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eMarketer Report: How eCommerce, D2Cs, and Others Are Leveraging SMS Marketing in 2021

Many brands are still discovering the power of SMS despite it being around since 1992.  Increasingly brands are seeing how effective SMS is for marketing, customer service, and operations.  As an industry-leading mobile engagement provider, we recently had the opportunity to work with eMarketer to partake in a comprehensive report on the state of SMS in 2021. The report helps brands prepare for 2021.

Texting is one of the fastest-growing channels for marketing. 

The pandemic accelerated the growth of text messaging. While brands cut back elsewhere, texting became more important as a way to stay connected with consumers.

Pre-pandemic, 51% of US retailers planned to increase their investment in messaging and SMS platforms. This is already an impressive statistic, but by June 2020, that figure had jumped to 56%, outranking all other technologies in the survey. mGage alone saw traffic increase by 43% year over year as we accommodated increased demand from businesses of all kinds.

According to Juniper Research, the number of SMS messages sent by brands and enterprises worldwide grew 9.4% year over year (YoY) in 2020 from 3.2 trillion to 3.5 trillion.

Conversational SMS for customer service 

Text messaging isn’t just for sending one-way message blasts. The eMarketer report notes that there is a conversational element to SMS that’s similar to live chat and closer to real-time than email. Most SMS platforms for businesses can receive customer responses to SMS marketing messages. That lets brands switch on a dime from a one-to-many experience to a one-to-one conversation.

62% of companies surveyed by Dimensional Research said that customers like having the option to get help via texting, and over half also noted that it reduces costs. A Forrester study found that the average cost of a customer service phone call averages $15.50 per interaction. Text chat, by comparison, is significantly less expensive, ranging between $1 to $5 per session. Costs can also be lowered even further by integrating automation.

Consumers expect to have options for when and how to contact you for help. By integrating texting with your existing help channels, you can improve customer satisfaction and lower costs.

Customers Want to Receive Texts from You

The report highlights popular use cases and demonstrates which kinds of texts consumers enjoy receiving most. Overall, transactional messages (appointment reminders, shipment updates, etc.) are the most popular for consumers.

It’s important to note that discounts are also in the top 5 most popular use cases. You can significantly improve the engagement and ROI of your marketing texts by including a special offer.

The report found that 30% of consumers say they have unsubscribed from a brand’s text messages because they were too frequent. To combat this, we suggest carefully monitoring the results of your text campaigns. A significant spike in unsubscribes may mean you are sending too many texts. We also advise brands to tell customers how many messages they can expect every month when they sign up.

RCS: The Future of Messaging 

The eMarketer report also shares valuable information about RCS (Rich Communication Services), including features and recent statistics. RCS expands the possibilities of text messaging into app-like capabilities such as…

  • Custom branding and colors
  • Suggested actions: a set of buttons suggesting responses or actions, such as “find a location near me” or “have a representative call me.”
  • Quick replies: the ability to tap buttons within an RCS exchange to receive a quick pre-composed message from a brand, like what users might find in a chatbot.
  • Rich media carousels
  • SMS/MMS Fallback – RCS messages will default to SMS or MMS messages if the device is not RCS-enabled

RCS adoption has been relatively slow but is growing rapidly, particularly in international markets. Brands should begin educating themselves on the technology and considering the possibilities for their own uses. RCS is predicted to become an important way for brands to stand out in the years ahead.

We believe this report is incredibly valuable for brands already using or considering implementing text messaging in 2021. Download your free copy to learn more about the topics discussed.

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New! eMarketer SMS Marketing Report

We partnered with eMarketer to share insights on the business applications of SMS messaging, the pros and cons of SMS marketing, its relationship to email marketing and live chat, and best practices within the discipline.