Email is simple to use—and practically everyone around the globe has access to it. However, as more of the world slip smartphones into their pockets, SMS marketing is becoming an increasingly powerful tool to connect with customers.

There’s no better choice when it comes to using SMS or email to engage your customers.

Both channels fill a unique need and deserve a spot in your communication toolset.

Knowing when it’s best to send an SMS instead of an email or send a mix of both will help you connect with your audience where they want to be reached. Let’s take a look at how email and SMS work together so you can learn how and when to use each channel.

3 ways SMS works with email

1. Speed vs. detail

SMS is one of the fastest communication channels. You hit send, and the message appears in seconds on your recipient’s smartphone, often with a notification preview that contains the bulk of the message. When you need to send quick, time-sensitive offers or information, SMS is the way to go.

Email, on the other hand, allows you to send less urgent, more detailed messages. You wouldn’t want to use email to alert building occupants of a fire—it’d be far too slow. However, email would be a more appropriate channel if you were communicating changes to emergency evacuation plans, since you’d likely need to cover more information than a 160-character text could handle.

2. Short and sweet or long and spicy

Text messages are meant to be simple and straight to the point. You only have so many words to deliver your message, but sometimes that’s all you need. If you want your audience to take immediate action, an SMS may be the right channel for the job. 

On the other hand, email can be long and rich. It could be a 5-minute long newsletter or a quick few paragraphs—regardless, email allows you to tell a fuller, less time-sensitive story.

Use the channels in tandem to create awareness and then drive action. For example, you may send out an email campaign alerting your audience to a new upcoming product line. Later, you might send your recipients a text message discount promotion when the product launches.

3. List cross-promotion

When starting a new channel, you don’t need to start your list from scratch. If you’re beginning an email program, use your existing SMS subscribers to drive high-quality leads to your list—and vice versa.

Provide your audience with an SMS shortcode they can text to subscribe to your emails. Or nurture your email subscribers before inviting them to join your SMS list. Continue to promote SMS and email to your subscribers so that you can build up high-quality leads on multiple channels. This will prepare you for future one-off messages or integrated campaigns.

Get the best of both worlds

When used alone, SMS is a strong engagement tool that’ll help your business send concise, timely messages to your customers. Combine this channel with email, and you’ll build a seamless customer communication experience that’s reliable, scalable, and downright powerful.

If you’re interested in adding SMS to your communications strategy, download our new guide Using SMS and Email to Engage Your Customers in 2020it’s chockful of all the latest tips, tricks, and best practices for you to build the ultimate customer engagement duo.



Jesse Sumrak
Jesse Sumrak is a Content Marketing Associate at Twilio SendGrid focused on writing killer content and producing captivating webinars. A writing zealot by day and an ultramarathon runner by night (and early-early morning), you can usually find Jesse preparing for the apocalypse on a precipitous peak somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.