SMS vs Email Marketing for Ecommerce in 2019

As retail increasingly goes mobile, we compare SMS marketing and Email marketing to figure out what works best for ecommerce startups

Written by

Corey Epstein

Published on

11 Apr, 19

Table of Contents

  • Is SMS Marketing effective?
  • Is texting better than email?
  • Why should you use SMS Marketing for your ecommerce startup?
  • How can you use SMS Marketing instead of Email marketing?
  • Conclusion

While digital marketing has changed dramatically, the need for businesses to connect with customers at the right time and using the right channel has remained constant. Today, that channel is SMS because it is the best way for you to access and communicate with your business’s audience.

Why are we so sure? The numbers speak for themselves. 79% of people reach for their phone within 15 minutes of waking up and have their phones on them for 22 hours a day. The average mobile user checks their phone an unbelievable 52 times daily, and smartphones have become the preferred devices for online activities.

(Source: IDC Research, Always Connected)
(Source: Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey, 2018)

Metrics Email
SMS

Difference
Opt-in
1.95% 8% 4x
Open rate 20.81% 82.1% 3.95x
CTR 2.43% 36% 14.8x
Audience Retention 56% 95% 1.7x

(Source: “Email Marketing Benchmarks”, MailChimp, updated 03/2018 | “Email signup benchmarks“, Sarah Peterson, Sumo, 04/09/2019 | “What is the open rate of SMS Text Messaging?”, Christopher S. Penn, Shift Communications, 09/29/2015)

Is SMS Marketing effective?

Yes, SMS Marketing is effective – even more so than email marketing. In addition to being opened, read, and interacted with more often, SMS marketing has the benefit of connecting you to your audience instantly. Because it is short, it pushes businesses to be more forthcoming about what they are offering. It is the best way to offer promotions, discounts, and incentives for quick and easy conversion and sales.

Is texting better than email?

53% of consumers complain about receiving too many irrelevant emails, and Email marketing can get lost in the crowd or worse, stuck in the spam folder. Since 53.5% of all email traffic worldwide is spam, this isn’t very surprising. SMS is far less likely to be filtered, which means that you can connect in real time with your target audience. This is why SMS open rates are much better than email open rates.

(Source: DMA Insight: Consumer email tracker 2017)
(Source: Spam Statistics: spam email traffic share 2018, Statista)

Why should you use SMS Marketing for your ecommerce startup?

82% of marketers spend up to 20% of their marketing budget on email, with monthly spend on email marketing ranging from $500 to $1000. SMS Marketing is more cost-effective than email marketing because SMS is cheaper and easier to create. Your messages are more likely to be opened, read, clicked, and used to make a purchase because this channel is less crowded.

In 2018, 39.6% of total ecommerce retail in the US – totaling $208.1 billion – happened on mobile. By 2021, over half of all US ecommerce retail sales will be on mobile. Between 2017 and 2019, it is estimated that mobile-driven ecommerce retail sales will be growing at a CAGR of 31.49%. With consumers increasingly using smartphones to make purchases, SMS marketing helps you connect with your audience where they are, and when they are most receptive to you.

(Source: DMA Insight: Consumer email tracker 2017)
(Source: eMarketer, Exploring the Mobile Shopping Habits of US Consumers, 2018)

How can you use SMS Marketing instead of Email marketing?

Ecommerce startups and small businesses can use SMS for –

  • Promotions – Drive sales and enhance engagement with discounts, codes, and coupons
  • Customer Service – Communicate order confirmations and delivery details instantaneously;
  • Abandonment Solution -Win abandoned shopping carts and convert skeptics with triggered SMSes;
  • Drip Marketing – Build automated campaigns that engage over the consumer lifecycle; and
  • Remarketing and Upselling – Continue to sell other products and services to your audience.

But before all that, they need to get a written opt-in. Voyage helps businesses build a distribution list through modals (for your website as well as Instagram), APIs at checkout, and keywords & short codes. Generally, using a discount or offer to sweeten the deal helps get the opt-ins you need.

As with email marketing, your SMS marketing campaign will be more effective if it is personalized. The good thing is that SMS is a trackable platform. Voyage can help you get customer-level data on clicks, purchases, and engagement with each message, so your messaging can evolve and get you the results you want. If you can keep track of your audience and categorize them effectively, you can build extremely effective campaigns with great ROI. Voyage helps businesses do this with automated customer segmentation.

Promotions

SMS Marketing is a great way to drive up sales by sending customers exclusive discounts and coupon codes. Promotions are a great way to push past the initial hesitation on the part of the customer and close the sale. During the initial stages, this will be the best way to build your distribution list, drive better brand loyalty, and grow your business’s customer base and audience. However, avoid becoming a one trick pony; get a little creative. Customers respond better to discounts that come as a prize for answering a question or playing a game than repetitive offers of savings.

Customer Service

SMSes are already heavily leveraged in ecommerce to communicate useful consumer information such as order confirmations and delivery details. These automated alerts are an ecommerce requirement. But building upon them, SMSes become great ways to provide responsive customer service and gather customer feedback. Regular check-ins with existing customers, as well as short NPS surveys can let you know how your audience is doing. It can also help you improve your processes to enhance customer experience and satisfaction.

Abandonment Solution

When engaged customers don’t end up completing the sale, a variety of factors could be at play. Abandonment cart solutions that work via SMSes are more effective than email because they are instantaneous. You can remind distracted customers that the products or services they wanted to buy are waiting for them. If there’s no response, a follow-up with an offer can sometimes help you salvage the sale. The difference here is that the chance of an email with that message being read or responded to is substantially lower.

Drip Marketing

Consistency and persistence are critical to building an effective marketing campaign. Drip campaigns are pre-written sets of messages that are sent based on timelines, triggered by user actions, or both. Such campaigns can make your startup punch well above its weight in terms of being responsive to customer needs. Putting in the effort and thought to organize a comprehensive drip campaign across multiple touch points can help you build a strong and engaged user community around your startup.

Remarketing and Upselling

Startups can greatly enhance their sales without dipping too far into their marketing budgets by continuing to leverage existing customers instead of attracting new ones. Acquiring a new customer takes longer, is more difficult, and far more expensive. Selling other products to your existing customers is easier because the conversation has already begun. Combining promotions, drip marketing, and upselling can get your customers to buy more expensive products or services from you, and this gives fantastic ROI.

Conclusion

Don’t get us wrong – email marketing is and will continue to remain effective as ever. The most effective marketing campaign will not leverage just one, but multiple channels. But when it comes to engagement – now and in the medium-term future – mobile and SMS marketing should be the channel of choice for ecommerce startups in 2019.