Using Klaviyo SMS and email together allows you to communicate directly with your customers via multiple channels. These channels have different advantages and disadvantages, which you need to be conscious of when developing your content strategy.
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In this article, we run through the pros and cons of SMS and email, strategies for using both channels in a flow or campaign, and tips for how to implement these strategies.
Pros and Cons of Email and SMS
Email and SMS have their own advantages and disadvantages, but they tend to complement each other when used together. Where email shines, SMS struggles, and the same is true in reverse. Below, we go over what each channel has to offer.
The main benefit of using email is reach. Email is one of the most popular ways marketers and customers can communicate with each other. Many people are willing to give out their email to a brand they’re interested in, so you can reach a large portion of your target market.
Another benefit is that you can send more often than with SMS, and communicate more directly than with paid or organic marketing. This allows you to frequently send updates and information to subscribers via a channel you fully own. You can quickly iterate on what works well with subscribers and then create custom messages targeted to your audience in order to build a long-lasting relationship with them.
One downside of email is that not everyone you send to sees your message, and for those that do, it can take some time. A good open rate for email is typically 20%, meaning the majority of recipients might not see your message. Of those who open the email, a fifth do so within the first hour, and half open it within six hours. Thus, it can take a while for results to trickle in — there’s no immediate return.
People check their texts almost immediately after receiving them. There is a near-guarantee that recipients will see every message delivered to them within seconds. Thus, if you want to send an urgent message, SMS is the way to do it.
The downside of SMS is that fewer people are willing to give their phone number than email, so list growth is slower and you can’t reach as many via this channel. Further, it’s better to not send as often with SMS. Since texts will send an alert to someone’s phone, if you send too frequently, your recipients may mute your messages or unsubscribe.
That being said, those who do consent to receiving SMS marketing from your business tend to be more invested in your brand than your average email subscriber. They are almost like your VIPs, brand enthusiasts who you can cultivate long-lasting relationships with.
Email and SMS consent are separate, so you must collect each individually. With SMS, you also have to include copy that explicitly states that by signing up, the person consents to receive SMS marketing messages from your business. You collect consent for both via signup forms and Klaviyo’s API (to learn about SMS specifically, check out this guide to collecting SMS consent).
The form above shows how you can collect both SMS and email consent in the same popup form. However, you can also collect this information individually. For instance, you can retarget your Klaviyo SMS-only or email-only subscribers with a form that encourages them to sign up for the other channel.
Collect Email and SMS Consent With a Multi-Step Form
If you'd prefer to present your subscribers with one subscription option at a time, consider using multi-step forms. Collect either email addresses or phone numbers in the first step, then add a second step for the other. If a visitor only completes step one, you’ll be able to reach them via email/SMS (whichever step came first), and can encourage them to subscribe to other channels in the future.
There are also other creative ways to gather subscribers. One way is with QR codes. If you display a QR code somewhere in your store, you can have it link to a signup form so it’s simple for someone to subscribe to email, SMS, or both. Alternatively, you can have the QR code link to a phone number so customers can easily text you. Depending on what you want to do and what works well for your business, you can put the QR code on signs in your physical store, attach it to an email, or display it in an online ad.
Targeting the Two Channels
Before sending out any messages, you should (at the very least) have:
- List of all subscribers (email and SMS)
- SMS subscribers segment
As you grow each channel, build out more segments for both email and SMS. However, you don’t want to divvy up your subscribers when you only have a few for one channel. The only exception is engagement, as you shouldn’t over-message those who haven’t recently shown interest in your brand.
Your segments for SMS and email can be almost exactly the same. In either case, you can group subscribers by profile properties, location, behavior, etc. As long as you’ve collected that data, the channel doesn’t matter — you can group subscribers and become really targeted in your messaging.
Below are some examples of segments you can create for both email and SMS, depending on your business:
With these and other advanced segments, you can become more targeted in your messaging and also learn more about your audience.
Messaging Your Subscribers
Regardless of whether you’re sending a campaign or setting up a flow, prioritize your SMS subscribers when messaging both channels. While your email subscribers are important and should not be neglected, giving out a phone number is more personal than an email. Thus, it is typically better to treat SMS subscribers with greater care and preference.
If all of your subscribers are supposed to get a certain message, we suggest sweetening the deal for SMS subscribers (and, if applicable, your email VIPs). For instance, you can provide a better discount, free shipping, early access, etc.
With campaigns, there are a couple more ways you can easily provide value to SMS subscribers. One way is to send the SMS campaign several hours or days ahead of the email so that SMS subscribers get the information first. Another option is to provide your SMS subscribers with exclusive information that email subscribers, site visitors, and social media followers don’t have access to.
First, let’s discuss sending the SMS campaign. For this, go to Campaigns > Create Campaign > SMS. Include your SMS-only segment. While you could send to your whole list, those who are not consented for SMS will be skipped automatically. This may throw off your reports in the future, whereas sending only to the SMS segment will give you a clearer picture of how many will actually receive the text message.
Next, create an email campaign by navigating to Campaigns > Create Campaign > Email. Select your main list of subscribers or an engaged segment and exclude your SMS subscribers segment. If you don’t exclude this group, anyone with consent for both SMS and email will get the message twice. Further, since SMS subscribers are excluded, you’ll still get an accurate picture of who will receive this campaign.
When you have a flow with both emails and SMS, it’s important to remember that someone may be consented to both channels. Thus, if you set the flow up with the SMS and email directly next to each other, someone may receive both messages at the same time. This can lead to confusion for your customers, especially if you give one channel a better offer than the other.
Instead, include splits to send anyone consented to SMS down a different path than those who have only subscribed to email. The example below shows how this setup can look.
To avoid sending too many SMS messages, we recommend using email to follow up on SMS messages. Keep track of what you offered in the SMS and email paths so your reminders make sense. Also, separate the email and SMS with a time delay (e.g., two days) and then, if applicable, a split to check if they have already performed the desired action (e.g., placed order).
We encourage you to test how your subscribers like to communicate so that you can serve up different content to your various audiences. Keep in mind that SMS and email subscribers may differ from each other; e.g., SMS subscribers might appreciate a more informal tone and more emojis compared to email subscribers. Continue to test, analyze, and optimize how you interact via each channel so that you can find what works best for your brand and audience.
Learn more about the differences between SMS and email.