SMS marketing

153 text message and SMS marketing statistics, based on ~2K consumer responses

Annie McGreevy, November 13th 2022
Image shows a person using a phone in front of a laptop

Ready to send that text? Not so fast.

Klaviyo conducted a blind research study of nearly 2K consumers who engaged with brands through text messaging.

We set out to understand:

  • What types of texts consumers want to get
  • Which brands use SMS marketing effectively
  • The differences between SMS messages and emails in terms of how likely they are to drive a consumer to purchase

Respondents were all 18 or over, living in the US or Canada, and engaging with brands via SMS.

Read on to get all the data from the study to help you market better to mobile users over SMS.

  1. Consumers online shopping habits in 2022
  2. How consumers like to communicate with brands
  3. SMS preferences: who, what, and how often
  4. Exclusivity, unsubscribing, and what consumers actually like about text message marketing
  5. What makes a consumers more likely to subscribe to SMS
  6. Message types that increase consumer likelihood to purchase
  7. Get the full report: how SMS can win you more customers

Consumer online shopping habits in 2022

While much of the world does some percentage of their shopping online, we wanted to make sure that we understood how our respondents do theirs.

Half of survey respondents said they shop equally online and in person. When shopping online, consumers typically shop on their mobile phones for apparel, accessories, and shoes. The majority of consumers (44%) shop online a couple times a week.

  • 92% of consumers shop on their smartphone, compared to 62% who shop on desktop.
  • 44% of consumers shop once a day, with 90% of people shopping at least once a week.
  • 51% of consumers shop both online and in person, with 40% shopping entirely online.
  • The top 5 products consumers shop for online:
    • Apparel + accessories: 79%
    • Shoes: 74%
    • Gifts: 71%
    • Beauty products: 68%
    • Food + beverage: 62%

How consumers like to communicate with brands

Let’s face it: It took ecommerce brands a few years to understand how to talk to their customers. Digital marketing isn’t learned overnight. Nowadays, especially since the pandemic, plenty of demographics are open to hearing from brands. We did a deep dive into the differences between email, SMS text messaging marketing campaigns, and social media.

Consumers’ preferred form of communication from brands is via email. They prefer to receive time-sensitive messages regarding their orders (shipment and delivery) via SMS, loyalty program information and promotions via email, and new product announcements on social media.

  • 100% of consumers receive text messages from brands, compared to 92% via email, and 63% via social media.
  • Email remains the preferred communication method for 56% of consumers.
  • 29% of consumers prefer to receive SMS messaging, which holds steady across most generations. Slightly more Gen Zs (33%) prefer SMS messages from brands over other types of communications.

The most preferred SMS messages from brands

  • Delivery confirmations: 51%
  • Shipment confirmations: 46%
  • Birthday deals: 36%
  • Order confirmations: 36%
  • Back-in-stock notifications: 35%

The most preferred email messages from brands

  • Loyalty program offers and benefits: 65%
  • Upcoming promotions/sales/discount announcements: 62%
  • New product announcements: 61%
  • Order confirmations: 61%
  • Special announcements: 60%

The most preferred social messages from brands

  • New product announcements: 12%
  • Interesting or helpful articles: 11%
  • Event announcements: 11%
  • Special announcements: 9%
  • Upcoming promotions/sales/discount announcements: 7%

SMS preferences: who, what, and how often

How often you can text your customer is tricky. You want to stay top of mind, and keep their focus on something they may have browsed or even put in their cart, and keep your open rate and click-through rates high. But you don’t want to come off as annoying or spammy.

We’ve got good news—and some guidelines.

The majority of consumers feel that it is acceptable to receive text messages a few times or once a week.
Messages that consumers would like to receive more frequently are confirmations related to their orders, whereas messages they would like to receive less often are interesting or helpful articles and “item in cart” reminders.

The majority of consumers feel that it is acceptable to receive text messages from brands a few times or once a week. Messages that consumers would like to receive more frequently are confirmations related to their orders, whereas messages they would like to receive less often are interesting or helpful articles and “item in cart” reminders.

Acceptable SMS frequency from brands

Baby boomers are the most likely to feel that it is acceptable for brands to text them a few times per week (33%). At the same time, more baby boomers than any other generation (6%) are also completely closed off to receiving text messages from brands.

Across generational lines, here’s how frequently consumers want to hear from businesses via mobile messaging:

  • Once a week: 40%
  • A few times a week: 30%
  • Once every other day: 13%
  • Once a day: 13%
  • Never: 4%

SMS message types consumers would like to see more

  • Delivery confirmations: 64%
  • Shipment confirmations: 60%
  • Order confirmations: 50%
  • Coupons/promotional codes: 50%
  • Birthday deals: 39%
  • Upcoming promos/sales/discount announcements: 31%
  • Back-in-stock notifications: 29%
  • Loyalty programs and benefits: 29%
  • Special announcements: 18%
  • Item in cart reminder: 17%
  • Invitations to VIP experiences: 17%
  • Messages based on my actions: 16%
  • New product announcements: 16%
  • Event announcements: 11%
  • Interesting or helpful articles: 8%

SMS message types consumers would like to see less

  • Interesting or helpful articles: 49%
  • “Item in cart” reminders: 44%
  • Event announcements: 37%
  • Messages based on my actions: 36%
  • New product announcements: 36%
  • Invitations to VIP experiences: 34%
  • Special announcements: 33%
  • Loyalty programs and benefits: 25%
  • Back-in-stock notifications: 25%
  • Upcoming promos/sales/discount announcements: 22%
  • Birthday deals: 17%
  • Coupons/promotional codes: 14%
  • Shipment confirmations: 9%
  • Order confirmations: 9%
  • Delivery confirmations: 8%

Exclusivity, unsubscribing, and what consumers actually like about text message marketing

The fact that a consumer is willing to hear from you via text is actually a pretty big deal. Most people (95%) opt in to less than 7 brands on SMS. They want to be rewarded with a feeling of exclusivity.

How can you make that happen?

Invitations to VIP experiences and loyalty programs make subscribers feel like they’re part of an exclusive group. When asked what types of text messages they enjoy receiving from brands, consumers mentioned discounts tailored to their past purchases and offers related to their interests. Focusing your marketing efforts on personalizing SMS text messaging can lead to higher engagement rates.

On the other hand, receiving too many messages or the same message too many times makes people unsubscribe. Make sure what you send via email marketing is different from what you send via sms messages.

Receiving too many messages or the same message too many times makes people unsubscribe.
Make sure what you send via email marketing is different from what you send via sms messages.

Messages that make consumers feel part of an exclusive group

  • Invitations to VIP experiences: 38%
  • Loyalty programs and benefits: 36%
  • Birthday deals: 34%
  • Coupons/promotional codes: 29%
  • Upcoming promos/sales/discount announcements: 24%
  • Special announcements: 24%
  • Event announcements: 19%
  • New product announcements: 18%
  • Delivery confirmations: 15%
  • Shipment confirmations: 15%
  • Back-in-stock notifications: 14%
  • Order confirmations: 12%
  • Messages based on my actions: 9%
  • “Item in cart” reminders: 9%
  • Interesting or helpful articles: 8%
  • None of the above: 18%

What makes consumers unsubscribe?

  • Too many messages: 73%
  • The same message many times: 69%
  • Messages that don’t have a purpose: 62%
  • Messages on topics/products I’m not interested in: 53%
  • Messages that don’t seem like they were intended for me: 50%
  • Messages at inappropriate times: 41%
  • The same message by email and SMS: 39%
  • Only receiving messages regarding discounts and sales: 12%
  • None of the above: 4%

SMS messages consumers enjoy from brands

  • Discounts tailored to my past purchases: 48%
  • Offers related to my interests: 43%
  • Messages about products/services I’m interested in: 39%
  • Messages I receive at times that are convenient to me: 32%
  • Personalized messages: 31%
  • Messages that are fun/entertaining/helpful: 28%
  • Messages that contain images/graphics: 22%
  • None of the above: 9%

What makes a consumer more likely to subscribe to SMS

So, how can you adjust your marketing strategy to grow your SMS subscriber list?

The majority of consumers subscribe to receive text messages from 2-3 brands, noting that being offered a discount is the No. 1 thing that would increase their likelihood to subscribe. They are also more likely to subscribe when they are about to make a purchase and want to get a discount. (Keep in mind, consumers are likely to be tightening their budgets as inflation and other economic pressures continue.)

The majority of consumers subscribe to receive text messages from 2-3 brands.
Being offered a discount is the No. 1 thing that would increase their likelihood to subscribe, they noted.

Incentives that increase a consumer’s likelihood to subscribe

When asked what would make them more likely to subscribe to SMS, Gen Z said they care more about being able to communicate with brands via SMS and being able to ask questions/receive responses via SMS (aka two-way messaging), whereas millennials like to know there is a person on the other end of the messages for customer support.

Across generational lines, here’s what makes someone more likely to subscribe to SMS:

  • Being offered a discount: 69%
  • Being offered a unique product or experience: 42%
  • Being able to ask questions and receive fast response via text messaging: 39%
  • Personalized messages: 32%
  • Knowing there is a person on the other end of the message: 26%
  • Being able to communicate with my favorite brands via SMS: 26%
  • Being able to repeat purchases via SMS (without providing payment): 19%
  • Being able to repay purchases via SMS (by providing payment): 14%

Number of brands consumers are subscribed to via SMS

  • 1 brand: 10%
  • 2-3 brands: 52%
  • 4-5 brands: 28%
  • 6-7 brands: 5%
  • 7+ brands: 5%

External influences on consumers’ likelihood to subscribe

  • I am about to make a purchase and want to get a discount: 57%
  • I purchase from the brand frequently: 55%
  • It’s a brand I want to purchase from when there is a sale: 52%
  • It’s a brand I love: 51%
  • It’s a brand I spend a lot of money on: 39%
  • None of the above: 3%

Message types that increase consumer likelihood to purchase

Of course, the goal of growing your list is to grow your revenue. We collected a list of the most effective ways to do that, too.

When it comes to SMS message types that would increase consumers’ likelihood to purchase, coupons, special offers, or promotional codes rise to the top. For nearly all message types, around half of consumers mention they would be more or somewhat more likely to purchase if these messages were sent via email.

SMS message types that make consumers more likely to purchase

  • Coupons or promotional codes: 59%
  • Birthday deals: 47%
  • Loyalty program offers and benefits: 44%
  • Delivery confirmations: 41%
  • Upcoming promotions/sales/discount announcements: 41%
  • Shipment confirmations: 37%
  • Order confirmations: 31%
  • Back-in-stock notifications: 24%
  • Invitations to VIP experiences: 22%
  • New product announcements: 19%
  • Special announcements: 19%
  • Messages based on my actions: 14%
  • “Item in cart” reminders: 13%
  • Event announcements: 13%
  • Interesting or helpful articles: 9%

Would consumers be more likely to purchase if that same SMS message was sent via email instead?

  • Coupons or promotional codes: 48%
  • Birthday deals: 51%
  • Loyalty program offers and benefits: 47%
  • Delivery confirmations: 47%
  • Upcoming promotions/sales/discount announcements: 48%
  • Shipment confirmations: 46%
  • Order confirmations: 48%
  • Back-in-stock notifications: 51%
  • Invitations to VIP experiences: 50%
  • New product announcements: 55%
  • Special announcements: 57%
  • Messages based on my actions: 50%
  • “Item in cart” reminders: 58%
  • Event announcements: 53%
  • Interesting or helpful articles: 61%

Finally, here is some hard data on the relationship between receiving a text and purchasing, including how a text message can speed up a purchase.

Nearly 3 in 4 consumers have made a purchase as a result of a text message a brand sent them. When asked how often this has happened, half said 2-3x.

The majority of consumers say that the purchase they made was something they were already planning to buy in the near future. Half say they are more likely to subscribe to SMS post purchase, while 27% mention discounts as a motivator.

Have you made a purchase as a result of a text message?

  • Yes: 73%
  • No: 27%

Were you already planning to buy?

  • This purchase was something I was planning to buy that day: 16%
  • This purchase was something I was planning to buy in the near future: 46%
  • This purchase was something I was planning to buy in a few months: 14%
  • No, I wasn’t thinking about purchasing, but the message inspired me to: 24%

Are you more likely to subscribe to a brand’s SMS before or after a purchase?

  • I am more likely to subscribe after I make a purchase: 50%
  • I am more likely to subscribe before I make a purchase from the brand, no matter what: 23%
  • I am more likely to subscribe before I make a purchase if there is a discount or incentive from the brand: 27%

What type of discount gets you to subscribe?

A few responses from consumers:

  • “If it has nothing to do with purchase, shipping, nor delivery confirmation, then 99.9% of the time the only other reason I would subscribe prior to purchasing would be for a discount of at least 10-15%.”
  • “$ off a purchase of X amount, % off total purchase, free delivery.”
  • “If with the subscription there is a percentage off the purchase, along with insider discounts and options to continue the subscription.”

Get the full report: how SMS can win you more customers

Want the story behind these 153 data points? Get the full scoop on our blog, including a breakdown of generational differences in consumer SMS preferences.

In the meantime, remember: SMS isn’t just for younger audiences. Texting is most people’s primary communication channel, no matter how old they are.

That means that in tandem with email marketing, SMS is a powerful marketing channel that can drive serious sales for your ecommerce business—as long as you do everything you can to earn real estate on your customers’ phones.

Ready to do SMS marketing right?
Try Klaviyo SMS

Annie McGreevy
Annie McGreevy
Senior editorial writer
Annie McGreevy is a senior editorial writer at Klaviyo.