The Best Time to Send an SMS: Is There a Right Answer?
Published: Jun 5, 2023
Conventional marketing wisdom would say that the best time to send an SMS is when your audience is most likely to see it. Fortunately, with SMS, that’s almost always. People have their mobile phones with them at nearly all times, day and night.
The immediacy of an SMS message pinging their phone means that they are far more likely to quickly view a text message than an email. That’s the power of SMS marketing. But there’s a caveat: just because you can text at any time, doesn’t mean you should. The right timing makes the difference between effective communication and just sending a text message into the void.
The better marketing wisdom is that the best time to send text campaigns is when your recipients are most likely to be receptive to it. And that can be very different from just looking at a message and ignoring it. When you’re in a rush or busy, you might open an SMS just to get the notification to go away, and then forget about it. Ideally, you want the message to leave an impression, and for there to be an action taken.
Effective business text messaging comes down to the timing of the message as much as it does to its content. And the two are intertwined in the overall goal of your message, but what is the best timing?
The answer is that the right time to send marketing SMS depends on the purpose and target audience of your message. But there are certain general guidelines and SMS marketing best practices that are more likely to have your message be well received and engaged with, rather than just left on seen.
SMS Marketing Pricing
We use a pay-as-you-go pricing model, meaning we charge per sent message. No monthly or sign-up fees. SMS marketing costs vary depending on your destination.
What is The Best Time to Send SMS Marketing Messages?
The short answer to this question is during regular working hours. For most people and businesses, that means between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
For some, it may be between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. But let’s take the span between 10 and 7 to both cover a broad range and be safe from a dreaded early morning notification. This is when people are awake and going about their workday.
Remember, SMS platforms will let you schedule your messages in advance. So, even if none of these times work well for you personally, you can easily automate your campaigns for the optimum time. Let’s break it all down.
Early Morning Texts Are Bad Unless Necessary
Unless it’s an SMS reminder for an appointment that’s in an hour, refrain from texting in the early morning. Aside from the risk of waking someone up, early morning texts are generally less effective as people are in a rush to get ready or driving to work. You might get lucky to catch someone on a boring commute seated on the bus or subway.
But unless you know your recipient’s daily schedule and habits down to their exact method of transportation, it’s a safer bet just to avoid this period.
Late Night Texts Are Even Worse And Almost Never Necessary
Unless there’s an emergency or a fire (no, not a fire sale), nobody likes getting woken up by a text in the middle of the night. Nothing is more likely to sour a relationship with your customers than an ill-timed text message that causes annoyance or anger. Your local regulations may even have mandated quiet hours where businesses are prohibited from making phone calls and text messages.
Lunchtime is a Good Time
Lunchtime and early afternoon—usually sometime between 12 and 3 p.m.—is another good window for SMS marketing. People are less likely to be in meetings or engaged in busy work, and more likely to be browsing their phones and have the time to look at their texts and respond.
For tips on how to make your texts stand out and be engaging, read our brief guide on SMS marketing strategy.
Time-Sensitive Messages are an Exception
If your message is time-sensitive, send your SMS now. This can mean if someone has an item that needs to be picked up before a certain time, something is about to be delivered and needs to be received by a person, or there’s a deadline for payment. If you notify someone of an upcoming appointment, send the message a day before and again an hour or more beforehand.
Moreover, you send prepared scheduled texts to send timely messages; for example, an hour or two before someone's appointment.
An appointment reminder service is helpful in automatically notifying your customers of subscription renewals, or other situations that cost your business money if missed. Similarly, an SMS alerts service can be set up to provide automated weather updates, traffic conditions, and other time-sensitive information.
Consider Time Zones When Mass Texting
You may have recipients spread across the country or even the world and different time zones can throw your perfect timing out of whack. Fortunately, bulk service providers can help you with automatically sending these out at the right time based on a recipient’s time zone.
For example, you can tune your sending so that all your recipients get the message at 5 p.m., no matter their time zone. This is especially useful when mass texting a geographically disparate list.
Best Days of the Week to Send SMS Marketing Texts
The best days to send SMS marketing texts are weekdays, but not all days are created equal.
Mondays are, well, Mondays. Nobody likes them, and even fewer people like to be bothered with more unnecessary messages during them. This is when many people will be catching up on tasks, taking meetings, and corresponding on work-related matters. If you’re set on a Monday-sending schedule, try including a little light-heartedness in your messaging.
Conversely, Fridays are also hit-and-miss. Yes, it’s Friday and people are happy. But they’re also making plans for the weekend, looking forward to the evening, and mentally checking out. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays work well for SMS and strike a good balance.
The weekend gets a little tricky. For a lot of people, this is when they like to unwind and take their time for personal stuff. But it’s also when a lot of people will be doing some shopping or lounging and spending time on their phones. It’s a time reserved for friends and family when people may not even check their email.
Because texting is such a personal medium that we reserve for those closest to us, your SMS messages will get through even on a Saturday or Sunday. Use this privilege sparingly and don’t overdo it.
What Time of the Month to Send an SMS
If you’re selling something, you want let customers know is when they have money to spend—that means after payday. People are more spend-happy when they’ve got their paycheck in the bank and haven’t spent it all yet. Aim for the beginning of the month and avoid the last third of the month when money might be tight for some people.
These guidelines are general and should not be taken as a hard and fast rule. Ultimately, it depends on your specific situation and target audience. Experiment with different times and see what works best for your SMS campaign.
You can segment your audience and do some testing to see which times drive more engagement and conversions. This will allow you to better connect with your audience on their terms, but for that, you also need to know your audience.
Know Your Audience
Personalized SMS marketing doesn’t just mean customizing the content of your message to each recipient, but also tailoring the timing. And the right time to send a text may differ based on your target demographics.
Learn your audience and their habits. Are they busy white-collar professionals or stay-at-home parents? What are their behaviors and expectations of you? Are you their healthcare provider or just their preferred clothing brand?
You may not know everything about each recipient, but you should have a general concept of who your targets are and when they’re more receptive to your messages.
Top Examples of SMS Marketing Timings
In more general terms, the ideal time to send SMS marketing texts also depends on what you are communicating and what you want to achieve.
1. Upcoming Sale or Promotion
If your sale is starting tomorrow, advertise it today. Or a few days before, but not so far ahead of time that by the time it starts people have forgotten about it. In which, case you’re going to need to send another reminder closer to the date.
2. Ending Sale or Promotion
On the opposite end, your sale or promotion is ending soon, and you’d like to send a promotional SMS to your list. Do the same as above—a few days ahead, and maybe again on the last day.
3. Lunchtime Special or Dinner Deals
If this is the case with your business, go ahead and send an SMS an hour or more beforehand to be top of mind. Dexatel has a full suite of messaging solutions for the food and beverage industry for reservation reminders, order delivery notifications, and weekly specials.
4. New Subscription to Your Texting List
Go ahead and set that SMS to be sent immediately if a customer subscribed to your texting list. Introduce yourself, thank them for signing up, and let them know what to expect. Maybe include a special offer or promotional code as a courtesy.
5. Back-in-Stock Item
For this scenario, follow the best practices outlined above. You might have gotten the stock at night but wait till morning to notify people.
Text message marketing is a powerful tool, that’s why it should be used responsibly. You have an extremely privileged position of reaching your customers at any time at a moment’s notice; the time it takes someone to look at their phone after a beep.
That means that your audience trusts you not to abuse it and reserve business time for business, and personal time for personal life. Time it right, and you’ll keep your customers happy, and make yourself happier, too.