How To Find the Best Time To Send Marketing Text Messages
As much as we’d like to give a one-line solution for your text marketing strategy and call it a day, picking the perfect time to text your customers isn’t that simple.
You’ve probably heard the standard answers: text customers at lunchtime, avoid wrong times like sleeping and working hours, et cetera.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
When is the best time to send marketing text messages to an international audience scattered across time zones?
What about marketing drip campaigns? Should you time each message exactly the same way as the previous one?
You need to consider all the factors to ensure that when your messages hit their inboxes, your customers are in the perfect mood to read them.
We don’t have a uniform answer…
…But we do have ways to help you figure out the best time to send SMS marketing messages in the context of your business – if you’re keen.
So, When Is the Best Time To Send SMS Marketing Messages?
The short answer is “it depends on your business and customers.”
But before you close this tab, the longer answer involves tried and true ways to identify, test, and nail the best times to message your audience – stick around, and you’ll have them locked in within 10 minutes.
It just takes some insight into all the elements that can vary and change your outcomes.
In addition to your country, industry, and niche, the content and type of messages you send can dramatically impact the best time to send SMS campaigns.
We can’t forget about audience segmentation, either.
For example, you might want to bulk send your entire audience a text about a general app update, but you should only send appointment reminders to people with scheduled appointments – typically a day in advance from said appointment.
To tackle the issue, we’ll lay out all the universal best practices that ensure you avoid the worst-case scenarios, like not reaching your customers or paying fines due to lawsuits (yikes).
Then, armed with that good sense, we’ll help you dissect the context and needs of your campaign so you can zero in on that SMS marketing sweet spot for your specific business, audience, and campaigns.
6 Universal Best Practices for Marketing SMS Sending Times
Quick overview first:
- Consider time zones – especially for international campaigns
- Avoid sending marketing SMS in the middle of the night or on a holiday
- For promotional campaigns, aim for paydays 💰
- Don’t ignore regulations and privacy laws
- Avoid sending planned messages at a round time
- Alternate times for drip campaigns because you’re not a robot
Now the details:
1. Consider Time Zones
We’ve all heard that you should text people outside of their working hours or at night when they’re likely fast asleep (and if you haven’t, you’ll hear it in a second).
However, it’s not like all people everywhere work at the same time, right?
Time zones make things a little more complicated, especially if you’re running an international campaign.
If you want to text people in a week at around noon, don’t forget to make it their noon by sending a couple of blasts at the corresponding times in your own time zone.
While we’re at it, make sure the day that particular noon falls on, is a day that makes sense for their zone, work time, and culture.
Are you sure you aren’t hitting your customers’ work time?
For example, Israel has Sunday to Thursday as weekdays instead of the typical Monday to Friday, and it’s not the only place with an alternative weekend.
Some countries don’t work on Fridays and consider it a prayer day, so you could stick to time-sensitive reminders and hold off on promotional messages. Other countries have been experimenting with a four-day workweek, potentially opening up new opportunities to drop them a message.
Make sure to take these differences into account for your SMS campaigns.
2. Avoid Sending Marketing SMS in the Middle of the Night or on a Holiday
On the tail of the previous point, it bears repeating that nobody wants to read a marketing message in the middle of the night, especially if said message wakes them up.
The same goes for holidays.
Being aware of various cultural events and holidays helps to avoid embarrassing mistakes.
- Don’t send discount offers to your audience during Christmas dinner when they are preoccupied with precious family time – it’s distracting, and they’ve already exhausted their stocking funds for the season ❌
- Don’t offer two-for-the-price-of-one lunch deals to your Muslim customers during Ramadan when they’re fasting from dawn until dusk – it’s insensitive and shows a lack of understanding of your audience ❌
Instead, anticipate when customers could use some help preparing for holidays and events or maintaining their sanity around those busy times. That’s your window of opportunity.
Free shipping, flash sales, and discounted subscriptions make more sense before all the gift-giving. Also, consider offering these deals after periods of self-restraint, such as Lent or Ramadan. Perhaps you even have opportunities centred around New Year resolutions!
3. For Promotional Campaigns, Aim for Paydays
If you’re trying to motivate customers to buy a new product or subscription, think about the most popular time they’re likely to buy.
Even the best deals sound less appealing when they’re stretching their final few bucks and still regretting an impulse buy they made earlier this month.
Paydays are usually either:
- At the beginning or end of each month
- Every other week
- Shortly before the midway point in the month (usually around the 13th)
But as with all other considerations on this list, it’s best not to blindly follow general rules.
Get to know your audience by interacting with them on social media and surveying them – you can even use SMS for that if you explain the purpose of it (better service for them) and use a relevant incentive.
“Complete a short survey to help us improve our service and win a coupon for X.”
It can be that simple.
4. Don’t Ignore Regulations and Privacy Laws
Lawsuits are no fun.
They happen when companies spam people’s inboxes without getting their explicit consent or providing them with a way to opt out of the campaign.
And they can be expensive, too.
In the EU, fines can add up to $20 million or 4% of your global revenue, whichever is higher.
Only begin a text marketing campaign when you have permission and follow all compliance rules for each region you’re engaging with.
As a rule of thumb, you need consent to send marketing messages, and mandatory quiet hours are between 9 PM and 8 AM for promotional messages in most regions.
5. Avoid Sending Planned Messages at a Round Time
Communication with companies often feels stuffy and impersonal to customers.
Whenever you get the chance, embrace the opportunity to make yourself more approachable.
Scheduling your messages off the hour (8:07 PM or 10:41 AM) instead of at round times (8 PM, 10:30 AM) is one simple tweak to give your texts a less automated feel.
Plus, avoiding round times means you’ll face less competition in inboxes.
On that note…
6. Alternate Times for Drip Campaigns
If you have a sequence of messages to send, people will catch on if you send each one at 8:07 PM.
“Beep boop, auto campaign: engaged.”
We know; it’s tricky enough to identify a single best time of day to send marketing SMS.
But you don’t want to sound robotic to customers.
It doesn’t have to be a major change either – try changing the minute or sending one of the messages a little over an hour later if you don’t have another specific optimal time.
Switching the day of the week might be a good idea, too. You’ll know for sure when you A/B test your campaign, but we’ll cover that in a minute.
The 4 Factors To Consider When Picking the Best Time To Send Marketing Text Messages to Your Audience
General guidelines aside, you can actually discover the best time to send marketing text messages for each type of campaign and customer segment.
Be warned: it requires some homework.
But if you’ve made it this far, we’re confident that you’re up to the challenge.
Summary of the Factors
These four factors help you find the best time to send marketing text messages in your context specifically:
|Factors to consider||Key points|
|The type of message you’re sending||
|Your business and processes||
|Your past results||
Save the table for a quick reminder, but make sure you read the full text below for more context and specific examples.
1. Your Customers
You need to know your customer segments and their behaviour. This is the most important factor in understanding the times they want to be texted.
Here are some ways to get in the loop and set yourself up for SMS marketing success:
- Don’t guess; ask them with interviews, case studies, and market research
- Track their interactions with your company as a whole and not just their response to your marketing pushes
- Pay attention to how they talk by looking at their social media and try to mirror it consistently (but not in a way that’s out of character for your company)
- Ask your sales team for pro tips – they interact with your customers regularly and can tell you common complaints, solutions, and keywords to use
- Note your customers’ paydays as well as work and leisure times
Don’t forget to consider cultural norms and expectations.
It might be a holiday in the recipient’s country, and some countries don’t allow promotional messages at certain hours. Study up on each region you plan to target!
2. The Type of Message You’re Sending
What are you trying to achieve by texting your customer segment in the first place?
The best time to send promotional SMS isn’t going to match the best time for a transactional message.
Here are some specific examples depending on the message type:
|Message type||Potential best times to try|
|Reminders and notifications||
|Abandoned cart or other eCommerce reminders||
Another thing worth noting is how many messages you’re planning to send.
If you’re doing a sequence, don’t text them each or every other day – the fact that it’s a sequence means it’s probably not urgent.
Space your messages out, so you don’t have more than one per week, and tweak their daily send times a little, so you avoid feeling robotic.
3. Your Business and Processes
Cater to your audience, but be realistic.
Don’t tell customers to call you at a moment when there won’t be anyone there to pick up the phone.
Before you send your marketing SMS, consider:
- Delivery times: if you have three-day delivery, don’t send messages two days before a special event since none of your customers will buy if they’ll receive their gift late
- Opening hours: if you need someone to respond to customer requests and concerns, when are they available?
- Demographics: consider your target audience’s age and gender, as a 60-year-old man is more likely to be busy during happy hour than a 20-year-old woman, but she may be socialising later in the evening
- Peak and low times for your business: depending on your objective, you may be promoting a lunch special or an evening performance
For example, restaurants and takeaways have a lot of traffic in the evening as well.
The best time to send marketing SMS in this case is between 3 and 5 PM on any day you’re open, especially weekends and before major sporting events.
4. Your Past Results
There’s nothing like analytics and A/B testing to determine the best time to send SMS marketing messages to your audience.
A/B testing means comparing two slightly different versions of the same message to see which performs better. By slightly different, we mean you only change one element at a time because if you change more, you’ll get confusing results.
- Using your customer research and your message type to come up with a selection of potential “best times” that fit with your business or campaign goals
- Testing these against each other within the same customer group to find the winner for that segment
- Repeating the test at a set interval to make sure the result is still valid (once a year is a good benchmark) because your audience grows and preferences and needs can change over time
Make it a habit to track your progress via analytics, so you learn from each experience.
Just remember to only change one element of your message at a time so your results are clear and useful – if you change more, you won’t know what worked, so you could be wasting time on unnecessary extra steps on every future SMS you send.
Find the Best Time To Send Marketing Text Messages to Your Audience Segments
There’s no golden rule.
Use considerations like customer behaviour, type of message, regional laws, and cultural norms to give you some guidance on the best messaging times, and be sure to run tests within those barriers.
Settled on a pretty good time to reach your segments?
Time to shift your focus.
Work on your database quality, message quality, and personalisation next. They’re fundamental factors for SMS success and often make a more significant difference in your ROI than obsessing about finding exactly the best time to the nearest minute.
Feel free to reach out to the Mr Messaging team for more help with scheduling and sending the perfect SMS marketing campaign.