The Text Tide: Channel Is Moving Up On Email, Especially Among Gen Zers

Email is by far the most popular channel among consumers: 63% prefer it for brand messages, versus 37% for texts.

But text is gaining -- especially among younger people, judging by SMS for Marketers, How To Text Your Customers and Win, a study released Thursday by Klaviyo. 

Of the millennials polled, 45% welcome texts from brands, as do 43% of GenZers.

In contrast, only 38% of Gen Xers welcome messages by SMS, and 31% of Baby Boomers.

And among those who want to receive messages via SMS and email, 23% prefer text messages only. 

What’s more, SMS is now the top channel for personal use: 51% have increased their texting over the past 12 months, compared to 42% for phone calls as well as 42% for email, and 41% for Facetime/video calls. 

And people are apparently more likely to read brand texts than they are to read messages from loved ones: 56% of unread text messages are from friends and family, versus 44% from brands. 



Of all consumers, 85% have been texted by a brand recently, and 65% feel secure interacting with firms via SMS.

What types of brand texts do they want? They want coupons or promotion codes (51%), loyalty offers and benefits (40%), notifications about upcoming sales/promotions (39%) and birthday deals (34%) — not so different from email. 

One lesson for brands is that they have to react quickly to texts from consumers: 49% expect a text back within 10 minutes, and 38% expect a response within 5 minutes, while 13% want an immediate response.

Emails are more likely to pile up than text messages: the average American has 1,602 unread emails in their inbox, and only 32% have zero unread messages.  

In contrast, people have only 47 unread texts on their phone. Gen Zers have the most: 96. Millennials have 51, while Gen Xers have 21 and Baby Boomers only have 6.   

Texting has not yet replaced email. But 38% now see their smartphones as their most important possession. And most relied on it heavily during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially women.  

Specifically, 65% of women say the phone has been their lifeline during the pandemic, versus 54% of men. And 64% of women say texting helps keep them from feeling isolated and lonely, compared to 54% of men. 

Also, 38% of women feel that text messaging is the most important communication platform on their cell phone, as do 26% of men. 

At work, 61% of women typically text their coworkers over other communication methods, compared to 49% of men. On a generational basis, 59% Gen Zers also prefer to text coworkers, compared to 53% of Boomers and 50% of millennials. 

Overall, 43% are now more likely to text coworkers, 41% their managers and 34% their clients. Why? For one thing, coworkers are more responsive to texts, according to 48%. And 44% say it’s the easiest way to get people’s attention and 41% that text is a more private way to communicate. 

In general, texting far outranks Snapchat and Instagram as a messaging platform, the study shows. 

Klaviyo, a marketing automation platform, worked with Method Research and Dynata to survey 2,000 U.S. consumers, split evenly by gender.  


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