Email and SMS Marketing: Increasing Customer Engagement on Mobile

Considering email vs. text for your brand? The best mobile marketing strategy includes both.
INTRO
Marketing in a mobile-first world

The modern consumer is not in one place or the other — visiting your online or brick-and-mortar store, browsing on a computer or a mobile device, communicating over email or text — they now navigate multiple channels as they discover brands and decide to purchase from them. But wherever these consumers ultimately go to shop, there is one thing that remains constant throughout their journey: they are always on their phones.

This has left eCommerce brands wondering how to best market to a mobile-first world. Is it via email, the long-standing and reliable performer? Or is it via SMS, the speedy new revenue-driver?

The truth is, it’s both.

Find out why email and SMS are better together, and how you can use them in tandem to create a powerful mobile marketing experience that reaches every customer, everywhere, for maximum ROI.

Table of Contents
01
Why brands need both email and SMS marketing to engage consumers today
02
The difference between email and SMS
03
Email vs. text — When and how to use each channel
04
Crafting a unified email and SMS marketing strategy
05
The advantages of texting and emailing your customers
01
Why brands need both email and SMS marketing to engage consumers today
02
The difference between email and SMS
03
Email vs. text — When and how to use each channel
04
Crafting a unified email and SMS marketing strategy
05
The advantages of texting and emailing your customers
Why brands need both email and SMS marketing to engage consumers today
Chapter 01
Why brands need both email and SMS marketing to engage consumers today

Consumers have different preferences

In a recent Yotpo survey, we sought to find out more about shoppers’ communication preferences to determine which mobile marketing channel brands should prioritize to engage them today: email or SMS? What we discovered, however, is that one channel is not sufficient enough. Brands need to harness the power of both email and SMS marketing — not one or the other — to truly engage everyone.

When asked in which channel they prefer to receive messages from brands, answers were often split. Take incentives to purchase, for example. Just over 34% of the one thousand U.S. shoppers we surveyed said they prefer to receive exclusive offers, discounts, or promotions via both text and email, while 32% prefer email only, and 30% prefer text only.

Chart showing consumer's email and SMS marketing preferences

Loyalty program messages, such as points balance updates, VIP tier upgrades, or birthday rewards, revealed a similar trend. Over 35% of shoppers said they prefer to receive messages about their membership via both email and SMS, while 31% prefer email only, and 23% prefer text only.

Chart with loyalty members email and SMS marketing preferences

To routinely capture your customers’ attention and drive them to convert, ​​you need to be able to reach them all in the way that they prefer — and the data shows that you need both email and SMS in your marketing toolkit, or else you risk capturing some customers and losing others.

Consumers are mobile-first

According to Statista, 84% of the world’s population now owns a smartphone, and the World Advertising Research Center predicts that nearly 73% of internet users will access the web solely via their smartphones by 2025. Not only that, 71% of purchases during one of last year’s biggest shopping periods, Black Friday / Cyber Monday, were made from mobile devices. Many consumers continue to use their smartphones even when shopping in a retail store to search for discounts, consult reviews, and more.

We can expect these numbers to climb even higher as technology becomes more advanced, which presents eCommerce brands with the opportunity to sell more products and connect with more customers where they spend most of their time: their phones. Email and SMS are built for these mobile-first consumers and our increasingly mobile-first world, with default mail and messaging applications making both highly accessible. Each channel on its own is a direct and reliable means of communication — but when working together, they can create frictionless mobile shopping experiences to take your customers from campaign to cart and back again, so you can see more engagement and revenue.

Consumers are becoming more private

Even though consumers today may be more accessible than ever, they are steadily gaining control over who can track and target them online. Apple and Google continue to announce new consumer privacy changes for iOS (and soon Android) users, giving consumers the choice to remain anonymous and limiting the data that marketers so often rely on. These changes further emphasize the need for diversified marketing channels and strategies — brands need more ways to capture data in order to tailor every engagement to the shopper.

Both email and SMS are permission-based channels, meaning consumers must first “opt in” and consent to sharing their information with you and receiving your marketing messages. Plus, both channels are powered by zero- and first-party data. Rather than relying on third parties for consumer insights, you can learn about your audience’s behaviors straight from the source, while encouraging them to share even more personal context through creative communication tactics like conversational flows, SMS chat, surveys, or polls.

Brands who use email and SMS marketing together won’t have to worry about future privacy changes. With not one, but two channels that your customers have willingly signed up for, you will always have a wealth of data at your fingertips to engage them with relevant content and influence purchase decisions.

Competition for consumer attention is fierce

All of that said, you still have to win consumers over before your competition does. And the best way to ensure you do is to be right where they are at exactly the right moment. By combining email and SMS, you won’t just have more channels — you will have more opportunities to connect with customers all over the world, regardless of what challenges may arise.

Is there a global social media outage? Send an SMS campaign about it to keep your audience engaged and encourage traffic to your site. Worried about your email getting lost in the sea of promotions sent during high traffic periods, like Black Friday / Cyber Monday? Follow up on your email with a text to increase open rates by up to 30%. Eager to promote more than one product? Switch to email for more flexibility in including images so you can really show off. In any case, having two channels is always better than one. In fact, brands who use three or more channels for their marketing campaigns see a 250% higher purchase and engagement rate overall.

The difference between email and SMS
Chapter 02
The difference between email and SMS

When leveraging multiple marketing channels like this, it’s important to first understand the channels’ differences and the unique strengths that distinguish one from the other. This will help you determine where each one fits into your larger mobile marketing strategy and when they can be used together for maximum results.

Content

The most notable difference between email and SMS is message length. Emails can be longer and more robust than texts, allowing brands to share detailed information with multiple calls to action and embedded links in a single touchpoint. SMS, on the other hand, performs best with one clear call to action and around 160 characters (though you can use more if you choose), making it perfectly suited to sharing messages with customers that are short and to the point.

Components

Both channels can contain visual components, such as images, GIFs, videos, or emojis to make messages more exciting and increase customer engagement. Email allows for a bit more customization and creativity in this regard — you can build highly stylized, on-brand content with multiple images throughout, as well as include a subject line to give the reader insight into what to expect when they open the message. SMS, or MMS, requires you to be more direct and intentional in your approach, with one visual component being enough to give you the highest chance of conversion and help you spark lasting relationships.

Consumption

While email is still a highly valuable channel for eCommerce brands — 73% of marketers say email marketing is their best digital channel for return on investment (ROI) — SMS is unmatched when it comes to generating revenue from immediate content consumption and engagement, with 86% of businesses finding it generates higher engagement than email overall.

“With Yotpo SMSBump, the revenue value per customer on SMS is higher than email. We’re able to guide our future resources to focus on driving more subscribers because it’s been so effective.” — Tyler Prone, Director of Growth Marketing, Parks Project

 

The average person takes about 90 minutes to respond to an email, but only 90 seconds to respond to a text. SMS also has an average 98% open rate, compared to just 20% for email, and click-through rates for the channel can be up to 10-15% higher than email marketing campaigns. So if you are looking to create a sense of urgency with your content and inspire customers to act fast, SMS is definitely the way to go. If your communication is less urgent and you want to create content your customers can browse and return to at their leisure, email may still be the best choice.

Email vs. text — When and how to use each channel
Chapter 03
Email vs. text — When and how to use each channel

As a result of their differences, email and SMS work exceptionally well to support and strengthen each other. If one channel is better suited to a certain type of communication, it can fill in whatever gaps the other channel has left, for a well-rounded and powerful marketing strategy that reaches the right customer at exactly the right moment. You might be wondering now, exactly which types of messages should I send in each channel? What works for one brand and audience might not work for another, but here are some recommendations to guide you.

Email marketing

In general, think of email as an opportunity to tell the story of your brand. With more creative freedom for length and design, you can really showcase what makes your brand unique to build and sustain a loyal customer base.

Emails are best used for:

  • Account information: It’s easier to save important information for reference when it’s sent via email, making this the ideal channel for welcoming new customers and sharing account related details with them. Let your customers know how they can access their account on your website, and if you have a loyalty or referrals program, you can keep them updated on the points or discounts they’ve earned, celebrate milestones, and more.
  • Monthly newsletters: Because emails can be any length and structure, they are perfect for newsletters, company updates, and other long-form content that you want to share with your audience.
  • New collection launches: With email you can promote multiple products, such as your new spring collection, and spark interest with sneak previews and visuals. Encourage customers to explore the latest releases on your website and stock up before items sell out.
  • Customer re-engagement: It costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. Send an email to re-engage customers who haven’t completed a purchase in a while to decrease time to next purchase, increase repeat purchases, and maximize customer lifetime value.
  • Cross-channel subscriber collection: Use your existing email list to direct more customers to your SMS program and maximize your subscriber growth. Send a targeted campaign or include a regular call to action in your newsletters using your opt-in method of choice, such as a branded keyword.
  • Preventing lost revenue: Did your customer abandon their cart without checking out? A cart abandonment email is an effective way to get your product in front of your customer again and encourage them to complete their purchase, helping you to boost sales.

An email sent from a brand to showcase a new collection

SMS marketing

Think of timely or two-way communication when you consider SMS. This is information you want to convey quickly to generate conversions (such as a flash sale) or empower customers to respond to in order to capture critical customer data. More than 57% of shoppers Yotpo surveyed said they would sign up for SMS in addition to a brand’s emails because they want to know immediately about promotions, offers, and updates. Similarly, 47% said their email inboxes are overflowing, and they are more likely to see a brand’s message if it’s via text. Another 40% of shoppers said they prefer to receive transactional messages — those particularly time sensitive communications about the status of their order and when they can expect to receive it — via text.

Chart showing how consumers prefer to receive order updates

Text messages are best used for:

  • Reminders and alerts: Your customer still didn’t purchase that item they left behind at checkout? Send a personal reminder via SMS with a direct link to their cart, or even an exclusive discount to incentivize them to click through and purchase.
  • Transactional notifications: Thank your customer for completing their purchase by texting them to let them know the package is on the way and provide helpful tracking information. Give customers the option to respond to your text directly with any questions or issues about the order.
  • New product launches: Alert your audience about an exciting new product your brand just released so they can be the first to know and the first to buy. Use segmentation to target specific customers with relevant new products based on their past purchases.
  • Limited-time offers: Create a sense of urgency by sending a limited time offer via SMS. Provide a limited time window (“Two hours remaining!”) to redeem the offer to give customers that fear of missing out.
  • Fast customer support: Forget playing phone (or email) tag to resolve customer issues. Use SMS live chat and help desk integrations to quickly provide expert customer service where it is most convenient for them.
  • Loyalty program updates: Communicate loyalty status updates, such as when a customer enters a new VIP tier, and provide loyalty-exclusive offers (even if you already do so via email) to increase loyalty program participation.
  • Review requests: Maximize your review collection by reaching customers where they are already active. After your customer receives their order, send them an SMS request for feedback so you can build brand credibility with social proof. Review requests sent via SMS have a 66% higher conversion rate than those sent via email, and you can increase your chances of conversion further by sending review requests in both channels.

An email and SMS marketing message side by side

 

There is a lot of overlap in terms of how email and SMS can be used in tandem, and in some instances you may even want to leverage both email and SMS marketing to target your customer with the same message. For example, if your customer win-back email is never opened, you can follow up with a text to increase the chances of that customer returning to your site. Or if you are promoting an end of season sale, you may want to start with a time sensitive SMS with a strong call to action, then follow up with a more visual email to better showcase the entire collection of sale items. Regardless of what works best for your brand and customers, the following tips can help strengthen your strategy for optimal results.

Crafting a unified email and SMS marketing strategy
Chapter 04
Crafting a unified email and SMS marketing strategy

Establish your goals and how you will track performance

With any performance marketing channel, it’s important to know your goals and set your key performance indicators (KPIs) in advance so that you can easily understand where you are succeeding and where there is room for improvement. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this goal setting — these will be unique to your brand and may change according to campaign — but email and SMS share several metrics that you can align with your objectives and leverage to expertly track performance.

Click-through rate (CTR): Your click rate (how many subscribers clicked your hyperlink or other CTA) is a great indicator of customer engagement, allowing you to monitor your audience’s interests, which content they prefer, optimal link placement, and more, so you can optimize for the best results.

Conversion rate (CVR): Similar to clicks, your conversion rate (how many subscribers completed a desired action) will make it clear which tools, campaigns, or strategies work best with your audience. This often translates to a completed purchase, but conversions can also be a successful SMS opt-in, email newsletter sign-up, referral, or any other customer action you want to track.

Revenue: Not only should you track how much revenue you’ve earned, but also how much you’ve spent to get there, so you always know the impact each channel has on your ROI. You can even set revenue goals for individual messages, such as the amount of revenue you hope to generate with your abandoned cart flow via SMS, and see how it compares to the same triggered message sent via email.

Subscriber growth: Pay close attention to your total all time subscribers, how many new subscribers you gained over specific time periods, or how many subscribers you get from each source to learn which collection tools are most effective. It’s also essential to consider your opt-out rate (or the number of unsubscribes your channel sees on average.) If you know you’re losing a lot of subscribers each month, you can strategize and try new subscriber collection methods to get you back on track to hit your goal.

To make performance monitoring easy, leverage customizable attribution settings to determine your ideal attribution window and stay consistent across all of your active channels. That way, when you send both an email and a text about a promotion, you’ll know which one drove the most engagement or resulted in the most purchases. These insights will allow you to refine your strategy on the fly, so that you can get the most out of each channel and reach your goals every time.

Optimize for mobile devices

SMS is optimized for mobile by default, but your emails need to display properly whether your customer opens them on a desktop computer or a mobile device. If your email content is not optimized for smaller screens (images are too large, load times are slow, et cetera), it will frustrate your customer rather than excite them. Similarly, you’ll want to ensure that your subscriber collection experiences are optimized for opting in from different devices — mobile tap-to-subscribe technology, for example, will allow customers to natively open their messaging app and subscribe in seconds from their phones.

Three step pop-up to collect email and SMS marketing subscribers

Maximize list growth with dual subscriber collection tools

Take advantage of dual (email and SMS) subscriber collection methods, such as Yotpo SMSBump’s multi-step pop-up, to grow both of your lists through one engaging touchpoint. Not only is this less work for you, it’s also a more seamless experience for your users. Yotpo SMSBump’s dynamic pop-up also adapts to your customer’s on-site experience as they browse and shop. Rather than closing out, the pop-up will minimize to a floating button if the customer doesn’t opt in right away, allowing them to return and enter their information when it is most convenient for them.

Consider customer preferences

Not sure which channel your customers prefer? Ask them! Try a conversational flow via SMS or a poll or survey via email to learn where they want to engage with you and the types of messages they want to receive. Alternatively, look back at your engagement data to see when, where, and how they prefer to take action, and adjust your strategy accordingly. If a customer is consistently clicking the links in your texts, but is not responding to the CTAs in your emails, you should focus your outreach efforts on SMS — and vice versa.

Segment your audience

Combining email and SMS marketing will give you even greater insight into these engagement preferences, as well as your customers’ attributes, transactions, and behaviors. Know which opt-in method your subscriber converted from, where in the world they are located, their demographics, purchase history, feedback they’ve shared, and more. This wealth of data will enable you to segment and target customers with the message that is most relevant to them, increasing the chance of conversion. For example, a swimsuit brand is launching a new cover-up and wants to promote it via an SMS campaign. To maximize the campaign’s success, they could target customers who clicked through an email about a similar collection in the past. Segmentation allows you to be smarter about the messages you send to provide a unique experience for every customer.

Switch up your copy

Don’t just replicate your email copy to use for your SMS copy. In this intimate, personal channel where we communicate with our friends and family every day, you have a unique opportunity to put a more playful, approachable, and conversational spin on your brand voice. And because of the concise nature of a text, you can be more direct with your customers and emphasize the timeliness of your promotion.

“It’s a different approach to SMS copy than it is with email. We’re able to have a little more fun with it, which brings out the brand’s voice, known for being more casual and fun. With the customer it’s important to be authentic, even though text can be automated, it’s still a personal communication, just like a text from a friend.” — Doris Neufeld, Head of Email & SMS, CURIO

Time your messages right

Space out your email and SMS marketing communications and don’t always prioritize one channel or the other first — choose which channel to send from based on the message you’re trying to get across. For example, is it a 24 hour sale? Start with an SMS to create that sense of urgency, then set an hour delay before following up with an email. For less time sensitive communications, you can space out your messages by a few days or a few weeks to ensure you engage your customers without coming across as spam. And if you have email and SMS subscribers in other countries, don’t forget to send according to their time zone to prevent unsubscribes and maintain compliance.

Test and optimize for better results over time

Whether you are sending an email or a text, A/B test your messages to gain deeper insights into your email and SMS marketing performance and use those insights to optimize for the success of either channel. Test two or more variations of your message, trying different copy, with visuals and without, sending in the morning and the afternoon, and more to see where click-through or conversion rates are highest and define a winning strategy.

The advantages of texting and emailing your customers
Chapter 05
The advantages of texting and emailing your customers

We know that modern consumers use both email and SMS on their mobile devices, so why wouldn’t you do the same? With the right platform and a thoughtful approach, you can create more powerful email and SMS marketing experiences that consistently engage them to drive more revenue than you ever thought possible. The way we see it, there are only advantages to texting and emailing your customers.

Grow an engaged community: With cross-channel subscriber collection and messaging, you can capture the attention of even more consumers, provide seamless and relevant shopping experiences that turn them into repeat buyers, and accelerate your revenue growth.

Keep your brand top of mind: Tell the story of your brand via email and enable fast, routine engagement via SMS to stay ahead of your competition and extend the lifetime value of every customer.

Be where you need to be, when you need to be there: Circumvent spam filters and catch every customer’s eye wherever they are most active to maximize conversions at every stage of the buyer journey.

Connect with customers on a personal level to foster loyalty: Thanks to data from both channels, you can build relationships with your customers through personalized email and SMS marketing. And with wider reach, you can boost loyalty program participation and collect more user-generated content to further product discovery, attract new customers, and encourage long-term engagement with your brand.

Yotpo SMSBump empowers eCommerce brands to get the best out of both email and SMS. We integrate with top email service providers (ESPs) like Klaviyo and Mailchimp, giving you access to shared data for in-depth customer understanding and cross-channel segmentation, while allowing you to more easily manage complex tasks and workflows between the two. Request a demo to find out how you can drive maximum results with these two powerful mobile marketing channels today.

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