5 charts showing the potential of text message (SMS) marketing

Nearly 4 in 5 people in the US own a smartphone, per our March 2023 forecast. US adults check their phones an average of 114 times each day, and usually do so within the first 10 minutes of waking, per a Reviews.org study.

These stats should raise eyebrows for marketers, because they show the potential of engaging with consumers via SMS marketing. In 2024, text message marketing should be front of mind for marketers—just look to big brands like Kendra Scott and Alo Yoga to judge its effectiveness. Here are five charts demonstrating the potential of SMS.

1. Texting is tied with AI in projected impact for 2024

Some 72% of US digital retailers believe an increased focus on omnichannel commerce, including SMS, will most impact their business in 2024, according to December 2023 Bolt data. That puts texting and other omnichannel technologies in line with AI (which also came in at 72%) and ahead of enhanced mobile shopping experiences (63%) and checkout and payment innovations (53%).

“SMS allows us to engage with customers in real time and help them find joy in their shopping experiences by guiding them to the perfect gift at the best price point,” Lauren Zarzour, senior director of paid and owned marketing at Kendra Scott, told Chain Store Age.

2. Customers use texting to engage with companies

Some 66% of people worldwide use text messaging to engage with companies, and 65% use messenger apps, according to July 2023 Salesforce data. While other channels like email (93%), phone calls (88%), and mobile apps (76%) are still used more widely than SMS, texting is still used by most people.

“As an acquisition channel [texting is] surpassing, or getting on par with, our email program,” Cher Fuller, senior director of digital marketing at Alo Yoga, told Glossy.

3. Text messages boost clickthrough rates

The top two reasons US marketers use text message marketing are higher customer engagement (60.5%) and higher open and clickthrough rates (53.5%), according to May 2023 SimpleTexting data.

Those clicks can quickly become conversions. During Cyber Week 2023, marketing communications platform Attentive reported it drove $1.8 billion in online sales. Brands using Attentive sent over 2.2 billion text messages during that week alone.

4. Customers want to receive text messages from businesses

US adults prefer SMS to message delivery on another app like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp or via a brand’s own app, according to an April 2023 Webex by Cisco survey conducted by OnePoll. So while it’s useful to cultivate a community on social media and to encourage app downloads, sometimes it’s best to meet consumers where they already are: in their native text messaging app.

5. Texting is a retail media strategy

Texting isn’t just for reaching mobile consumers; the channel is also useful for reaching consumers while they’re in-store. Some 37% of US retailers have implemented contextual marketing—which includes sending SMS and emails to customers in-store—and are satisfied with it, according to October 2023 data from Retail Systems Research. Meanwhile, 45% of retailers using this tactic are planning some sort of change, showing retailers are still figuring out the best way to use this strategy.

Marketers already know in-store shoppers are on their phones—75% of Target guests browse via its app or website while shopping in-store, Roundel senior vice president and president Sarah Travis said at our “Attention! Trends and Predictions for 2024” summit. Retailers can capitalize on mobile users by offering exclusive deals via SMS while in-store.

This was originally featured in the eMarketer Daily newsletter. For more marketing insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.

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