marketing – you can use SMS messages to build anticipation and ignite discussions about upcoming news.
Let’s say you have some big news coming up and you are planning to introduce them to your customers by sending an email newsletter. You want people to read it, maybe even mark the date, but you don’t have that much to say to send a series of emails in advance.
Here's where SMS messages can come in handy (but make sure you don't overdo it!).
As text messages are short and get opened much more often than emails, it's a perfect channel to build buzz about your news. Create a series of SMS that will make your subscribers curious so that they'd be keen to open your email newsletter when the day comes.
3 examples of big brands that use both SMS and email marketing
Airbnb is a platform that connects people renting their properties with travelers who are looking for accommodation in that specific location. It operates globally, and nearly anywhere you go, you get the chance to choose the place for your stay from Airbnb’s listings.
How does Airbnb combine emails and SMS?
Airbnb uses email marketing to send property listings that users might be interested in, the key information before the trip, city guides you're about to visit, updates about the platform, booking information and confirmations, feedback requests, and similar.
As for the SMS messages, Airbnb mostly uses them for quick notifications, reminders, confirmations, or trip updates after you have already booked a place. They make use of the fast and direct nature of SMS to notify people during every stage of their trip. Hosts also get a text notification once someone books their property. Besides, property owners and guests can communicate directly by texting each other through masked phone numbers.
Yelp is a platform that allows users to rate businesses and post their reviews. Most likely, you've seen it at least once when trying to get an impression about the restaurant, shop, or any other place you were about to visit for the first time.
Yelp uses email marketing to connect with both customers and businesses. While customers usually get recommendations and reviews about local businesses, business owners can benefit from Yelp’s tips on what to do to become easier to discover.
Using SMS messages, customers can then easily make and modify their reservations, get text alerts on wait times and availability, and even directly communicate with businesses about their inquiries.
Instacart is a digital grocery store, meaning that customers can shop for food and other products online and get them delivered to their homes.
Instacart's emails are colorful, creative, and attention-grabbing, which makes their promotions even more attractive. The company sends email newsletters mainly to inform about the latest discounts, provide personalized offers, encouraging to visit a shop straight from the email, and get feedback for completed orders.
Instacart uses text messages to manage the rest – order confirmation, delivery process, customer satisfaction surveys, etc. Users get notifications about delivery times, employee shift alerts, changes to the order, and everything related, which is a great use of this channel when prompt updates are needed.
There’s no need to go into deep email vs. text marketing discussions when you can just replace "vs." with "and," giving a combination of email and text marketing a chance.
Yes, these are two quite different channels that can bring you results on their own. You can use email marketing only and never even consider text messages. However, in this case, you might be missing the benefits this conjunction can bring.
Complementary messages sent to users' phones can positively impact such metrics as open, click and response rates, significantly improve customer engagement, and boost their experience with your brand. Combining SMS and email marketing will help you build stronger connections and communicate in a timely and efficient manner – just how today’s demanding consumers expect.