10Xing SMS Delivery, Open, Click-Through & Response Rates
Kyle Kuczynski
Kyle Kuczynski
MessageDesk Co-Founder & CMO
Updated: Mar 07, 2022

Learn How to 10X Your SMS Delivery Rates, Open Rates, Click-Through Rates, and Response Rates

Your text messages will never matter…

Unless they get delivered, opened, clicked through, or responded to.

Everything from marketing messages and employee communications to customer service requires good delivery, open, click, and response rates to move the needle for your business or organization.

But what’s the secret to getting good SMS delivery, open rates, click-through rates, and response rates for text messages?

I’ll show you. In this article I cover:

  1. How to ensure good SMS delivery rates
  2. How to optimize SMS open rates
  3. How to increase SMS click-through rates with links
  4. 5 ways to improve SMS response rates

Read on for more.

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Why is SMS Delivery Important?

SMS delivery is important because it’s the first step in actually getting your text messages read. Open, click-through, and response rates will never matter unless your message makes it to someone’s phone.

So what exactly is SMS delivery?

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What is SMS Delivery or Deliverability?

SMS delivery is a percentage measurement of the number of outbound SMS and MMS text messages that are successfully received at their intended destination. SMS delivery rates or deliverability refers to the number of successfully delivered messages divided by the number of intended messages.

Here’s an example of SMS deliverability:

Say you send a mass text to a text marketing list of 500 contacts. But only 300 of those messages actually get successfully delivered by the carriers. In this case, you’d have an SMS delivery rate of 60%. That’s 300 divided by 500 for 60%.

How to Ensure You Get Good SMS Delivery Rates

Text message delivery is a complex affair….

Unless you have the right business texting service.

In 2021 mass texting changed. The major telecom carriers (Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile) all began cracking down on spam text messages.

What this meant for businesses and organizations was greater scrutiny, regulation, and the need for a properly vetted business texting service to send texts.

So to get good SMS deliverability rates you need a proper texting platform. One that’s capable of sending carrier-approved and vetted P2P SMS text messages and A2P SMS text messages.

This is where a business texting service like MessageDesk can help.

MessageDesk makes it easy for businesses and organizations to register as a “brand” with a vetting platform like Campaign Registry. This gets you carrier approval for high-volume mass text messaging.

All it takes to register your organization as a brand to send mass text messages is a single form submission.

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MessageDesk takes care of the rest and will even help you port over or text-enable your existing 10-digit phone number. You’ll even see SMS delivery reports for each mass text broadcast you complete.

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That’s the first big secret to deliverability.

The second, smaller secret is to simply make sure the phone numbers you’re sending text messages to are actually legit.

Before you text, consider running your list of phone numbers through a phone number verification tool.

Now that I’ve sorted SMS deliverability, let’s see what it takes to get optimal text open rates.

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What is a Text Open Rate?

A text open rate is a percentage calculation of the number of messages sent to the number of messages opened or read. The open rate for SMS text messages can be as high as 98%. When it comes to SMS vs. email open rates, text message open rates are significantly higher. 20% is an average open rate for email.

Here’s how to calculate an SMS marketing open rate:

Say you got 500 successful SMS message deliveries. Of those deliveries, 490 people actually opened your text message. That would mean you have a 98% open rate. 490 opens divided by 500 successful deliveries gives you a 98% open rate.

How to Optimize Text Open Rates

Text messages already have much higher open rates than any other marketing channel or mobile messaging medium. Customers often prefer texts to phone calls and text vs email open rates are much higher.

So if you have SMS delivery nailed, this means there’s not too much work to be done.

But every time someone receives a text they do see a preview of that message on their phone.

This is where you can optimize your open rate. Think of it as seeing the subject line and preheader text of an email, but for texting. If you make this compelling, then people will read on.

The following are some tips for further optimizing your text message open rates:

  1. Identify who you or your organization is in the first few words of your text.
  2. Make it clear what the subject of the text is e.g. informational, promotional, or transactional.
  3. Use emojis to break up your text and catch the recipient's eye.
  4. Personalize the message by inserting the recipient's first name into the first line, or greeting in the text.
  5. Send an image as an MMS message or multi-media GIF to capture the recipient’s attention.

Ok, so we’ve gotten your message delivered and the recipient actually opened and read it. Now it’s time to optimize your SMS click-through rates.

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What is the Average SMS Click-Through Rate?

A click-through rate (CTR) measures the ratio of link clicks to text messages sent. For an SMS text message with a link, the average click-through rate is around 36%. Many business texting services automatically calculate your SMS click-through rate. Platforms like MessageDesk do this by tracking link clicks and dividing that number by the number of messages successfully delivered.

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Here’s how to calculate your SMS click-through rate:

Let’s say you successfully delivered 500 text messages to your text list. Of those recipients, 50 actually clicked the link in your text message. This means your click-through rate was 10%. 50 divided by 500 equals 10%.

How to Increase SMS Click-Through Rates with Links

Including links in text messages is the best way to get click-throughs. Without a link, your message recipient has nowhere to go or take further action.

That being said, there are some tricks and tips for sending a link and embedding links in text messages.

  • Be aware of shortened URLs - Shortened URLs save space, but they can be marked as spam by carriers. This can affect delivery rates. Business texting services like MessageDesk have built-in link shorteners that are pre-vetted and can help you maintain delivery rates.
  • Maintain your brand within the link - If possible, make sure your URL is branded. Unknown URLs might be perceived as being spam. This can affect click-through rates.
  • Watch your message character count - Typical SMS messages are limited to 160 characters. If your link or message is too long, you may incur additional charges. Your message may also get broken up into several messages.
  • Place your link at the bottom of your text message - Messages can sometimes get broken up. So it's a best practice to include your link at the bottom of a text. This makes sure the formatting remains intact and the link is actually clickable.
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What is the Industry Average SMS Response Rate?

SMS response rate is the ratio of responses you receive to the text messages you sent. The average SMS response rate is around 45%. That’s almost 8x compared to email. To measure your SMS response rates, take the number of responses you got, and divide them by the total number of texts you sent.

Here’s how to calculate an SMS response rate:

Suppose you successfully delivered 500 text messages and you got 25 responses. In this case, your response rate would be 5%. That’s 25 responses divided by 500 delivered texts for 5%.

5 Ways to Improve SMS Response Rates

There are at least 5 good reasons text message marketing works for businesses and organizations of all sizes.

On top of texting’s great response rates and other benefits, it’s also cost-effective for marketing budgets.

Texting also has a plethora of benefits, such as:

  • Booting engagement rates
  • Building brand awareness
  • Increasing sales
  • Driving customer retention and loyalty

But maintaining or improving response rates is no easy task.

So here are 5 things you need to keep top of mind to maintain and improve SMS response rates:

  • Do: Keep customer behavior in mind by sending at the right times.
  • Don’t: Spam customers or send too many messages.
  • Do: Offer incentives that will make responding to you worthwhile.
  • Don’t: Send generic messages. Instead, focus on personalized content.
  • Do: Analyze results to find ways of improving.

1. Send your text messages at the right times

Timing is everything, especially when you’re engaging with customers. The time at which you text a customer has an impact on your SMS response rates. It also affects the overall effectiveness of your SMS marketing campaign.

If you send text messages at a “bad” time, your engagement rates may decline.

Usually, after a few minutes when the recipient receives a text, they open it and a reply follows. If the recipient doesn’t reply within that time frame, chances are, they won’t reply at all.

It's also important to consider your target audience. This will not only determine when to message them but also how quickly to expect a response.

For example, millennials are a highly responsive demographic. Studies have shown that within 90 seconds of getting a text, a whopping 83% will respond.

However, this may not be the case for other age groups.

Generally, the best times to send texts are whenever recipients can actually read your message and reply to them.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Consider time zones - It means that you may need to send messages in separate batches depending on where people live. Sending messages at awkward times drastically reduce response rates.
  • Avoid Mondays - Mondays are generally a busy day, and this is particularly true if your target market encompasses professionals. Sending texts when someone is busy means they are less likely to reply. Instead, opt for mid-week messaging.
  • Avoid Fridays - Friday is not always a bad day to message. But it’s recommended that you avoid sending messages on a Friday afternoon. This is when people are hoping to unwind and relax.
  • Send messages during traditional working hours (9 AM to 5 PM) - During these times, most people are attentive and focused.

2. Personalize your text messages

The more personalized your text, the more likely it’ll get a response.

Writing every single message individually isn’t a viable option. It takes lots of time and increases the risk of errors.

But this is where a business texting service with message templates and personalization tags can help.

For example, in MessageDesk you can use tags to auto-insert every message recipient’s first name into a mass text. You can also do this with any other data field.

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Some tips for personalizing text messages are:

  • Use first-person personal pronouns - Your message should center on the recipients, “You and Yours” and come from “I or We”.
  • Use conversational language - Send text messages that feel friendly and casual.
  • Choose the right service - SMS marketing services like MessageDesk enable you to pre-save messages, create keyword autoresponders, and more. Subscribe to a service that can help you provide the most value to your recipients.
  • Be professional and friendly - Communication can always be misinterpreted. While keeping matters professional, be sure to watch your voice and tone.
  • Keep messages brief - If people decide to read your texts, you’re asking them to invest their time in you. Be sure to provide unique value and make your message is worth their time.

3. Send interactive content and media like MMS messages and GIFs

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One of the biggest challenges when reaching out to customers is grabbing their attention. This is why brands focus on bright, colorful images and videos for their social platforms.

The same principle can be applied to SMS marketing and email.

Interactive content requires active engagement from the recipient. Instead of just asking them to look at something, you’re asking them to do something in response.

Some great examples of interactive content include:

  • Surveys - Use surveys as a tool to gather customer feedback. Your messages could ask what someone thinks of your business, organization, or product.
  • Product tips - Send entertaining and useful messages about your product. If you have other products, you may also refer to them.
  • Product quizzes - Use this type of quiz as a fun way to test user knowledge of the products you provide. This may also be an opportunity for a competition and to offer prizes.
  • Short polls - Allow people to share their opinion. This could be on products, services, or what they would like to see from your brand in the future.
  • Personalized queries - Ask them unique questions that pertain to their specific situation. For example, if they purchased your product, ask them what they like or dislike about it.

Interestingly, SMS marketing statistics have shown that interactive content gets more engagement compared to static content. According to 77% of marketers, this type of content also has reusable value.

4. Offer incentives and benefits

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Incentives are one of the most effective ways to improve SMS response rates.

Inform your recipients they’ll get something if they respond to your texts. If they decide to invest their time in you, they can expect a reward for their efforts.

Benefits improve response rates because they motivate the recipients to take action. Often, this is the case if the benefits you offer are hard to resist. They may also encourage their network to take part in your campaign to receive the benefits.

It is beneficial to offer incentives that are relevant to your business or product. Some great examples of benefits include:

  • Sweepstakes entry - Set up a sweepstakes event. As a way of expressing gratitude, reward them with a ticket.
  • Gift certificates - You can reach out to a store or service like Amazon and purchase certificates to reward respondents.
  • Expert services - If you provide services, let them see you in action. If not, hook them up with an industry expert.
  • Professional consultation - Especially if they need help in a specific area, it can be challenging for them to resist this benefit. You can also let them contact you for their preferred type of professional consultation.
  • The chance to be featured on social media - For example, invite them to like your Facebook page. And tell them you’ll create a post about them.

5. Analyze your results

Analyzing SMS marketing response rates is incredibly important. It allows you to determine what’s working, and what needs improvement.

In addition to response rates, monitor overall conversion rates. A high conversion rate suggests, that recipients are highly responsive and that your offer is relevant to them.

Analyzing the results of your campaign is important because it’s the first step toward improvement. It’s a way of gathering accurate data and moving forward with your development.

Here are tips on how to analyze SMS marketing results more effectively:

  • Make it regular - Squeeze the analyses into your regular strategy. And regularly, adapt to the latest trends, implement changes, and conduct tests every three months or so.
  • Familiarize yourself with the results - Understand the reason you received specific results. And if you run multiple tests, understand and compare each test result.
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses - Focus on the positive and negative elements of your campaigns. Capitalize on your strong points and omit weak spots.
  • Notice unique patterns - Find out the specific things that make people more responsive to your texts. For example, is it when they receive a text during a specific time of the day?
  • Run tests simultaneously - Like in the example above, create variations of your campaign. And acknowledge the better variation.
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