What’s the Best Time to Send SMS Marketing Messages?

Picture of a woman looking at her smartphone


What is the best time to send SMS marketing messages?

That’s an interesting question. The fact that text messages can be opened and read in less than 10 seconds works decidedly in your favor. This means that no matter what time of day you send your message, it neither interferes with nor interrupts your contacts in any significant way. This no doubt contributes to what we already know; over 95% of text messages are opened and read… usually within a few minutes. At the same time, text messages sent at certain times of the day may be less ideal than others. Ideally, you’d like to “hit” your customers with your marketing messages when they are most able to respond to them, or when they will have the most impact.

Evenings are not Ideal

Messages sent in the evening are more likely to be viewed as intrusive by your customer. This is, after all, her time. Cell phones are also more likely to be turned off and / or charging in the evening, which means texts sent at this time may not be opened immediately, or alternatively, are opened along with an additional backlog of unseen messages, which reduces the impact of your offers. Evenings are definitely not the best time to send SMS marketing messages.

Who’s Your Demographic?

Consider too, your business’ demographic, when determining the best time. If your audience is comprised largely of moms and dads who spend a large portion of their morning commuting and getting the kids ready to go to school, messages sent during the early morning may not have the same effect as those sent a little later, because these people are going to be busy and distracted at this time. After the kids are at school and they have settled into their work days… that’s when you want to contact them.

One thing that does seem to be sure, however, is this…

Don’t Send Text Messages on the Weekend

That’s because “opt out” rates (the percentage of people who unsubscribe from your campaigns by responding with the word “stop”) are 400% higher when text messages are send over the weekend. A company called Cellit analyzed over 1,000 SMS / Text Message Marketing campaigns sent in 2011/2012 and found the opt-out rate for text messages sent during the week was an amazingly low 1.8% (old data, but unlikely to be any less accurate today). On the weekend though, this number ballooned over 4 times to 8.5%.

Learn from the “Big Guys”

Old Navy (Canada):

Sends their messages around 9:45 am, Thursdays through Saturdays (it varies. And they didn’t get the weekend memo, apparently).

Michael’s Craft Stores (Canada):

Sends their messages between 11:00-11:30 am, Wednesdays through Sundays (they didn’t get the memo either).

Best Practice Recommendation

Unless you have data to the contrary, aim for a mid-morning time slot around the end of the week (i.e., Thursday), since that’s when most people are starting the wind down, and are more likely to have an opportunity to act on your offer. But make the decision based upon what you know about the demographics of your unique audience.