Sounding Off: Brian Stephenson: “Mobile Marketing Click Through Rates”

Brian Stephenson Brian Stephenson is managing director and co-founder of the mobile marketing company Text Republic based in Tralee Co. Kerry. Brian and his team specialise group texting and SMS marketing.

Mobile marketing has been around for many years now and has become a permanent fixture in the marketing mix for experienced marketers and small business owners alike. However something you don’t hear a lot about in mobile marketing is SMS click-through rates (CTR) – i.e. the rate at which consumers click on links embedded within SMS messages sent as part of a mobile campaign. In fact, if you look up CTR in Wikipedia they don’t even mention CTR in SMS at all! By definition it’s the number of impressions divided by the number of times that it is clicked on and expressed as a percentage.

As a mobile marketing company who specialise in SMS text marketing it’s imperative that we constantly measure the effectiveness of SMS marketing and compare it to other forms of marketing and mobile advertising. So as embedded web links are becoming increasingly more popular in SMS campaigns how does their CTR measure up compared to other forms digital marketing? First of all lets compare it to email marketing which has a lot of structural similarities to SMS marketing.

E-Mails: According to MailChimp the average CTR they receive through their millions of email marketing campaigns is a pretty meager 4.2%. So in real terms for every 1000 people who see a link within an email, about 40 will click on it.

Text Messages: According to the American mobile marketing TextBoard, the average click through rate on marketing text messages is a much larger 19.3%. That sounds very impressive right? However when you consider that many may not have a smartphone and therefore not capable of running a web browser, the CTR is even more impressive. In real terms for every 1000 people who view a link within a text message about 200 will click on it.

With that percentage of 19.3% in mind it’s also worth looking at the CTRs in other slightly less comparable forms of digital marketing. Here’s the data:

Google Ads: For those that have run a Google AdWords campaign you will be familiar with the sort of CTR you get. It depends on the ad and the audience but the average is about 0.4%. So in real terms for every 1000 people who see the ad about 4 people will click on it.

Banner Ads: A 3% CTR would be considered exceptionally successful with averages somewhere around the 0.2 to 0.3 percent in most cases. Again this depends on the ad in question, where it’s placed and how relevant it is to the audience. In real terms for every 1000 people that see the ad about 3 will click on it.

Facebook Ads: As Facebook tries different ways to display their ads their CTR varies from ad type to ad type and from year to year but a 2010 independent report by Webtrends showed that the average CTR for Facebook ads was 0.051%. Again in real terms for every 1000 people that see the ad you are not guaranteed even a single click!

Obviously banner ads, Google AdWords and Facebook Ads are a somewhat different marketing medium than mobile or SMS marketing, but to compare the figures is still relevant and interesting. Email marketing on the other hand is very similar to mobile and SMS marketing in as much as the recipient has the prerogative to open it or not, and once open, to click on any links or not.

Another massive advantage to embedding links in your mobile marketing text messages is that each person who clicks on the link you then know they own a smartphone which allows you to send them further more relevant content which may also contain embedded web links. In addition to that by driving those people to a mobile webpage it brings up the opportunity to gather even more data on that customer like their personal interests and demographic. This in many ways is the start of the process of building up a more holistic view on the subscriber which is where we believe the future of text message marketing lies.

Lastly, in addition to the circumstantial evidence that the mobile campaign has been successful by simple virtue of the quantity of clicks, with good web analytics in place you can accurately measure the ROI of the SMS marketing campaign by tracking the entire campaign from the sending of the SMS to the purchase of the product or service. As Ireland edges towards a smartphone penetration of 70% we see a big future for embedded mobile web pages within marketing text messages.


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