If you’ve done any research online about SMS marketing click-through rates, you’ll most likely have found a wide and confusing range of claims made by SMS marketing software providers. Over the last 13 years, we’ve seen SMS marketing software providers claim average click-through rates of 19%, 29%, 30%, 32% 36% , and even as high as 46%! Yes… We’ve seen some SMS software companies boasting an average 46% click-through rate on SMS messages.
Before we go into too much detail, lets cover the basics.
What Is SMS Marketing?
For the sake of this blog post, and to determine an average click-through rate, SMS marketing is when a brand sends mass text messages to customers on a frequent basis, with some sort of offer, promotion, etc. It’s also important to note that in this post we’re only evaluating those SMS marketing campaigns that are linking to the offer, promotion, etc., because you’ll have a 0% click-through rate if you tell customers to “show this text message in-store to redeem”.
Oh yea… Also we’re only talking about a brand that is running an opt-in campaign, meaning customers have opted-in to receive these SMS marketing messages. If you don’t have a customer’s permission to text message them, not only is it illegal (more info on that here), you’ll have horrible click-through rates.
What is a Click-Through Rate (CTR)?
A “click-through rate” or “CTR” is the percentage of customers that when seen, click on a hyperlink within an SMS message. For example, if 10 customers receive your brand’s SMS message, and 2 of those customers click on the hyperlink, that would be a 20% click-through rate.
How to Properly Measure Average SMS Click Through Rates
How does an SMS marketer properly measure click-through rates? It’s actually pretty simple with Tatango’s link shortening and tracking feature. How does it work? It starts when you’re composing your SMS message. Instead of using a regular URL in your SMS message, you first shorten the link with Tatango’s link shortening feature. Once the link has been shortened, you can then put it in your message. With Tatango link tracking you’re not only saving characters in your message, but after you send your SMS message, you’ll be able to see in real-time how many of your recipients are clicking on the link. Pretty cool huh?
How to NOT Properly Measure Average Click-Through Rates
Why so much discrepancy in reporting of SMS marketing click-through rates? What we’ve found is that most software providers when calculating average click-throughs are not actually looking at averages. Some common things we’ve seen…
- Reporting click-through rates for non-recurring SMS campaigns. In most cases, non-recurring SMS campaigns are always going to have higher click-through rates. For example, we had a client experience a whopping 92% SMS click-through rate, but they were running a non-recurring SMS campaign. This specific campaign encouraged consumers to text an SMS keyword to a short code, to get an SMS message with a link to download the mobile app. Honestly I’m surprised they didn’t get a higher click-through rate, as why would someone text-in to get a download link, then not click on the link they requested. Non-recurring SMS campaigns include SMS contests, SMS polls, SMS surveys, SMS app downloads, etc.
- Reporting click-through rates for only opt-in promotions. Did you know that you can increase opt-ins by 520% if you offer some sort of incentive for consumers to opt-in to your SMS marketing campaign? In most cases, when a brand uses this SMS marketing strategy, the opt-in incentive is going to be the best offer a consumer will ever receive via SMS from that brand. If you’re looking for the average click-through rate for SMS marketing, just looking at the CTR for an initial opt-in incentive is not going to give you a realistic average CTR.
- Reporting click-through rates too early. If you’re looking for the average click-through rate, your metrics are going to be grossly inflated if you’re only looking at the first 30-days of an SMS marketing program. Why? As we said above, most brands will be offering a very good offer to bring in new SMS subscribers. If a program is only 30-days old, that offer’s CTR is going to completely skew the overall average CTR.
- Reporting click-through rates on a single message. It’s common that SMS providers will mistakenly replace the words “as high as” with “average”. Some SMS messages perform very well, especially if it’s a phenomenal deal. This client got a 34.23% click-through rate on one of their messages, but trust us, not every message performs that well. If you’re looking for the average click-through rate, you have to look at all SMS messages, not just your best.
SMS Marketing Open Rates
To be clear, click-through rates are very different than open rates. In SMS marketing open rates are a phenomenal 99%. What’s even more phenomenal is that 90% of SMS marketing messages are read within 3 minutes, producing immediate ROI for the sender.
SMS Marketing Redemption Rates
Also, click-through rates are very different than redemption rates. In SMS marketing, you calculate redemption rates by dividing the number of purchases that were attributable to a given SMS message, by the total amount of SMS recipients. Then you multiply that by 100, to get your redemption rate expressed as a percentage. If an SMS message sent to 10 people generates 2 purchases, you have a 20% redemption rate. As you can tell, redemption rates are very different than click-through rates.
SMS Marketing Engagement Rates
Also, click-through rates are very different than SMS marketing engagement rates. Engagement rate is calculated as total engagement over the lifespan of a campaign, divided by total SMS subscribers, multiplied by 100. As you can see in the video below, Gary Vaynerchuk says he gets a 90% engagement rate on his SMS marketing campaign.
Remember though “engagement” isn’t just clicks, it could be really anything. It could be a user responding via SMS, it could even be someone watching a video you send them. I could even see some marketers claim SMS marketing has a 99% engagement rate, as that’s how the open rate is for SMS marketing. The problem with engagement rates is unless very strictly defined, it’s most likely an inflated metric.
Average SMS Marketing Click-Through Rates
So what’s the average SMS marketing click-through rate? Unfortunately our answer is: it depends. It depends on the type of business you are, what offers you’re sending, how often you’re sending, etc. What we know for sure though is click-through rates of 19%, 29%, 30%, 32% 36%…. and even 46% are unrealistic.
In 2012, Signal (acquired by BrightTag – then shut down) said the average click-through rate for SMS marketing was 6.16%. The data was taken from 20 different SMS marketing campaigns, ranging in size from 5,000 to 2.5 million SMS subscribers.
In 2013, Dymark released a report on click-through rates for SMS marketing. In the report, they analyzed almost a billion SMS transactions through 1,500 networks across 42 mobile operating systems and a multitude of countries. They claimed the average SMS marketing click through rate was 4%, with retail averaging 8% and entertainment averaging 14%.
What interesting is the report also looked at how fast “response” (clicks) occurred. They found that on average, 43% of clicks happened within the first 15 minutes. This doesn’t seem that unrealistic, as we know that 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes, and almost all text messages are read within the first 20 minutes.
A breakdown of each industry, and the percentage of clicks that happened within the first 15 minutes is below.
*It’s important to note that while this report was referenced by MarketingCharts here, we were unable to find the actual report from Dynmark. That means we’re talking the chart MarketingCharts published at face value, and making a lot of assumptions about the data. Also, this report was done seven years ago, and as you’re most likely aware, seven years in mobile is like 100 years.
What We Think
Again… It depends. Obviously we know it’s possible to get as high as 30% click through rates, but we’d say the average SMS marketing click-through rate is somewhere in the 5-10% range. If you’re interested in learning how to increase your average CTR, keep reading.
Why Are SMS Marketing Click-Through Rates So High?
Click-through rates are relatively high, primarily because SMS marketing open rates are 99%. If people don’t open a message, they obviously can’t click on the message, so the more people that open the message, the high the click-through rate will be.
Why are SMS marketing 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.
While not completely scientific, we recently evaluated a handful of messages with links in them, to see how fast clicks were occurring after a message was sent. We’ve compiled the information below for you to review.
- Within 5 minutes, 54% of total clicks occurred.
- Within 45 minutes, 81% of total clicks occurred.
- Within 120 minutes, 95% of total clicks occurred.
How to Increase SMS Marketing Click-Through Rates
Below are our top three strategies for increasing your SMS marketing click-through rates. Feel free to use one, two or all three strategies in your next message.
Use Line Breaks
Check out the video below on how to use line breaks in your messages to increase click-through rates for your SMS marketing campaign.
Optimize Link Preview Images
Personalize Your Messaging
The more personalized a message is for a consumer, the higher the click-through rate you’re going to get. Some ideas on personalization are to use merge tags to insert first names into messages, and use subscriber segmenting to send the right message to the right consumer. If your SMS software isn’t as advanced as Tatango, you can always do what Abercrombie & Fitch did here, and just included two links in their message, one for men, one for women.
Hopefully this post has helped answer your SMS marketing question. If you need any additional assistance, please contact Tatango to discuss your SMS marketing needs.