When is the Best Time to Send SMS Marketing and Email During BFCM?

BFCM imagery with illustrated checklist, calendar, and message bubbles
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SMS Marketing
Published on
Sep 13, 2023
Written by
Lydia DelRossi
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Get answers to your SMS and email sending questions, including when to start talking about BFCM, best times to send, and how many messages to send across channels.

Want to get inspired by how other brands have achieved holiday success with SMS and email? Explore our 2023 BFCM Planner to unlock SMS message templates, a webinar to help you set your BFCM strategy, and more.

“When is the best time to send a text or an email?” is one of the questions we hear most often from brands. As we get closer to the biggest shopping period of the year, this question might be even more top of mind, since shopping behaviors tend to look a bit different during BFCM. 

Most likely, the send times and frequency that work for your brand throughout the rest of the year will need to be adjusted during BFCM to meet the needs of your subscribers. 

And while there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution for what works best, you can use this post as a guide to finding the BFCM send times and frequency that work for your brand.

When should I start sending BFCM text messages and emails?

This holiday season, shoppers are more cautious about their discretionary shopping. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t ready to shop—it just means they’re spreading out their purchases and going on the hunt for deals

As a result, we recommend you take a “hammock” approach to your BFCM text message and email campaign calendar: 

  1. October: Launch initial seasonal promotions in October to capture earlybird shoppers. You can align these with seasonal moments, including the start of fall and Halloween. 
  2. Early November: Educate subscribers about your products to help them build their shopping lists. Lean into gift guides, user-generated content, and conversational messages to help shoppers in their discovery and research process.   
  3. Mid- to late-November: You can start texting all your subscribers with BFCM-specific deals as early as the Sunday or Monday before BFCM. Even if your sales don’t start until later in the week, you can give subscribers a heads up on what to expect by sharing a countdown or teasing a schedule of your deals. Keep the texts going through the weekend by promoting extended Black Friday sales, or early access to Cyber Monday offers.

You can also use your BFCM promotions to grow your subscriber list. In late October and early November, launch sign-up units promoting your scheduled sales, encouraging them to sign up to be the first to know when they begin. Once Cyber Week kicks off, send a dedicated campaign to this segment of subscribers giving them early access to your deals. Your subscribers will appreciate the heads up, and it’ll help you break through the clutter on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.  

How can I drive urgency ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday? 

As you get closer to BFCM, start engaging your VIPs—whether you define them as loyalty members, top spenders, most engaged subscribers, or something else. These subscribers are the most likely to convert right away during Cyber Week. 

You can add your brand loyalists to a segment so you can easily send them text messages that the rest of your subscribers won’t receive. A few text message ideas you can send them include:

  • Early access to your BFCM deals
  • Double loyalty points for a limited time
  • Free shipping 
  • “VIP” sitewide sale. 

As you approach the end of Cyber Monday, follow up with anyone in this segment who hasn’t made a purchase yet, and let them know the deals are ending soon.

When is the best time to text subscribers during Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

During Cyber Week last year, SMS was the primary channel brands and consumers used during normal business hours. This makes sense: Because it’s an immediate channel, consumers can see (and click through on) brands’ messages right away. And getting messages outside those hours can feel disruptive. 

Our customers found that targeting different times for each day of Cyber Week—based on what consumers were most likely up to and the urgency of the offers—was the most effective strategy.

Best times to send SMS campaigns for BFCM 2023

Breaking it down by the most popular times to send, and by the highest conversion rates (CVRs), we discovered: 

  • Thursday (Thanksgiving): 6pm was the most popular send time, although messages sent at 5pm had a marginal 20% lift in total CVR. 
  • Friday (Black Friday): While 9am was the most popular send time, messages sent at 1pm unlocked a 126% higher total CVR. 
  • Saturday (Small Business Saturday): 10am saw the highest send volume, but messages sent at 2pm achieved a 123% higher total CVR. 
  • Sunday: 1pm was the most popular send time, and messages sent at 9am or 6pm saw a small increase in CVR (a 15% lift). 
  • Monday (Cyber Monday): 9am was the most popular time to send text messages, while messages sent at 12pm had a 78% higher total CVR. 
  • Tuesday (Giving Tuesday): 12pm saw the highest send volume, but messages sent at 8pm drove a 73% higher total CVR. 

The split between the most popular send times and highest conversions makes sense: Brands consistently sent their campaigns in the morning, but consumers held off on purchasing until their lunch or dinner break. This year, your BFCM schedule will come down to balancing getting shoppers’ attention early, and reaching them when they’re ready to make a purchase.

Pro Tip: Congestion on the carriers peaks between 10am and 4pm ET on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with fastest message delivery rates before or after those times. Messages also send fastest outside the top of the hour and half hour, so consider sending at off times like 11:05am, 1:10pm, etc. Finally, if you have questions about the “best” time to send based on local laws, please check with your counsel.

When is the best time to send email campaigns during Black Friday Cyber Monday?

While brands and consumers used SMS during typical business hours, email was the star of the show in the early morning and evening, when shoppers were likely to check their email inboxes. 

Best times to send email campaigns for BFCM 2023

Looking at the most popular send times and the highest CVRs, we discovered: 

  • Thursday (Thanksgiving): 7pm was the most popular time to send, but messages sent at 10am had a remarkable 277% higher total CVR. 
  • Friday (Black Friday): 7pm was once again the most popular time to send, while messages sent at 11pm saw a much higher 180% total CVR. 
  • Saturday (Small Business Saturday): Brands sent the most messages at 7am, while those sent at 10pm saw a 138% higher total CVR. 
  • Sunday: Brands returned to the popular 7pm time slot, although messages sent three hours later at 10pm had a 229% higher total CVR. 
  • Monday (Cyber Monday): While 10am was the most popular time to send, messages sent at 11pm had a 127% higher total CVR. 
  • Tuesday (Giving Tuesday): 12pm was the most popular time to send, and it saw the highest CVR as shoppers made their purchases over their lunch breaks. 

The best time to send your Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails is clear: target shoppers at night (10pm-11pm). You’ll be at the top of shoppers’ inboxes as they check their emails one last time before bed.  

Keep in mind that your subscribers (and their preferred times to receive a text or email) are unique. Consider running A/B tests based on send time leading up to the holidays, so you have a better idea of what your subscribers prefer.

We also recommend using Attentive’s time zone-based message sending feature when scheduling or sending your texts and emails. This tool scans the geographic information of your subscribers, and automatically adjusts the send time to align with each individual’s time zone, so you can make sure you're not engaging subscribers too early or too late.‍

How many text messages should I send during BFCM?

When we crunched the data from BFCM 2022, we saw a fascinating trend. Revenue went up exponentially the more a brand sent SMS campaign messages. 

How many text messages brands should send over BFCM 2023

We analyzed brands’ revenue and ROI trends as they increased their text messaging frequency in November. Brands saw the most success during Cyber Week when they sent 3x the number of campaigns they would in a normal month (we recommend looking at averages across August through October). Almost all of these brands also see a stable or increased ROI, ensuring long-term health. 

If you’d like a more concrete number to benchmark against, a good rule of thumb is sending at least 9 BFCM-related campaigns. 

Opt-out rates don’t increase as send volume increases, either. We also discovered something surprising: Opt-outs during Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a good thing. It’s a natural way to clean up your list and get the most out of your budget. 

Hear us out: We learned that 75% of subscribers who opt-out during Cyber Week have never made a purchase from that brand. And most of the remaining 25% have only ever made one purchase. This means you’re not losing value when subscribers opt out during Cyber Week. You’re actually getting your budget back, so you can send to subscribers who are ready to buy. 

Pro Tip: Make sure you’re texting your full list during this period to maximize revenue. That doesn’t mean you have to “batch and blast” the same message to everyone, though. Create different segments within your subscriber list based on first- and zero-party data you’ve collected, so each message still feels relevant to different audiences.

What types of text messages should I send during Black Friday and Cyber Monday? 

The types of campaigns you send go hand-in-hand with how often you choose to send text messages. For example, if you’re planning a “12 days of deals” campaign, let your subscribers know before it starts, so they know what to expect. You can even give them the option to “opt in” to that specific campaign, so you’re only texting subscribers who are interested. 

Or, if you have a sale that lasts several days, like throughout the week or weekend, bookend the sale with SMS. Text subscribers the day your sale starts (or even the day before) to let them know the details. Then, on the last day of the sale, send a “final hours” text message. Be sure to create a sense of urgency and use a strong call to action, such as “last chance to save,” “shop now before it’s over,” or “sale ends tonight.”

You should also think about your segmentation strategy for each campaign. For example, if you’re giving VIP subscribers or loyalty members first access to shop, make sure to exclude them from the text you send to the rest of your subscribers when it’s their turn. Or, if you’re sending a “final hours to shop the sale” text message, consider excluding subscribers who’ve already made a purchase.

How many emails should I send during BFCM?

When deciding how many emails you should send during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, think through the lens of maintaining a strong deliverability score. 

While this is going to look different from brand to brand, after digging into our 2022 BFCM data, we have three key recommendations: 

1. Turn on all of your triggered email journeys

Your triggered email journeys are your work horses on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They’re a sure-fire way to get shoppers coming back to your site with personalized reminders and offers, and to engage them after they’ve made a purchase. 

2. Start ramping email volume in October

Slowly begin increasing your email marketing cadence well before Cyber Week to prevent mailbox providers from blocking messages due to sudden changes in sending behavior. This will also clean up your subscriber list by removing bad addresses over time, rather than seeing a spike in bounce rate on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. 

Pro tip: As you ramp, remember to always start by targeting your most engaged subscribers. 

3. Strike a balance between staying in touch with your audience and avoiding email fatigue

Segment your list based on engagement levels and tailor the frequency of emails accordingly. Aim for consistency without overwhelming your subscribers. Too much unread email can cause mailbox providers to flag your emails as unwanted or spammy, which will result in widespread deliverability issues.

For more strategies and inspiration, check out our BFCM text messaging templates, and browse text messages sent by leading brands last year in Texts We Love.

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