All in One vs. All in on SMS: The Case for a Text-Specific Marketing Platform
March 22, 2023
Reading Time: 5 minutes
It’s been a core debate among marketers for the last decade: all-in-one marketing platforms versus best-in-class marketing solutions. As SMS becomes a go-to channel for ecommerce brands, email software providers are rushing to compete in this market by bolting text marketing capabilities onto their email solutions.
So, of course, merchants are starting to wonder—do we really need text-specific marketing software, or can we just use the one that comes with our email platform?
We get it. No one likes a bloated tech stack, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the thousands of marketing tools available. Choosing the right combination of platforms for your business requires a lot of research, and adopting a blanket solution seems like a great way to cover all your bases.
But while consolidation makes sense in some cases, treating SMS the same as email comes at a price.
Think of it like this:
Would you run a marathon in basketball shoes?
Cut your hair with fabric scissors?
Paint your house with auto body paint?
These examples are the equivalent of using an email platform for your SMS marketing efforts. Sure, it’ll get the job done—but it won’t get you the best results.
The Drawbacks of SMS Solutions Built on Email Platforms
Using SMS features that are built into an email-first platform can drive poor results and bad customer experiences. Here’s why.
Email marketing platforms aren’t focused on SMS.
There are some great email platforms out there. They’ve spent years perfecting their technology so marketers can get the most out of the email channel. They are email experts—so it makes sense that email is where the majority of their focus is directed.
The problem is that SMS is a rapidly evolving space, which means SMS providers can’t afford to take their foot off the innovation pedal. Compared to email, SMS marketing strategies and best practices are less established—and providers must be laser-focused on testing and developing them.
With SMS open rates still hovering around 100%—and with more than 60% of all online purchases coming from mobile devices—SMS is perfectly positioned to become the top revenue channel for every ecommerce brand. But if you aren’t using a purpose-built SMS marketing solution, you’ll have a harder time unlocking the full power of this channel.
Email providers lack SMS resources and expertise.
Email software providers have a ton of resources—like blogs, guides, best practices, and in-house experts—to help people do email marketing right. But they typically don’t have the same depth of SMS resources as SMS-specific providers.
If you’re considering using your email tool for SMS, make sure you assess their ability to help you understand the nuances of SMS marketing. For instance, look to see if they offer educational resources like:
Guides to SMS segmentation strategies
Easy-to-follow legal and compliance checklists
SMS-specific automation templates
SMS benchmarks based on real data
An SMS campaign calendar complete with ideas, subscriber segments, and examples
If they don’t offer these resources, consider finding a provider that does.
Email providers don’t specialize in SMS compliance.
SMS compliance isn’t even close to the same as email compliance. It’s a confusing mish-mash of federal regulations, individual state laws, carrier rules, and carrier-enforced best practices—and it’s constantly changing. If your SMS provider doesn’t have a dedicated SMS legal and compliance team to stay ahead of those changes, you could be putting your brand at risk for compliance violations (especially considering that there are armies of private attorneys dedicated to filing lawsuits against companies that break the rules).
As one example, some email marketing platforms don’t customize their opt-out experience to the SMS channel, whereas SMS-specific platforms support things like recognition of fuzzy opt-out commands (e.g., “wrong number,” “don’t text,” “no more”) as well as automatic removal of known SMS litigators who subscribe to your texts.
Email platforms aren’t built for SMS interactions.
One of the biggest appeals of SMS marketing is its conversational nature. There’s no better way to build personal, 1:1 connections with your subscribers than having two-way conversations right in their text threads.
Email platforms only offer limited abilities for brands to interact with their subscribers in this way. Their integrations with help desk software and messaging solutions like Slack are minimal. And they’re often unable to receive images sent with MMS messages at all.
The Advantages of a Text-Specific Marketing Platform
Enough about how email platforms fall short with SMS. Let’s look at the advantages of a text-specific marketing platform.
SMS platforms deliver advanced, text-specific functionality.
Going back to the marathon analogy, runners need shoes built specifically for long-distance events in order to perform at their best. Similarly, SMS marketers need text-specific features and functionality in order for their campaign and automation messages to perform at their best.
From a range of TCPA- and FTSA-compliant opt-in solutions to deep segmentation and personalization based on subscriber actions, platforms that solely support SMS are packed full of functionality to help you leverage the channel to the fullest.
Postscript’s Flow Builder, for example, allows you to build sophisticated, multi-message campaigns and automations based on response messages, purchases, and other subscriber actions and attributes.
This means you could, for instance, create an SMS drip campaign that sends the first text message to a larger audience and then automatically removes a subscriber from the campaign sequence if they purchase. This allows you to start with an initial offer, then send follow-up text messages to provide additional education or drive urgency on a promotion ending without having to create new segments and campaigns.
Additionally, bear in mind that all-in-one providers often use data as a selling point (i.e., being able to leverage more subscriber data across channels). This is misleading because all Shopify integrated platforms have access to the same Shopify data—and SMS platforms that have built deep integrations with email platforms also have the ability to leverage subscriber event data across channels.
Text-specific platforms can better support SMS compliance and deliverability.
Deliverability—a.k.a. ensuring your texts actually make it to subscriber inboxes—is very different on SMS than it is on email. SMS-specific platforms have built their software—and their team—with this in mind. They’ve also nurtured deep carrier relationships and strategic partnerships to ensure their customers receive maximum sending bandwidth during high-volume send times like BFCM.
Furthermore, these platforms have created numerous built-in compliance safeguards to protect customers from things like non-compliant opt-ins and messages sent outside of waking hours. This helps brands avoid costly penalties and lawsuits.
For example, in the Postscript popup below, the required consent language is automatically displayed in the appropriate place. This ensures that brands collect subscriber phone numbers compliantly.
The best SMS marketing platforms have compliance baked into their processes and technology while also focusing on maximizing deliverability—so you can keep subscribers happy and unsubscribes at bay.
SMS platforms are built to enable 2-way conversations.
Conversational marketing is the true superpower of SMS—the ability to build personal relationships by sending highly personalized messages and engaging in two-way interactions with subscribers. That’s how you turn audiences into loyal fans.
While this is a cornerstone of SMS marketing, some messaging platforms are better at it than others. It’s one thing to offer automated responses based on specific incoming keywords—but quite another to support branched SMS message responses based on more than just exact keyword matches. Be sure to look for a provider that focuses on making two-way conversations feel as human as possible with features like event- and response-based branching and the ability to receive incoming MMS.
For example, this fun National Pet Day campaign sent by jewelry brand Simple & Dainty—and the resulting photos subscribers messaged back—wouldn’t have been possible on a platform that does not support MMS replies.
Why 9,000 Shopify Merchants Choose Postscript
Remember, not all SMS-specific platforms are created equal. This buyer’s guide contains 21 questions that will help you find the best SMS software for your brand.
We’re obviously partial to Postscript, but don’t take our word for it. These 1,800+ 5-star Shopify reviews say it all.
Here’s the TL;DR on why 9,000 Shopify merchants choose Postscript for their SMS marketing platform.
Our company mission is to make SMS the #1 revenue channel for ecommerce merchants. We’re laser-focused on bringing the best people, strategy, and technology together to help brands use SMS to its full potential.
Postscript focuses exclusively on SMS marketing for ecommerce. This means that every feature we introduce is specifically designed to help ecommerce brands maximize their Subscriber LTV and other important text marketing metrics.
We’re a leader in SMS compliance and deliverability. Postscript’s platform automates double opt-in compliance, identifies data hygiene issues to keep contact lists healthy, and offers a scalable infrastructure that can meet enterprise demands.
Our platform is tailored to deliver proven conversational ecommerce success. Postscript not only enables subscribers to reply to any type of text message—including campaigns, automated flows, and welcome messages—but also gives brands the ability to reply back to subscribers in real time through the app, via email or Slack, or using their help desk ticketing system. This kind of flexibility is a game changer when it comes to facilitating two-way messaging in a user-friendly way.
Postscript has an undisputable reputation as a trusted advisor on SMS strategy. Our blog and learning center are packed with SMS resources. And when questions come up that our content doesn’t answer, we have an entire team of subject matter experts for our customers to lean on.
Postscript clients know our customer support team has their back. We take pride in offering outstanding onboarding and support for small businesses and enterprise brands alike. Response times for in-app chat are typically less than 2 minutes.
Want to learn more about all the ways Postscript can unlock the potential of your SMS marketing? Get in touch with our team here.
Principal Market Intelligence Manager
Mindy Regnell is the Principal Market Intelligence Manager at Postscript. Over the last 15 years in ecommerce, she has run an online store, studied over 30 different ecommerce platforms, and tracked the latest trends. When she isn’t geeking out on SMS or ecommerce, Mindy can almost always be found quilting up a storm.