Choosing The Right Marketing Channel: SMS vs. Email vs. Facebook Messenger
Marketing, as we all know it today, has gone through many different phases and it’s still constantly evolving. Technological improvement and the rise of the internet have highly contributed to the changing habits of the consumers, and are still continuously giving marketers a nudge to adapt to this fast-moving industry if they want to be able to compete.
One of the biggest roles here goes to smartphones and other mobile devices that made a huge impact on the way we interact with each other, thus raising some new challenges for the brands. In order to stay in touch with their customers, businesses must adjust their strategies to their everyday communication, and nowadays a lot of it is happening online. Although businesses have been using texting and email marketing for a while already, various messaging apps have created serious competition for these good old marketing methods.
In this post, we're going to compare the mighty trio of SMS, Email, and Facebook Messenger, highlight their benefits and differences and decide which one to use to achieve the best results.
Introduction to SMS marketing
Although it might sound a little outdated to some (well, it is indeed one of the oldest texting technologies), SMS marketing is actually reliving its renaissance. Businesses are not missing the chance to take advantage of their impressive open rate (98%!) and the direct and personal approach that comes with it.
Why does it work so well? People are in constant movement and the majority admits that their phones are always somewhere close, meanwhile opening an opportunity for the brands to reach them on a channel they use so much and every single day. Besides, every device comes with a built-in messaging function which ensures that everyone who owns a mobile phone is a potential target audience to your business. Wondering how many people is it? According to Statista, by the end of 2020, the number is expected to pass 5 billion!
Besides high engagement rates, here are some other benefits of SMS messages:
- Brief. SMS offers fewer characters, so it requires to be concise and straight to the point. These limitations make messages clearer and more efficient, which is great during the times of shortening attention span.
- Response rate. The SMS response rate is more than 2 times higher than email – 45% (Statista, 2019).
- Personal. It’s in the nature of SMS – you can quickly and easily exchange messages just like you talk.
- Easy access. Even if a person isn’t using his/her mobile data or has no access to WIFI, SMS can land straight in their pocket anytime, anywhere.
- Wide variety of possible uses. SMS can complement your marketing strategy with welcome messages, abandoned cart reminders, discount offers, updates and alerts, shipping notifications, customer win-backs, and more.
- Less spam. Each SMS costs, yet it is not a bad thing. It means that the messages that are sent are well-thought-out and meaningful.
- Easy integration with other channels. SMS is a great tool to use alongside other marketing channels, such as email or social media.
What about email marketing?
Despite the occasional talks about the death of email marketing, it still seems to be one of the most popular tools businesses of all sizes use to interact with their customers. It’s been there for ages and definitely for a good reason. Statistics show that 3.9 billion people use email daily, which makes it almost half the world’s population (Statista, 2020).
What does it mean for brands? When done right, a well-made email marketing strategy might bring you one of the highest ROI, can help to nurture customer relationships, boost sales, and do it in a fully automated way. However, it’s crucial to find the right balance since email as a channel has been used for so long and so much that now there are not only various spam filters and junk boxes used to control them, but people have also managed to successfully ignore irrelevant content sent to their mailboxes. That is probably one of the reasons why email open and response rates are much lower than those of SMS.
Nevertheless, if your business has ever had doubts about email marketing, there’s no need to worry – when done right, it’s still going pretty strong. Here are some other benefits it brings:
- Cost-effective. Email marketing might require some specific software that would help you organize the whole process better (allowing to track, evaluate, and automate everything). The cost might vary greatly depending on the provider and the platform itself.
- Long-term communication. Emails allow businesses to create long-lasting relationships with clients since they’re more comprehensive and might create a stronger bond.
- High level of personalization. There are various tools that can help businesses personalize their emails without even addressing each and every customer individually, yet increasing engagement, conversion rates, and customer retention.
- Credibility and better brand recognition. Emails offer a lot of possibilities for the brands to really stand out from others. It can come in a form of some specific design, catchy headlines, but, most importantly, a permission-based email list ensures your customers are receiving emails that they signed up for, and are able to always identify the business that sends them.
- Long-form content. Emails allow you to provide a more thorough information, capture your customer’s attention with catchy headlines, include media files, send attachments, etc. – all for the better customer experience.
Why use Facebook Messenger marketing?
To continue with texting, another thing that has been rising for a while now are various messaging apps that businesses use for faster and more personal interactions. Let’s focus more on Facebook Messenger this time that is no longer just a very popular tool to keep in touch with family and friends.
Over one billion people that have it installed on their mobile devices can now be easily reached by brands and communicate with them in real-time. Facebook Messenger is a powerful tool to build new connections, deepen existing customer relationships, and strengthen the online presence of your business.
No matter the size of your business, more than 2.5 billion users of Facebook itself is a huge audience and using a channel that they use for daily conversations might be a great way to improve customer experience, increase trust and engagement rates. Here’s why it’s worth using Facebook Messenger:
- Instant. There’s a reason why it’s called “instant messenger” – any message you send is ensured to reach your customers in real-time, and vice versa.
- Quality customer service. Facebook Messenger makes your business available to your customers at all times, besides, provides a variety of solutions to improve communication. For instance, Chatbot is able to maintain a conversation and answer basic questions 24/7.
- Builds trust. Facebook itself has created a poll that shows that being able to message a business makes the majority of people feel more confident about the brand.
- High quality leads. Exchanging messages with customers can provide you with some valuable information that you might use in the future to offer special deals, send updates about products, etc.
- Free to use. Communicating via Facebook Messenger costs nothing and doesn’t even require having an app installed.
The mighty trio: SMS vs. Email vs. Facebook Messenger
As society is becoming more and more focused on mobile, it’s no wonder that businesses are practicing mobile marketing of various forms. SMS, Email, and Facebook Messenger all come with their own advantages and can benefit businesses one way or another. Let’s make a closer comparison of this mighty trio of communication channels.
SMS: Rates vary depending on the provider, yet it’s one of the most cost-effective solutions if you want to send messages to a large number of people. For instance, Senderium offers two options – to pay only for what you use (limited version) or unlock all features for only 9.99USD/month.
Email: Costs might vary dramatically depending on many different factors, such as provider, list size, frequency, etc. It’s difficult to specify the exact number since it can be anywhere from a few dollars per month to even thousands.
Facebook Messenger: Free in general, but it depends on the tools businesses use (there are both free and paid solutions).
2. Open rates
SMS: up to 98% (Source: Gartner)
Email: around 17.80% (Source: CampaignMonitor)
Facebook Messenger: 80% on average (Source: SocialMediaToday)
3. Click-through rates
SMS: 19% (Source: CallHub)
Email: 3.2% (Source: CallHub)
Facebook Messenger: 56% (Source: Neil Patel)
SMS: 1% (Source: FinancesOnline)
Email: 49.7% (Source: FinancesOnline)
Facebook Messenger: N/A
5. Consumer preference
SMS: 48% (Source: FinancesOnline)
Email: 22% (Source: FinancesOnline)
App notifications: 20% (Source: FinancesOnline)
Wrap up: which one to use to spread your next message?
Clearly, most of the numbers are in favor of SMS, yet those are just a few metrics that define these three channels. There is no right answer when it comes to choosing just one - all of them have their own strengths, bring specific benefits, and are usually used for serving very different purposes.
For instance, while SMS or Facebook Messenger might work better for various alerts and updates, email marketing is more suitable for long-form communication. You can’t send a newsletter via SMS, but you can use SMS as a reminder to open that email you’ve sent a few days ago. It’s also impossible to provide a comprehensive introduction of a new product with a single message, yet it’s smart to send a mass SMS to offer a discount on first purchases. The high open rates of SMS itself can perfectly complement any kind of message you want to pass to your audience and strike a balance between other marketing channels that you use.
Last but not least, you can simply let your audience decide how they want to hear from you. People have different habits and while some might prefer receiving notifications through email, others would gladly opt-in for SMS updates. Experiment a little and give your subscribers an option to choose – not only will it improve their experience with your brand, but will also ensure that your messages won’t go unnoticed.