As a medium of communication, email offers the marketing potential of regular mail — the ability to ply the recipient with long swatches of lively text and colorful graphics – -without the wait to throw-away rates of conventional junk mail.
And in terms of sheer quantity of content, emails are the equivalent of the novel compared to the text message (SMS). Yet it is the norm these days that the marketing email is rarely a must-read for recipients. As the more effective messaging medium, the text message is to email what a best seller is to a forgotten paperback gathering dust in a used book store bin.
Blogger and digital marketing specialist Aine Doherty says that email still has its place as an effective marketing tool if deployed properly. However, the open rate of email is just 22 percent, while the open rate of SMS is a whopping 98 percent.
“No other marketing tool can offer a similar rate, making SMS Marketing one of the most effective ways to get your message to your customer,” according to Doherty.
The difference in numbers of users of each medium is also staggering, with the SMS usage rate nearly twice that of email. A study by the Radicati Group projected 2.5 billion people will use email globally this year. With 7 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, some 4.5 billion people will use text messaging in 2014, according to a survey by mobile hardware manufacturer Ericsson.
What happened to email? The march of time, technology and money. In the days before the instantaneous connection of text messaging and social media, email was the cutting edge messaging technology. But as Doherty noted, while the popularity of email grew, opportunity and ability to monetize the medium grew with it.
“The popularity of email marketing meant that it very quickly became over populated (sic) with spam, thus reducing the chance that your email [would] be interpreted as a legitimate one and actually opened and read,” wrote Doherty.
Email systems now handily recognize spam messaging, and send many an e-marketing newsletter into the black hole that is the spam folder, where they sit unread along side pitches for cheap drugs from Canada and untold riches waiting to be claimed from Nigerian banks. Meanwhile, even though text messaging is more than a decade into common use and is giving way to social media as a mode of instant messaging, Doherty points out that users consider 99 percent of text messages as legitimate.
“[T]his communication tool is still highly [regarded] by mobile phone users,” she wrote. “Consider the amount of time and effort put into each tool too. A text message can be crafted and sent in a matter of minutes. [C}ompare that to the amount of design and production time that goes into each email sent.”
Doherty, Aine. “SMS Versus Email Marketing” B2C. July 28, 2014.