2023 Global Messaging Engagement Report

See the latest customer communications preferences from around the world.

Every year, Twilio SendGrid surveys consumers around the world to learn how their attitudes toward email and SMS change. This year, we surveyed over 4,800 consumers across 6 countries—Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S.—to understand if tried-and-true communications channels like email are still consumer favorites, or if newer channels like social media and webchat win over customers. 

In this report, we take a closer look at how communication preferences change across the globe so your business can ensure your email and SMS strategies are up to date with emerging trends. Plus, we’ll share country-specific insights you can use to create a more targeted regional customer messaging approach.

Chapter 2: Methodology

To understand consumer email and SMS preferences better, we conducted a quantitative online survey and qualitative ethnographic study with message recipients globally. By the numbers, we surveyed:  

  • 4,804 total consumers
  • 800 respondents from each of the 6 countries surveyed: Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S.
  • 200 individuals from each of the following generations: Gen Z (18-24), millennials (25-35), Gen X (36-50), and baby boomers (51-65)

Here’s a closer look at how we collected results using our 2 survey types:  

Quantitative online study

We sent a 22-question survey to ask recipients questions about their email and SMS usage and preferences. It included questions on preferred message frequency, common inbox frustrations, factors that would convince them to engage with branded messaging, and more.

Qualitative ethnographic study

Next, we collected qualitative insights from 20 participants (5 per age group) from each country. For 5 days, we asked them to:

  • Track their email usage to help us learn what role email and SMS plays in their lives.
  • Answer 3-5 questions, film short video responses, and share screenshots and phone screen recordings of their inboxes to understand participants’ impressions of and emotional reactions to the emails and texts they received throughout the day. 

At the end of the 5 days, we then scheduled a 45-minute interview with each participant to review their responses and learn more about their email habits and preferences. This helped us further flesh out our findings from the quantitative survey.

Chapter 3: Key Findings

Here’s a brief look at the macrotrends we noticed across all 6 countries surveyed and the changes over the years. In later sections, we’ll dive into the country-specific findings in more detail.

1. Email is still on top

Year after year, email remains king. This time around, 22% of respondents listed email in their top 3 preferred communications channels—up from 18% last year. Interestingly, we found a strong correlation between age and email as a preferred channel. Globally, here’s what percentage of each generation listed email in their top 3 engagement channels: 

  • Gen Z: 18%
  • Millennials: 20%
  • Gen X: 22%
  • Baby boomers: 26%

But while older generations may prefer email, this channel plays an essential role in all consumers’ lives, regardless of their age. In fact, 79% of respondents said they check their email at least once daily, if not more. In addition to allowing brands to reach audiences, it also inspires customers to take action. Email marketers will like to hear this: 77% of global consumers say they’ve made a purchase based on content in an email. Clearly, email is a formidable marketing channel that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. 


77% of global consumers say they’ve made a purchase based on content in an email.

Twilio SendGrid's 2023 Global Messaging Engagement Report

2. SMS, while popular, must be intentional

In last year’s version of the report, SMS was the second most popular communications channel globally (after email, of course). This year, while the same percentage of people listed the channel in their top 3 preferred channels (14%), SMS fell to third place overall with social media taking the silver medal. Although gradual, this shift is primarily due to younger generations who prefer to keep SMS inboxes reserved for family and friends and instead use social media to stay up to date with their favorite brands. 

That said, all generations understand the convenience and immediacy of SMS. It’s just that they think the channel is better suited for sharing critical information—like shipping updates and appointment reminders—while marketing messages are better suited for email.

This stems from the fact that many global recipients remain skeptical of SMS because it’s hard to verify senders and check if a link is safe just from a text. Our research also found that the top user frustration with the channel is that it’s hard to tell when messages are spam or legitimate, especially when they can’t verify the sender. 

3. Consumers are bargain hunting amid economic uncertainty 

Since the onset of the pandemic, the global economy has taken a tumble, with high inflation and interest rates pushing many global consumers to get thrifty. In our research, we found that the top reason consumers sign up for email and SMS messages is to stay updated on sales and find compelling discounts to help stretch their money further. In fact, 17% of respondents admit one of the main reasons they sign up to receive branded email and SMS messages is to receive a discount on their first order.

Email’s promising financial benefits, like deals and discounts, often get noticed and opened first, especially if offering above 20-30% off. In fact, the most global recipients said an enticing offer or promotion would strongly or somewhat influence their decision to open an email (76%) or click a link in the message (81%). 

But while consumers are on the hunt for deals, they also know how to spot when a sale isn’t as good as it seems. They’re quick to recognize and dismiss the brands that have a “one day only” sale weekly. Additionally, they’re also more likely to reject brands that try to capture their attention with “bait and switch” tactics or apply burdensome terms and conditions to offers, like excluding best-selling products or brands. To keep your bargain-hunting recipients happy, make your offers clear and concise so customers aren’t disappointed when they click on your site. 

4. Consumer appetites for personalization continue to increase 

Our respondents told us they want one thing out of branded communications: to feel special. Sure, consumers know brands blast emails and text messages to all customers, but they still want to feel like the message caters specifically to their needs, interests, wants, and identities based on the data they’ve explicitly shared with the business. 

Personalizing your messages, even slightly, can help improve inbox engagement. In fact, 63% of global recipients said personalization makes an email stand out. What types of personalization do consumers want to see in email? Here were their top 3 responses: 

  • Content relevant to my interests (28%)
  • Product recommendations based on past purchases (25%)
  • My name in the subject line or email body (19%)

While consumers crave personalization, some are still wary of sharing personal information with businesses, even if it could help brands serve them more tailored content. In fact, 55% of our respondents were all for sharing their information in exchange for more personalized email and SMS messages, while 25% were against sharing such information. Of all the countries surveyed, French and Japanese consumers were the most protective of their personal information, while Brazilians were the most willing to share.


66% of consumers say they’ll quit a brand if their experience isn’t personalized.

Twilio’s 2023 State of Customer Engagement Report

5. Recipients are tired of repetitive content

Have an exciting sale going on or a new product launch? It can be tempting to message your subscribers again and again so they don’t miss out on these deals and updates. Unfortunately, consumers don’t feel the same way. 

Many respondents said they find repetitive content frustrating and think it makes brands look needy or desperate. If a brand promotes the same sale over and over again, many consumers find themselves wondering if there’s a problem with the company’s merchandise or the brand’s finances.


46% of brands claimed to do an excellent job of providing personalization, but just 15% of consumers agreed.

Twilio’s 2023 State of Customer Engagement Report

Should your brand still want to send multiple messages around the same topic, take a unique approach to the content every time and ensure your recipients will find each message valuable. Leaning on personalization and audience segmentation is a great way to mix up your messaging and keep recipients engaged. 

Now, let’s dive a little deeper into our findings from each country.

Chapter 4: Brazil

1. Brazilians prefer direct, succinct communications

Even though an urgent tone can pique curiosity, most Brazilians prefer when businesses stick to short and straightforward subject lines so they can tell if something interests them as quickly as possible. Readily understandable copy and specificity (like “50% off sunscreen”) helps them identify whether something interests them or not quicker. This isn’t just for subject lines: Brazilians said they prefer brands to take this no-nonsense route with email body content too.


“I don’t like clickbait subjects—the sooner you get to the point, the better.”

Brazilian Gen Zer


“I understand why some companies use clickbait in subject lines and texts, but it doesn’t work for me. I just wish they were direct—show me the product, the offer and the price.”

Brazilian Gen Xer

2. Brazilians want to identify senders quickly

Many Brazilians, especially older generations, are skeptical of email due to scams and phishing attempts. Receiving spam messages and emails from unknown senders were what Brazilians found most frustrating about their email inboxes. As such, many prefer when brands use a clean and recognizable design that helps readers identify emails as legitimate. In fact, 81% of recipients said that an email sender would somewhat or strongly influence their decision to open an email, and 85% said the same for deciding whether to click on a link in the message. 

Many participants told us they won’t even open emails from a sender they don’t know. They prioritize senders they know, have a relationship with, and have chosen to receive emails from—through an opt-in. So be sure you make it clear to your recipients that they’ve subscribed to your messages, whether using a subscription confirmation email or welcome email, and to expect to hear from your brand.  


“Sender matters more than anything. I seldom open emails from companies I don’t know or don’t care about.”

Brazilian millennial

3. Brazilians dislike promotional texts

While Brazilians still ranked SMS/MMS messages in their top 3 favorite communications channels, most agreed that the only acceptable use of branded SMS messages is for alerts—like shipping and purchase notifications—and verification codes.

In fact, here were Brazillians’ top 3 concerns about the channel: 

  • It can be invasive: Many recipients admitted to switching off notifications and/or sounds to keep texts from interrupting their day. 
  • It’s difficult to identify the message sender: Identity theft and scam attempts over SMS are very common in the South American country, so most consumers try to avoid text messages completely and admit they would never open a link from an SMS. Poor SMS sender verification only exacerbates this problem since users don’t feel they can know if a message came from a legitimate sender or is a spoofing attempt. 
  • It’s too frequent and often irrelevant: Most people felt they heard from brands too frequently via this channel and were frustrated that these messages were often irrelevant to their interests and needs. 

Overall, Brazilian consumers said they’re open to receiving two-factor authentication and password reset codes, purchase and delivery notifications, and credit card transaction alerts via SMS, although they agreed that most of the messages they receive as texts would be better suited for email or WhatsApp. With those channels, recipients said they could verify sender identity and filter messages easier. 

Chapter 5: France

1. French consumers want quality over quantity

French consumers are protective of their time and conscious of when someone wastes it. Their main criticism about their email inboxes was that brands send emails too frequently. This can overwhelm recipients, especially when these messages don’t do a good job targeting them and their interests. When we asked French consumers what frustrates them most about email, their top response was email volume, with message frequency following closely behind. 

What’s the sending sweet spot for French customers? As it turns out, it’s weekly. While 28% said they’d be open to receiving pertinent emails once a week, 21% said they’d prefer to receive branded emails monthly. Whatever sending frequency you decide on, just be sure to ask yourself the cardinal rule of email sending: will my audience find value in this message? If your answer is a resounding “yes,” feel free to send.

2. French recipients want senders to embrace positivity

Global consumers have noticed a sizable increase in the number of emails they receive since the pandemic and the shift to remote work for some. This abundance of emails has pushed many French consumers to adopt more drastic measures to defend their inboxes (and sanity), like deleting unwanted messages that cause stress or seem too aggressive. Our respondents said that with everything happening in the world—like inflation, economic uncertainty, and the Russia-Ukraine War—they feel a growing need for positive, humorous, and inclusive messages that help defuse these day-to-day concerns. 

Language and word choice is paramount to French consumers. They suggest the spirit of an email lies within the subtlety of its language. Using humor or a touch of wit can help your brand attract these consumers’ attention. On the other hand, if an email’s content is dull or banal, the French feel the brand made little-to-no effort crafting this message and attribute a lack of professionalism to the sender. Therefore, make a concerted effort to ensure any text you include is well written.


3. French subscribers have polarizing views around sharing personal data with brands

Every year, we ask consumers if they’d be willing to share personal information with brands in exchange for more personalized emails. The question is always fairly polarizing, but this is especially true among French consumers. Of all the nationalities surveyed, French and Japanese respondents were the most likely to answer “no” to defend their privacy. In total, 34% of respondents said they would not share their data, a 21% increase from last year’s survey. And yet, a growing number of French consumers also said they would be open to the value exchange. In fact, 46% answered “yes”—up 18% from last year’s data.

French consumers’ willingness to share personal information with brands in exchange for more personalized emails



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If your business wants to collect more information from your subscribers, consider using optional surveys to learn more about their wants and needs. Just be explicit around how your brand plans to use this data, so users have all the information they need to make a decision whether to fill out the survey or not. 

Chapter 6: Germany

1. German recipients like straightforward messaging

German customers don’t like to waste time. They want to immediately understand a message’s value the moment they open an email. This value can come in 2 different ways: 

  1. Content that aligns with their personal interests
  2. Financial savings 

According to our respondents, every branded email should fulfill at least one of these values (or both if you can make it work). Appealing to your users’ individual interests, preferences, and tastes while offering substantial savings can help your message stand out in crowded inboxes.


“I want a benefit for me, of course, not only material, but I also love stimulating content.”

German Gen Xer

2. Germans want to feel like smart buyers

Email marketers rejoice: 83% of German consumers shared that an email has influenced them to make a purchase. That said, in the current challenging economic climate, everyone wants to feel like they’ve gotten the best deal. German consumers want the reassurance that they’ve saved some money and made the best choice when buying specific items or services. Consider using email to share social proof—like positive customer reviews and user generated content (UGC)—to convince your prospects and customers they’re making the right choice by doing business with your brand.

Otherwise, keep promoting your discounts. Staying informed of great deals is the top reason recipients subscribe to receive branded emails, and 74% of Germans surveyed admit an offer/discount would strongly or somewhat influence their decision to click a link in an email. So there you have it: email is the perfect channel for advertising your latest deals and promos to win those clicks and conversions. 

3. German consumers want control over their personal data

In Germany, consumers want to be the primary decision-makers when determining what data they share with your business. This gives them a sense of control about what information they wish to disclose—and more importantly, what they do not. 

That said, we’ve seen a considerable increase in the number of consumers saying they’d voluntarily share information with brands in exchange for more personalized content. Up from 38% in 2022, now 57% of respondents said they’d be willing to share more about themselves with their favorite brands. Whether your brand already collects information directly from your subscribers or wants to in the near future, just remember to always seek your German customers’ acceptance and authorization when using their data.

German consumers’ willingness to share personal information with brands in exchange for more personalized emails



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1. Japanese recipients don’t enjoy repetitive messaging

Nothing makes an email recipient send an email straight to the trash bin faster than seeing repetitive emails from the same sender. Giving your audiences a breather and varying your content and messaging can help keep your recipients engaged.

This isn’t the only inbox annoyance plaguing Japanese consumers. Other top frustrations include: 

  1. Spam messages/emails from unknown senders
  2. Irrelevant/uninteresting emails
  3. Message frequency

Luckily, these issues are fairly simple to fix. Here’s how: 

  1. Use a clearly recognizable sender name: A clearly recognizable sender name helps your recipients to easily and quickly identify that your brand sent the email. 
  2. Set up Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI)A BIMI attaches your company’s logo to your authenticated emails, allowing your business to increase brand impressions in the inbox, control how your brand logo displays globally, and increase engagement due to your emails standing out in the inbox. Plus, Gmail’s latest announcement provides a further incentive for brands to adopt BIMI—a blue checkmark next to the brand’s logo.
  3. Create and use an email preference center: A preference center helps your recipients indicate what types of content they’re interested in receiving (and what they’re not), as well as how frequently they want to hear from your brand. This allows your business to ensure your customers receive only the content they care about at the frequency they want.

2. Japanese consumers like short and snappy SMS messages 

Most Japanese recipients believe SMS messages should only be for a quick notification tool or check-ins. They’re willing to accept important or urgent texts—like booking confirmations, flight updates, disaster alerts, and confirmations, or exclusive messages and personalized promotions meant for members. In fact, a large number of recipients said they’d rather receive shipping updates (27%) and appointment reminders (14%) via SMS than by email. 

On the other hand, most Japanese consumers feel that SMS isn’t suitable for promotional messaging, preferring that brands only deliver marketing messages via email. So be sure to think long and hard about whether your message is better suited for a short-form (SMS) or long-form (email) channel and how your recipients would welcome your content via the channel you choose. 

3. Japanese consumers ranked SMS the lowest on their list of preferred channels 

While global consumers ranked SMS the second most popular communications channel, this was not the case in Japan. In Japan, SMS ranked sixth behind email, social media, search engine/website ads, and video streaming ads. Most of our respondents said that while the channel is well-suited for quick and easy notifications that require no responses, its impersonal nature makes it a poor choice for promotional messages or anything else that requires longer attention. 

Last year, we found many Japanese consumers prefer to engage with brands on apps like LINE, the top messenger and social media app in Japan, or other social networking services (SNS). So businesses looking to do well in Japan might want to explore using these and other messaging platforms instead of SMS. 

1. U.K. recipients want brands to build relationships over email

Emails have the power to build relationships. In the U.K., recipients said they prefer when businesses use email to engage in an ongoing dialogue with them. This dialogue might be through storytelling to learn more about a brand’s history or products/services or personalization to customize communications to each subscribers’ unique interests and pain points. 

When we asked respondents to share the types of content they prefer to receive over email, 29% said sales and discounts, 18% said new product releases, and 14% said newsletters. While each of these email types can help your customers keep your brand top of mind, each can drive even more engagement when paired with personalization. Just be sure to use audience segmentation to send more targeted communications to your subscribers based on factors like their location, job title, industry, age, gender, and income to serve them more relevant content that will engage them. 

2. U.K. recipients want brands to be authentic and fun

Professionalism and genuineness are essential when conveying brand authenticity and quality via email. Using on-brand language and visuals (even well-placed emojis and GIFs), help build a stronger connection with subscribers and make emails enjoyable—rather than burdensome—to read. 

U.K. consumers repeatedly told us they don’t want to be treated like a number, so adding personal touches—like using their name, adopting a friendly tone, and sprinkling in a bit of humor—goes a long way to making emails feel more targeted and engaging to read. They also said they’re delighted when brands add thoughtful “touches of personalization” using their customer data—like sending birthday discounts, offering rewards or deals linked to their favorite product types, or offering “valued customers” a high net-value gift as part of an upgrade promotion. Even a small personal touch can go a long way to make people feel valued.

Drive better engagement with audience segmentation.



“It’s nice to be spoken to a bit like a friend … using less corporate, serious language. If not, it feels like a template rather than something tailored or like a conversation.”

U.K. baby boomer

3. U.K. consumers think appearance matters

Most consumers dismiss emails as too burdensome to read if these messages seem lengthy, cluttered, or have poor-quality images. Since U.K. recipients told us they view email appearance as a reflection of the brand, a poorly designed email reflects poorly on the sender and suggests they can’t be bothered to put in the effort to make their emails more professional. 

When we asked respondents how many images they prefer to view in an email, 35% said one, while 50% said 2-3. Just make sure those images aren’t merely for aesthetics. Most consumers feel that generic images that don’t serve a purpose or showcase a product just distract from the core messaging and are a waste of time, adding very little to an email’s overall appeal.


“Busy emails immediately overwhelm me with an extended layout that makes it impossible to hold my attention or intrigue me to want to read the content.”

U.K. millennial


“Style is important and it needs to look clean, so carefully selected images … separated in different sections and using a font you can easily read. GIFs and video[s] can feel a bit spam-like and cheapens the quality of the email.”

U.K. millennial

1. U.S. consumers feel a stronger connection to brands that personalize emails

Consumers feel a stronger connection to brands that personalize their emails. When we asked U.S. recipients to weigh in on the types of personalization they like to see, only 4% said they don’t like any form of personalization in their emails. The other 96% said they enjoy receiving emails that: 

  • Share content relevant to their interests (30%) 
  • Recommend products based on past purchases (24%) 
  • Use their name in the subject line or email body (18%) 
  • Showcase products/services they’ve previously purchased (17%) 
  • Share content based on their location (8%) 

That said, brands still need to tread lightly when using personalization. In interviews, our respondents said they only like when brands cater their communications based on data the consumer has willingly shared with the business or that they would reasonably expect the brand to have access to, such as browsing and purchasing history. If a brand uses any personal details acquired from a third-party, consumers find this very off-putting behavior. 

Still, we saw a slight increase in the number of consumers willing to share more personal information with brands in exchange for better personalized content. Just be sure to share how your business will use this information to give your customers better transparency into how you’ll use their data. 

Percentage of U.S. consumers who said they’d share more personal information with a brand in exchange for better personalized content



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2. U.S. consumers respond to eye-catching deals to boost message engagement

Nervousness about the economy and tight finances drive consumers to subscribe to emails in hopes of finding deals, discounts, and coupons that will help them save money. U.S. consumers’ top reason for subscribing to branded emails was to stay informed of sales and discounts (33%). Plus, 82% said an enticing deal or discount would strongly or somewhat influence their decision to open an email. If your business has an amazing sale happening, be sure to promote it over email—your subscribers are always on the lookout for a bargain. 


“I don’t receive too many text messages from companies. I will get some text messages talking about different offers or promotions that a company is having. However, I don't really look at or open these messages because they are usually not important to me, or I’ll get an email that already has that information.”

U.S. Gen Zer

3. U.S. recipients remain lukewarm on SMS 

Many U.S. consumers remain apprehensive toward promotional text messages, as they continue to find the channel personal and reserved for close family and friends. They also very much dislike that unlike email, it can be quite difficult to identify the sender (and their legitimacy). 

Curiously, the U.S. was the only country where SMS edged out social media as the second most popular communications channel. While our quantitative data found that older generations were slightly more likely to prefer SMS/MMS messages than younger generations, our qualitative interviews noticed that Gen Z and millennial respondents seem to be warming up to receiving promotions through this channel. We’re interested to see if this trend will continue in the future. 


“I tend to prefer emails over text messages. I like to keep my texts personal for friends and family. I don’t want companies flooding my texts. I like receiving emails because they are more complete with their information, and it’s easier to (separate them) from my personal life.”

U.S. Gen Zer


“(Some) email could be sent as a text, like coupons. If it's a company that's sending me a coupon for 10% off, send it to me as a text. Texts are short and sweet, and that's what I like. Here's a coupon. Done.”

U.S. baby boomer


Today’s brands have more channels than ever before at their disposal. While that should equate to more ways to reach and engage your audiences, in reality, it’s more difficult than ever before to grab and keep customers’ attention. To stand out from the crowd with eye-catching campaigns, your business must understand where your customers want to hear from you and how. 

Here’s a brief overview of the top insights we discovered in each of the 6 countries surveyed in this report to help you out: 


  • Use direct, succinct language in your emails and texts.
  • Make it easy for recipients to identify your business as the sender (using brand colors, using BIMI over email, and so on). 


  • Use SMS messages for marketing purposes, as consumers prefer texts for quick and timely notifications, like account security and shipping updates.
  • Use clickbait subject lines.


  • Focus on message quality over quantity, as most consumers said they only want to hear from brands once a week.
  • Give consumers the opportunity to share more personal information with your business for personalization, but be crystal clear about how you’ll use this data.
  • Use a preference center to let consumers reduce how frequently they hear from you so they don’t have to completely unsubscribe. 


  • Use overly pushy or negative language, as consumers want brands to use more positive, humorous, and inclusive language, especially during tough financial times.


  • Use clear and concise messaging. 
  • Be explicit about how your business will use customer information when collecting that data.


  • Send a new deal every day, as consumers want to feel they’re smart buyers and received the best deal possible.


  • Keep things short and sweet, especially for SMS messages containing critical information. 
  • Use a clear sender name and BIMI to ensure recipients can identify that your business sent a message.


  • Send your marketing messages via SMS, but rather try to use LINE or another SNS consumers prefer.
  • Use the same messaging again and again, and instead mix things up to keep your messaging fresh and creative.


  • Use storytelling and personalization to build relationships with your customers over email. 
  • Invest in email appearance, as well-designed emails with eye-catching, purposeful images appear more professional.


  • Be impersonal, as U.K. consumers love when brands add fun touches to their messages, like including their first name and using a friendly tone or humor. 


  • Personalize your emails, as consumers say they feel a stronger connection to brands that share content customized to their wants and needs.
  • Share your deals and promotions over email, as most subscribers want your latest sales delivered directly to their inbox.


  • Use customer data that users haven’t explicitly shared with your business for personalization, as recipients find when a business uses personal details acquired from a third-party off-putting.

Ready to start sending more personalized email and SMS messages? Start sending emails with Twilio SendGrid for free to learn how to use SMS to engage your audiences around the world. Happy sending! 

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