Do you know what the open rate for SMS marketing is? Neither do we, as unfortunately SMS software providers like Tatango don’t get SMS open rates from wireless carriers. What we do know however though is that back in 2010 MobileSquared put out a report that stated that SMS marketing read rates exceeded 99%.
SMS Open Rates vs SMS Read Rates
Many SMS marketers (including us at Tatango) commonly confuse SMS open rates and SMS read rates. In email marketing, the two terms are defined as the following:
- Email Read: The total amount of people that open an email marketing message.
- Email Open: The amount of people that open an email marketing message with images automatically enabled or click to enable the images on your email when opening. In most cases the open rate for email marketing will be less than the read rate.
In SMS marketing though open rates and read rates are defined differently. A “read” for an SMS marketing message is the total amount of people that see the SMS message, including a preview of the message. For most mobile phones, this includes the following examples.
An “open” for an SMS marketing message is when the consumers actually opens the message. You can see the difference between a read (left) and open (right) in the image below. As you can see, there’s a significant difference between read and open rates with SMS marketing and email marketing.
What is SMS Marketing?
SMS marketing is when a business sends one SMS message to thousands or even millions of customers who have signed up to receive SMS messages. For example, if you ever have received a text message coupon from Kohl’s, or Papa Murphy’s, then you’ve received SMS marketing.
SMS marketing is incredibly effective because, while emails can sit unopened in an inbox for hours — or worse, sent directly to the trash folder — 78% of consumers say that SMS is the fastest way to reach them. In fact, 90% of text messages are read within just 3 minutes. That makes SMS marketing a perfect channel for marketers who have a time-sensitive promotion or alert to share.
Why Are SMS Open Rates So High?
The main reason SMS open rates are so high is that SMS marketing requires a strict opt-in from customers before you can message them. How strict? It’s actually federal law that requires businesses to get an opt-in from a consumer prior to sending them an SMS message. The federal law is called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and gives consumers the right to claim damages of up to $1,500 per message if they didn’t opt-in. For more information on the TCPA, check out these videos.
Any example of a TCPA compliant opt-in is below.
SMS Marketing Click-Through Rates
SMS open rates are very different than SMS click-through rates. Open rates are when someone opens an SMS message. Click-through rates are calculated by dividing the amount of people that clicked on a hyperlink in a message, by the amount of people that received that SMS message. So for example, if you send an SMS message to 10 people, and 3 of them click on the link in the SMS message, the click-through rate would be 30%.
While SMS click-through rates vary widely, we’ve found the average SMS marketing click-through rate is somewhere in the 5-10% range.
RCS Business Messaging Open Rates
One of the benefits of RCS business messaging is software platforms like Tatango will receive open rates from the wireless carriers. In initial pilot RCS business messaging programs, brands are experiencing 70-80% open rates. So while not the 99% rates that were first reported with SMS marketing, it’s still very high.
How to Increase SMS Open Rates
Below are four of our best SMS marketing strategies to increase the open rates of your SMS messages.
- The most important is to only send SMS messages to customers that opted-in to receive them.
- Make each SMS visually unique. If each of your SMS messages look the same, you’ll eventually start to see a decrease in open rates as customers won’t be enticed to open the messages.
- Make each SMS message valuable. If customers start to realize that there’s no value in the messages you’re sending them, they’ll eventually stop opening your messages, or worse unsubscribe.
- If you want your message to actually reach your customers’ mobile phones, use an SMS short code. In the United States, SMS short codes have very little filtering/blocking mechanisms, allowing your SMS message to get to your customers’ phones uninterrupted.
Some additional strategies you can use to increase open rates can be found in the video below.
Email vs SMS Open Rates
Our email marketing friends at Mailchimp say that emails from restaurants/retail get about a 20% open rate (view all industries). That means SMS marketing has almost 4 times the open rate as email marketing. If that’s not a good reason to start an SMS marketing campaign, I don’t know what is…
Other SMS Marketing Statistics
Looking for more SMS marketing statistics? Check out some of our favorites below.
- 90% of SMS Marketing Messages Read in 3 Minutes
- 12% of Text Message Interactions Are With Businesses
- 86% of Enterprise Businesses Using MMS Marketing
- 22% of Retailers Use Text Messaging to Capture Customer’s Email Addresses
- 43% of SMS Responses Within 15 Minutes
- 82.4% More Likely to Shop at Store with SMS Loyalty Program
- 57.4% Join Text Messaging Loyalty Programs to Save Money
The statistic on 99% read rates for SMS marketing came from the report – Conversational Advertising. The report was from MobileSquared, and commissioned by SinglePoint (no longer around). You can see the report below, or click here to read it.
The 99% statistic comes from page 8 in the report, where it says “99% of all text messages are read by the recipient”. You can see this in the report below.