Email vs. Text: Which Campaign Works Best for You? - Virtual Stacks U.K. Ltd.
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Email vs text

Email vs. Text: Which Campaign Works Best for You?

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Directly communicating with your customers is important to maintaining their interest and building brand loyalty. It’s also important for customers of your business to feel informed during these times, as lockdowns, social distancing and other measures remain in place, affecting both the lives of consumers and how you conduct business. Two methods for effectively communicating your messages with your audience are email marketing and SMS marketing, also known as text message marketing. 

But how do you know which option is best for you? And do you know how to make the most out of either marketing method? 

Let’s dive into the basics of both email and SMS marketing before discussing which marketing communication option is the right choice for your business.

Getting Your Message Across: How Email and SMS Work

Emails and text messages are more direct forms of digital marketing compared to less direct methods such as social media marketing or pay-per-click ads. While the two share similarities in directness, email and SMS marketing require different strategies in order to be effective in connecting with your audience in a meaningful way. 

However, achieving the most engagement and effective results is dependent on knowing when to use email or SMS marketing. SMS marketing has become more frequently used by businesses in recent years, but it’s still a relatively newer marketing nice. Combine its freshness with its more direct and succinct automated messaging style, and SMS marketing messages see much higher engagement rates on average compared to email marketing. This doesn’t mean email marketing should be abandoned, however.

SMS marketing is generally used for communicating time-sensitive information that requires quick action on the part of the customer. Customers will opt-in to receive your marketing text messages, which will be sent by you via an automated system. These messages are short and to the point, which is why SMS stands for “short message service,” and they are primarily text-based without images. Some types of information frequently communicated through SMS marketing includes limited offers or discounts, news updates, appointment reminders, or purchase confirmations.

Email marketing is automated in a similar way to SMS messages, and customers still need to willingly opt-in to receive your messages. While SMS messages are very short, email marketing messages have wiggle room to be longer in comparison. Emails allow for images and other media to easily be embedded, and they better suit longer or multiple pieces of content at once. Examples of email marketing messages include email newsletters, visual product announcements, press releases or publicity updates, or long-form educational content.

Why Businesses Choose One Over the Other

Now that we’re starting to understand some of the differences between email marketing and SMS marketing, we can begin to consider why a business might choose one over the other to meet their marketing goals and to most effectively reach their customers. 

Let’s compare some of the pros and cons of email marketing and SMS marketing.

Benefits of email marketing include:

  • Improved brand identity — Email marketing campaigns give your business the opportunity to clearly develop and show off your brand voice. This will help you better empathize with your target audience, who will be more likely to engage with your emails because they see your business as a brand that truly understands their needs and interests.
  • Cost-effectiveness — While you will want to use an email marketing tool to prevent your email from being marked as spam and blacklisted, these tools can also provide you with customizable options and detailed analytics. These tools are not free, but they can often be scaled in price according to what your brand actually needs.
  • Test options — A/B testing is easy to accomplish with email marketing, and you can test a variety of email elements — such as headlines, images and content — to see what your audience engages with the most. This makes effectively improving your email marketing strategy a breeze.

Drawbacks of email marketing:

  • Spam messages — Sending marketing emails too frequently or without an automated system can cause your marketing emails to be immediately marked as spam by email providers like Gmail, Outlook, etc. Emails can also be marked as spam if users frequently delete your emails without even opening them. It’s also important to avoid being marked as spam by following GDPR compliance, requiring users to opt-in to emails and by providing the ability to opt-out at any time.
  • Time and resources — Creating an effective email marketing strategy requires time for writing the email copy, designing each email campaign, tracking the email performance, and more. Unless you are a large company, you likely won’t have the time or resources in-house to allocate towards all of it.
  • Impersonal — If your brand voice isn’t strongly resonating with your audience, your emails are going to feel impersonal. They will become forgettable to customers who are already inundated with marketing emails from other businesses.

Benefits of SMS marketing:

  • Open rates — A study from 2016 found that SMS marketing messages at an extremely high 98% open rate, making it the most effective form of marketing in terms of getting your target audience to see your message.
  • Consumer preference — In a world full of overwhelming hoards of email marketing messages, SMS text messages are preferred by consumers who want simple, direct and straight-to-the-point messages.
  • Instant Delivery — A factor relating to high open rates is that people receive and check text messages on their mobile phones much quicker than they do email, which may only be checked once a day for personal email accounts.
  • Fast response — Because SMS messages can reach your customers quickly and while they are on-the-go in their daily lives, you are also likely to see a quick response in terms of sales, traffic or other desired metrics.
  • Time-efficient — Text messages are much shorter than marketing emails. While your messages will still need to be strategically crafted, it’s much quicker to draft SMS copy than email copy and design.

Drawbacks of SMS Marketing:

  • Very short — The nature of text messages, particularly SMS messages, are that they are short and to the point. While character limits might not be an issue, depending on the automated service you use, lengthy text in a SMS message can be off-putting for recipients. If you need to say something longer, include a URL in your message or send a marketing email instead.
  • Text-focused — Automated SMS marketing messages are primarily text-based. This can be great for making your message clear, but it leaves little room for rich media — such as images — that can be included in email campaigns.
  • Growing recipients — Email marketing has been around for much longer than SMS marketing, and businesses may have email lists many years old. Growing your recipients of your SMS messages requires a little more effort and incentive, such as offering text-to-win contests. However, just like email marketing, user permission must be obtained first.

The bottom line is that SMS marketing is effective for offering immediate information to your customers and gaining immediate response, while email marketing is effective for delivering more creative longer-form content and establishing your brand voice. Which of the two you will choose to focus on will depend on the needs of your business, what resources are available to you, and the preferences of your target audience.

Why Not Both?

The choice between SMS marketing and email marketing doesn’t have to be so dichotomous. It’s true that some businesses may strictly prefer one method over the other for a variety of reasons, but this isn’t always the case. Like all effective marketing strategies, the best results often come from a combination of methods and strategies. 

Choosing email marketing or SMS marketing is not an either/or situation. So as a business owner, you may want to ask yourself, “Why not both?”

Email campaigns can provide information, offer coupons and promotions, deliver engaging content, feature products or services, build a community around your brand, or even be an opportunity to ask customers for feedback. SMS marketing can quickly deliver promotional information, personal alerts and news updates without requiring your recipients to visit your website, app, etc. to learn more. Both email and SMS marketing can bring in positive results when you include effective CTAs, or calls to action.

Using a combination of both methods can ensure that your business is reaching its goals in terms of increasing conversions, sales, web traffic, foot traffic, brand awareness and more. 

Deciding how to use both email marketing and SMS marketing for your business will depend on your target audience. Asking for their opinions on what they want to see from your emails or SMS messages can be a great start. You might also want to consider researching what your competitors or other businesses in your industry are doing. Are they using either method in a way that you aren’t? Is it effective? What are your competitors not doing for your customers that you think they should be delivering through their marketing messages? These questions are just the beginning!

Getting Started with Marketing

We understand that not every business has the time, resources or marketing expertise to implement modern digital marketing strategies. That’s why at Virtual Stacks Systems UK, our team of experienced digital marketers are eager to help your business grow and connect better with your audience! Learn more about our email marketing and SMS text marketing solutions, and contact us today to discuss your needs.


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