Overview

It is undoubted that SMS and email are powerful communication channels, which you can use to drive conversions and build relationships with your customers. While SMS and email are both ways to communicate with your customers, they are actually different in a handful of ways.

This article will help you understand where SMS and email differ. Let's explore!

What is SMS?

SMS (Short Messaging Service) is one of the oldest and most common methods of communication that involves sending and receiving short text-based messages between mobile phones.

It is simply the act of composing and sending SMS to one or more mobile devices over the cellular network, which means anyone with a mobile phone can send SMS to any other person with a phone just using his phone number.

What is an email?

Short for "electronic mail," email or e-mail is information stored on a computer that is exchanged between two users over telecommunications. It works almost like a mail service, except that an email is sent to the recipient via the Internet.

Both sender and receiver need an email address to send and receive emails, and the email address is unique to the user. Emails can be accessed either from the web interface on your computer or using web-based applications, such as Gmail, Outlook, and many more.

When to use SMS vs. Email?

SMS

Use SMS when you want to make sure a message is seen quickly. For example, when the content is time-sensitive (i.e., flash sale) or extremely important (i.e., store opening/ closing). Moreover, SMS is helpful for sending order updates or delivery confirmations, as your recipients will know exactly when to expect their package and when they can go and get it. Other examples where an SMS might outperform an email include your initial welcome message and general sale announcements.

You should treat your SMS subscribers similar to your VIPs as they are your brand enthusiasts who will advocate for you. So, be included in any special offers (i.e., early access or deals) and surveys directed at your most dedicated customers.

Email

Use an email for longer-form content, such as newsletters, product announcements, and any messages that you want to reach everyone in your list.

Send any important messages you sent by SMS via email to the rest of your subscribers. The only exceptions are if you are sending an exclusive offer to SMS subscribers or are asking for feedback from this group in particular.

Differences between SMS and email

Consent and spam

SMS and email consent are treated separately; one does not count for the other. Regardless of the communication type, it is essential that you have the proper permissions to message customers before contacting them. Nevertheless, while you can get email consent implicitly in some cases, consent for SMS marketing must always be explicit.

With email, consent can look like a subscriber opting in either at check out or by signup form. In addition, you can have double opt-in enabled to make sure you are not sending to spam traps. If someone marks your emails as spam, this will impact your sending to that recipient and hurt your inbox provider reputation.

With SMS, the consent process is quite the same, but spam complaints are handled differently. Just like with email, you can collect subscribers' consent through a signup form, or via keywords, or entering their information. However, unlike email, if someone reports you as spam to their phone carrier, you'll be hit with a fine. For more information, read our following articles:

- TCPA Compliance Checklist for Sending SMS in US/ CA

- How to Set up AVADA SMS Compliant with TCPA/ CTIA

Billing

In AVADA, email is billed monthly and by plan. The plans are based on how many contacts you have in AVADA within a particular month. If you go over your limit, you will have the option to upgrade. At the time of writing, AVADA Commerce offers 4 pricing plans:

- Free Plan: Up to 500 contacts, 500 sends/day

- Pro Plan: From $9/ month, unlimited sends

- Advanced Plan: From $49/ month, unlimited sends

- Enterprise Plan: Custom pricing, unlimited sends

Meanwhile, AVADA SMS pricing is separately charged from your Pro/ Advanced/ Enterprise Plan. You need to buy SMS credits before sending and you only pay for the number of SMS you sent out. SMS or MMS price is calculated based on the country you send them to (recipient's countries).

Estimate AVADA pricing right here.

Content

Probably one of the most obvious differences between SMS and email is the content. With SMS messaging, you are limited to text only and a limited number of characters (i.e. 160 characters per SMS). You might argue that it's now possible to type messages longer than 160 characters and our smartphones intelligently handle these as one message. However, the truth is that you're being billed for two messages if you use more than 160 characters.

On the other hand, with email, your content can be very rich, including longer messages, images, different fonts and layouts, etc.

Availability

Currently, you can send SMS messages to recipients in 150 countries. AVADA lets you both email and send SMS messages within a workflow. You can edit wait time, email/ SMS content, and set conditions to make your workflow appropriate.



Also, you can create an SMS campaign to send to your subscribers.

Identifying your brand

When receiving an email, a recipient can look at the sender and sender's email address in their inbox to know who is sending the message.

Except in the UK, where the sender ID can be customized, someone receiving an SMS message will have no idea who your brand is unless you identify yourself. You will need to introduce your brand in the copy of your SMS or turn or the organization prefix, so customers will know who is texting them.

A/B testing

When building out your workflow messages, you can always A/B test different elements of the message by using a conditional split that separates recipients by a random sample.

AVADA Marketing Automation lets you A/B test the content of the email. For more information on A/B testing for emails in workflows, check out our article on A/B Testing Split in Automation Workflows.

Metrics

Both SMS and email have associated metrics that correspond to customer actions with your brand. You can use these metrics to gain business insights, trigger workflows, or personalize communication with your customers.

Head to our following articles for the corresponding metrics within your account:

- How to Read Your Reports and Learn

- How to Use AVADA Email Marketing's Reports?

SMS & Email best practices

Here are some of the best practices to consider when incorporating SMS into your existing email program:

- Get permission. It's essential that you get permission to send messages to your customers through SMS. You can request that customers opt-in to receive your text messages through a sign-up form or by texting or responding to the message with a keyword or phrase. For example: "Text JOIN to subscribe to our texting list and get 20% off your next purchase!"

- Ensure deliverability. Comply with local or state regulations and wireless carrier's messaging policies to ensure SMS deliverability. By buying SMS credit, you can send and receive SMS with long code or toll-free numbers, engage in two-way conversation, and use images and attachments that are automatically optimized for mobile.

- Keep it simple. Use keywords and clear CTAs (calls-to-action) to send concise, relevant text messages to your customers.

- Don't over send! Pay attention to your sending frequency, and don't over send on either channel. Be strategic with not only how, but when you communicate with your customers.

How to strike a balance between SMS and email

SMS and email both have their strengths and work best as complementary channels. As a general rule of thumb:

- SMS is best for time-sensitive information, urgent requests, or messages that require two-way communication.

- Email is best for content that is long, contains rich media, or can be accessed at a later date.

Below are a few ways to use SMS and email together:

- Send text messages to encourage customers to subscribe to your email list for weekly newsletters

- Send order confirmation receipts via email and follow up with SMS tracking updates

- Send emails to inform customers about new product launches. Then, send mass SMS texts to announce flash sales on the latest products.

When used in conjunction with email, SMS is a great channel to build brand awareness and grow relationships with customers who want to hear from you.

Pro Tip: Be careful not to overwhelm your customers with marketing messages. Cap your SMS messages at one to two per week. Email marketing frequency depends heavily on your industry and how often your customers currently hear from your brand. Generally, one to two bulk emails per week is ideal for most businesses.
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