What is the open rate of SMS in 2021?

We surveyed over 1,000 people to determine whether following 2020, there had been any impact to the average open rate of SMS. Results show...

18 February 2021

It’s generally considered that a key advantage text messages have over email and direct mail is their extremely high open rate.

Following 2020, a year where many businesses experimented with different channels for both customer and staff communication in a bid to keep people engaged, we wanted to determine whether there had been any impact to the previously reported average open rate of 95%.

We surveyed over 1,000 website visitors between November 2020 – February 2021; asking whether they read every SMS sent to them and which age group they belonged to. Results confirmed that the global average open rate of SMS remains 95%.

What is the average global open rate of SMS in 2021?

When grouping survey respondents saying they open every SMS they receive, and those who open every text message from a known sender, the global average SMS open rate is 95.81%. 

When looking at the data split by recipient age group, individuals aged between 35-44 were most likely to read every received SMS at 78.64%, and those aged 65+ were least likely to read every single text message – 64.37%. 

What’s more, respondents aged 65+ were also most likely to respond that they do not read text messages (10.34%), but this figure is still significantly low for an age group often considered for alternative communication channels such as voice and direct mail.  

UK SMS open rate 2021

Results from recipients within the UK alone actually show an even higher average SMS open rate at 96.95%. 

Interestingly, data shows recipients aged 25-34 most likely to read every single text message received, irrespective of sender at 81.13%. 

Messaging takeaways for 2021

It’s clear from our research that SMS  retains its unparalleled open rate advantage over email and direct mail. As many businesses will be thinking of how best to navigate the UK’s third national lockdown, we’ve outlined 3 key takeaways for any company wanting to get started or continue to optimise their communication strategy. 

Think mobile first

While the average open rate for email within the UK is actually decreasing, currently standing at just 17.5%, our research shows that the UK’s average open rate for SMS is increasing – from 95% to 97%. When you also consider that 69% of consumers across all age groups want to contact a business via SMS, and just 13% of small to medium sized businesses are set up to use text messaging to communicate with customers, there’s an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage here. So when companies are reviewing their communication strategy, it’s key they think mobile first and prioritise technology which facilitates two-way SMS communications

Customised sender ID

Although over 75% of recipients reported they open all text messages, given the additional boost from individuals who open messages from a known sender, it’s clear just how important the sender ID is. For SMS communications to be as effective as possible, it’s vital businesses appropriately tailor the sender ID of their messages, to something their audience will recognise, ensuring the message is opened once delivered. 

Reevaluate customer channel preferences

Evidence shows that the older demographic in the UK are becoming increasingly tech savvy. 80% of individuals aged 55-64 reported they personally use a smartphone and during the first national lockdown, over-65s were shopping online twice as much when compared to 2019. 

Given that many businesses often opt to communicate with older customers via channels such as voice and direct mail, both of which are often associated with higher costs and time delays, we’d recommend businesses reevaluate the channel preferences of their audiences – there may be some surprising changes. 

If you would like any help creating more effective communications for your business, simply get in touch with one of our expert team at [email protected].

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