SMS vs. email: a loyalty marketing perspective

Scratch the surface of the Internet and you’ll find countless articles that compare text message (SMS) marketing to email marketing.

Depending on who authored the article, their argument will promote one or the other as the superior marketing tool.

But here’s the thing. From a loyalty marketing perspective, both email and text are good channels to use to communicate with customers. Especially when you’re reaching out to regulars who truly want to receive your messages.

With the Vicinity platform you have easy access to both text and email channels for your direct marketing. Whether you’re using text messaging to target VIP customers with a special promo, or you’re using email to send out a monthly newsletter about your latest news, events, and promotions, Vicinity makes it fast and simple to send customers the right message at the right time, via the right channel.

We’ve pulled together three points to consider when using Vicinity’s SMS and email features for customer communication:

  1. Email and text work well together. Text messaging is still a shiny new marketing toy compared to email, which has been used for mass mailings since the early 1990s. But the urgency and newness of text messaging does not make it superior to email – just different. In fact, the two channels work well as a one-two punch for direct marketing.

Your customers can sign up for Vicinity using just their phone number. If they happen to use a landline on their account or unsubscribe from receiving texts, the platform automatically routes any SMS messages sent, directly to their email address. Also, since you can choose to use either text or email when you set up a campaign, you can do it strategically. For example, choose email to launch a customer contest (the longer format is better for explaining contest details and rules) and use SMS to text out short reminders or updates about the contest.

  1. Volume versus velocity. Research from HubSpot, an email marketing company, shows that the more email messages you send, the better. Data from their own users shows businesses that send 16 to 30 email campaigns per month get twice as many clicks (or an average open rate between 28 to 33 percent) as businesses that send two or fewer campaigns per month.

In contrast, text message marketing works better with fewer campaigns sent (from 2 to 4 per month; more is considered spammy). SMS messages are almost always noticed (text has a 98 percent open rate) and read quickly – mobile phone notifications mean they’re typically seen within 90 seconds.

  1. Content is king but context rules. You have information – content – that you want to share with customers. For the best response, how you share needs to match what you share. The time-sensitive nature of SMS (140 character limit; mobile; ping notifications) makes it ideal for “exclusive” quick-hit promotions or urgent news about your business. So if you’re sending a special offer to customers who haven’t visited lately, or you need to alert people about new operating hours, a text message campaign is the way to go.

Beefy content that needs more time to digest is better matched with email campaigns. Product information, usage guidelines, a branded newsletter with lifestyle tips that soft-sell your wares are all perfect for email. Consistency is key (see point No. 1 above) but so is making your email messages readable on a mobile phone, where most people will look at them. This means writing in clear, precise language to keep each copy element as short as possible; using at least an 11-point font for body text and a 22-point font for headlines; and having a clear call to action in the subject line.

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