The Best Time To Send SMS Marketing Messages To Your Customers
When people say that time is money, we assume they have no time to waste. However, when it comes to SMS marketing, this famous phrase couldn't have a more literal meaning.
No matter how much effort you put into your text messaging strategy, more often than not it all comes down to timing. The right message sent at the right time can impact how many people will act on your offer, and how many of them you will leave frustrated if you do it wrong. This can determine not only the success of your SMS campaign but, possibly, negatively affect the results you’re trying to achieve.
To prevent this from happening, we've prepared a list of some common SMS messages businesses send and looked into the best timing for each type. Keep reading to find out when to send a text to your customers to enjoy the benefits of SMS marketing campaigns.
A 3-point checklist before launching an SMS campaign
Assuming that you have already built a decent SMS marketing subscribers list and are not only familiar but actually meet SMS compliance regulations, let’s get into the fun part.
The right timing matters as much as any other part of your SMS campaign and shouldn’t be overlooked or sacrificed for something else.
Here are a few things that you should take into consideration before sending a text to your customers:
- The type of message you want to send
- The schedule of your audience
- Screen time habits
What kind of a message are you planning to send?
SMS is widely used to serve many different purposes, like informing about sales, sending coupons, confirming orders, sending appointment reminders, and many more.
So keeping the type of the message in mind is one of the most important aspects that will help you identify the best time to send SMS messages to your customers. What might work for transactional texts, might not necessarily bring the desired result when sending promotional messages, and vice versa.
Have you considered the schedule of your audience?
Although it’s simply impossible to adapt your SMS marketing campaigns to some universal schedule, some things should come as pretty obvious if you don’t want your messages to annoy your subscribers.
As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t be bugging your audience during the night, the same goes for early mornings or late evenings. If you have clients in different time zones, don't forget to consider that as well.
What about screen time habits?
3 hours and 15 minutes a day – that’s how much time on average people used to spend on their phones not that long ago. And then the pandemic hit, bringing worldwide lockdowns alongside.
Although people tend to (even unconsciously) check their phones throughout the entire day, the peaks on weekdays are usually before and after work. The best time to send a text blast to your customers on weekends may vary but there are still some time intervals commonly used by businesses.
Let’s go into details.
So when is the best time to send SMS messages?
The answer is: one universal best time to send SMS messages doesn’t really exist.
You can follow some common practices (which we will look into in no time), but what’s important to note is that every business is different, and for your specific business the best time to send a text might not necessarily fall under the “general rules.”
For instance, if you send a 20% off pizza for home delivery at 11:30 in the morning to a first-year student and a 50-year-old businessman, there’s a chance that the outcome will be very different. While the student will likely act on your offer to enjoy a nice and cheaper lunch, a businessman might successfully ignore this deal and move on with his busy day.
So the key here is to always remember what you’re offering and to get to know your audience. This will help you to get the idea about the best timing for those specific people, which you can later improve by tracking the performance of your SMS campaigns.
But for now, here’s where you can start.
This general timing works well for various promotional messages or company updates. On weekdays, there are several options to choose from. Depending on your offer and when you think your customers are more likely to act on it, you can consider the following:
- 8 AM-12 PM: People tend to scroll on their phones just before work or might use the morning time to answer emails, messages, and check on other stuff. This might be a good time to send a text message with a relevant offer, for example, a free bun with a morning coffee at the nearby coffee shop.
- 12 AM-3 PM: Lunchtime can be tricky, but many people still like to check on their phones while having a meal. If you think that your audience will be more likely to act during this time, it might be a good choice.
- 5 PM-9 PM: During this time, people usually end their workday, have more time for themselves and are more likely to respond to SMS messages as they are more in control of the rest of their day.
As for the weekends, Saturdays and Sundays have slightly different “rules”:
- Saturday between 10 AM and 12 PM: This is usually the time for “slow mornings” as people might have yet not proceeded with their weekend plans.
- Sunday between 4 PM and 7 PM: Although Sundays are the least popular day to send promotional content to customers, if you decide to do it anyway, try to fit into this timeframe, as people will be most likely just rewinding after the weekend.
Notifications are slightly more different since most of them are triggered by some specific action, for instance, order confirmation. The best time to send notifications using SMS, such as order status updates, tracking information, receipts, welcome SMS and similar is ASAP, while the customer is still engaged (or needs validation that the action they just completed was successful).
Another type of SMS notification that differs from those mentioned above but still requires an immediate reaction from you, a business owner, is abandoned cart reminders.
Cart abandonment is a common and pretty big problem in e-commerce. In fact, more than 88% of carts were abandoned in March 2020 while the average cart abandonment rate stays between 68-75%, according to the latest studies.
That’s simply too many customers to lose, so send a text offering an incentive right after someone leaves without completing the purchase (or a few hours later that same day) to encourage them to come back and finish what they started.
Building a reminder strategy to keep in touch with your customers can be highly beneficial for both sides.
Appointment reminders can help your customers to easily confirm or reschedule, thus reducing the chances that you will be losing money because of their absence.
A common practice for sending reminders for such services as a barber, dentist, bank appointments, and so on is 48h to 24h before the appointment. Although if it's something a bit more complicated to reschedule, like dentists, you can send another reminder even more in advance – like a week before the actual appointment date (and then another one 24h before just to be sure).
Monthly payment reminders can be a great way to collect money on time while also taking some burden off your customers’ shoulders, allowing them to forget this matter for the rest of the month. For this, you can schedule monthly reminders for the same time every month, for example, every 4th day. This way, it won’t ever be a surprise and your customers might actually expect to receive it.
Holiday e-commerce requires careful preparation, and using SMS to inform your customers about seasonal sales and special offers should definitely go on this list. Unless it’s a flash sale that is time-sensitive and requires people to take immediate action, try to leave them some time to plan it all out.
For example, we all tend to plan our Christmas gift lists or make a list of items we would like to buy during the Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend.
By sending an SMS message with upcoming offers or updates a week before the date you’d like your customers to act, you’re giving them some time to think this through, visit your store to discover what they like, encouraging them to come back once the offers are valid (that you can also let them know the morning the promotions are live).
Whether it’s a physical or online event, like a webinar or a simple contest, let your subscribers know about it via SMS. Depending on the event, you can ask them to RSVP, submit a picture, or anything else by including a call to action and directing them to the relevant page instantly.
In a way, events are similar to holidays since they also require planning and careful preparation from both sides. Think about how much time do you need to prepare, does the number of people affect your preparation, is there a need for some equipment, logistics, etc.?
Divide your messages into different time intervals so both you and your customers would have time to get ready. This could be anything from a month to one week to execute everything smoothly. On the day of the event or one day before the event, send an event reminder message to make sure everyone is on board.
Timing your SMS campaign for success
All in all, choosing the best time to send SMS marketing messages to your customers depends on many different factors, from the product you sell to the call to action you want your subscribers to follow.
Get to know your audience, consider their preferences, use segmentation, don't be afraid to test a few different options, and track the performance of your texts. This will allow you to see what works and what doesn't, thus helping to identify the time when your audience is the most responsive to your texts and use this information for further improvement.