Battle of the Channels: SMS vs. Email vs. Facebook Messenger Marketing

Mobile messaging is now a first priority for many ecommerce merchants on Shopify (and other ecommerce platforms). With the rise of conversational marketing, more customers are willing to text their favorite brands through SMS or Facebook Messenger. While email marketing is still an awesome and needed channel, you need to integrate mobile messaging into your marketing, sales and customer support to truly scale your Shopify business to the next level. But which channel is actually the best? 

In this post, we’ll compare 3 of the most popular mobile messaging channels for ecommerce merchants:

  • Email marketing
  • SMS/MMS marketing
  • Facebook Messenger marketing

With SMS and Messenger allowing merchants to create the same campaigns and flows they can with email, is it worth prioritizing messaging over email?

Read on to find out more about the state of email, SMS and Facebook Messenger marketing and which channel is best for you.

What is SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing is changing the game for merchants. With some companies seeing a 45x ROI on their SMS campaigns, it’s an exciting time to try out a newer marketing channel. There’s plenty of buzz around conversational marketing for good reason: customers are ok with messaging brands. Unlike email, which is often slow to respond, SMS allows you to instantly respond to customers and support them like never before. If used properly, each customer can have an automated concierge that helps them with their online shopping experience.  

Here are just some of the campaigns and automations you can run with SMS marketing:

  • Welcome series 
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Customer win-backs
  • Coupons 
  • Upsells
  • Order updates
  • Shipping notifications
  • Automated customer support
  • Ask for product reviews

Do these sound familiar? It’s because SMS allows you to run the same (and more) campaigns and automations that you currently use with email. With the higher open (95%+) and click-through rates (35%) from SMS, you can essentially get better results.

While potential future innovations in email include purchases inside an email, Postscript’s SMS integrations with ReCharge already allow “reply to buy” functionality.  Subscription-based stores can text suggestions of complementary items to a customer. With a single text reply of “yes” customers can add-on the items to their subscription orders.

With SMS, you get the bonus of being able to communicate with customers more efficiently. Regardless of whether you’re using automated replies or manual replies, texting your customers can increase engagement and create customer relationships at scale. The cost of employees needed to effectively manage customer relationships is astronomically high, so take advantage of automation and mobile messaging to build relationships with customers.

Email Marketing

Email is king, or is it? Yes it is, but with some major competition from SMS. With 53% of emails now being opened on mobile devices, the competition is heating up over where to best communicate and engage with customers. With services like Gmail funneling your emails into a Promotions tab, there’s a good chance your emails are not being read. 

Ecommerce marketers continue to rely on email for a good reason: it just works. We love email (and integrate with Klaviyo), but it can be improved with SMS marketing. How so? Did you send a customer an email and they didn’t open it? Create an automation that sends a text if they don’t open the email. Did they open the initial email? Great, then you make sure they don’t receive a text. 

Even with opt-ins, you have some options. You can offer a simple 10% discount option if they opt-in through email or text, but you could offer 5% for each platform and collect both the email and phone number.

Are there any exciting developments in the email space? Google recently introduced Dynamic email for Gmail. It opens up opportunities to innovate with email marketing to offer exciting features for email marketing. Will customers one day be able to make purchases inside an email? Most likely, but that will come in the future. 

Email is still a great channel for ecommerce merchants and it will continue to perform well. We recommend supplementing it with SMS marketing to take it to the next level. 

What is Facebook Messenger Marketing?

As the newest marketing channel for ecommerce merchants, Facebook Messenger has driven a lot of excitement and curiosity from merchants. With open rates as high as 80% and click-through rates of 40%, Messenger promises to deliver high engagement and sales. Just like SMS, you’re able to run similar campaigns as you would with email. Many merchants who started using Messenger in 2017 and 2018 saw a lot of great results. But in 2019, there’s a catch to using Messenger.

One roadblock to using Messenger now is the removal of pre-check from Messenger’s Add to Cart options. With Messenger, you can add a Messenger checkbox under your Add to Cart button that allows users to opt-in to updates in Messenger (instead of email). This box used to be pre-checked for merchants, but as of April 2019, Facebook removed the ability for this box to be pre-checked. Any user who clicked Add to Cart would automatically be opted in to Facebook Messenger updates.

Why did Facebook remove pre-check for Messenger? Bad user experience. With many users being opted in automatically, they would receive updates from companies in Messenger, without being aware they were opted in. This led to many complaints from users and Facebook ultimately decided to remove the feature. 

After this change, merchants noticed a decline in Messenger opt-ins, engagement and revenue. Messenger used to be a “set it and forget it” channel, but now it requires time and effort to make it work. You have to integrate it into your marketing strategy. There are ways to collect opt-ins with pop-ups and the add to cart button, but with many users still wary of using Messenger to communicate with brands, your opt-in rates can be lower than email or SMS.

It’s still possible to make Messenger work for your campaigns! But if you have to choose between SMS and Messenger for mobile messaging, we recommend SMS. Messenger can work for you, but SMS will likely outperform it. Messenger is heavily reliant on Facebook, and with all the recent changes, you can expect this channel to see varying performance.

Using Email, SMS and Facebook Messenger Together


Is it possible to use email, SMS and Facebook Messenger together in your marketing? You bet it is. While SMS and Messenger apps are still new, there are ways to use them together with email through integrations or Zapier. Ecommerce personalization is a huge topic and one key aspect of personalization is letting customers choose how they want to hear from your brand. Some will prefer email, others prefer SMS and some are even ok with different kinds of messages depending on the type of content.

For example, one way to use all three channels together is to use Klaviyo (email), Postscript (SMS) and ManyChat (Messenger through Zapier). 

What’s Next?

So which channel is best for you? It depends. We highly recommend using email and SMS together to more effectively communicate with your customers. There are customers who prefer email over SMS and vice versa, so take the time to experiment with these channels to see what performs best for you. Give customers the option to choose their communication platform and watch your customer satisfaction skyrocket.

We’ll take a closer look next week at comparing the numbers: opt-in rates, open rates, click thru rates, and conversion rates to help compare each channel.  After examining list overlap, we’ll help you build a comprehensive media plan across Facebook messenger, SMS, and email.

To get the best SMS results for your Shopify store, try add Postscript to your store today.

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