Where’s All The Texting Data?

If you were to pop open an incognito browser and do a Google search for “Text Message Statistics 2018” you are likely to find a page that looks something like this:

Upon first glance, you may be excited at the vast array of information that seems to be available for your perusing. However, there’s one big problem with the information available here: the wrong people are controlling the story.

Here’s how each company listed in the results describes themselves to the world:

Each of these organizations has an economic interest (ok maybe not Customer Think) in convincing you that text messaging is a fantastic medium for you to use. And by the way, they’re happy to help you get started in this endeavor. Bias in its finest form.

And while it is nearly impossible to eliminate all bias in this world (heck, FranFunnel is just as biased as these people) there are two major players missing from the text data game.

The ResearchersMy favorite study about texting of all time, far and away, is titled the The New Era of Communication Among Americans published by Gallup in November 2014. And while its data is amazing, it’s been five years since they published an update. Pew, another leader in research, hasn’t published a study about texting since 2015. Universities? Not much available.

The Big Boys – You probably haven’t heard of any of the six companies Google wants you to go listen to for text messaging data, which is also odd given how many MAJOR CORPORATIONS touch the texting world. Verizon. AT&T. Apple. Google. Facebook. Twilio. Salesforce. just to name a few. The companies who have access to the largest datasets, thus able to provide the most holistic view of the text messaging world are also missing.

For those of us desperate to learn as much as we can and pass along as comprehensive and unbiased picture to you, this is a problem. We’re subjected to either pass along old data, trust biased/niche sources, or generate the information ourselves. All in all, not an ideal set of circumstances.

Why is this? Here’s the best I can come up with (from least to most Machiavellian)...

  1. The stuff changes quickly – This really applies to the entire tech world but the texting game is dynamic. Data is, by definition, a backward-looking tool. So by the time that you go to the trouble of putting together a comprehensive analysis, the target may have moved.
  2. The TCPA scares the bajeebus out of people – Lawyers have long warned companies about the TCPA, with good reason. The punishments for violating the laws governing text messaging are serious. Publishing data could get shot down due to risk mitigation reasons.
  3. There’s too much money to be made in texting – Knowledge is power. And the knowledge of the effectiveness of text messaging allows companies to prosper. Just ask one of our FranFunnel customers. Sharing this information could be detrimental to a company’s profits.

All in all, the purpose of this article is not to kvetch, believe it or not. It’s to challenge. The messaging community needs to take it upon ourselves to do better. We’re in the Information Age, so let’s produce great data and share it.

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