We've analyzed over ten billion SMS campaign messages. Here’s what you need to know about the best time to send your SMS marketing and email campaigns.
You’ve invested time planning your marketing calendar, writing polished copy, and creating stand-out graphics to make sure your campaigns hit their mark. Now, there’s just one more variable that plays into your messages’ success—when you send them.
Your customers experience SMS and email differently—your campaign send time strategies should reflect that. We’ve crunched the numbers and analyzed top-performing campaigns so you can send your SMS and email campaigns at the exact right moment.
Quick answers to big questions
When’s the best time to send SMS marketing messages?
The best time to send SMS marketing messages is between 1pm - 5pm. This time frame ensures maximum revenue per send and the highest click-through rate. By targeting your audience during these hours, you can reach them when they are most likely to be active and engaged.
Some high level benefits of sending SMS campaigns between 1pm - 5pm include:
- Maximizes revenue per send
- Increases click-through rate
- Targets an active and engaged audience
When’s the best time to send an email campaign?
We recommend sending your email marketing campaigns at 7:05 AM, 11:05 AM, and 6:35 PM to boost open rates and engagement.
What’s a good frequency to send emails and text messages?
You’ll get the most bang for your buck when you send eight messages a month to all of your subscribers. You’ll strike a balance between maximizing revenue per send and maintaining a low opt-out rate.
How can I scale up and send more messages without annoying my customers?
Segmentation is key to scaling your SMS program while creating a thoughtful customer experience. Take a cue from each of your audiences, and match their level of engagement with personalized cadences and content. For instance, your VIPs are probably interested in hearing from you more often, while new subscribers who haven’t made their first purchase yet would probably prefer more time between messages as they get to know you.
Things to consider before you send an SMS or email marketing campaign
There are a lot of factors that lead to a successful SMS campaign. Keep these questions & strategies in mind as you schedule your text messages:
Which audiences am I engaging?
Each of your audiences will have different preferences, so you should segment your list and tailor your cadence to meet their needs.
Faith Bukauskas, Hot Topic’s Email Manager, recommends thinking about audience engagement through the lens of building a friendship. Your VIPs are like your close friends—you message them regularly, with a mix of actionable texts and entertaining or educational content that aligns with their interests. But subscribers who just joined your channel are more like new acquaintances—you’re getting to know them and building trust, so you’re texting them less often.
You should also consider what your audiences are interested in receiving from you. For example: Are some of your subscribers only clicking when you launch a major promotion, while others are mostly interested in new products? Adapt your text messaging frequency to these content preferences to make sure your customers are engaged with what you’re sharing.
What time zones are my subscribers in?
Think about what time zones your subscribers are in before you schedule your SMS or email campaign. A mid-morning text message for a subscriber in New York could reach a subscriber in California before they’ve had their coffee. Your campaigns run the risk of falling flat or being forgotten.
To take the guesswork out of scheduling your campaigns, we recommend using Attentive’s time zone sending feature. It scans your subscribers’ geographic information and automatically adjusts the send time for each subscriber based on their time zone.
What’s the context for my message?
You want to reach shoppers when they’ll be able to read and take action on the texts you’re sending them. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What will my subscribers be doing when they get my message? Are they on their lunch break, scrolling their phones, or are they in back-to-back meetings? Are they just starting their day, or are they kicking back on the couch, scrolling through their phone?
- Will they be able to complete the action I’m asking them to do? For example, are you inviting them to stop by your store for a special offer, but you close in a few hours? Or, are you sending them nudges throughout a sale to make sure they have enough time to shop?
- Is it a high-frequency holiday, or a quiet week? During peak marketing moments (like Cyber Week or Valentine’s Day), try sending your message a few minutes off the hour to break through the noise. PS—Check out our dedicated message sending guide for Black Friday and Cyber Monday for more tips on how to plan for the holidays.
- Is there a cultural holiday going on that you should be respectful of? Your subscribers may be less engaged during major religious or cultural holidays, impacting your campaign performance. And, there are some holidays that you should be respectful of, especially if they’re a moment for mourning or remembrance.
What types of messages am I sending?
Variety is key to SMS marketing. You wouldn’t only reach out to a friend when you need something, so you shouldn’t take that approach to your SMS subscribers, either. Strike a balance between promotional messaging and helpful content.
Your subscribers also want to feel heard. Show them you’re paying attention to their interests with personalized recommendations, inspirational or educational content related to their purchases, or conversational messages asking them about their preferences.
Is there an opportunity to A/B test my campaign?
While our recommendations are based on data from over 10 million campaign messages, your audience will have their own specific preferences. A/B testing will help make sure you’re sending the right message at the right time for your brand.
Consider running these A/B tests to discover what your subscribers like:
- Day of week
- Time of day
- Short vs. long message copy
- Link placement (e.g., mid copy or after copy)
- Line breaks and formatting
- Emotion (e.g., generosity, exclusivity, or FOMO)
- Call to action (e.g., “Shop Now” vs. “Click Here”)
- Emoji usage
- Image (MMS) vs. text-only (SMS)
- GIFs vs. images
- Image types (e.g., product photography, lifestyle photography, or graphic calling out the offer)
- Conversational vs. one-way messages
When should you send a text message?
Timing is everything. But perfect timing is part data, part intuition.
Our data found that you should send your SMS campaign between 1pm - 5pm EST to maximize revenue and click-through rates. Consider these stats:
- Text messaging campaigns sent after 1pm EST see a 33% lift in revenue per message
- SMS click-through rates peak between 1pm - 5pm EST, and climb up again after 8pm EST
Make sure your messages land by thinking through your shoppers’ mindset when they receive your SMS campaigns. For instance: If you’re inviting them to take advantage of an in-store offer, consider sending it in the morning so they can schedule it into their day. Or, if you’re giving shoppers exclusive access to a product drop, send a campaign in the evening to make sure they won’t miss your message while focused on work.
When should you not send a text message?
Be respectful of when your subscribers might be sleeping, or just starting or wrapping up their days by setting quiet hours (typically between 8pm and 12pm). Not only will your subscribers be more likely to ignore your messages, they probably won’t be in the right headspace to take action on them.
You should also be respectful of cultural and religious holidays, especially if they’re a moment of remembrance or celebration for a community.
What is the best day to send SMS marketing campaigns?
Text messages sent on weekdays rather than weekends typically drive more revenue per send (although messages sent on Sundays do perform well). However, if you’re focused on increasing your click-through rate, it’s best to send on weekends. Consider sending educational content on Saturday or Sunday.
The best day to send your SMS marketing campaign will really depend on your audience. We recommend A/B testing your campaigns to discover which days your audience is most engaged.
When should you send an email marketing campaign?
The immediacy of SMS marketing means that you need to focus on the exact moment your subscribers will receive your messages. But email offers you the opportunity to think about the actions subscribers are eager to take during certain parts of the day.
What time are shoppers most likely to open email?
It’s best to send your email marketing campaigns at 7:05am, 11:05am, and 6:35pm. Your subscribers are just starting their day, so your message will be at the top of their inbox when they check their email in the morning. And they’re likely to check their email and browse online over their lunch break, meaning they’re ready to click through and shop.
We also recommend sending messages a few minutes after the hour or half hour. You won’t have to compete with other messages, and you’ll be less likely to be blocked or filtered.
What is the best day to send email marketing campaigns?
Crunching the numbers across studies, it’s best to send your marketing emails in the middle of the week. The best day of the week to send an email marketing campaign is Thursday. Tuesday is the second best day to send your email campaigns, followed by Wednesday.
Sending your email marketing campaign on Thursday means you can make sure consumers pencil you in over the weekend, whether they want to shop a sale or check out a new item in-store.
Shoppers are least engaged with your email marketing campaigns on Saturdays and Sundays. They’re likely to be either on-the-go or unplugging, meaning they’re not checking their email much.
How often should you send SMS marketing and email campaigns?
Your subscribers experience SMS and email differently, so your messaging calendar should reflect that. While SMS is active—your subscribers are likely to see and click through on your messages right away—email fosters more discovery. As a result, consumers may be more likely to notice more frequent text messages than emails.
How many SMS campaigns should I send per week?
We recommend sending at least one to two text messages a week to your full subscriber list to maximize revenue while retaining subscribers. Revenue per send peaks when you send 6 - 8 messages per month, so you won’t leave any engagement (or revenue) on the table. Your shoppers will be engaged, too. Opt-out rates don’t start to increase until you send 10 - 15 messages a month to your full subscriber list.
That being said, your frequency will vary depending on the types of messages you’re sending. For example: If you’re launching a big sale, it’s best to bookend your promotion with an announcement text message and a final hours reminder to make sure subscribers have time to shop. However, if you’re dropping a new product, consider sending a single message inviting VIPs to shop to maintain the sense of exclusivity.
Your messaging frequency will also vary by audience. Your brand loyalists are interested in engaging with you, and want to hear from you more often. Shoppers who are still in the research phase, however, won’t want to hear from you as much until they’ve made a purchase or two.
Taking a holistic approach to your SMS calendar—thinking about who you’re engaging, what actions they’re taking, and what value they’re getting in return—will set you up for success.
How often should I send marketing emails?
Just like your SMS marketing cadence, your email marketing frequency isn’t an exact science. A HubSpot survey found that 33% of marketers email shoppers at least once a week, and an additional 22% send a few emails a month.
The key to a strong email marketing strategy is understanding what your goals are. For example:
- If you’re nurturing shoppers, send fewer emails and zero in on product education (including product recommendations, look books, and testimonials).
- If you’re driving urgency around promotions, send more often and cluster your emails around major sales and limited-time offers.
- If you’re building loyalty, send a regular cadence of emails with a range of content (from user-generated content to loyalty perks).
Should I send my SMS and email marketing campaigns at the same time?
Your SMS and email marketing schedules should complement one another. Consider the unique benefits of each channel as you set your strategy, plan multi-step and multi-channel campaigns, and schedule your messages.
For example: Email marketing is a visual channel, which lends itself to long-form storytelling and inspirational photography. SMS marketing, on the other hand, is pretty immediate. It’s the perfect channel to send time-sensitive updates to subscribers (like product drops and limited-time offers).
So, what does this look like in action? Let’s take a look at a couple of scenarios:
- Launching a new collection: First, send a targeted text message inviting your VIPs to shop your collection before anyone else. Then, introduce the collection to all of your subscribers with an image-heavy email telling the story behind your products. Include links to shop, styling recommendations, and behind-the-scenes content. A few hours after you send your email, send a text message inviting shoppers who have browsed similar categories to shop the new collection.
- Announcing a sale: Build urgency with a timely text message, highlighting the limited-time nature of the promotion. Follow up with an email highlighting the most popular items included in the sale to entice shoppers to browse. A few hours before the promotion ends, send a final hours SMS reminder to shoppers who haven't made a purchase.
Beyond form, each channel has their own unique function. Text messaging also lets you have conversations with subscribers, helping you gather zero-party data directly from shoppers. And because email lets you share a lot of information at once—including collections of recommended products, content, and offers—it’s a perfect way to collect first-party data as shoppers engage with your emails.
Take these benefits into consideration as you plan out your holistic marketing calendar. For example: A week before a product launch, you could send a conversational text message asking subscribers what their goals are. You could then use that data to tailor your email announcement based on what your subscribers shared.
What time are people most likely to respond to a text message?
When you send a conversational text message, your top goal should be message engagement. We recommend sending your conversational message between 1pm - 5pm, or after 8pm. Your subscribers will be in the right mindset to respond, and they’ll be able to engage with the content you share with them once they respond.
It's also key to prepare for unprompted messages from your subscribers. Shoppers aren't shy about reaching out to brands themselves when they have a question or trouble checking out. Solutions like Attentive Concierge™ and LiveSMS™ help you reply to messages quickly and easily, so every subscriber feels supported.
Bookmark this guide for the next time you need to schedule an SMS or email campaign. But keep in mind that when you send your SMS or email campaign is only part of the formula. Delivering value to your subscribers will ultimately help your campaigns make an impact—a personalized recommendation, thoughtful offer, or exclusive perk will always be well-received.
Take your SMS knowledge to the next level and discover marketers’ top questions about SMS marketing and our best practices. If you’re just getting started, check out SMS 101, an interactive course that’ll help you build your text message marketing foundation.