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What SMS Marketing KPIs To Follow To Succeed At Your Next Campaign

What SMS Marketing KPIs To Follow To Succeed At Your Next Campaign

Renata Liubertaitė

Imagine… You’ve been working hard to build a dedicated SMS subscribers list and you finally feel ready to send your first SMS marketing campaign. After putting together some catchy texts, double-checking every little detail, you finally press send. And… You have no idea what happens next.

How do you know if your SMS marketing campaign was successful? What if it flopped, is there anything you could do to make the next one better?

The short answer is yes. You can and must track various SMS metrics and KPIs to evaluate your SMS marketing performance. SMS, like any other marketing channel, has to be measured to make it work – in other cases, you're basically doing it for nothing.

So what are those SMS KPIs and which ones to follow for the best results? If you’re up for a slightly longer answer, you’ll find it in this blog post. Let’s dive in!

What are SMS marketing KPIs?

SMS KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, are values used by marketers to measure the performance of SMS marketing campaigns and identify how effectively they work towards achieving campaign objectives and goals.

Now, if you’ve ever tried to look into it, you might know how confusing this whole goal-objective-metrics-KPIs game can be. So it would make sense to start with a short introduction to each of them to get a clearer image of what KPIs are.


The goal is a broader term that defines what results you expect to get once you meet your objectives and KPIs. This is usually something very specific, like increase sales from promotional SMS campaigns by 20% by the end of Q4.


An objective is something that brings you closer to your goal and there might be a few of those that help you achieve it. In this case, to be able to increase your sales by the end of the year, one of your objectives might be to improve your click-through rates (CTR) before some specific date, for instance, by the end of the month.

SMS KPIs vs. SMS metrics

To understand how well you’re doing with your objectives, you’ll have to track your progress with KPIs. The line separating SMS KPIs and metrics is very thin though, and this is where it can get confusing.

The important thing to remember here is that metrics are any measure that you can use to evaluate the performance of your company, while KPIs are crucial to achieving a very specific objective or goal. So basically, all KPIs are metrics – but not all metrics are KPIs if you don’t use them to track your progress.

5 SMS marketing KPIs you should track

As you probably got by now, choosing your KPIs highly depends on what you want to achieve. What might sound effective to follow for improving your sales, may not always work as well for building your SMS marketing list.

That’s why it’s a bit difficult to highlight SMS KPIs that would be universal for everyone. But we will go through some commonly-used ones that you will definitely be able to adjust to meet your SMS marketing goals.

1. Click-through rate (CTR)

Click-through rate, or CTR, is used to measure various marketing campaigns, like online ads or email marketing. It is described as a ratio of people who interacted (clicked) with a specific link to the total number of people who actually saw the ad, email, or message sent.

Simply put, in SMS marketing, CTR indicates the percentage of people who followed your call to action (CTA) of all those who opened the SMS you’ve sent.

How to calculate click-through rate (CTR)

Why you should track CTR

CTR is one of the most important metrics in terms of measuring the quality and success of your campaigns. Not only can it show the strengths of your work, but it can also indicate the weaknesses, allowing you to improve.

For instance, low click-through rates can mean that:

  • Your copy is not compelling enough.
  • Your CTA does not encourage readers to act/you didn’t include it at all.
  • Your offers are irrelevant.
  • You’re targeting the wrong audience, etc.

How do you know if your click-through rates are good though? Unfortunately, there’s no universal number that describes that. You can try to consider your industry-average or set your own individual goals as every business and its path can differ a lot.

However, even if your campaign shows a promising click-through rate, it doesn’t automatically earn you money or help to accomplish some goal you aim for. The key here is to turn those who clicked into conversions, and that’s another SMS KPI to follow.

2. Conversion rate

Conversion rate is closely related to CTR as it shows how many people who clicked on your link have actually completed your desired action (purchased, signed-up, replied, installed, etc.).

For instance, if you’ve sent a promotional SMS message offering 15% off all your products, the conversion rate will show the percentage of people who took advantage of it and bought something from your store afterwards.

Formula to calculate conversion rate

Why you should track conversion rate

As the “conversion” itself can be anything you want your visitors to do, whether it’s clicking on a picture, engaging in an online chat, or upgrading their service, tracking conversion rates can benefit you in many different ways as well:

  • The conversion rate helps to calculate the average campaign value.
  • It can help to identify the most effective channels.
  • It can point out specific UX issues.
  • Conversion rates can improve your SMS marketing ROI, etc.

As great as it sounds, you’ve probably had a chance to realize that in reality, it’s not that easy.

There could be many reasons why your messages don’t convert even if your offer seems to be quite compelling. Often, conversion rates are highly affected by technical issues, like slow website speeds or complicated checkout process. To improve your conversion rates, pay attention to anything that might stand in a way for a customer to act.

The secret here (or not so much) is to keep everything as easy to follow and understand as possible. Update your website navigation and design (if needed), make sure your CTAs are clear, consider improving your website copies, and make sure your brand looks trustworthy.

This way, your visitors will be more likely to do what you want them to do rather than get frustrated by not being able to complete the action and leave.

3. Unsubscribe rate

Another important metric that you can choose as a KPI is unsubscribe rate, or opt-out rate. As its name already suggests, the opt-out rate is the percentage of people who choose to unsubscribe from your marketing list divided by the number of all people in your list multiplied by 100.

Calculating unsubscribe rate

Unsubscribe rate is widely used for achieving different objectives and goals. For example, you can track opt-out rates to enhance your subscribers list or evaluate the effect of a specific SMS marketing campaign (in this case, to calculate the opt-out rate, you would have to divide the number of people who unsubscribed by the number of SMSes delivered and multiply everything by 100).

Why you should track unsubscribe rates

There will always be people who unsubscribe, and that’s okay. Actually, it’s far better than putting all that energy into trying to engage people who have zero interest in what you have to offer. So look at the bright side – a healthy unsubscribe rate allows you to "filter" your audience.

However, a high unsubscribe rate is a signal that there’s something wrong with the messages you send. Try asking yourself these questions:

  • How often do I send SMS messages to my customers? Maybe too often?
  • Am I sending messages at the right time?
  • Are my offers relevant to my subscribers?
  • Do I provide them value?
  • Do I sound professional?

Whether it’s too many messages, irrelevant or boring deals, or slang in your text messages, any of these common SMS marketing mistakes can be a reason to unsubscribe, thus standing in your way of achieving your goals.

Noticing the negative change in unsubscribe rates early can help you keep your customers engaged and identify the areas that need improvement. Therefore, you will be able to continue creating more personal connections that will most likely bring you some positive outcomes.

4. Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

Although mostly used in a broader context to determine businesses’ profitability, CAC can also be calculated after each text marketing campaign to identify if you’re on the right path. Customer acquisition cost can clearly show you how much money you're spending to get more buyers and help evaluate if it's worth it.

How to calculate customer acquisition cost (CAC)

Why you should track customer acquisition cost

As many previously mentioned SMS KPIs, customer acquisition cost can also help you identify possible mistakes in your text marketing campaigns.

For instance, if your CAC is high, you might be sending your SMS messages to the wrong people or your subscribers don’t find your offers valuable, meaning that you’re not really familiar with your audience.

Calculating CAC can help you make the right decisions leading to lowering this value. As a result, you will be spending your money more efficiently which will likely result in higher profits in the long run.

5. SMS marketing ROI

Last but definitely not least is the return of investment, or ROI, which helps to determine either the success of a single text marketing campaign or the efforts of your overall SMS marketing strategy.

Calculating ROI is pretty simple. Just divide the total amount of revenue from SMS marketing campaigns (or a specific campaign, depending on what you want to measure) by the total cost and multiply by 100.

Formula to calculate SMS marketing ROI

Why you should keep an eye on SMS marketing ROI

No surprises here – you should track your SMS marketing ROI to gain valuable insights about both your text marketing and marketing strategy in general. To be more specific, ROI can help you:

  • Identify if SMS marketing is worth spending your money on. If you notice your SMS marketing brings better results than other marketing channels, you might want to consider investing more in your text marketing campaigns. And the opposite – if it doesn’t perform well, you can try investing that amount of money into your other marketing channels.
  • Improve your next campaign/SMS marketing strategy. If you don’t really want to give up on SMS marketing (fight for it!), you can try to identify what and where have gone wrong and make improvements. For this, you might also want to check some of the KPIs mentioned above, like CTR or conversion rate.

Track SMS marketing KPIs for better performance

Whether it’s CTR, CAC, ROI, or any other SMS-marketing-related letter combination, following these SMS KPIs can help you to better evaluate the value of your marketing efforts. Keeping track of actual numbers rather than just doing it in a way that you think is working will help you to allocate your attention to the areas that need improvement. Therefore, you will be able to apply the right tactics to achieve the desired results, accomplishing your goals in the end. Decide what you want to achieve – and pick the right SMS marketing KPIs for greater success.