In today’s complex world, email marketing alone isn’t enough. Companies need to develop a rich customer engagement strategy to get a leg up on their competition and improve customer relations. 

One of the best ways to do this is to marry SMS and email marketing, using both platforms in a strategic way to communicate seamlessly with your customers.

Although email and text marketing both have their places, it’s only when you merge the two into one content marketing strategy that you see their full benefits. In fact, customers prefer it when brands use omnichannel engagement strategies rather than relying on any one marketing strategy alone. 

What is SMS marketing vs. email marketing?

Text and email marketing may seem similar, but they’re two distinct marketing practices. 

Of course, the biggest difference between the two marketing strategies is how they’re delivered to customers. But there are other similarities and differences between SMS and email marketing that are worth knowing. Being aware of them will help you glean the greatest benefits from both strategies. 

SMS marketing

SMS marketing is often thought of as another term for text messaging, but in reality, it’s so much more than that. SMS stands for “short message service.” These messages are limited to 160 characters and cannot contain images, which means that using SMS marketing requires clever, concise messages. 

Some of the things that make SMS marketing so important include its high open rates, timeliness, and delivery to generally-receptive audiences. It’s a very powerful strategy — so much so that it’s expected to grow into a $12.6 billion industry by the year 2025. 

This SMS chain from RealEats provides a great example of how a brand can use SMS marketing to keep a customer informed about their account and create continual engagement with the brand.

Email marketing

Email marketing refers to sending marketing messages directly to your customers’ email inboxes. This may refer to direct marketing messages about sales or events, but it can also include things like newsletters, customer re-engagement emails, and abandoned cart summaries. 

Email marketing has been shown to boast serious marketing benefits, from building credibility and brand recognition to increasing traffic to your website. In fact, email marketing has an ROI of $36 per dollar spent

What’s common between SMS marketing and email marketing? 

SMS marketing and email marketing are both permissions-based. To market to either of these channels, businesses are legally required to have permission from recipients. 

While this may sound difficult, a notable benefit to opt-in marketing channels is that recipients have already shown an interest in hearing from your brand. As a result, they may be more receptive to the content you share with them, which can give you a better return on your investment. 

What are the biggest differences between SMS marketing and email marketing?

One of the biggest differences between SMS marketing and email marketing is the size of the messages you can send.

SMS marketing is good for short-form content to drive rapid engagement. This may include appointment reminders, information about flash sales, and event reminders.

Email marketing, on the other hand, is great for long-form content with complex messages. Announcements about new product offerings, newsletters, and event invitations are usually best sent through email.

Benefits of combining email and text marketing

When you combine SMS and email marketing, you walk away with a simple, yet robust, marketing strategy.

Email marketing with SMS is easily scalable, timely, and powerful. It has the ability to deliver the right messages to your customers at the right times, leading to improved engagement and a huge return on your investment. 

Here are some noteworthy benefits that come from using SMS and email marketing together.

Cross-compatible data sets

Combining SMS and email marketing means that you can use customer data from one channel to bolster the success of another channel. For example, if one customer shows an interest in baby-related text messages, you can use that to update their customer profile on your email list to ensure they’re included in baby-related list segmentation. 

More effective outreach and segmentation

Using multiple marketing channels to promote the same message can also help you reach more customers.

When you use both channels, you can also track open rates and engagement. Having that data will allow you to segment your users so that they receive marketing messages via their preferred channel.

This improves customer satisfaction with your brand’s marketing and reduces the chances you’ll get marked as spam or put on a do-not-call list. 

Better engagement

Last but not least, using both SMS and email marketing in the same campaign helps you improve omnichannel customer engagement.

For example, you might send out information about an event via email, but on the day of the event, you’ll then send a text reminder. In this way, the two channels can work together to boost engagement with your brand. 

Getting started with SMS and email marketing

If you’ve never used email marketing with SMS, getting started may feel intimidating. Luckily, both SMS marketing and email marketing are relatively easy channels to get off the ground. 

Start by finding an SMS and email platform that will allow you to schedule both email marketing and SMS messages from the same convenient location. Ideally, your platform will include easy-to-adjust templates for your email marketing campaigns, as well as a database to store email and SMS contact information. 

Getting started with SMS marketing

Whenever you send an SMS message, there are certain best practices worth knowing. For example, while your customers may have their phones on them 24 hours a day, they likely don’t want to hear from you at all hours of day and night. It’s courteous to limit SMS marketing messages to normal 9-5 office hours so you don’t wake your customers up or interrupt their dinners. 

It’s also important that your SMS messages always include an opt-out option. This keeps your messaging from feeling spammy and ensures that only your most receptive customers are receiving your SMS marketing messages. 

Getting started with email marketing

When you’re first getting started with email marketing, the most important thing is to find an email template that you like and can use over and over again. Email templates ensure your emails look professional and that your customers can identify emails from your brand at a glance. 

Next, set up a few automated drip campaigns. This may include: 

  • Welcome email sequences, which go to customers when they first sign up to be on your email list
  • Abandoned cart email sequences, which go to customers who placed items in their shopping carts but never made a purchase
  • Re-engagement sequences, which go to customers when they haven’t engaged with your brand in a while

Just like with SMS marketing, your emails should always include information on how customers can opt out of your campaigns. This will reduce your bounce rate and increase engagement down the road by ensuring that customers who don’t care to receive emails from your brand won’t receive them.

Quora includes information on getting added to the user’s inbox along with unsubscribe information. This combination can really improve bounce rates. Notice that they link to where users unsubscribe to make it easy.

Lastly, don’t neglect email marketing best practices, which include keeping a tidy email list, designing mobile-friendly emails, and personalizing your content.

How to combine SMS and email marketing to boost your campaigns

When you’re running a new marketing campaign, thinking of ways to use email marketing and SMS marketing together can help you drive customer engagement. 

The idea isn’t to send text messages and emails at the exact same time. Instead, you should stagger your messages, allowing each channel to do what it does best while bolstering your overall message. 

For example, consider a business that wants to have a marketing campaign to get more customers to come to a charity 5K walk. This is how they could use SMS and email marketing together:

  1. Starting with an email drip campaign: In the email campaign, they might explain the charity they’re supporting and why it matters to their brand. Then, they might have another email telling about the location of the walk, how to contribute to the event, and how to purchase tickets. 
  2. Supplementing the drip campaign with SMS marketing: This email drip campaign could then be supplemented with SMS marketing in the days leading up to the event that reminds customers about the event and builds hype. 
  3. Maintaining engagement with well-timed SMS and email outreach: After sending out SMS messages, they may send a follow-up email that talks about parking options and has a map to the 5K’s location. Finally, on the day of the event, they might send out a “Can’t wait to see you there!” text to remind customers that the big day has arrived.

This strategy of going back and forth between email marketing and SMS marketing allows each channel to shine and do what it does best while communicating an overall message between the two channels that benefits your customers. 

Use SMS and email marketing together to improve engagement

SMS and email marketing are two growing engagement strategies. But instead of seeing them as entirely separate, companies can benefit by understanding how their differences can be used strategically to create an omnichannel engagement strategy that both builds hype and informs customers about upcoming events or campaigns. 

Get started today by finding an SMS and email marketing platform that you like. Then, begin watching tutorials and designing your email templates so you can send out professional-quality messages that represent your brand.