Email & SMS

SMS & Email Marketing: 5 Tips to Integrate Channels for Increased Customer Engagement

By Tinuiti Team

Today over 50% of the top 1,000 online retailers are using text message marketing, but that doesn’t mean they are neglecting email and their other channels of marketing. While they seem similar, it’s important to build thoughtful email and text messaging programs that create a cohesive and personalized experience for your subscribers. 

For some quick tips, read on. If you’re looking for more in-depth strategies to make SMS and Email work together, download the full guide.

“The goal of a holistic email and SMS marketing strategy is to advance your one-to-many communication into a more personalized, one-to-one level of communication.”

ryan mcguire

— Ryan McGuire, Vice President of CRM & Email at Tinuiti

Similarities and unique benefits of text messaging and email.

Customers don’t always read emails as quickly as they do text messages, so email is a great place to share details that are not as time-sensitive or that you would like the audience to spend more time digesting. Text message marketing is best utilized for short, time-sensitive and actionable notifications that do not need to be referenced at a later time.

Identifying, setting and evaluating channel goals.

Before launching a new program, it’s important to set goals in order to define success and identify opportunities for improvement through optimization. Once your goals are defined, map back the key KPIs you’ll utilize for measurement. Email and text message marketing share similar KPIs, but the KPIs tracked may differ from business to business, or even from campaign to campaign, depending on the desired outcome.

NOTE: When introducing SMS marketing as a new channel, you may start to see a shift in audience growth and revenue away from your email channel. Your most loyal customers are likely to subscribe to both channels, but they may begin to convert through text messages instead of email campaigns. It’s important to understand that this isn’t a negative shift, but incremental growth for your CRM program as a whole. Keep this possibility in mind when evaluating performance across channels.

Finding and acquiring your audience.

Growing your audience base is the first step toward building an ROI-positive channel, and it’s crucial to maintain continued growth across both email and text message programs. While it might be tempting to pause email acquisition in favor of building up your SMS audience from scratch—a common mistake marketers make—it’s important to continue to prioritize email address capture. The success of a new SMS program should not come at the cost of your email program’s health.

In order to optimize growth for both channels, consider acquiring phone numbers from site visitors on mobile, and email address on desktop, or collecting both email address and mobile number across devices. You can also acquire contacts by promoting cross channel: launch campaigns to promote SMS sign up via email, or email sign up via SMS. When following a cross channel strategic option, be sure to apply the appropriate suppressions to avoid asking those already signed up for both channels to sign up again, as this can lead to a negative experience. You’ll also want to ensure you’re following all of the appropriate text laws for SMS compliance.

Integrating text messaging and email in the customer journey.

The campaign messages and behavioral triggers for email and SMS have a lot of similarities: new product launches, flash sales, welcome messages, and cart abandonment triggers have been proven to drive revenue across channels. Be thoughtful about how your text message and email marketing programs are integrated, playing to the strengths of each channel and avoiding over-communicating to your subscribers. Successful CRM programs that complement one another, rather than operating in silos, create the most powerful brand experiences. 

The chart below illustrates just two examples of how your text message and email programs can create a purposeful integration that drives increased customer engagement. 

Testing and optimization.

Once you’ve developed a foundation for text message and email marketing you should begin to test both channels in order to gain insights about the content, offers, and images that resonate best with your audience. In both email and text message marketing, we recommend testing only a single element at a time so you can zero in on the variations that are driving a lift in engagement or conversions.

A few key variables that can be tested include subject line, media content, creative content and layouts, offer type and your call-to-action. To take your testing one step further, tag your SMS and email subscribers so that you can create segments of your audience that are subscribed to a single channel or both. This allows you to learn how customers respond to communication-based their subscription status across multiple channels. 

We recommend repeating testing at least three times and reaching statistical significance to determine a clear winner. What works for one brand may not work for another, so it’s essential to test and learn what works best for your audience. 

Are you ready for more insights, examples and pro tips on integrating your text message and email marketing programs for increased customer engagement? 

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