SMS marketing is straightforward, you’re texting the customers who have opted-in to your program. There are tons of use cases for SMS, all of which will boost revenue and conversions while lowering attrition. There are, however, differences between those who use SMS and those who champion it. We want to see your business thrive with SMS and so we’re taking a closer look at some of the fine details like – When is the best time to send an SMS campaign?
The Best Time to Send an SMS Campaign or Message
It shouldn’t surprise you that there is not a single best time to send your marketing text messages. Like most things in marketing, optimization depends on your audience and lots of testing. With 98% open rates you can be certain that your recipients will get your message. But what if you want them to take a specific action right away? Or, what if they open the message but aren’t interacting with it? So with that in mind, let’s look at a few different angles. We’ll start with an objective view.
Optimal Weekday Times for SMS Marketing
8:00 a.m. - Weekday
First, let’s take consumer behavior into account. Most people check their phones upon waking up, but they may be foggy. Pro tip: we suggest waiting until your audience has had their morning coffee. If your audience is anything like the author of this article, they’ll be a little more alert and content after a few cups of the java. Still, attacking the morning isn’t a bad idea. New days are filled with optimism. You can get your message to your audience before they sit in rush hour and/or get that last minute request from their boss. Just be careful not to send your message too early, as no one wants to be woken up to promotional text.
10:00 a.m. - Weekday
This is another favorable time to send your SMS. By 10:00 your audience has probably settled into work. They’ve battled their way through their commute and/or trudged through their email backlog. They are looking for a quick reprieve and checking their phone is a top option. If they work from home, chances are the kids are already at school or camp, and the person is in the flow of their day.
12:00 p.m. - Weekday
Lunch time! The first big break in an otherwise busy day. By this point in the day many people are looking for anything that isn’t work related. This is a great time to delight someone with exciting content. Also, they may spend their lunch break shopping, either on your site, or at your retail location if it’s nearby. If they’re planning on making a stop on the way home, this is when they’ll do it.
8:00 p.m. - Weekday
The wind-down. The end of the workday is crazy and you don’t want your message lost in that mess. People are frantically trying to finish their days tasks, stopping at the grocery store, picking up dinner or the kids, and just dying to get home and unwind. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end when they get in the door. You know that feeling. Peeling off your work clothes or uniform, making dinner, cleaning, and hopefully a warm shower or bath awaits. The best thing to do is to catch your audience in their wind down. Give them time for evening rush hour and all of those end of the day duties. The fact is, people do lots of e-commerce shopping at the end of the day. This is their wind-down time, their “me-time.” This is a great time to delight them with a message or promotion from their favorite vendor.
Optimal Weekend Times for SMS Marketing
The weekend is an especially good time for your business to send your promotional SMS text. Especially if you have a retail location. Weekends are free time, which means people have more flexibility. In fact, some people are even bored, just looking for something to do. How about coming to your store for a special event? Maybe they want to check out the newest items you have in stock? Or maybe they are looking to finally take their first yoga class. The weekend comes with an undertone of joy and freedom. Your business should capitalize on it. Best times to send an SMS marketing message on the weekend include:
10:00 a.m. - Weekend
The last thing you want to do is wake someone up from their only two days to sleep in. Don’t time your message too early. We suggest 10:00 a.m. as a great way to get your message in front of customers before they plan out their day while respecting their free time. Unlike the work week, where the rest of the day is relatively concrete, your business can take advantage of your audience’s free time.
5:00 p.m. - Weekend
For those who are plan-averse and freewheel their way through the weekend, they have no choice but to think about their evening. It’s time to figure out where and what they’re eating for dinner as well as how they’ll spend the late night. This is a time where they’re heavily checking their phones. If it’s Saturday, you give your audience the opportunity to plan whether they’re going to stay in and shop your site, or if they’ll make a trip out on Sunday. If it’s Sunday, you charge to the front of mind for your subscribers as they’re planning out their next week. Either way, presenting your value proposition while a customer is planning their agenda is a good time.
Factors for Determining the Best Time to Send Marketing SMS
Aside from picking a time, there are several universal concepts to consider when choosing when to send your marketing SMS.
As always, you’ll want to make sure your marketing SMS is compliant. The first distinction you have to think about is whether your message is transactional or promotional. As a quick summary:
Transactional SMS are messages that content pertinent information as it relates to your business. They include things like receipts, shipping confirmation, and verification codes. These messages do not require opt-in and can be sent whenever the business needs to make this communication to facilitate the customer.
Promotional SMS are messages promote your brand, products, or services. They are subject to TCPA regulation and require opt-in via express written consent. In regards to timing, promotional SMS cannot be sent 24/7. Promotional SMS must be sent between 8:00 am - 9:00 pm in accordance with TCPA mandate. We suggest going through all of the compliance guides available before sending your promotional SMS to avoid fines.
Give Time to Act
Flash sales are great, and partially exempt from this section. Still, don’t announce your sale or event too close to its start date. Even though text messages are checked over 250 times per day on average, you’ll still want to give your recipients time to schedule coming to your location, checking out your new product, getting their finances in order, etc. The best solution is a drip campaign. Make first contact comfortably before the event and follow up with increasing urgency as it approaches. This will keep your event fresh in your audience’s mind while making sure they’re physically able to participate.
Pay Attention to Time Zones and Holidays
Time zones are annoying but they exist. Do your best to take your recipients’ location in mind. If you’re located on the east coast but have customers around the globe, or around the country, be sure to take their time zone into account. As an example, If you’re sending out a blast from New York at 9:00am local time, you will be waking up a lot of people in California. Nothing leads to unsubscribes faster than agitated people that you woke up at 6:00am their time.
Also watch for holidays. Holidays are a time for gathering with family, as well as dealing with crazy traffic. Your recipients are less likely to greet your messages with open arms during this period. Also, for certain religions, the use of digital technology like computers and phones is prohibited, so they’ll feel like they missed an opportunity and that you didn’t take them into account. As a general rule, you should consider avoiding holiday communication.
How Do I Optimize my SMS Campaign Timing?
SMS marketing optimization comes down to testing and observing. A/B test all of your communications, especially early on. Different audiences will have different expectations. This will vary by demographics, industry, etc. Don’t know where to start? Try weekend vs weekday. Morning vs evening. Two weeks before the sale/event vs one week before. Test your drip campaign. How many messages are enough? How many are too much? Pay attention to your open rate, unsubscribes, and of course - conversions.
Using Helios to Optimize Your SMS Campaigns
Helios makes tracking your performance, experimenting, and optimizing easy with our easy-to-read performance dashboard. Our various tools help you structure your campaign to adjust to your findings. Remember, better timing = more engagement.