Why You Should Combine Your SMS and Email Marketing on the Right Platform

illustration of a chat bubble next to an envelope with a message in it
Posted in
SMS Marketing
Published on
Nov 1, 2023
Written by
Candice Sparks
Candice is the Director of Product Marketing at Attentive. You can find her at a pilates class, baking, or searching for a great coffee shop.
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With shoppers' attention divided across channels, a connected approach can lead to better engagement and more revenue. Here's why (and how to do it).

Chances are, your audience is engaging with you on both email and SMS. But they're looking for different things from each channel. They might be checking their email inbox for product launches and turning to texts for flash sale announcements.

Combining these two powerful channels can help you maximize engagement across the board, resulting in more revenue for your brand. Still, a lot of marketers struggle to successfully orchestrate their email and SMS programs. Maybe they lack the bandwidth, the resources, or just haven’t found a platform yet that makes orchestration a breeze. 

Here’s why uniting your email and SMS marketing on the right platform should be at the top of your to-do list.

Wait, what is orchestration? 

Orchestration is the purposeful coordination of touchpoints across multiple channels. In this case, we're referring to the coordination of email and SMS marketing within a single strategy or customer journey. 

The goal of orchestration is to use your subscribers' past engagement with emails and texts to drive better results: increasing the likelihood of a purchase, improving deliverability, and boosting the ROI of both channels. 

When done right, a multi-channel messaging strategy helps brands reduce costs by sending fewer messages on channels where subscribers aren't engaged, and drive more revenue by increasing subscribers' lifetime value.

So when we talk about "combining" or "consolidating" email and SMS, we're really talking about orchestration and its many benefits.

SMS marketing vs. email marketing—it’s not an either/or

Not everyone will want to subscribe to email. And not everyone will want to subscribe to SMS. But 85% of shoppers say that when they subscribe to a brand’s SMS program, they also sign up for their email. Both channels are essential parts of the modern marketer's tech stack—and crucial for maximizing reach.

SMS marketing is short, sweet, and great for real-time conversations

Compared to email, SMS lets you reach shoppers on a mobile device they check all the time and drive results almost immediately. Most people check their texts 11+ times a day. And shoppers actually interact with messages from brands; they don't leave them on read. 63% of consumers engage with brands’ SMS programs at least twice a week.

SMS also gives shoppers a direct line to communicate with your brand. The conversational nature of the channel makes it easy for them to ask questions and get help fast, increasing the chances of them converting from a text message. 

Email marketing lends itself to longer, scrollable content that's not as urgent

Email marketing isn't new, but it’s still a valuable, owned channel for brands. It has a wide reach, since most brands have been building their email databases for decades. And it’s a mainstay for consumers, too. 31% of global shoppers engage with brands’ emails 2-5 times a week. 

Compared to SMS, email marketing quite literally gives you more room for content. You can go into detail about offers, features and benefits, new product launches, or anything else—all in one message. 

The tradeoff is that people don't open emails as quickly (only 23% of emails are opened within an hour of delivery). So the channel is ideal for non-time-sensitive content and for nurturing shoppers and building brand awareness.

By combining email and SMS and orchestrating your messages, you can leverage the strengths of each channel to create a more comprehensive and effective marketing strategy.

4 major benefits of combining your email and SMS marketing

There are two main ways to bring your email and SMS channels together. You can orchestrate them across two different platforms via integrations, or you can consolidate your efforts into one capable platform. (Attentive customers can easily combine their existing SMS programs with Attentive Email to create a unified cross-channel strategy.)

Here are the major benefits of orchestration: 

1. Unified data and insights across channels

Let's face it––some of us still sign up for email marketing programs with our old Hotmail accounts from 2007. But most people have had the same phone number for their entire lives. As a result, our phone numbers are accurate identity markers, helping you build a more complete (and precise) profile of a single consumer. 

When you combine SMS and email marketing, you're doing more than merging the two channels. You're growing a single powerful database. 

Email and SMS sign-up unit example from Thread Wallets

To orchestrate across channels, you need to know that an email address and a phone number belong to the same person, and be able to match that person to their device/browser. Attentive captures almost all new SMS and email subscribers for our customers—which means we maintain a definitive link between phone number, email address, and browser/device.

By combining your Attentive SMS program with Attentive Email, you can also tie on-site browsing behavior to both channels because subscribers are "cookie'd" when they opt in to email and/or SMS with our sign-up units.

All in all, that unified data leads to more intelligent orchestration through stronger cross-channel identification and insights. You'll also be able to make better use of the first- and zero-party data you collect on either channel to customize your campaigns, segments, and journeys across both.

2. More effective targeting and personalization

Consumers interact differently with emails and text messages, so your marketing efforts need to be tailored to how your audience prefers to engage with each channel. With your data flowing seamlessly between email and SMS, you’ll be able to do just that—by reaching your customers when and where they’re most likely to click, browse, and buy.

Two simple strategies can help you deliver more personalized touchpoints throughout the customer journey that drive the most conversions possible.

First, send subscribers a message on their preferred channel. If this isn’t possible because you have two different providers for SMS and email, we recommend sending them a text message first (our internal data shows that 4.5x more people prefer text to email). 

Email and SMS campaign example from Kodiak Cakes

Then, you can retarget people with relevant follow-up messages built into your campaign. The easiest way to do this is with a tool like our Magic Composer, which has built-in logic that retargets subscribers in real time based on engagement (i.e., subscribers who clicked on the previous text/email but didn’t purchase).  

3. Increased reach and multi-channel engagement 

One of the greatest advantages of orchestration comes from getting disengaged people to engage on just one channel, or getting people to engage with a second channel.

Customers engaging with both email and SMS (i.e., clicking) is associated with an increase in their lifetime value. In fact, our internal data shows that subscribers who receive both SMS and email are 2.4x more likely to buy than those who just receive SMS. So once you have an engaged subscriber, the best thing you can do is to try to engage them across channels. 

joined a segment journey example: engaged email subscribers for SMS upsell

The goal of orchestration should be to encourage all subscribers to interact with multiple channels. Here are some ways you can do that:

  • For multi-channel subscribers who are engaged on both email and SMS, the best approach is to send them campaigns and triggered messages on both channels—leading with SMS first. 
  • For multi-channel subscribers who are only engaged on one (email or SMS), prioritize sending campaigns to the engaged channel more frequently and to the non-engaged channel less frequently. Trigger touchpoints across email and SMS to boost engagement on both. 
  • For single-channel subscribers who are actively engaged, focus on upselling what your other channel has to offer—and make it easy for them to opt in. One way to do this is by creating a joined a segment journey in Attentive, and linking out to an SMS-only or email-only landing page to drive sign-ups.

The more opportunities you have to connect with your subscribers in a meaningful way, the higher your chances are of getting them to do something (like click or buy). You're also ensuring that your customers have a consistent, unified experience no matter which channel(s) they use.

4. Improved efficiency and ROI

Sending relevant content to your customers on their preferred channels—whether it's email, SMS, or a mix of both—ultimately leads to higher open, click, and conversion rates. But combining your email and SMS marketing efforts also brings significant efficiency gains, resulting in a higher return on investment.

With a unified approach, you can optimize your campaigns by only sending messages on channels where people are likely to read and interact with them. You can also avoid sending duplicate or redundant messages to people who've already converted from a campaign with multiple touchpoints.

Attentive Magic Composer

Imagine you have a campaign sequence for an upcoming sale or product launch that includes a text, followed by an email, followed by another text, to maximize awareness and revenue. Our Magic Composer gives you full control over which messages your audience receives based on their actions. So if someone makes a purchase after receiving the first text promotion, they won't receive the follow-up email. 

This type of orchestrated approach helps you send more targeted messages, which means you're not spending your marketing dollars on messages that aren't resonating with subscribers or driving value for your brand. Continuing with the above scenario: once someone makes a purchase via SMS, rather then sending them an email about the same promotion, you can route them into a loyalty-driving post-purchase journey instead.

6 essential SMS and email marketing resources

Check out these essential resources to help you take your orchestration strategy to the next level. 

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