Marketing Automation

What’s the One Thing Gen Z, Millennials Have All Relied On

Study shows pandemic shifted consumer behavior, forcing brands to adapt new marketing strategies to meet customers where they are
marketing automation

Klaviyo, a leading customer data and marketing automation platform, today released “SMS for Marketers,” a new study that delves into how consumers’ relationships with their phones have changed during the pandemic, including the increased relevance of texting across all generations and cohorts.

Notably, more Americans (51%) say they have increased their use of texting in the past 12 months, compared with other popular forms of communication. With this shift in consumer mobile behavior, brands need to pivot their marketing strategies to focus more on SMS to reach their customers.

Key findings of the survey, which polled 2,000 Americans ages 13-76 who own cell phones include:

Our Phones Are Our Lifelines — With Texting Leading the Way
According to the study, more than half (59%) of Americans say that their phone has been their lifeline during the pandemic; 47% said they literally couldn’t live without it. And 51% say they have increased their use of texting in the past 12 months compared to other communication applications and services such as phone calls (42%), email (42%), Facetime/video calls (41%) and social media messaging.

Other takeaways include:

  • Across every generation — Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomer — text messaging ranks number one as the most important communication platform on cell phones.
  • Half of Americans (51%) Americans are more likely to feel happy when friends text them (58%) than any family members, including siblings (43%), Mom (38%) and Dad (29%).
  • 43% of Americans have unread texts on their phone, with the average American having 47 unread messages.
    • Of those with unread texts, one in five (19%) wait to finally clear out their unread text messages until there’s more than 100 or “too many to count.”
  • The average American has 1,602 unread emails in their personal inbox, and only 32% of Americans can say they have an inbox with zero unread messages.
  • More than a third (38%) of Americans say that their phone is the most important thing they own.

For Brands, Texting is a Powerful Way to Reach Customers
The survey also revealed insights for brands when it comes to communicating with customers via their cell phones. More than one in five survey respondents (22%) went as far as to say a text from a brand made their day during the last year. In fact, Americans with unread text messages say they are more likely to ignore friends and family texts than brand texts; 56% of unread text messages are from family and friends, compared with only 44% on average are from brands.

“Phones have served as an undeniable lifeline to people through some very difficult times over the past year, and it’s clear those relationships we’ve built with our devices are only going to get stronger as we emerge from the pandemic,” said Kady Srinivasan, SVP, Global Head of Marketing at Klaviyo. “Brands need to capitalize on this shift and recognize trends in consumer behavior to better understand how they can build stronger relationships with their customers through mobile devices.”

Still, brands can’t take this new relationship for granted. They must be quick to keep customers engaged. Nearly half (49%) of Americans who have received a text from a brand say they expect the brand to text back within 10 minutes; 38% say within 5 minutes; 13% say they expect an immediate response.

Other brand-relevant takeaways include:

  • 85% of Americans report having received texts from a brand; of those, 65% say they usually feel secure interacting with brands via SMS.
  • Coupons or promotions codes (51%), loyalty offers and benefits (40%), notifications about upcoming sales/promotions (39%) and birthday deals (34%) are the kinds of text messages from brands that Americans are most likely to respond to.
  • Finding the frequency sweet spot:
    • 28% of Americans who have received a text from a brand say they receive them almost daily.
    • But only 15% say that it’s acceptable for their favorite brand to text them once a day, while “once a week” is the most popular option (31%). Only one in five (19%) say that they don’t want to be texted at all by their favorite brand.

Texting Is Taking Over at Work
The pandemic also changed how we use our personal cell phones in the workplace, with 36% of those who said they are now texting more also saying they’ve used it more often to text their bosses and colleagues.

In fact, many working Americans are more likely to text their coworkers (43%), managers and/or bosses (41%), and clients (34%) compared to a year ago. And of those who are now more likely to text coworkers, 48% said it’s because people are more responsive to texts, and 44% said it’s the easiest way to get their attention. But some use it to stay off the company radar, with 41% saying it’s a more private way to communicate than workplace communication applications.

Other workplace takeaways include:

  • Americans are more likely to feel anxious when they get a text from their boss (23%) followed by a teacher (14%) and coworkers (10%).
    • Only 8% said that they’re likely to feel happiness when their boss texts them.
  • Americans say texting is their most commonly used communication platform for coworkers (55%), friends (48%), family (44%) and brands (30%).

To learn more about this survey, view the full report here.

Klaviyo conducted this research using an online survey prepared by Method Research and distributed by Dynata among 2,000 respondents ages 13-76 in the United States who own cell phones. The sample was equally split between gender groups, with a nationally representative geographic spread of respondents. Data was collected from July 14 to July 21, 2021.

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