Email to SMS: Strategies and Tactics for Optimal Performance

September 25, 2019
Written by
Dave Esber
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own

Email to SMS: Strategies and Tactics for Optimal Performance

SMS marketing has become an essential communications tool for businesses—both large and small—and a great way to connect with loyal and prospective customers. Open rates are through the roof, and the immediacy of text messaging pretty much ensures that they’re read right away.

This is probably why many marketers are converting communications typically delivered by email—like special offers, event announcements, and appointment reminders—to SMS: they’re hoping to tap into this attentive audience. At the outset, this may sound like a good idea, but it may not be the most effective way to integrate SMS into your overall marketing mix.

A common misstep is to attempt to save time and effort by using a single message (usually crafted for email) on both platforms. You might assume this is an economical move—lightening the workload for the marketing copywriters and getting their clever words the visibility they deserve—but this strategy can do more harm than good.

Texting is meant to be short and sweet, and while we hope you’re not sending long and complex emails to consumers, we’re sure you’re using email marketing to convey more details than the 160 character limit you get with SMS. If converted to SMS, most emails will likely be chopped into multiple 160-character blocks, eliminating the immediacy and simplicity that texting affords.

Email and SMS are two very different communication tools, each with benefits not offered by the other. And they can certainly be used in unison.

Converting email to SMS: What’s the best approach?

As with everything else, technology is available that makes it easy to transform standard email content into actionable text messages. Using a simple API, emails can be converted into compatible SMS messages which can then be pushed out to individual recipients, or to multiple recipients via bulk delivery.

Technically, it's doable. But since formatted emails and online forms don’t translate well to smartphone screens, you'll want to take caution on embarking down the quick and simple path of email conversion.

Instead, consider integrating text messaging into your marketing efforts in the context of an omnichannel strategy. Omnichannel marketing will ensure you’re enhancing the customer experience using the right channel at the right time and based on consumer preferences.

Striking the email/SMS text messaging marketing balance

When it comes to designing digital and mobile marketing communications, you’ll likely discover that marketing can be even more effective when text messaging is used as a companion to email. For example: adding a shortcode prompt (your SMS phone number) to an email campaign is a proven way to entice a consumer to interact with you.

Likewise, you can send a brief text message encouraging your customers to sign up for an email newsletter tied to their specific interests. Creative tactics like these provide marketers with new opportunities to initiate and continue rewarding customer conversations.

Here are a few other ways to amplify your marketing efforts with a mix of email and text messaging:

Enter and win!

  • Email: Nothing engages a customer more than a contest in which they might actually win something! Use email to provide all the exciting details and include steps on how the recipient can to participate. To help generate a mobile following, share a quick shortcode so customers can benefit from an extra entry.
  • SMS: Send a short message to encourage people to enter the contest before the deadline, and use SMS to announce a winner when the contest ends. Provide recipients with a simple link to sign up for email news and future contests and giveaways. Or, allow customers to receive additional entries with their phone number.

Survey says.

  • Email: Surveying your users is a clever way to gather information on how to improve your products and/or services. You could either offer a series of questions that recipients can answer by replying to the email or filling out an embedded form, or you can incent recipients to click through to a more comprehensive survey page where they can tell you more.
  • SMS: Engage this receptive audience for real-time feedback by asking for reactions to a recent transaction and interaction your customer just encountered. A quick "How'd we do on your recent purchase? Let us know by rating the experience 0-10!" goes a long way toward improving your customers' experiences.

Hey, we’re having a sale!

  • Email: Give your customers the details they need via email: time, date, products offered, and, of course, include a shortcode they can use to sign up for priority access and early-bird discounts for future sales events.
  • SMS: Send a last minute reminder of an upcoming sale and give recipients an additional incentive to get 15% off. Link to an email sign-up page to get daily details, or a landing page devoted to the sale.

Meet us at our event!

  • Email. If you're announcing a major event, you’re probably already creating a series of emails encouraging prospects to attend. These might include speaker bios, program agendas, hotel information, and invitations to special receptions held during the week. Consider including a short-code that attendees can use to sign-up for insider tips, or for non-attendees to get access to streamed lectures and keynotes.
  • SMS. You can use SMS to tout early-bird special pricing, reminders for attendees to join an evening reception, or to send a personal welcome post-registration with a link to event-specific FAQs.

Walmart embraces a multichannel marketing strategy to reward loyal customers

Walmart, the world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer, offers an excellent example of how to jointly use email and SMS in companion marketing efforts. It’s no surprise that Walmart offers coupons via emails to those who opt-in to receive them: these include rollbacks, special pricing, new items, gift ideas, and more.

They also encourage users to sign up for “Value of the Day” SMS notifications, providing mobile customers with a daily incentive to visit their local Walmart store.

It’s a simple and straightforward way to use email and SMS channels together to increase sales while rewarding customer loyalty.

Walmart’s “Value of the Day” was originally promoted through email, Twitter, and other social media, but these channels limited their user’s ability to access this communication anytime, anywhere. For Walmart, SMS provided the simplicity and immediacy required.

To fuel its SMS capabilities, Walmart turned to Twilio. As a leader in cloud communication, Twilio offered the retailer a reliable infrastructure, global reach, and deliverability needed to ensure those promotions reach each and every loyal customer.

Best of all, the implementation of their “Value of the Day” app took just a few hours to employ using the Twilio's messaging APIs.

An integrated, omnichannel customer experience

SMS has a unique place, often alongside email, in your overall marketing strategy. With today’s digitally-driven consumer, the question is no longer whether or not to convert email content to a series of text messages, but which channel is best for each unique customer experience.

For that, you need to be omnichannel-ready to succeed. And while SMS and email work great together, these marketing mediums need to be part of a holistic, omnichannel program: one that can easily plug into your existing CRM or database. That’s why choosing your messaging partner is one of the most critical decisions you face as you build your overall customer MarCom strategy.

Ready to see how to make your SMS, email, as well as your omnichannel marketing efforts successful? Talk to an expert at Twilio.

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