When you want to reach customers directly and quickly, SMS is one of the best channels for doing so. Why? It's highly accessible, for starters. Virtually everyone has a mobile phone these days – by the end of 2022, there were a whopping 8.6 billion cellular subscriptions worldwide – a 200 million increase from 2021. The number of mobile subscriptions was even higher than the world's population that same year – 7.9 billion for reference.
Most mobile phones, even basic feature phones, are text-enabled by default and contain a native messaging app that people can use to send and receive SMS messages. So by choosing SMS messaging as your marketing and communications channel, you can reach an extensive audience. There's no additional app to download, no reliance on an internet connection and no technical learning curve for your customers to overcome.
Yes, but... is SMS marketing still effective?
Accessibility, ease of use and extensive reach are all excellent reasons to consider SMS. But we wouldn't blame you for wondering if SMS actually gets results these days, given it's based on an old technology and there are newer, more modern channels to include in your marketing toolset. The short answer is yes: SMS has very high success rates – which we'll prove in this article with our roundup of the most recent SMS marketing statistics from various trusted sources.
How SMS marketing works
Before diving into these SMS marketing stats, though, let's explore the two main types of text campaigns businesses can use to reach new and existing customers. Both play a unique role in promoting your brand.
1. Promotional text messages
Promotional text messages are any type of message that directly advertises your brand, products or services. An example would be a flash sale text message, where you promote a product (or range of products) at a discounted price for a specified period of time. The campaign's goal would be to entice the recipient to make a purchase.
Another example is an abandoned cart reminder SMS. You'd send a text after your would-be buyer leaves the checkout process before making payment. The abandoned cart notification reminds recipients to revisit their cart and complete their transactions. Other marketing texts include new product launches, sharing company news, related product suggestions and review requests (you'd use the latter for word-of-mouth marketing). Another common use is for SMS loyalty programs.
Promotional text messaging is very direct; there's no beating about the bush. You use it to grab attention and convert recipient interest into sales or engagement. There are specific SMS marketing laws and regulations to abide by when contacting your audience in this way.
2. Transactional text messages
In contrast, transactional SMS messages are seen as business-critical communications that are absolutely necessary for your customer to do business with you. An example is an SMS verification message, where a customer needs a unique PIN code sent by text to their mobile phone to complete the account login process online.
Other examples include order confirmation messages, shipping notifications and appointment reminders. And although this type of campaign is purely transactional, it will indirectly promote your brand as it shows customers you care about them and want to offer an outstanding customer experience.
Mind-boggling text message marketing statistics and facts
From how many texts are sent per day and which demographic prefers texting to the latest data on engagement rates and so much more – here are some SMS marketing statistics that might just blow your mind...
Despite facing tough competition from OTT messaging apps and platforms like WhatsApp and Messenger, SMS is still immensely popular. According to SellCell, 23 billion text messages are exchanged daily – that's an eye-opening 8.4 trillion texts per year!
The global A2P messaging market was worth almost $67 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow by 4.9% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) from 2023 to 2030. Some of the biggest adopters of A2P messaging are the healthcare, banking and finance, insurance, retail and e-commerce verticals.
Research from Statista suggests chatting and texting was the most popular activity done on a smartphone between July 2022 and June 2023, according to 75% of global users.
As many as 48% of customers prefer that businesses communicate with them via text message.
The same source reports that 75% of customers would rather text businesses for customer service and support instead of making phone calls or reaching out on social media, which can be time-consuming and inconvenient.
In the United States, millennials are the consumer demographic most interested in receiving text message marketing from brands.
SMS messages are delivered faster than emails – an important consideration if you need to communicate something urgently (such as 2FA PIN codes).
In the United States alone, the average adult checks their mobile phone 344 times a day – that's around once every four minutes. So there's a high chance your message won't get missed.
Sending text reminders can save businesses from losing out on revenue – they reduce appointment no-shows by 38%, according to a study from Imperial College London, as cited by the patient communication solution Klara.
A survey conducted by Cloudli Communications, and featured in Forbes, revealed that almost 93% of consumers want to text message businesses.
The same study reports that 76% of buyers said they'd be more likely to frequent small and medium-sized businesses if they offered text messaging.
You might have already seen the widely reported statistic that 98% of texts are opened, and 90% are read within 3 minutes of receipt. It was Mobilesquared's research on conversational advertising that provided this much-quoted stat.
Interestingly, the same company revealed this may not be the case today. Mobilesquared's latest data suggests that 55% of SMS messages are read (however, 100% are viewed). The decline in engagement is partly due to people's mobile home screens being inundated with messages from other messaging apps, like WhatsApp and WeChat. That said, even with a 55% read rate, SMS is far superior to other channels like email, direct mail, banner ads, etc.
Insights company Gartner has also reported the same 98% open rates for SMS in the past, reflecting other sources as well as Mobilesquared.
SHIFT (a performance communications agency) conducted its own survey of US smartphone owners to discover whether they read every SMS sent to them. The results showed that 82% of respondents said yes, they did (and men were more likely to read every text than women). In any case, it's safe to say that SMS marketing is highly effective in getting noticed.
Stringent laws and regulations are in place to ensure businesses only send marketing communications to customers after they've explicitly opted in and verified themselves as a subscriber. But even getting express opt-ins won’t always protect your messages from being marked as spam. However, text marketing has a lower chance of ending up in the spam folder or being blocked compared to marketing emails. The latter is considered the number one source of spam and is therefore subject to strict filters by internet providers.
Customers are 4.5 times more likely to reply to your SMS message than an email marketing campaign. Small businesses often favour an SMS marketing strategy because engagement rates are higher than email.
The average SMS click-through rate (CTR) varies depending on your business type, what you're offering, message frequency and more. Some SMS providers have reported SMS CTRs of up to 46%! This figure is on the high side, and therefore you shouldn't pin your hopes on the same, but it's certainly possible to achieve high CTRs with a well-crafted SMS marketing campaign.
In terms of the average CTR of hyperlinks, the links contained in SMS marketing achieve just over 6%.
When you compare the above numbers to the performance of email marketing campaigns, SMS is streets ahead in terms of effectiveness. Mailchimp states that emails achieve a 21.33% average open rate and a 2.62% average CTR. A more recent study from 2022 by Campaign Monitor revealed similar numbers for email marketing, with an average email open rate of 21.5%.
A study from Smart Insights suggested the average CTR for pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns on search, display ads and social media was 6.3% – which is about the same as the average SMS CTR. That said, digital marketing guru Neil Patel suggests the average CTR for PPC ads is much lower at just 2%. Even taking the higher CTR into account, SMS offers a better ROI than paid online advertising as it's highly targeted and more affordable (more on cost shortly!).
74% of people have zero unread text messages. In contrast, only 17% of people have no unread emails.
According to Attentive, 96% of SMS marketers say text messages have helped them significantly boost revenue, helping those in the retail and e-commerce industry generate $71 for each dollar spent.
Another report by the same company revealed that more than 42% of marketers intended to increase their SMS campaign budget for 2023 compared to the previous year – which is unsurprising given that SMS is one of the top 3 revenue-driving channels for 53% of marketers.
In terms of goals, 79% of those surveyed by Attentive use SMS marketing primarily as an acquisition and retention channel, with 50% of their SMS subscribers becoming repeat customers.
In the same Attentive study, over 90% of the brands surveyed have integrated SMS as part of their marketing tech (MarTech) stack; that's digital tools like customer service, eCommerce and CRM platforms.
Because SMS subscribers are highly engaged, the redemption rate for textable mobile coupons is 3% to 10% – much greater than that of print or email coupons and vouchers.
48% of customers prefer receiving special offers via text message compared to other channels like Facebook or email marketing.
62% of US smartphone users check their mobile devices for new messages right after they wake up in the morning – which, if they follow a work schedule of 9am to 5pm, could put their wake-up time at between 7–8am. So it may make sense, depending on what type of campaign you want to send, for your business to tap into this early morning phone-checking behaviour and send a well-timed SMS marketing campaign. Be mindful not to text too early though, as this will likely annoy your audience. Err on the side of caution – follow telemarketing solicitation rules and don't text before 8am.
An SMS marketing message generally costs between $0.01 and $0.05, although you can expect this price to rise, considering that over 200 mobile network operators have now increased their prices by 100%. But, good news! Messente beats many SMS providers on price, offering one of the lowest SMS pricing structures around, starting from just €0.02 per text.
The average cost-per-click (CPC) for a PPC advert was $2 to $4 in 2022. And according to Gitnux, the average CPC for Google Search is $1.39 and $3.87 on LinkedIn. When you compare these costs to SMS, it’s clear which is the most cost-effective.
Finally, our last stat is around SMS automation technology. It’s on the rise as more and more businesses are utilising chatbots to streamline customer conversations and enhance service. According to a recent study, the global chatbot market is expected to reach $4.3 billion by 2032 and is growing at a whopping 19.29% CAGR.
Should you consider SMS marketing?
Even with the rise of OTT messaging apps, SMS is still very much a big player in the market. Being highly accessible and familiar to users and cost-effective for business owners, it makes sense to include SMS as part of your marketing efforts.
As the above stats suggest, SMS marketing messages have the power to attract your audience's attention (particularly the millennial generation) and encourage them to take action and convert. Not only can you drive more sales with SMS, but you can also use it to improve customer satisfaction and retention – through transactional messages designed to inform, remind and reassure.
Discover how to implement SMS marketing for your business – talk to us today.