Email vs. SMS Marketing: Which to Use?

Winback Team on May 28, 2021 11:19:00 AM

Email vs. SMS Marketing. These words instantly create a hype that's similar to Captain America Vs. Iron Man, at least for marketers. The reason is simple: Both of them are time-tested channels with ROI figures that would woo every business owner. Emails have an ROI of over 4400%, while 75% of the people are open to receiving texts, and 98% of the SMS are opened. 

 

email vs sms marketing

 

Both emails and SMS marketing require you to secure a one-time opt-in, and you're all set. You don't need to depend on any platform or mediator to contact them directly next time. Again, this translates to the fact that both of these channels are accessible to almost everyone as they are basic services required for establishing identity on the internet and even in the physical world. 

 

Your customers might delete or deactivate their Facebook accounts, but they are least likely to stop using their email account or cellphone. Tune in for the ultimate showdown as the two of the mightiest Titans of the marketing landscape gear up for an apple to apple comparison. Today we will learn about their respective benefits in specific cases, understand their utility, and learn which one to use in different situations. Let's begin. 

 

Emails: Ruling The Digital Marketing Industry Since The '90s

 

 

Suppose you are a relatively new marketer who happens to be a late millennial or from Gen Z. In that case, you might frown upon the idea that email marketing is the most successful and dependable digital marketing channel. Let me explain to you the reason behind it. Firstly, your email address acts as your online identification method and allows other entities/users to contact you. One needs to submit their email address to make their profiles on various online platforms, make purchases, and reach out to businesses/individuals in a formal manner. Emails are also considered legally acceptable proofs, which makes them highly popular for any correspondence of significant value. 

 

The email address is one of the basic pieces of information that a business acquires from its leads on the commercial front. Also, both B2B and B2C customers find emails as a good idea to receive promotional and informational messages from their favorite brands. 61% of the subscribers would look forward to receiving your emails every week. In fact, 60% of your subscribers join your mailing list only to receive promotional offers. These are very promising numbers as every other channel will require you to 'disturb' your target audience while they are surfing through their favorite content on a social media app. On top of that, if your existing customers encounter any sort of problem, they will share the details over email and expect you to revert over there. This falls under the category of transactional emails. 

 

All of these facts make it very clear that emails serve multiple purposes, and they are applicable at innumerous touchpoints. Thus, emails have become part and parcel of everyday life that businesses simply cannot afford to ignore. 

 

SMS Marketing: Shining Bright Despite The Transition From Feature Phones To Smartphones

 

 

It won't be an overstatement if I say that the only thing that survived the shift from Nokia's feature phones to Apple's iPhones head-on is none other than the SMS. Even the advent of internet-based messenger platforms like WhatsApp and WeChat didn't marginalize the popularity of SMS marketing. This itself reflects the promising fundamentals of using SMS as a marketing tool. But what we personally feel works in favor of SMS marketing is that businesses don't need to rely on any of these apps, and they only need to send short texts- nothing else. It also saves a lot of time for its recipients, which ultimately contributes to their unbeatable open rates. 

 

You can use SMS marketing to do pretty much everything that emails can do for you. The "Less is more" maxim makes it even more attractive as you don't need to put in any time and effort to get things done. It's all under 160 characters! You just need to get yourself a decent bulk SMS software package and a creative copywriter to shell out your SMS-based marketing messages. 

 

Now that we have gone through the basics of both email and SMS marketing, let us go through situations where using either of the two can be analyzed:

 

Promotional Offers: Email Marketing Wins

 

 

Yes, we can definitely agree with the fact that sending SMS regarding flash sales and personalized offers is a timeless technique. But, that's not the best way to do so, especially when you have email marketing at your disposal. Every person regularly checks their inbox, and you can send interactive HTML email template-based messages that contain your product's best images and copy. Humans are visual creatures, and emails allow you to display your products and even services through abstract representations.

 

On top of that, emails have a very useful feature that SMS marketing lacks: CTA buttons. You can include hyperlinks in your SMS, but emails allow you to do the job in a manner that is pleasing to the eyes and closely resembles website experience. Also, you can include multiple products in a single email and even include dynamic content blocks- giving emails far superior sales capabilities. They clearly win over SMS marketing due to their functional value.

 

Sharing Important Information Quickly: SMS Marketing Outweighs Emails

 

When it comes to informing the user instantly, SMS is next to none. They don't depend on internet connectivity or any other factor except the mobile phone being switched on, and it is under the coverage of the cellular network. In fact, wearable smart devices, too, display the SMS received, which makes them more relevant when compared with email marketing. 

 

For example, suppose you need to alert users regarding a possible delay in the delivery of ordered items. In that case, SMS services can be your best bet as they can quickly get informed about the developments. The same applies to transaction confirmations as one can quickly check the status in the text message. I also feel that you can use SMS to notify the recipient regarding the resolution of any client servicing queries or information requests that would be served via emails for any other platform, but there is uncertainty regarding its time frame. Here you will need to consider the fact that these notifications need to be of high value for the recipient, or else you might end up diluting the USP of SMS marketing- crisp, urgent messages.

 

Collecting Inputs From Your Customers: Emails Tend To Perform Better

One of the core marketing activities is to gather customer insights, and here's where emails outweigh SMS by a significant margin. Of course, you can ask them to revert with one of the options sent but typing such messages can get a bit too much for anyone. Emails, on the other hand, allow the user to select a few fields or simply click on buttons to confirm their choices. This is an extremely effective way to gather inputs from your existing customers as well as leads because once they open the message, they don't need to make significant efforts to provide you with the required information. 

 

You can also ask your subscribers to provide you with additional material, which may include rich multimedia, statistics, and descriptive text. To motivate them to do so, you can also include some sort of reward. This is only possible in the case of emails as no other platform will allow you to exactly curate all of these elements precisely to deliver expected results. 

Cost-Effectiveness: SMS Marketing Wins Big

 

For any marketer, the cost versus return calculation holds a very significant position. The cost of running email marketing efforts cannot be canvassed properly since it depends on a vast variety of factors. It includes the ESP that you are using, the size of your mailing list, the number of HTML email templates that you are getting developed on a custom basis and their different versions according to the segments, email automation workflow specialists you hire, and cost of other creative elements like the copy and graphics. Thus the total cost incurred is bound to be high, with larger volumes proving to be comparatively more economical. 

 

SMS marketing, on the other hand, is a fairly cost-effective alternative. Various bulk SMS packages are available, which cost you 30-40 bucks for a thousand messages and upwards. With an open rate of 98%, SMS services are almost unbeatable in terms of the sure-shot reach they provide. The best part is that they offer better scalability as you just need to pay for the number of text messages that you want to send. Even if you want to send messages to a small number of people at our email limited frequency, you don't need to make heavy investments upfront like in the case of email marketing. This can be a big advantage for smaller firms who cannot afford the ESP subscriptions and email template development charges. 

 

Content Distribution: Emails All The Way

 

 

Okay, this one is quite obvious as you can't pack content in your SMS while emails allow you to distribute content in a user-friendly manner. You can send newsletters, product discovery emails, and other custom messages to distribute the content published on your website, forums, or even on your social media handles. This is a great advantage for all businesses since providing customers with informative content is necessary to building an authoritative stance.

 

Email marketing enables you to build your image as a thought leader, and it also comes with SEO benefits. Diverting traffic to your website is a great perk availed by using emails to distribute your content. Also, this activity is necessary as improving your subscribers with only promotional and transactional messages may drop your engagement rates. SMS doesn't have any chance in this case as they simply aren't meant to distribute content in any manner. 

 

Transactional Purposes: It's A Tie

 

Source: Walkthechat

 

When we consider transactional messages, it becomes difficult to arrive at a conclusion that favors one out of the two. Let us understand this correctly. Suppose that your existing client wants to reset their password. In this scenario, emails would work better since you might want to send a custom link instead of a mere OTP. However, if you want to update your customer regarding their purchase products being out for delivery, SMS will serve your purpose better. 

 

One may not be waiting for your email or SMS in the first place, but the text will always be more likely to be seen by the user. Sending an email, in this case, may not be the wisest thing to do as it will anyway be unable to prompt your customer. On the other hand, you can also use both of them in the loop for many cases. For instance, you can allow your customers to make a service request using SMS and later carry the correspondence forward over emails or phone calls. Using either of these two depends on your industry and the particular situation where you are using them. 

 

Summing Up

We went through all the major comparison parameters, but I would like to stress the fact that both of them need to be used in a combination. They are focused on catering to different value propositions but using them together can help add tremendous value to the customer experience. This way, you can make your outreach strategy much more meaningful and effective for the end consumers.

 

You just need to keep the specific case in mind when devising your strategy and then approach the recipients accordingly when sending SMS and emails. But for the precise execution of SMS marketing, you need an expert like Winback. Once Winback SMS marketing setup is complete, it works 24 x 7, and you don’t even need any agents to operate it. If you are an eCommerce business owner, you can recover 34% of your abandoned carts once you have signed for a Winback SMS marketing plan. Yes, you read that right! In fact, our customers see an ROI of over 35X on their investment in Winback’s services. Reach out to us for a discussion today. 

 

In this article, we have covered the basics behind their success as well as the factors that act in their favor in different conditions. I hope this article adds to your understanding of the topic and helps you run your marketing campaigns with the 'Email + SMS' approach instead of going ahead with either of the two.

 

Topics: SMS Marketing, Email Marketing

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