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4 Ways to Combine Email and Text Marketing to Increase Engagement

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Chances are, you struggle to be a part of the 15% of emails that are opened. You’ve heard that email marketing can be one of the most powerful ways to reach customers, but you’re just not getting the level of engagement you want from your subscriber list.

Which is crazy, because if the average American checks their smartphone 52 times a day, and 75% of opened emails are read on smartphones, it should be easy to reach your target audience, right?

It can be, if you utilize one other marketing channel on your audience’s smartphone—texting.

Why text subscribers to boost engagement?

Texting is the number one channel for customer engagement because of its accessibility and convenience on a smartphone (which everyone keeps directly at their side). Pair texting with email, and there’s no way your subscribers will be able to miss you on their phones.

But how do you build an SMS subscriber list, and how do you use text messaging to improve your email marketing?

Let’s dive in.

4 Ways to Combine Email and Text Marketing

1. Cross pollinate your subscriber lists with keywords.

The trick is to turn your engaged email subscribers into SMS subscribers. You can do this by emailing subscribers potential discounts and gifts just for opting in to your text updates, and they can opt in to those updates through keywords.

In the example below, “WOOHOO” is the keyword Starbucks emailed customers to text as an opt-in for updates.

PC: CleverTap

You can also do the reverse and begin using texting to build your email subscriber list.

For example, Little Nan’s, a pop-up cocktail bar in London, got more than 200 new contacts during its opening weekend by advertising a free shot for people who texted in their email address using a keyword. These ads were displayed at the bar and on social media.

The customers who texted in their email addresses had their contact info saved, and were emailed a reminder to come receive their free shot the day before the bar’s opening. These follow-up emails ensured that Nan’s was completely booked during its opening weekend.

The best part was people chose to opt-in to those texts, so Little Nan’s knew they were targeting the right audience and that those same people would be engaged by their follow-up emails (which we’ll touch on more in the next section).

2. Use email to follow up on large scale announcements you have over text (and vice versa).

These announcements don’t have to be just for discounts and gifts—they can also include major updates, like new features and company milestones.

For example, say your company reaches over 500 active customers and you send out a milestone text celebrating the achievement. Included in the text is a link to a survey (because you can add links to texts) that asks your customers for feedback on how they think you’re doing.

Sidebar: Checkout Bitly as a tool to shorten links in your texts and emails.

To get the most people to fill out your survey, you can follow up on that text in a couple of days with an email that has the same link.

Remember, 75% of emails are read on smartphones, so between the text and the email, your audience will see your survey’s link on their smartphone. And the more times someone sees something, the more likely they are to take action.

For these reasons, it’s best to continuously follow up your texts with emails (and vice versa). But which channel should you lead with, and when?

In a situation where you’re introducing information heavy updates—like new features or product lines—it’s best to use emails to get the word out. Use texts to seal the deal on purchases or prompt subscribers to read their emails for more details.

Texts are expected to be much shorter than emails. So, while the email can do all the heavy lifting on describing what the new feature or product does, your texts can serve as the soft nudge to actually try it out.

Or, if the details of your update can all fit inside a text, definitely lead with a text (the engagement rate is 5X higher).

3. Use data from both platforms to target customers for sales.

Most email platforms keep data on who is opening what emails. For example, Mailchimp has analytics that help you:

  • Predict a contact’s lifetime value
  • Predict a contact’s likelihood of purchasing through an email again
  • Predict top locations and demographics of contacts

PC: Mailchimp

Likewise, most texting software will help you keep track of which contacts are interested in certain topics. Text Request, for example, creates and saves groups based on the keywords contacts text in.

With both of these data sources, you get a clearer picture of your audience, and you can also begin cross-targeting contacts with promotions and discounts.

PC: Loft

You know customers who text in certain keywords will also open emails centered around the same topics. And if a certain demographic consistently opens discount links in your emails, you know they’ll open those same links in texts.

4. Give your email audience the option to immediately reach out to you with texting.

While a lot of people want to receive emails from businesses, 89% of consumers also want to communicate directly with businesses via text messages.

Why has texting with businesses become so popular?

Here are the facts:

  • Texts have an open rate of 98%
  • A 95% chance of being read within three minutes
  • And an average response time of 90 seconds

So, what does this mean for your email marketing?

Say you send out an email about a new product line. You can advertise a number that customers can text for more specific details, like stock or delivery rates. (You can even use your current business phone number in most cases. Check your number here.)

That text number is important, because 90% of people use customer service as a deciding factor in whether or not to do business with a company, and 90% of those same people rate immediate responses as a sign of good customer service.

So, if potential customers feel like you're immediately available for them—which you will be if your company texts—they’re more likely to engage customers with the offers you send via email.

Plus, it just makes sense to have both channels readily available, so your customers have the option to reach you whenever and however they want once their interest is piqued by your ad.

Start building your SMS subscriber list to increase email engagement.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to start building your lists—but to do that you’ll need a number you can text and collect SMS subscribers with.

You’ll also need to:

Check to see if your business number is eligible for texting, and get started on cross pollinating from your existing email contacts.

Remember, the more a customer sees your combined marketing messages on their smartphone, the more likely they will be to take action. Just be sure to keep a consistent schedule, and never be spammy.

Related: How to Build a Powerful SMS Subscriber List