Essential SMS metrics – and why you should measure them

Topic: SMS API, SMS Marketing

To manage a successful SMS marketing program, you need to ensure you’re compliant with legal rules and regulations, use a healthy and engaged subscriber list, and try different strategies to personalize your text messages.

But there are a number of metrics and KPIs that you should also be measuring to track success and see an improved ROI. The most important SMS marketing metrics include:

  • SMS delivery rate
  • SMS click-through rate (CTR)
  • SMS conversion rate
  • SMS unsubscribe rate
  • SMS list growth rate
  • SMS campaign ROI

SMS delivery rate

SMS delivery measures the percentage of SMS messages that reach their intended recipients’ mobile devices without any issues. Just as email marketers track successful email delivery rates, an SMS delivery rate is a vital measure for text message marketers.

Conversely, the bounce rate metric measures the percentage of messages that failed to be delivered. By focusing on SMS delivery, you can ensure that your messages effectively reach your target audience and maximize the impact of your mobile marketing efforts.

You’ve worked hard to grow your subscriber base, and if your text messages aren’t getting through, you’re not going to maximize your acquisition efforts. If subscribers don’t get your text messages, there’s no way they can convert from SMS, which in turn also impacts your program’s ROI.

Knowing your SMS deliverability rate helps you to identify areas for improvement and ensures you don’t waste resources on SMS marketing that isn’t proving effective. To calculate your SMS delivery rate, simply divide the number of delivered texts by the total texts sent and multiply by 100 for a percentage figure.

Identify and remove numbers that can’t receive SMS – for example landlines

Review common error codes – which may point to a particular carrier issue

Look at the structure of your message and elements such as short links to resolve filtering/blocking issues.

SMS click-through rates

No clicks equate to no sales. This rate measures the percentage of your recipients that clicked on a link within your message. This highlights whether your message and call to action (CTA) addressed your marketing goals effectively.

To calculate CTR, divide the number of click-generating texts by the total texts sent and multiply by 100 for your percentage figure.

A good CTR percentage varies from industry to industry, so prior to launching your campaign you could consider A/B testing to understand the copy and design that works best for your recipients.

SMS conversion rate

Your SMS conversion rate measures how many texts generated your desired action or response. Depending on the goals of your campaign, the outcome could be the number of messages opened, number of clicks, subscriptions, or sales. This metric tells you on a very practical level whether your SMS activity delivered results.

Simply divide the number of conversion-generating texts by the total texts sent and multiply by 100 to understand your conversion rate percentage.

SMS conversion rates vary according to what you’re measuring. Again, if you are not seeing the results you’d expect and your conversion rate is low, you may need to adjust your message wording, CTA, or sale offers.

SMS unsubscribe rate

The unsubscribe rate measures the number of recipients who have opted to remove themselves from your list. If the rate is looking high (and some analysis suggests that a healthy unsubscribe rate is less than 1.5%) it could be a sign that your content is being viewed negatively.

To calculate your SMS unsubscribe rate percentage, divide the number of texts generating unsubscribes by the total number of texts sent and multiply by 100.

High SMS unsubscribe rates can be the result of sending too many messages or scheduling them at inappropriate times.

SMS list growth rate

Measuring how quickly you expand your database over time also provides another useful metric and can be an indication of a successful marketing strategy.

To calculate SMS list growth, you need to divide the net change in subscribers over a given period by the total number of subscribers at the beginning of that period and multiply that figure by 100 to determine your percentage.

If your SMS list growth rate is low, it could be time to kickstart some new marketing campaigns and consider branching out to attract a new subscriber segment.

SMS campaign ROI

This is a critical metric and probably one that you’re already keenly aware of. The SMS campaign ROI measures the sales revenue generated from your campaigns compared to the cost of the activity. Knowing your SMS marketing ROI helps you not only to assess your campaign’s cost-effectiveness but to plan your current and future budget.

To calculate SMS campaign ROI, subtract the costs from campaign-generated sales revenue, then divide by the costs and multiply by 100 to convert the result to a percentage.

What counts as a good SMS campaign ROI depends on your objectives, budget, and the business you’re in. If you have a low ROI, it might be useful to look at the other measurement tools to see how you can make campaign improvements that shift the dial.

Benchmark and evaluate for success

To make your SMS KPIs work for you, it’s important that you track them consistently and take steps to generate real improvements. You also need to clearly define your SMS marketing goals, the measurement metrics you’ll use and be prepared to test, re-test, and optimize to get the most benefit from your performance data.

Author Avatar
Mary Henry

Mary has extensive experience in communication, PR and journalism - most recently across SaaS businesses. A keen researcher and storyteller, Mary is highly skilled in making complex concepts accessible, and in putting customers at the heart of her communication. She has supported all kinds of businesses to tell their brand, product and people stories - from global multinationals to start-ups across retail, travel/leisure, banking/finance, government and educational institutions.