March 23, 2017

The Ultimate Email Marketer’s Guide to SMS Marketing

Reading time about 7 min

Learn how you can enhance the reach and power of your email marketing campaigns with the help of SMS Marketing.

It should come as no surprise that email is still one of the best communication and marketing tools at your disposal.

Over the past few years, email marketing has become more refined with best practices and known pitfalls.

If you’re already running email campaigns, you’ll find that SMS has many similarities so it’s easy to add it as a valuable part of your marketing strategy. If you haven’t started email marketing yet, feel free check out our guide on how to send an email campaign.

Even if you’re totally new to email marketing, this guide to SMS marketing will help you start off right by learning how to integrate SMS into your strategy. We’re here to help you understand the similarities, differences, and how to incorporate both into a plan that will engage your customers!

What is SMS, and why is it relevant for marketers?

What is SMS?
SMS stands for “Short Message Service,” though you may know it by its more common name “text messaging.” These messages can be up to 160 characters and can be programmed by businesses to convey customized information to recipients.

SMS or text message marketing allows you to enhance your online presence and achieve greater engagement on your marketing campaigns. Integrating your mobile customer journey is absolutely essential nowadays, and SMS can help.

Using text messages in your marketing strategy is effective because the majority of people have smartphones. In fact, a Nielsen study reveals that 71% of Americans (and 85% of millennials aged 18-24) own smartphones. And, that number continues to rise every year.

Not only does a large segment of the population own smartphones, but they seem to rely on them for absolutely everything!

mobile phone addiction
Look familiar?

People use their cell phones to wake up, check the weather, read informational articles, provide entertainment, shop, get directions, share with the world, get information about local surroundings, stay in touch with friends/family — I think you get the idea.

But, perhaps more importantly, is the fact that people use phones everywhere. I don’t know about you, but I feel completely naked without mine (too much information?).

Simply put, SMS allows you to reach all types of people no matter where they are or what they’re doing.

What are SMS Marketing Best Practices?

Think of email and SMS as brothers. They have some distinct characteristics, which we’ll cover in the next section, but ultimately they share the same DNA. These are some of the biggest similarities that you’ll notice between email and SMS marketing:


Just like email, SMS requires that you get a user’s consent before sending anything.

The FCC explains that sending commercial texts requires written consent while non-commercial texts (like those from non-profit organizations, political parties, and public schools) just require verbal consent.

Either way though, an existing commercial relationship doesn’t constitute consent for SMS messaging. This means that before planning and launching an SMS strategy, you’ll need to have recipients opt-in to receive this form of communication.


Segmenting your contacts into lists is essential if you want to personalize your communication. Without personalization, your email campaigns are not going to perform very well.

The same holds true for SMS.

Segmenting your SMS list by acquisition channel, engagement rates, or demographics allows you to customize text messages for recipients. More customization increases the chances that your messages are being perceived positively and engaged within a meaningful way.


Your email blacklist contains contact information for people who no longer want to receive your emails. This includes those who unsubscribe, recipients who mark your messages as spam, and addresses that are invalid. This list is important because it ensures that your email deliverability metrics won’t negatively impact your sender reputation.

In much the same way, you should have an SMS blacklist to filter out people who request to be removed from receiving SMS messages from you or inactive numbers.

You don’t want to upset these contacts by continuing to send messages. This will reflect very poorly on your brand.

Promotional & Transactional

Emails can be used in a promotional capacity (e.g. email newsletters) or for sending transactional emails, which is to say that emails can advertise sales and new arrivals or provide order details and shipping information.

SMS messages can work in the same way – providing relevant information in a way that ensures that recipients see it right away.

Some examples of this include:

  • Text message alerts that airlines use to notify passengers of plane delays.
  • Weather-related alerts from schools.
  • Security verification codes from banks.
  • Coupons for retail businesses that drive in-store sales.

Because both channels can be used in a transactional or promotional capacity, email and SMS compliment each other very well.

Although there are many similarities between the two channels, they also have some distinct features. These differences give them slightly different purposes within your overarching marketing strategy.

Differences Between Email Marketing and SMS Marketing

As mentioned earlier, email and SMS share many similarities, but they also have many distinguishing characteristics that give them their unique personalities.

Email is like the older brother — classic and dependable. He’s already proven himself and is generally well liked and accepted.

SMS is the younger, shorter, brother — hip, trendy, and loves the latest tech fads. He’s quick to action and eager to prove himself, which may turn some people off. But, for the most part, he’s starting to become more accepted and earn his place in the world.

Here are the biggest differences between email and SMS that marketers need to be aware of when trying to execute an text message marketing strategy:


SMS text messages are limited to 160 characters, which means that your message needs to be short and clear to be effective.

People do not want to receive multiple texts to get the full message and they’re likely to ignore messages or text STOP to prevent future communications from companies that bombard them with these types of SMS messages.


SMS is a great channel for time-sensitive information that you need your contacts to see!

According to Dynamark, SMS has an open rate of 98%! Not only that, but 90% of all messages are read within 3 minutes! That is insane compared to the 20-30% open rate average of emails.

The immediacy of a text message allows a company to announce very limited-time promotional offers or provide real-time customer service. This can provide substantial brand lift for companies looking to better connect with its customers.


As it stands right now, younger generations are more likely to embrace text message marketing, while older generations are more likely to prefer email marketing and other traditional marketing channels. This is due to the fact that smartphone usage is much higher among millennials and other young age groups.

But, as SMS becomes more ubiquitous in marketing across different industries, more people will start to embrace it.

Although both SMS and email are effective for communicating with contacts, they should be used to cover different circumstances for maximum effectiveness. You wouldn’t want to do the chores that your sibling already does better, right?

Using Email & SMS Together

Using email in conjunction with text message marketing will amplify your marketing efforts and allow you to reach different audiences. Here are some fantastic examples of how to use both strategies together effectively:

Sales and Promotional Marketing Campaigns

  • Email: Announce an upcoming sale
  • SMS: Provide an added discount at the last-minute or remind that the sale is ending soon

Event Management Tools

  • Email: Promote an event to generate initial interest and remind people to sign up
  • SMS: Send an event reminder the day before, provide parking information the day of the event, and give weather updates during the event

Contest Marketing Tools

  • Email: Publicize contest benefits and details
  • SMS: Encourage people to enter the contest before the deadline, and announce a winner when the contest ends

Internal Communication Tools

  • Email: Send out non-urgent information such as internal newsletters, product updates, and new initiatives.
  • SMS: Communicate more urgent notifications like closures, computer system disruptions, etc.

Now that you understand how email marketing best practices can also apply to text message marketing, use your knowledge to start developing your SMS strategy.

Remember, these two channels work well together because they cover different marketing scenarios. It’s important to keep in mind the strengths and weaknesses of each in order to effectively use them together. This makes it much easier to provide comprehensive and relevant communication to your contacts and inspire confidence in your business.

Want to start sending text messages and emails to your contacts? Sign up today!

Happy Sending!

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