Email vs. SMS – What is Best for Your Business

Transforming One-Time Customers Into Loyal Relationships

As a business owner, it’s no surprise that repeat customers are important. In fact, it is up to seven times more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep a current one. This is at odds with the fact that most marketing focuses on customer acquisition, instead of customer retention.

A great way to tempt customers back into your store is by offering a discount or coupon for a return visit. Historically, businesses would send out coupons through direct mail campaigns or FSI drops, spreading a wide net to people who may or may not be interested in their products. Today, marketers have the opportunity to create repeat customers by targeting individuals who have already come into their store by collecting an email address or phone number at the point-of-sale (POS).

One if By Email, Two if By Text

In a world where most of us have a mobile phone with us at all times, it makes sense to deliver a marketing message this way. When delivered to a mobile phone, SMS messages have an open rate of 98%, which is phenomenal when compared to email’s open rate of only 22%. Even with email marketing transitioning to a mobile first approach, getting your message delivered and read almost immediately remains most effective through text message.

When it comes to email marketing, research has shown that the more messages, the better. This differs from SMS – whereas email campaigns can be successful with 20-30 campaigns per month, SMS campaigns tend to be most successful with 4-8 campaigns per month, or once or twice per week.

This could be because emails are often seen as spam and instantly deleted by customers, whereas SMS messages only have a 1% spam rate, keeping them highly regarded in the eyes of customers. Unlike email, the majority of SMS messages are read within 3 minutes; so sending a high volume will almost certainly annoy your customer, and cause them to opt out of your text club.

Preventing Fraud Going Forward

A pervasive problem when sending offers or coupons through email is the likelihood of fraud. Coupon fraud occurs when a customer knowingly duplicates a coupon with the intention of redeeming the savings multiple times. Coupon fraud accounts for millions of dollars in losses that companies must absorb each year. When a coupon is sent out via email, it is easy to forward to friends, or print multiple copies, making cashiers unsure of which coupons are real and which are counterfeit.

When offers are sent to customers via SMS, it is easier for employees to know which coupons are legitimate, and which are not. This is because, in part, offers sent via SMS will show up on the receiver’s phone sent from a specific short code, as opposed to a message forwarded to them by a friend’s number. Most SMS providers also include built in fraud prevention, which ensures a customer’s coupon code can only be redeemed once.

When it comes to choosing which marketing technique will help bring customers back through your doors, it would appear that SMS is on top. With only a percentage of emails being opened within 24 hours after being sent, let alone being read, marketing messages are not delivered in a timely manner. SMS makes an impression on consumers because of the format and speed though which the offer is delivered. A snappy, personalized text message sent at the right time and featuring a call-to-action creates customer engagement, and engaged customers are happy ones. However, it’s important to remember not to rely on any one marketing channel alone, as successful campaigns send messages through various platforms to ensure the maximum reach with their customer base.

Jon McGinley

Author Jon McGinley

Senior Vice President, Marketing

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