2021 SMS Marketing Industry Trends

Text your audience. đź’¬ As it turns out, they want you to.

Let’s begin with a shocker:

The average person spends approximately 9 years of their lifetime staring at their mobile screen.

Hold the phone. It gets more interesting:

While consumers are attached to their devices, they don’t necessarily want to talk on them. In fact, according to this YouGov study, 69% of consumers prefer communication with brands over text rather than calls.


Enter the era of SMS marketing

SMS marketing means sending out promotional and transactional marketing material over text message, usually to an audience that has already opted in. It is predominately used to provide up-to-date information on deals, promote offers that are time-sensitive in some way, and give customers gentle reminders.

2021 SMS Marketing Industry Trends

As it turns out, SMS as a medium is somewhat of a marketing mecca, offering that sweet spot where personalization, convenience, and mass communication converge. And the stats agree, with 48% of consumers preferring SMS for their brand updates.

In comparison with email marketing, SMS has a 98% open rate and a 90 second response time. Significantly too, SMS has a 19% CTR (in comparison to email’s 4% and Facebook’s 1%).

Basically, it really works.

2021 SMS Marketing Industry TrendsSource
Source: SMS Comparison

With all this in the pot, it’s not surprising then that Global A2P (App to Person) messaging is set to reach $77.1 billion by 2026.

And it may all have to do with how very appropriate this channel is for the times in which we live.

A new consumer

Hate to state the obvious here, but 2020 changed things up a bit. As consumers retreated to the islands of their own homes, online shopping became the modus operandi of many. The discovery of new products and services became an activity best engaged with if you have a mobile device in hand.

SMS as a marketing strategy seems to provide the precise level of intimacy that consumers of this era want.

As a medium, it offers a unique channel where you can:

  • Get close enough to your customers through personalization
  • Stay far enough away that they don’t feel suffocated. (Nobody loves an opt-out.)
  • Provide up-to-date information and reminders that are genuinely useful
  • So how can you make it work for your funnel? Make it bulk. Make it bi-directional. Make it count.

    Let’s take a closer look at how to tap into SMS marketing trends

    Market for the post-pandemic consumer.

    We know—even a whisper of the word pandemic is causing you to break out in hives—but we have to go there for a moment. Living through this testing time has provided all sorts of edge-of-one’s-seat plot points.

    From a marketing standpoint, one of the most noteworthy of these is a shift in the nature of the relationship between businesses and their customers. People who have never shopped online before are adding to cart like there’s no tomorrow—and once those behaviors are formed, it’s unlikely that they’re going to go anywhere.

    Brands have to reach their audiences where they’re at—and right now, that is on their devices.

    Please feed the millennial.

    You know one thing a millennial really loves? To send and receive a text message. 72% of millennials send 10 or more texts a day. Another thing about the millennial? They are where the spending power is. So if text message is what they want, text message is what they shall have.

    Make it a two-way.

    Another thing about those millennials? They don’t like to be talked at. (Who does?) They want to be involved in a dialogue. SMS provides a low-hassle way for you to forge bi-directional relationships with your customers.

    The more empowered your customer feels, the more their experience with your brand will improve, and the greater the likelihood of a more satisfying bottom line.

    2021 SMS Marketing Industry TrendsSource

    Strategize for new schedules.

    Remember when people used to travel to and from work? That bus or train ride home used to provide a uniquely controlled environment for your customers to pay attention to the latest deal. Of course, the idea of commuting is so pre-2020.

    So is there another timeframe that works as well? Early research suggests a post-breakfast rush, as well as one between 2 and 6 pm—but you’ll have to engage in a little trial and error to see what works best for your business.

    Provide accurate, detailed product information.

    Contemporary consumers are informed. As much as 87% of consumers reported that they rely on accurate, detailed product information to make a decision before purchasing. Also, the more exhaustive your product info is, the more you are likely to be saved from tiresome, costly product exchanges. It’s a win-win.

    Use SMS to boost your survey response rate.

    SMS surveys work. An average of 31% of consumers respond to an SMS survey—and quickly. As in within five minutes.

    Make use of a bulk text messaging service.

    In your arsenal of marketing tools, be sure to include a bulk text messaging service. The tools make it doable. Up your personalization game, get bulk sending, manage responses easily—and see if your efforts are paying off via built-in data analytics.

    Stay above board.

    Get familiar with the best practices and regulations around SMS marketing. Comply with the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) and CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Protection Act). If you’re unsure, seek legal advice. It’s not worth blowing your brand over.

    Design with UX mind.

    Yes, it matters. And the more virtual our world becomes, the more it matters. Sometimes the screen is the only way a customer will ever interact with your brand. You have to make that experience a good one.

    2021 SMS Marketing Industry TrendsSource

    Look to the horizon.

    RCS (Rich Communication Service) is set to be the upcoming descendant of the SMS. (Think SMS 2.0) RCS allows you to add high-res images and video, payment options, and file sharing all through your phone’s built-in messaging service.

    RCS has been a little slow on the rollout front—but the principles of creating captivating multi-dimensional messages are alive and well. Bulk MMS allows you to do all sorts of things from creating scannable barcodes to making animated promotional cards.

    2021 SMS Marketing Industry TrendsSource

    Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But be warned. While SMS marketing is undoubtedly suited to the world we currently find ourselves in, it comes with a big caveat: you have to do it well.

    Remember that open rate of 98% that we spoke of? That means that your audience is paying attention. And if your message doesn’t interest them, they’ll simply unsubscribe.

    Craft your message well. The stakes are high.

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