SMS marketing KPIs: How to measure your SMS marketing campaign's success

Team reviewing SMS campaign success metrics
September 20, 2023
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SMS marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) help you measure your campaign performance, understand your outcomes, and optimize your results. For your SMS campaigns to deliver a return on investment (ROI), it's critical to measure the right KPIs and apply best practices to leverage your data.

In this blog, we'll identify six crucial SMS marketing metrics for measuring your campaign's success. We'll also walk you through five steps to benchmark your SMS campaign data and use it to evaluate and optimize your campaign success. Finally, we'll share how to improve your SMS campaign results with the right technology to manage your messaging campaigns.

6 important SMS marketing metrics and KPIs

Your SMS marketing campaign KPIs shape how you define your goals and measure your results, laying the foundation for performance improvement. This makes it vital to select relevant metrics.

SMS metrics include KPIs for tracking whether your messages reach recipients, what recipients do when they get them, and how your campaigns affect the growth of your list and profit margins. The most important SMS marketing KPIs include:

  1. SMS delivery rate
  2. SMS click-through rate (CTR)
  3. SMS conversion rate
  4. SMS unsubscribe rate
  5. SMS list growth rate
  6. SMS campaign ROI

Let's explore what each KPI means, why it's crucial, how to calculate it, and how to interpret and apply your results.

1. SMS delivery rate

The SMS delivery rate (or deliverability rate) measures what percentage of your text marketing messages reach your recipients. This is crucial because if your texts don't reach your recipients, your campaign results will underperform, including your click-through rate, conversion rate, and overall ROI.

Knowing your SMS deliverability rate also helps you identify areas for improvement and ensures you don’t waste resources on SMS marketing platforms and messaging services that don't deliver your messages effectively.

To calculate the SMS delivery rate, divide the number of delivered texts by the total texts sent and multiply by 100 to convert the result to a percentage:

SMS delivery rate = [delivered texts / total sent texts] * 100

Once you’ve set your baseline deliverability rate, use that as a benchmark to improve upon. Ways to improve include:

  • Identifying and removing numbers that can’t receive SMS (such as landlines)
  • Understanding your provider’s uptime and reliability
  • Looking for error codes with commonalities, such as the same carrier, that help you resolve them
  • Investigating the cause of filtered messages (this can include the structure of the message and the content within, and your provider should offer detailed explanations and resolutions for filtered messages)

2. SMS click-through rate (CTR)

The SMS click-through rate measures the percentage of your recipients that clicked on a link in your message. This provides insight into whether your message and call to action (CTA) serve the goals of your SMS marketing program effectively.

To calculate CTR, divide the number of click-generating texts by the total texts sent and multiply by 100 to convert the result to a percentage:

SMS CTR = [click-generating texts / total sent texts] * 100

CTR can vary by industry, averaging around 36%. A/B test different elements of your campaigns to determine which ones influence your results, then set your baseline and work to improve on future campaigns, highlighting those results in your reporting.

3. SMS conversion rate

The SMS conversion rate measures how many of your texts generate a desired outcome. Depending on the goals of your campaign, the outcome can be opens, clicks, subscriptions, or sales. This metric tells you whether your SMS campaigns generate the practical results you want.

To calculate SMS conversion rate, divide the number of conversion-generating texts by the total texts sent and multiply by 100 to convert the result to a percentage:

SMS conversion rate = [conversion-generating texts / total sent texts] * 100

A good SMS conversion rate varies with the type of conversion you measure. If your conversion rate is low, you may need to adjust the message wording, CTA, or sales offers.

4. SMS unsubscribe rate

The SMS unsubscribe rate measures the percentage of your texts that lead recipients to remove themselves from your list. This tells you whether your campaign generates counter-productive results or puts you at risk of spam complaints. Businesses should aim for SMS unsubscribe rates or opt-out responses below 1%.

To calculate the SMS unsubscribe rate, divide the number of texts generating unsubscribes by the total texts sent and multiply by 100 to convert the result to a percentage:

SMS unsubscribe rate = [texts generating unsubscribes / total sent texts] * 100

High SMS unsubscribe rates can stem from sending untimely or too many messages, failing to follow through on what you promised during the subscription process, and missing the mark with messaging. If you see high SMS unsubscribe rates, investigate possible causes and adjust your campaigns accordingly.

5. SMS list growth rate

The SMS list growth rate measures how fast you gain subscribers over a given time frame. This tells you how effectively you attract new subscribers and is a marker of successful marketing campaigns.

To calculate the SMS list growth rate, divide the net change in subscribers over a given time frame by the total number of subscribers at the beginning of that time frame, then multiply by 100 to convert the result to a percentage:

SMS list growth rate = [(new subscribers – lost subscribers) / initial subscribers] * 100

A good SMS list growth rate depends on your marketing goals. If your SMS list growth rate is low, it could indicate untapped opportunities to attract subscribers or a high unsubscribe rate.

6. SMS campaign ROI

The SMS campaign ROI measures how much sales revenue you generate from your campaigns compared to what you spend on them. Knowing your SMS marketing ROI helps you assess your campaign's cost-effectiveness and plan your 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:

SMS campaign ROI = [revenue – costs / costs] * 100

What counts as a good SMS campaign ROI depends on your industry, goals, and budget. A low ROI may indicate opportunities for improvement. Look at the aforementioned KPIs and identify areas for improvement to increase SMS marketing ROI.

How to benchmark SMS marketing KPIs and evaluate campaign success

To put your SMS marketing KPIs to practical use, you need an effective strategy for applying your data. Use this five-step strategy to turn your SMS campaign data into actionable steps that generate results:

  1. Define your SMS marketing goals.
  2. Select your SMS campaign metrics.
  3. Benchmark and track your campaign performance.
  4. Analyze your campaign data.
  5. Test and optimize.

Here's how to perform each step:

1. Define your SMS marketing goals

First, define your SMS marketing campaign goals. Possible goals may include:

  • Increasing loyalty and engagement
  • Generating sales
  • Generating referrals
  • Eliciting feedback for market research
  • Building brand awareness

Select goals that align with your marketing and business objectives.

2. Select your SMS campaign metrics

Defining your goals helps you determine which KPIs to prioritize and how to interpret them. 

For example, if you want to increase loyalty, you might place more importance on list growth rate and CTR. Or if you want to generate sales, you may focus on conversions and ROI. Select metrics that fit your campaign goals.

3. Benchmark and track your campaign performance

With your goals and KPIs selected, begin tracking how your campaign affects your KPIs. If you've run previous campaigns, select a time frame to benchmark your historical data against your new campaign.

You'll find it easier to benchmark and track your data by using visualization tools. A good SMS messaging platform should include analytics features with data visualization tools, such as dashboards and reports.

4. Analyze your campaign data

After tracking your data, analyze it to identify factors affecting your results. Do this by averaging your KPIs for different campaigns or different versions of A/B test campaigns, identifying outliers, and correlating variables to determine why one campaign performs better than another. Your team's data analyst can help you interpret this data.

5. Test and optimize

Once you've analyzed the results of your campaigns, make adjustments to improve them. For example, test different versions of message copy or CTAs to see which version generates better results. Continuous tests and improvements can help optimize your campaigns and replicate successful strategies at scale. 

To keep your campaigns cost-efficient, conduct tests on a small scale with limited audience segments before investing in large-scale campaigns.

Improve your SMS marketing KPIs with Twilio

By tracking the metrics described here and applying the recommended strategies, you can gain insight into what drives your performance and take action to improve your results. The KPIs covered above will help you measure your SMS marketing campaign's effectiveness and cost-efficiency. In addition, the benchmarking strategy we've presented can help increase your overall marketing effectiveness and improve ROI.

Need help improving your SMS marketing effectiveness? Twilio Messaging provides an omnichannel messaging platform to centralize all your campaigns and data. Engage your recipients when and where they prefer, whether through SMS, MMS, chat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Business Messages, or other platforms. This empowers you to compare your SMS campaign data with other marketing channels, giving you deeper insight and greater capability to manage your performance. 

Start for free to discover what you can build with Twilio.