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When is the best time to send a text message?

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March 4, 2013

Tracy Kunzi is director of account management and creative services at Mogreet

By Tracy Kunzi

Text message marketing is about nuance. It has to be. Mobile phones evoke significant emotions within their owners.

If you are a mobile marketer using text messaging, your successes are based on growing the number of opt-in mobile database members and their engagement. If you upset a user, he or she has the power and right to unsubscribe easily.

Along with other best practice in text message marketing, one of the fastest ways to upset mobile database subscribers is to send them messages at the wrong time. Wake them up at 2 a.m. to share a fast food coupon? Unsubscribe. Text me at 4 a.m. with a payment reminder? Unsubscribe.

Mobile is the one channel people can be reached with throughout their day. As you can see in the below chart from Zokem Mobile Insights, text messaging is most effective during business hours (10 a.m.– 8 p.m.), while lifestyle-oriented activities such as apps and Web browsing dominate evening hours.

So, when is the best time?
First, you need to consider the times of day that your mobile audience is on their phone the most and what time periods are most appropriate and relevant for within their daily routine.

If you have more flexibility in your message’s timing, consider the below:

- No one likes Mondays: Unless your message is related to that specific date (or a reminder), Mondays have shown the lowest response most likely due to the overwhelming content that people receive after weekend via email, television and mail.

- Avoid rush hour: Since it is text messaging, people cannot read or engage with a text message during common rush hours, typically 6:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. local time.

- Be respectful: Not too early in the morning and not too late at night. Think about when users would want to accept a phone call. A text message has a similar alert method and people typically don’t want to be bothered at those times.

- Go local: Always keep local time zones in mind. Send messaging out at the times most impactful to those in each local market. Especially for television shows, retail sales and time-sensitive offers.

- Breaking news trumps all: The bigger the news, the more lenient you can be with messaging outside of “mobile business hours.”

- Appointment reminders: Reminders should be sent at least 24 hours before the appointment and contain all necessary information.

- Ongoing reminder messages: Daily/monthly reminders on any subject are popular in this increasingly busy world. Send at the time that best fits your goals: horoscopes in the morning and high school football score alerts on Friday evening.

- Drive midday foot traffic: Trying to drive people into your establishment during lunch hours? Send out your blast at 11:30 a.m. local time to catch those who are making lunch plans and even add an offer to incentivize the visit instead of treating it as a plain advertisement.

- Drive in-store weekend foot traffic: Thursdays are popular dates to send text messages with strong response rates and Fridays between 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. have shown great success for retailers such as Charlotte Russe.

- Support upcoming events: Send out a couple reminders spaced out including on the actual date and links to increase RSVPs and attendance. Include specific event information to assist attendees with planning and logistics.

- Seasonal and holiday messaging: Send holiday messages with valuable content up to a week before an expected action is to be taken to allow them to plan properly, such as an upcoming sales, in-store events or even holiday recipes.

- Bad holiday messaging: Do not send unexpected or irrelevant messages on holidays or during the big game. Always have a clear purpose and relevance to the time and date sending.

- Send electronic receipts: There has been a big increase in the adoption of electronic receipts to save overall costs for retailers. SMS/MMS text message receipts can be integrated easily and inexpensively. Make sure they are sent immediately after purchase. Drive additional action by including a link to view other specials or products to drive more sales and interest.

- Send shipping alerts: Use SMS or MMS messages to send shipping and delivery confirmations. This will help build a trusting relationship with your consumer.

- Always be testing: Still not sure what time or offer will drive the best ROI, time test your message in rolling time zones, different geographic areas and improve content as you see fit.

How often to message the mobile database
While the type of news you send will directly determine the frequency of messaging, here are a few additional tips for ongoing messaging:

- You can message more than once a week if your message is relevant and the frequency must be mentioned to the user when they subscribe.

- For typical news or alerts, once per week or even biweekly is a common frequency.

- Never wait more than two to three weeks without messaging from the user’s initial opt-in, unless your program is structured for longer time periods between updates. Messaging is about engagement, not about one-off blasts.

- People opt-in and then forget when and why, so immediate messaging is key to keeping them engaged and building a loyal fanbase.

- Keep in mind, for legal reasons, you must message your database at least once every six months for premium (paid) campaigns and 18 months for standard rate campaigns, otherwise you must rebuild your list.

TEXT MESSAGING, when implemented respectfully can be a highly impactful marketing medium for almost every industry.

Tracy Kunzi is director of account management and creative services at Mogreet, Venice Beach, CA. Reach her at tracy@mogreet.com.

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