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Email & SMS Marketing

48 Surprising SMS Marketing Statistics for 2021 (And Their Original Sources)

April 15, 2021
Camille Trent

In 2020, SMS marketing saw shocking engagement numbers, further propelling adoption. That trend carried over into 2021. We rounded up the most accurate, up-to-date SMS statistics to help you make better marketing decisions.

Table of Contents

Mobile activity and the use of SMS have been on the rise since at least 2011 — and coronavirus accelerated the trend. During the pandemic, smartphone and texting usage skyrocketed. 

Savvy marketers and businesses were ready. In an effort to connect with more consumers during lockdown, businesses signed up for SMS marketing in droves. How else were they supposed to reach their customers? 

The trend has continued into 2021. E-commerce businesses saw a 251x ROAS across all SMS drip campaigns running in January 2021, Voyage SMS founder and CIO Corey Epstein told MarketerHire.

This articles explores the following text marketing statistics from recent, reputable sources:

  • Smartphone statistics
  • Texting statistics
  • SMS marketing statistics
  • SMS marketing statistics vs. other marketing channel statistics 
  • SMS marketing statistics vs. email marketing statistics
  • SMS customer engagement rate stats
  • Holiday SMS marketing statistics

Let's dive in.

How has mobile phone adoption impacted mobile marketing?

1. 97% of Americans own a cell phone. [Pew]

U.S. cell phone adoption nearly doubled over 17 years, according to a 2021 report from Pew Research. It’s now just 3% shy of total adoption. 

2. 85% of U.S. adults own a smartphone. [Pew]

The vast majority of Americans are smartphone users. This figure outpaces Statista’s 2017 smartphone prediction by nearly 10%.

3. 96% of Gen Z owns a smartphone. [Center for Generational Kinetics]

In 2018, Gen Z had the highest smartphone adoption of any demographic — and the majority of them have iPhones, not Androids.

Smartphone usage continues to rise in 2021
Source: eMarketer

4. 64% of people spend more time on their cell phones due to COVID-19. [ZipWhip]

In comparison, just 7% of ZipWhip respondents said they spent less time on their mobile phones because of COVID-19, and 30% said their phone time had not changed.

5. 39% of Americans have been relying on their phones more due to social distancing mandates. [Twigby]

Of the Twigby survey respondents who used their mobile phones more during the pandemic, 26% spent four additional hours a day on mobile. That’s an extra sixth of a day. Every day.

6. 75% of Gen Z and Millennials use smartphones to shop online. [Epsilon]

Born into an era where information and instant access sits in the palm of their hand, teens and young adults don't think of mobile shopping as a foreign concept  — it’s the default

7. 54% of web traffic comes from mobile. [StatCounter]

Gen Z and Millennials aren’t the only ones who shop on mobile devices. The bulk of web browsing has taken place on mobile since at least June of 2019, according to StatCounter. In March 2020, Google announced mobile-first indexing for the entire web.

8. 45% of adults believe mobile devices are becoming their most important shopping tool. [GfK Shopper Study

In 2018, nearly half of adults felt mobile devices were a shopping essential — up from 29% in 2017, according to GfK's annual shopper study. That’s more than a 50% YoY uptick. 

Do people still text?

9. 50% of people sent more texts during the pandemic. [ZipWhip]

The increased dependence on mobile during the COVID-19 pandemic (and decreased dependence on face-to-face conversation) boosted texting. 

10. 58.7% of consumers respond to their text messages within five minutes. [SimpleTexting]

Texts get responses — fast.  Of the people who respond in five minutes, just shy of a third respond in the first minute.

11. 50% of consumers respond to texts within three minutes. [EZTexting]

Maybe this comes from a mixture of phantom phone buzzing and boredom, but withdrawal seems more likely. The red notification bubble is a cheap and legal high.

12. 29% more texts were sent in 2019 than 2017. [CTIA Wireless Industry Survey]

After all-time low in texting usage in 2017, Americans sent more than 2 trillion text messages in 2019 — edging back towards the texting levels in America’s peak texting years, 2011 and 2012. 

Text messaging usage: How many SMS are sent each day in the U.S.?
Source: Statista

13. ~100% of people read all their text messages. [EZTexting]

According to EZTexting, nearly everyone achieves zero-inbox zen within their text messaging app. Email, not so much.

14. 83% of teens kept in touch via text during the pandemic. [Common Sense Media]

Teens relied on texting more than phone calls or social media. They seem to be leading the charge in the recent texting revival.

Teens used texting to stay in touch during the pandemic in 2020
Source: Common Sense Media

15. 83% of people received an SMS text message from a business in 2020. [ZipWhip]

SMS marketing isn't the norm yet — but the businesses that use it use it a lot. More than 8 in 10 people have received a text from a business. 

16. 86% of consumers who have gotten a text from a business have received an appointment reminder text. [EZTexting]

Furthermore, 83% of consumers prefer to get their appointment reminders this way, EZTexting reports.

17. 63% of people use the default texting app on their phone. [ZipWhip]

Text messaging remains the most popular form of mobile messaging. The remainder of the messaging market is split between Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat and a handful of others.

How do businesses use SMS marketing?

18. 39% of businesses use SMS marketing. [Postscript]

Texting is an everyday communication channel, Gregory Zakowicz, director of content at Omnisend, told MarketerHire. “It was only a matter of time before consumers started adopting it.” 

58% of people say texting is the ideal way for businesses to reach them.

19. 58% of people say texting is the ideal way for businesses to reach them. [ZipWhip]

Texts are easy to digest — and unlike a call from an unknown phone number, it’s easy to see at a glance if a text is important. 

20. 34% of businesses adopted texting because of COVID-19. [ZipWhip]

During the pandemic, more than a third of businesses added SMS messaging capabilities to keep in touch with customers and prospects remotely.  

21. 52.5% of business owners and marketers cite a “large mobile audience” as their primary motivation for investing in SMS marketing. [SimpleTexting]

The sheer number of people on mobile devices was another reason U.S. business owners and marketers adopted texting in 2020. 

22. 378% more SMS marketing messages were sent in 2020 than in 2019. [Omnisend]

Due to Thanksgiving, BFCM and Christmas, the majority of 2020 (and 2019) SMS texts got sent in Q4. 

61% of marketers planned to increase SMS marketing budgets in 2020.

23. 61% of marketers planned to increase SMS marketing budgets in 2020. [SimpleTexting]

Most marketers planned to ramp up their SMS marketing spend in 2020. Those that actually did — despite pandemic uncertainty — reaped the benefits of a digitally dominated year. 

24. 41% of marketers have seen increasing SMS opt-in rates. [SimpleTexting]

So it’s no wonder they’re increasing their SMS marketing budgets.

25. 13% of SMBs use SMS marketing. [EZTexting]

As we mentioned above, 39% of all businesses use SMS marketing — but small businesses have been adopting it more slowly than bigger companies. 

26. 26% of businesses send promotions, discounts and coupons via text. [EZTexting]

That means the 67% of consumers who received coupons and promotions via text got them from just 26% of businesses. Impressive reach!

27. 63% of companies use SMS messaging to schedule appointments and send reminders. [ZipWhip]

Customers are on board, too — 44% of them schedule appointments via text messages, per ZipWhip, and 86% have received an SMS appointment reminder.

28. 53.75% of business owners and marketers believe “fast delivery” is the biggest consumer benefit of texting. [SimpleTexting

The immediacy of SMS marketing — from campaign creation to open, response, and conversion rates — appeals to the majority of business owners. 

How does SMS compare to other digital marketing channels?

29. Native texting apps see 3X higher usage than Facebook Messenger. [EZTexting]

While Facebook continues to gain market share and makes it easy for consumers to chat on its Messenger app, texting remains the most popular mobile messaging technology.

30. …and 6X higher usage than WhatsApp... [EZTexting]

Many people swear by WhatsApp, but WhatsApp gets about half the usage of Facebook Messenger — and far less than SMS — in the U.S..

31. …and 11X higher usage than Instagram. [EZTexting]

Between Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram DMs, Facebook’s making a run for the messaging market. But even combined, Facebook’s messaging technologies don’t see half the usage of traditional texting

Consumers are 4.5X more likely to reply to text messages than emails.

32. Consumers are 4.5X more likely to reply to text messages than emails. [EZTexting]

That makes SMS a great channel for starting a conversation or requesting feedback.

33. Texts have an up to 30.5X higher CTR than email. [Voyage SMS and MailChimp]

The average click-through rate (CTR) on SMS marketing messages is 80%, according to Voyage SMS — though, Omnisend puts its average CTR much lower, at just shy of 11%. Either way, it’s several times higher than email marketing’s average CTR: 2.62%.

How engaging is SMS marketing?

34. 98% of SMS messages get opened. [Gartner]

SMS continues to score an A+ in open rate, according to Gartner. 

SMS open rates, email open rates, and SMS response rates for 20210
Source: SimpleTexting

35. SMS marketing’s conversion rate rose 102% YoY in 2020. [Omnisend]

Even more impressive: It doubled amidst a massive YoY increase in sends — which could have meant a bigger, less-engaged audience.

36. 45.5% of consumers are most likely to opt into SMS marketing from e-commerce and retail brands. [SimpleTexting]

Nearly half of consumers say they’re more interested in texts from retailers than SMS marketing efforts from companies in other sectors, like healthcare and insurance. 

37. SMS marketing messages had a 10.63% CTR in 2020. [Omnisend]

Of course, open and click-through rates are only vanity metrics if they don’t convert — but 2.65% of clickers do convert.

38. 64% of customers consider appointment reminders the most valuable texts they get from businesses. [ZipWhip]

Reminders are more customer service than marketing — and the majority of customers like them.

69% of consumers want the ability to contact a business via text.

39. 69% of consumers want the ability to contact a business via text. [EZTexting]

It’s just a better customer experience than getting put on hold, or talking to chatbot, or navigating endless, automated phone instructions.

40. 60.8% of consumers would like to text businesses back about support issues. [SimpleTexting]

Nearly 70% of consumers want the ability to text businesses back, and 54% are frustrated when they can’t. So, it should come as no surprise that six in ten want to text businesses back about support issues.

41. 54% of consumers are frustrated when they can’t text a business. [EZTexting]

What happens when a customer text bounces? Nothing good. From the consumer’s perspective, it feels like an “I’ll call you, don’t call me” move. 

42. 12.9% of customers said they’re more likely to support businesses that offer text-back capabilities. [SimpleTexting]

The businesses that use SMS communication for customer support — as opposed to one-way, promotion-only texting — will pick up fans.

43. 34% of consumers proactively texted a business without getting texted first. [ZipWhip]

In 2020, more than a third of consumers initiated a conversation with a business. Great news, marketers: You don’t always have to make the first move.

44. 75% of consumers are open to receiving texts from brands about shipment tracking. [SimpleTexting]

Three-fourths of consumers like the ability to track product shipping via text — and it's an easy way for e-commerce businesses to test out SMS marketing. 

45. 46.3% of consumers are open to receiving scheduling reminders from brands via text. [SimpleTexting]

Nearly half of consumers are up for scheduling reminder texts, and nearly the same fractionof customers actually schedules appointments via text.

49.1% of respondents said that flash sales and time-sensitive promotions would encourage them to opt into a business’s text messages.

46. 49.1% of respondents said that flash sales and time-sensitive promotions would encourage them to opt into a business’s text messages. [SimpleTexting]

If you’re wondering where to get started, half of EZTexting survey respondents said texts offering time-sensitive promos and flash sales would get their attention. 

How did SMS marketing affect 2020 holiday shopping?

47. 2.5% of orders placed on Black Friday converted from SMS. [Omnisend]

SMS messaging got numbers on the board during Black Friday 2020. A sliver of Black Friday sales can now be attributed to SMS marketing campaigns — but a sliver of $10.8 billion in sales is still a lot.

48. In 2020, there was a 274%+ YoY increase in SMS marketing sends between Thanksgiving and Black Friday. [Omnisend]

You might think that sounds like too many texts. But if you have the right SMS marketing strategy and offer a good enough reason to open, click, shop, and buy, Omnisend customers found it can pay off.

Conclusion: Text message marketing is here to stay

So far, SMS marketing engagement rates beat messaging apps and email by major margins. But compared to tried and true channels like email and paid social, SMS still feels like a luxury in many marketing departments. 

The 2020 pandemic sped up adoption for SMS technology, though — and while 2021 is still full of uncertainty, the recent quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year growth trends at Omnisend and other SMS martech brands makes continued SMS marketing growth seem likely.

Want to dive deeper into SMS marketing? Read our full 2021 guide to SMS marketing.

Need help getting started? We have expert SMS and email marketers who can help you build your list and launch high ROAS campaigns. Get matched to your ideal marketer within 48 hours.

Camille Trent
about the author

Camille Trent is the managing editor at MarketerHire. A copywriter and marketing nerd, she's passionate about helping freelancers and creatives recognize their value and get the knowledge they need to win long term. When she's not writing, she's hanging out with her pup and two favorite redheads. Or she's trying to coach the Portland Trail Blazers to victory from her couch.

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