Free SMS research reports for marketers (2016, direct links) – Part one

SMS research reports to background your text efforts in 2016

As I noticed before, it might be quite a task to find SMS stats that are not outdated while coming from trusted researchers. I did a lot of research on the topic recently, and I end up holding a number of recent and decent survey and other research reports conducted no earlier than in 2014, mostly in 2015. Instead of burying them in my Dropbox folder I decided to create this post putting my findings together so that other marketers could make use of them as well. All the reports here are available for free download (sometimes registration might be required), and I’m linking to them directly so that you can download them from their primary sources. Whether you are looking to give a solid statistics background to your text message strategy, or just fact-checking your new blog post, I hope you’ll find this list useful.

Every report comes with a short description to give you the idea of its contents. I also included a couple of key findings from each report to give an example of data you can find there. Here they are, all the headings are clickable.  Enjoy the facts.

The SMS Advantage Report

Researcher: Loudhouse Research on behalf of SAP
Published: September 2014
PDF, 14 pages

SAP Mobile Services has sponsored Loudhouse Research to understand consumers’ attitude to mobile interactions with service providers. The survey looks at how consumers respond to mobile engagement and which mobile technologies are seen as most effective across the three elements of customer interaction: Acquisition, Activation, and Assurance. The report also provides some insights into using SMS as a means of communicating with customers in specific industries – financial, logistics, transport, and social networks.

Key findings:

  • Three-quarters of respondents state that SMS serves to improve the overall brand experience when communicating with businesses.
  • 64% of consumers believe that businesses should use SMS to interact with customers more often than they do currently.
  • 81% of respondents believe sometimes a simple SMS is preferable to mobile app use.

2014 Mobile Behavior Report

Researcher: Salesforce
Published: January 2014
PDF, 36 pages

Salesforce tracked 470 voluntary consumers for a month (from December 15, 2013, through January 15, 2014) to see how they used their smartphones and tablets to access the mobile web and mobile apps. To add to the collected tracking insights, the researcher deployed a survey to those consumers, asking more in-depth questions about their mobile usage and adoption. The report seeks to uncover consumer’s perceptions and preferences, find behavioural patterns, explore relationships with brands, and assess the impact on consumers’ lives. Understanding those patterns in mobile behaviour and combining that data with users’ own insights, brands can begin crafting better experiences for all mobile users.

Key findings:

  • Although adoption by consumers is low (54% have actually opted in to receive text messages from a brand), text messaging is seen as somewhat or very useful by 91% of users who actually subscribe to a brand’s texts.
  • Email (91% check email on their smartphones at least once a day) and text messaging (90% text at least once a day) are the most often performed activities on smartphones,

What is the open rate of SMS text messaging? Consumer survey

Researcher: Shift Communications
Published: September 2015
Blog post, available online

On September 2015 Shift commissioned a survey of US smartphone owners who answered the question “Do you read every SMS text message sent to you?”. This survey collected 1,907 impressions and 1,030 responses for a 54% response rate with an RMSE score of 1.8%.

Key findings: 

  • 4 out of 5 respondents (82%) say they read every text message they receive. 
  • Women are less likely to open a text message from a sender they don't know than men.

International Communications Market Report 2015

Researcher: Ofcom
Published: December 2015
PDF, 397 pages

This report provides comparative international data on the communications sector. It benchmarks the UK communications sector against a range of comparator countries in order to assess how the UK is performing in an international context. The report compares the availability, take-up and use of services in the UK and 17 comparator countries - France, Germany, Italy, the US, Japan, Australia, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Brazil, Russia, India, China and Nigeria,

Key findings: 

  • Despite a growing number of alternative services, SMS text messaging remains the most popular smartphone activity. On average 70% of smartphone owners claimed to have used it in the seven days prior to the survey. In the UK, France, the US and Australia this figure reaches around 90% - a higher proportion than for voice calls across the same countries.
  • The number of mobile messages was highest in the US, at just over one trillion in 2014, followed closely by China, at 828 billion. Combined, these two countries generated 66% of the total mobile messaging volumes.

2015 Global Mobile Consumer Survey

Researcher: Deloitte
Published: 2015
PDF, 72 pages  

Deloitte annually prepares a comprehensive and robust survey of mobile usage around the globe. In its fifth edition, the Global Mobile Consumer Survey (GMCS) provides an insight into the mobile consumer behaviour of 49,000 respondents across 30 countries, which represents close to 70% of the world’s population. The survey scope ranges from quantifying ownership of devices and understanding how these are being used and connected. Some of the topics covered include smartphone usage intensity, communication services (voice, VoIP, video calling, SMS, Instant messaging), mobile payments, content creation and consumption on smartphones.

Key findings: 

  • In the US, text messages replaced checking emails as the first thing people do on their smartphones every day at 31 % vs. 24 % UK vs the US
  • respectively; in fact, emails experienced the largest year over year decline of any activity.
  • In the UK, currently, 29 % of 18-24-year-old smartphone owners do not make phone calls on a weekly basis, compared to the average for adults of 25 per cent. In future, this proportion may rise further as teens and pre-teens are being weaned on messaging.

The High Demand for Customer Service via Text Message

Researcher: A Harris Poll on behalf of OneReach
Published: August 2014  
PDF, 9 pages

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of OneReach from July 1-3, 2014 among 2,063 adults, ages 18 and older. The report provides insights into the customer's attitude to the idea of using texting as a channel of communication between themselves and businesses.

Key findings: 

  • 77% of consumers with texting capabilities aged 18-34 are likely to have a positive perception of a company that offers text capability.
  • Parents who text and have children in the household are more likely to want to perform customer service activities via text (71%) versus those without children in the household (61%).


As I keep finding more reports on SMS that are available for free, this list will be continued. Keep in touch and check out the Apifonica blog in a few days for a new post on recent text message research.