Text messaging involves a technology that's three decades old, yet it's still as popular as ever with adults and young people alike. For businesses, text messages provide ample opportunities for growth – texts can help attract new customers, increase engagement, drive sales and deliver better levels of support.

But don't just take our word for it! In this article, we've rounded up 28 facts about texting that are important for businesses and marketers to know when deciding which channels to use for marketing and communication strategies. Keep reading to be enlightened!

Fascinating stats and facts about texting

1. The very first text message was sent from a computer on 3 December 1992 by a young software programmer called Neil Papworth. It was sent from a computer because mobile devices weren't capable of sending texts at that time.

2. There are 6.64 billion smartphone (data-capable phone) users worldwide today and 7.26 billion mobile phone users in total (including both smartphones and basic feature phones). This latter figure represents the reach of texting – because even basic cell phones can receive text messages. Text messages can be sent and delivered anywhere globally, more or less instantly – they rely on a cellular network, not an internet connection.

3. Mobile phone users in the United States sent 2.2 trillion text messages during 2020, an increase from 1.5 trillion texts sent in 2017.

4. Around 18.7 billion text messages are sent worldwide every day.

5. Teens use text messaging as a key component in day-to-day interactions with friends – with 55% of teens sending text messages daily.

6. For older adults aged 50-69, text messaging is the most used tech tool for staying connected (overtaking email).

7. An ethnicity study on mobile phone use found that African-Americans and Hispanics (English-speaking adults) are more likely to own a cell phone than white people. These groups also text the most compared to other ethnic groups in the United States.

8. In general, we tend to spend less time talking on phone calls and more time texting. The average cell phone conversation is only around one minute and forty seconds.

9. Text messaging is crucial for speech and hearing-impaired people because the use of Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDDS) has decreased by 80% during the last decade.

10. Ever wondered why text messages have a limit of 160 characters? Friedhelm Hillebrand (a German engineer credited as being one of the inventors of SMS) had the idea to test out random sentences and questions on a typewriter to count the optimal number of characters needed for a standard message. 160 characters were deemed to be the perfect length for rapid-fire short messages.

11. The most popular texting abbreviations include LOL (laughing out loud), IMO (in my opinion) and IDK (I don't know).

12. Texting while driving is illegal for a reason – it leads to distracted driving, making drivers lose focus and experience a delay in reaction time. Shockingly, 23.6% of Americans confess to texting while driving.

13. It's not just email that's prone to spam – Americans receive 16.9 spam text messages every month (here's how to recognise text scams).

14. Nonsensical texting (dystexia) has been noted as the only sign of a stroke in some medical cases.

Woman with black nails using a smartphone

SMS marketing statistics

15. 98% of text messages get opened, making the humble text message one of the most powerful marketing channels around.

16. Text messaging is a relatively instant form of marketing communication – most messages are opened within three minutes of receipt.

17. The average response time for a text message is just 90 seconds.

18. Around 75% of consumers would prefer to receive special offers by SMS rather than see internet or mobile ads.

19. In Europe, SMS is the most popular arm of the mobile marketing industry, with several 100 million SMS marketing text messages sent out each month.

20. Before the pandemic, 51% of US retailers planned to boost investment in SMS and other messaging platforms. And in June 2020, during the pandemic, this figure had increased to 56%.

21. Americans check their phones every ten minutes – that's 96 times a day. 18-24 year-olds is the age group that checks their phones the most – twice as much as the national average.

22. Text message marketing can increase the effectiveness of other channels. For example, a quick 'Have you read our email?' SMS marketing messages can boost email open rates by 20-30%.

23. In the FinTech sector, SMS is a very effective marketing channel. Most of the companies interviewed for Messente's case study found that when they stopped text marketing, their sales and website traffic dropped significantly.

Related reading: SMS Marketing statistics  

Customer service text message statistics

24. In a study of 14,000 patients, 48% said they prefer text message appointment reminders, compared with 29% who preferred phone call reminders and 21% who preferred email reminders.

25. Two-thirds of U.S. consumers would switch to businesses that use text messaging as a communication channel.

26. In 2019, 75% of U.S. survey respondents said they find it helpful to receive appointment reminders. Banking alerts, travel updates, deals and promotions and food delivery updates are other types of helpful texts.

27. 48% of millennials say they'd like to receive fraud alerts and payment reminders from financial institutions. Text appointment reminders and delivery notifications are also popular with millennials.

28. Text messaging is preferred in the FinTech industry for simple and urgent communications such as loan approvals and rejections. It's also the channel of choice for payment reminders because text has more impact than email.

Three men using smartphones

Getting started with text messaging for business

We hope you enjoyed reading this interesting collection of text messaging facts. It's plain to see that even with the rise of messaging apps, SMS is still massively popular worldwide. It’s a technology that’s accessible to everyone with a cell phone, across multiple generations.

Texting provides tons of opportunities to communicate with customers and grow your business. You can use text messages across a range of industries to attract new prospects, convert leads into customers and then retain them for the long term.

Discover how Messente's SMS API can help you send two-factor authentication (2FA) PIN codes, retail and e-commerce transactional messages, emergency alerts and a wide variety of text marketing campaigns. Create an account today (for free) and explore our user-friendly dashboard.