Marketing Smackdown: Email vs. Text Messaging

January 8, 2013 Becky Schroeder

Some people are saying email marketing is dead. That it's being replaced by text messaging. And to a certain extent, they may be right. But I also think they're wrong, and here's why.

You need an email address for pretty much everything on the Internet today, from signing up for Facebook to purchasing something online. This is not going to change any time soon. As long as people have email addresses, email marketing will have a place in the digital agency marketing mix. Not every email you send will be read, but by consistently being in consumer's inboxes, you are more likely to get noticed.

(On a quick side note, AgencyBuzz, our email marketing software, has an engagement rate - meaning people are clicking in the emails they receive - of 24%. Doesn't sound to me like email marketing is dead.)

Yes, text messaging has become extremely popular, especially among the Millennial generation as that is their preferred method of communication. Any good marketing consultant will tell you that you need to be where your customers are. That communicating with them through their preferred methods will increase the engagement and response you get. So it is logical to think that marketing via text messaging is a good idea.

But you need to be careful. Why? Spam.

Consumers have become increasingly wary and intolerant of marketing messages they don't want. Many will not hesitate to unsubscribe from your messages (whether you use email or text) or worse, report you as spam. Especially text messaging. (Anytime I get a marketing text I didn't sign up for, I immediately unsubscribe.) So how do you avoid being reported as spam? It's all in the content.

If every message you send, email or text, is about you and why someone should buy a policy from your agency, you are not going to have a good response rate and will more likely be reported for spam. However, if you provide something of value, people will be more open to receiving your messages. The challenge in insurance is that you can't exactly offer a discount on their policy to keep them interested, but you can provide them with helpful information.

For email you can share a wide variety of articles depending on the line of business you are promoting like tips on how to lower insurance premiums, how to report a claim or mitigate a risk, explanations of the less understood parts of insurance, and frequently asked questions.

Text messages need to be shorter. I would recommend sticking to reminders when payment is due or when policies are up for renewal. Another great time to use text messaging to communicate with your customers is when a disaster is approaching your area. Sending a reminder of how to visit your website for information on preparing for the expected disaster or how to report a claim afterward would be seen as extremely helpful.

The best tip when deciding whether or not to send a marketing campaign is to think about how you would receive such information. If you don't like to receive an advertisement via text, don't send one to your customers or prospects.

Both email and text messaging have a place in the marketing mix, but the content you send through those channels must be seen as valuable for email and text messaging to have marketing value to your agency.

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About the Author

Becky Schroeder

As vice president of marketing, Becky Schroeder oversees ITC’s growth through marketing and drives the overall marketing strategy for the company and its products. Her specialties include advertising, social media, email marketing, content marketing and public relations. Becky has a master’s degree in integrated marketing communication from Emerson College in Boston and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M University. Becky is a big Texas A&M football fan and enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her husband and their three daughters.

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