Are you looking to better understand what channel will make the biggest impact for your business? Look no further.
Email or SMS marketing — which one should you be focusing on?
While more businesses adopt email, SMS marketing can provide impressive engagement and conversion metrics. But if you’re brand new to the world of SMS marketing, you have to start fresh with building a subscriber list — which can take time.
When it comes down to it, both channels have their own set of pros and cons, but to understand the differences, you need to compare them side by side.
That’s exactly what we’ll do in this article, provide you with the insights you need to know about both platforms to make an informed decision on which channel is best for you.
Here’s what will be covered in this article:
- Email marketing pros and cons and performance metrics
- Top email marketing platforms
- SMS marketing pros and cons and performance metrics
- Top SMS marketing platforms
- A few extra platforms that provide both services
Email Marketing 101
The first mass email was sent back in 1978 and generated $13 million worth of sales. While email may not have become a wide-spread used tool until the 1990s, it’s been a versatile marketing tool throughout the life of the internet.
Email has weathered many changes and advancements but continues to be one of the most effective ways to reach your customers. When you consider that more than 90% of people over the age of 15 use email — it’s easy to see that it’s a great way to reach your audiences.
Image courtesy of OptinMonster.
There are many different ways to use email to reach your customers. Many of the most common ways email marketing is used to reach customers include:
- Creating awareness and educational campaigns
- Sharing detailed content or company updates
- Gather customer feedback
- Share relevant deals and coupons
- Promoting products and services
While email marketing is one of the most common marketing tactics, there are some important pros and cons to consider.
Pros and Cons
One of the best ways to compare and contrast two things is to make a list of the pros and cons — and as with anything, there are two sides to email marketing.
This section will discuss four pros and cons that come with email marketing and do the same when we get to the SMS section of this article. This will give you a quick high-level overview of what each platform does best and where it has some room to grow.
Pro: Your Customers Are Already Using Email
Did you know that there are 3.9 billion active email users? And that number isn’t slowing down anytime soon. In fact, it’s expected to grow and encompass half of the world’s population within the next few years.
Email is one of the most widely used mobile technologies across the world. There are nearly 4 billion users right now, and that number is expected to continue to grow in the coming years to reach half of the world’s population. Image courtesy of Oberlo.
That means there’s a pretty good chance that your customers are already using email to communicate with friends, families, and the brands they love. Making it an easy way to reach your customers on a channel they’re already active on.
You won’t have to spend time converting customers from one platform to another or encouraging them to download another app — all they have to do is provide you with their email address, and they can receive the latest and greatest from your brand.
Con: Emails Aren’t Always Opened
On the other hand, just because the vast majority of your customers are already using email doesn’t mean they’re always going to open your emails. If you find your open rates are low month after month, you’re not alone — it’s something many companies struggle with.
Open rates can vary based on your industry, but the benchmark for most is hovering right around 20%. But for many companies, reaching that 20% range can be a difficult task. It takes time to understand what resonates with your customers, and you’ll have to spend some time testing your data to find out what works and what doesn’t.
There are a variety of reasons your emails might not be getting opened, such as:
- Lackluster subject lines
- Spam filters
- Cluttered inboxes
- No brand recognition
Whatever the case may be, it can be frustrating to spend time writing, designing, and sending emails that never get opened.
Pro: You Can Easily Create Personalized Content
Email is a great tool to provide your customers with a personalized experience. There are many ways you can bring personalization into your emails to attract attention and increase engagement.
In fact, 80% of people say they are more likely to do business with a company if it offers a personalized experience. So by taking time to personalize your emails, you’ll be appealing to more customers — which will result in higher sales and revenue dollars.
Email personalization can provide several positive benefits for your sales and revenue. From improving transactional rates to generating more ROI — personalization is a great way to take your email marketing to the next level. Image courtesy of Gist.
When it comes to personalizing your emails, there are plenty of different ways you can incorporate personalized content. Here are just a few examples of how it can be done:
- Product recommendations based on previous purchasing behaviors
- Remarketing messages that share products a customer was previously browsing
- Incorporate the customer’s interests into your email campaigns
- Send personalized offers based on special dates like anniversaries or birthdays
Con: There’s a Lot of Competition
Another downfall of email marketing is that there is a lot of competition.
87% of marketers use email to get their messages out to customers — meaning you’ve got a lot of competition. When you consider that your competition is sending just as many if not more emails than you are, you need to find a way to stand out from the crowd.
Your customers receive hundreds of emails every day, which can bury your messages and make them easy to miss. There are many ways you can make your messages stand out, from killer subject lines to optimizing sending times — you just have to find what works.
Next up, let’s dive into the performance metrics you can expect to see with an email marketing campaign.
There are a variety of different goals you can have for each of your marketing emails. Whether you’re looking to grow your subscriber list, improve customer retention, or grow revenue — email is a great tool to get you there.
But it’s also important to set reasonable expectations for yourself when it comes to what your marketing efforts can achieve. If you expect to get 75% open rates and 90% click-throughs on all of your emails, you’re dreaming.
To help you better understand what is considered a successful email campaign, here are a few benchmarks you’ll want to consider:
- Average open rate: 18%
- Average click-through rate: 2.6%
- Average click-to-open rate: 14.1%
- Average unsubscribe rate: .01%
While these numbers can vary based on your industry and customer base, this gives you a good starting point to compare your email metrics. If you find that you’re over-performing — that’s great, keep doing what you’re doing! But if you find that your campaigns could use a little help, this gives you something to work towards.
Top Email Marketing Platforms
Email marketing can quickly become a very time-consuming tactic when you don’t have the right tools in place.
Luckily for you, there are plenty of platforms available today designed to help you improve and advance your email marketing efforts. Whether you’re only looking for an easy to use drag and drop email editor or need something to build complicated automated workflows — there’s a platform out there for your needs.
In this section, we’ll take a look at 5 of the top email marketing platforms available. Within each section, you’ll get a quick highlight about the company, a list of their email marketing highlights, and pricing information.
Hubspot is a platform that allows businesses to manage and automate all of their email marketing needs from one central location. This tool can help you identify content opportunities, convert more leads, and better understand how your email marketing campaigns perform.
Save time and make the development process easier than ever before. With preset templates, you can quickly create emails that include all of the necessary elements without having to include your design or IT teams. Image courtesy of Hubspot.
Email marketing highlights:
- Quickly and easily build professional emails with predesigned templates
- Add personalization and tailor each message to your customers through smart rules
- Test emails and analyze campaign performance to improve your messages
- Schedule emails to automatically send
Pricing: Hubspot offers multiple plan options, including a free plan and the Marketing Hub plan that costs $800 per month.
Sender is an email marketing platform that helps businesses better connect with their customers and grow in the process. By providing a valuable service at a reasonable price, you can reach your customers at the right time with the right message to increase revenue and grow your business.
Quickly and easily build emails that resonate with your audience. With the right tool, there’s no need to spend hours on design or HTML. Making professional and responsive emails has never been easier. Image courtesy of Sender.
Email marketing highlights:
- Build emails with a simple drag and drop editor that allows you to create messages in minutes
- Email personalization capabilities to help increase engagement and revenue
- High email deliverability rates
- Analytical tools to help you better understand your customers and learn what emails work best
Pricing: Sender offers multiple plans, including a free plan, a monthly subscription that ranges from $11-485, and a prepaid credit plan ranging from $36-1,203 per month.
3. Constant Contact
Constant Contact can help your business improve your email marketing and connect customers with your eCommerce store. Whether your goal is to decrease time spend on email marketing with automation or improve your list management capabilities — this tool can do it all.
When you have the right tool, email marketing doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process. Automation makes it simple to schedule emails and build detailed workflows to keep customers engaged while you focus on other projects. Image courtesy of Constant Contact.
Email marketing highlights:
- Use their drag-and-drop email editor to create professionally designed messages every time
- Develop automated campaigns that include triggered and nurturing messages based on real customer data
- Incorporate segmentation to ensure you’re sending the most relevant and personalized emails to each customer
- Quickly grow and manage your subscriber list
Pricing: Constant Contact offers multiple email marketing plans, including the Email plan starting at $20 per month and the Email Plus plan starting at $45 per month.
With the help of MailerLite, you can improve your current email marketing efforts and get the tools you need to continue to grow your business. Investing in this platform will allow you to access features that make your process easier, from email creation to automation and list building capabilities.
A/B testing is a great way to learn more about your emails’ elements grabbing your audience’s attention. The more you test, the more you’ll learn about how to develop emails that convert every time. Image courtesy of MailerLite.
Email marketing highlights:
- Use predesigned newsletter templates and their drag and drop editor to make designing emails simple
- Add personalization throughout your emails, from the subject line to dynamic content blocks in the body
- A/B test emails to learn what elements are most effective for your audiences
- Analyze the success of your campaigns through detailed reports
Pricing: MailerLite bases the price on how many subscribers you have and how many emails you plan to send each month. Ranging from a free plan for 1,000 or fewer subscribers to customized plans for businesses with 650,000 or more subscribers.
iContact provides their customers with advanced email marketing automation capabilities designed to help drive higher engagement and revenue. Having the ability to scale your email marketing will provide you with more effective campaigns and more time to focus on new goals.
Many considerations come with creating emails. You need to ensure the layout and imager are eye-catching, but it also needs to be responsive so customers can see the full effect across all platforms. Image courtesy of iContact.
Email marketing highlights:
- A no HTML email builder that allows anyone on your team to build emails within minutes
- Smart sending automation based on customer engagement and behaviors
- Audience segmentation capabilities to deliver better content to all of your customers
- Create highly targeted campaigns that increase open rates and convert more leads
Pricing: iContact has two main plans with varying prices based on the number of subscribers you have. The plans include the Base Plans ranging from $15-45 and the Pro Plans ranging from $30-90 per month. They do have custom plans for companies with more extensive subscriber lists.
Compared to email marketing, SMS messages are still a relatively new way to interact with your customers. SMS messages can be dated back to 1992 but have been slow to grow in popularity for marketing purposes.
Even today, only 39% of businesses are using text messages to communicate with their customers. When you compare that with the much larger number already using email, it’s definitely an area that your business that can stand out.
There are many ways that you can start to integrate SMS messages into your marketing strategy, but they work best for short, concise messages.
Here are a few of the different ways that SMS marketing can be used to engage your audiences:
- Sending deals and coupons
- Important information customers need to receive in a timely manner
- Account and order notifications and alerts
- Reminders for upcoming appointments or events
No matter how you choose to use this channel, you can expect to see impressive open rates and increased conversions. Now let’s dive into some of those pros and cons you’ve been looking for.
Pros and Cons
As promised, in this section, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons that come with SMS marketing. This will allow you to quickly compare and contrast some of the critical factors that come with these two channels.
While some numerous pros and cons come with SMS messages, we’ll focus again on just four. From subscriber visibility to character limits — we’ll cover it all.
Pro: Your Subscribers Will See Your Message
One of the most attractive things about SMS messaging is that it is almost guaranteed to be seen. SMS messages boast a 98% open rate — something you just can’t get from other marketing channels.
Text messages are one of the most effective marketing channels. Compared with the other digital tactics you’re likely already using, SMS read leads the competition by a long shot. Image courtesy of Smartspate.
When you consider that most people carry their smartphones with them everywhere they go, it’s easy to understand why SMS messaging has such a high read rate. We’re programmed to look at our phones whenever we hear that buzzing sound, and many can’t be away from their phone for an extended period.
Con: You Need to Grow a New Subscriber Base
Building a new subscriber list from scratch can be difficult, especially if you’re a brand new company.
There is no easy way to convert email subscribers or social media followers to your SMS marketing list. You can’t simply upload a list of contacts from one of these databases because there are several regulations in place for text marketing.
Your customers must explicitly opt-in to your marketing messages using a keyword, also known as a shortcode. Many people are more willing to hand out their email address but are much more hesitant to give out their phone numbers. This can be another challenge you experience while trying to grow your SMS subscriber base.
Pro: Your Customers Want to Hear From You Via Texting
As text marketing continues to grow, people become more familiar with the capability and want the brands they love to send them promotional texts. In fact, 57% of individuals are willing to receive promotional texts from the brands they follow.
For so many, texting has become the preferred method of communication, and people are coming around to the idea of businesses sending them messages.
With a low competitor adoption rate across industries and high customer engagement, adding SMS messaging to your marketing strategy is a no brainer. You’ll put yourself in the position to stand out from your competition and reach your customers where they’re already active. Image courtesy of Listrak.
Here are a few examples of the types of SMS messages your customers want to receive from you:
- Promotions and discounts
- Appointment reminders
- Order updates and status
- Security or account notifications
While many consumers are open to the idea of receiving text messages from the brand they follow, many companies have yet to adopt the technology. That means that if you’re looking to add texting to your marketing stack, you may very well be one step ahead of the competition.
Cons: SMS Messages Have Character Limitations
One of SMS marketing’s biggest downfalls is set character limitations, and you cannot include imagery.
When sending an SMS message, you are restricted to 160 characters. This means you need to get your point across as quickly and concisely as possible. SMS messages are not the right channel if you need to send lengthy messages to your customers
If you want to send longer messages that include imagery, you’ll need to invest in MMS messaging. MMS messages are similar to SMS but with some additional capabilities, but do come with an added cost factor.
We’ve already hit on a few of the key performance metrics that come with SMS marketing and list a few of the most important metrics to help you quickly compare and contrast the two channels.
When it comes to SMS messages, you’ll quickly see that they can easily outperform your other marketing efforts.
Here are a few of the most impressive performance metrics that come with SMS marketing:
- SMS messages have an open rate of 98%
- 90% of SMS messages are read within 3 minutes
- Coupons delivered via SMS messages are redeemed ten times more than other coupons
- Text messages have a 209% higher response rate than phone, email, or Facebook
Once you look at those numbers, it’s easy to get excited about how SMS messaging can improve your current marketing strategy.
It’s all about finding the right balance for your teams and learning where your customers are most active. If you invest in text marketing but don’t spend the time growing a healthy subscriber list, you could be wasting time and money that could have been put into another higher performing channel.
Top SMS Marketing Platforms
Just like with email, there are platforms available to help make your SMS marketing strategy easier. These platforms will help you create, schedule, and analyze your SMS messages. With this information, you can continue to improve your efforts and increase customer engagement.
Tatango is a messaging platform that can help you take your SMS marketing efforts to the next level. With subscriber segmentation and analytics to automated workflows that send messages based on real-time interactions — you can do more with your time.
Create highly targeted SMS marketing campaigns to engage with your customers with the right content at the right time. Understanding your customers on a deeper level will allow you to improve segmentation and personalization. Image courtesy of Tatango.
SMS marketing highlights:
- Create customized workflows that send messages to your audiences based on their real-time behaviors
- Segmentation capabilities to ensure you’re sending the right message to the right contact
- Analytics to track how campaigns are working and better understand your subscriber base
- Personalization tools to improve message relevancy and increase campaign engagement
Pricing: Pricing is based on specific business needs, and you must speak with a representative to get pricing details.
Easily create personalized workflows that send automated messages to keep your subscribers engaged. From welcome series to abandoned cart messages, you can automate a variety of other communications. Image courtesy of Yotpo.
SMS marketing highlights:
- Grow your subscriber list quickly with compliant subscriber tools
- Create 1:1 messages to engage your audiences on a more personal level
- Leverage out of the box automation capabilities to make reaching your audiences easier
- Integrate with other platforms to create a seamless experience
Pricing: Yotpo has two plan options: the Free plan and the Premium plan. The Premium plan pricing is based on your business needs, and you must talk to a representative to get pricing details.
Engage with your customers at various stages of the customer journey. Once a subscriber has converted, you can send SMS messages to follow-up and receive valuable feedback. Image courtesy of Flowroute.
SMS marketing highlights:
- Reach subscribers with toll-free and long code messages and use an identifiable phone number
- Maximize message deliverability with Delivery Receipts
- Send appointment reminders and other automated messages
- Gather customer feedback and improve your process with post-interaction surveys
Pricing: Flowroute pricing varies on the types and amount of messages you plan to send.
Mobiz is an SMS marketing platform that can help make your SMS strategy simple and ensure you’re reaching your customers with the most relevant content. Whether you’re looking for a way to automate messages or send hyper-personalized messages — Mobiz can help you achieve your goals.
Personalize all of your customer communications to ensure you’re sending the right content, to the right person, at the right time. Create campaigns that curate messages to each of your customers on an individual level.
SMS marketing highlights:
- Build dynamic campaigns to incorporate personalization and increase engagement
- Create campaigns easily without having to deal with coding
- Real-time analytics that helps you make an informed decision and react to customer engagements
- Send surveys and forms to gather feedback and better understand your customers
Pricing: Pricing is based on business needs, and you must speak with a representative to receive pricing details.
Looking for a platform that does it all?
Email and SMS are two powerful marketing tools that companies across all industries are using, but what if you need a platform that provides you with the best of both worlds?
Maybe you’ve already taken the time to master your email marketing efforts and are ready to take it to the next level with SMS but don’t want to manage multiple tools. Well, then this last section is for you.
If you’re looking to streamline your process and find a platform that can fulfill all of your marketing needs — from simplifying email creation to sending targeted SMS messages. In that case, you need one of the following platforms.
A Few Do It All Platforms
Listrak is an integrated digital marketing platform that helps retail businesses manage all of their digital marketing needs. With this platform, you can easily manage your email and SMS efforts and tap into AI, machine learning, and predictive analytics to better serve your customers.
SMS messages are a great way to interact with your audiences. Create campaigns that make it easy for your customers to join and provide them with the right incentives to continue to engage with your messages in the future. Image courtesy of Listrak.
- Manage everything from creation to reporting to make the most out of every email
- Increase engagement with SMS messages that are sent to your customers at the most opportune times
- Use predictive analytics to understand better what content and products your customers want to receive
- Develop cross channel marketing programs to create a seamless experience from one channel to the next
Pricing: Pricing is based on business requirements, and you must speak with a representative to get specific pricing details.
Maropost is a cloud-based marketing automation platform that can help you manage your email and SMS marketing channels. From scheduling messages to understanding how your audiences are engaging with your efforts, Maropost will help you improve every step of the way.
Easily create SMS messages that convert. By identifying the right audience and scheduling the message to send at the perfect moment — your messages will never go unread.
- SMS segmenting and scheduling capabilities to make campaign development more manageable than ever before
- Dynamic personalization capabilities to make your emails stand out from the crowd
- Workflow automation builder that creates customized journeys based on customer interactions
- All-in-one platform to make managing your multiple channels easy and develop a seamless experience
Pricing: Maropost has three plan options: the Essential plan. The Professional plan and the Enterprise plan. You must contact a representative to receive detailed pricing information.
Email vs. SMS Marketing — Which Will You Choose?
Or will you decide to take it a step further and incorporate both in your marketing strategy?
Whatever you choose, you won’t regret it. Both email and SMS messages are a great way to interact with your customers and increase revenue. And if you go down the route of integrating both into your strategy, more power to you! You’ll get the advantages of both platforms and open yourself up to a world of opportunities with cross channel marketing — but that’s a topic for another day.