How Often Should You Text Customers for SMS Marketing?
Finding the right schedule to connect with your audience
Table of Contents
Call it the “sweet spot.” In any marketing campaign, you’ll want to find the ideal number of times to engage customers. Not too much, not too little.
The trick is in finding that sweet spot. In SMS marketing, you’ll find success stories that run the entire gamut. Some companies increased engagement with daily SMS text blasts. Others minimized drop-outs by only sending two per month.
So what’s the answer? How often should you text customers when they opt in to your list? If you’re going to #ProtectTheList and drive maximum engagement with minimal outreach, you need a rule of thumb. We looked at some case studies and came to a simple conclusion:
Most of the time, less is more.
But let’s get specific. When is less more? Should you text less than twice a day? Less than twice a week? Is there an ideal answer to how often you should text customers? SMS marketing is a field of outreach like no other--and it requires some specific answers. We looked at some hard data to come with recommendations you can start incorporating today:
How Often Should You Text Customers?
Determining the ideal frequency of texting customers can be a challenge. There’s not always a “one-size-fits-all” rule. At Postscript, we recommend texting customers up to once per week, with a monthly range of 2-4 texts. While your individual campaigns may require higher frequencies, this is a good rule of thumb for creating high-engagement, low-exit SMS campaigns. The industry guidelines of about 2-6 texts per month generally support this idea. But there are some exceptions that we’ll note below.
Sending the Right Messages, Not the Right Amount
While some text campaigns are all about quantity, most customers tend to look for quality.
Customers are open-minded to your texts--but only to a certain point. A broad survey found that 75% of consumers are A-OK with receiving SMS messages from brands, as long as they’ve opted in. But that doesn’t mean you should expect 75% of all customers to hang on all the time. Their loyalty to your SMS list depends on two main factors:
- Frequency of communication. Customers may opt out when they find out you text them more than they wanted. This is true even if you send out high-quality information or valuable coupon offers.
- Quality of content. The strain of sending out valuable information every day tends to be too much for companies. The quality of each text tends to suffer.
The ideal campaign features high-quality, high-value text messages with a frequency that the customers can handle.
While 2-4 or even 2-6 messages per month is a nice rule of thumb, keep in mind that there’s no universal answer. Your campaigns will depend on your audience, your offer, your product. If you’re looking for a “paint-by-numbers” approach, you can use 2-6 messages per month as a starting point. But keep in mind that this rule may not be what your customers expect of you.
It’s not always about how often you send the message. It’s about how targeted your messages are to fit in with your audience’s expectations. Ask yourself the following questions:
Is your message:
- Relevant to audience interests? Customers looking for daily deals are going to feel short-changed if you don’t send them often enough. Other customer segments may only want a handful of SMS updates per month to coincide with their shopping trips.
- Timely? Let’s say you have a seasonal business that especially performs well during the holidays. Sending out 2-6 monthly Christmas updates in July is only going to turn some customers away.
- Consistent with the reason customers opted in? Sometimes, people will sign up to offers with the goal of receiving daily text messages. If daily texts are consistent with customer expectations, it can still work.
- Targeting the right customer segment? Getting the timing right is just one element. Are you getting the customer right? Segment your customers so you know what they want, when they want it, and what types of content they most enjoy.
- Being repeated, inadvertently? If you send an SMS blast to someone who just saw the exact same message via email, you should expect different conversion rates. You need a way to monitor which customers have seen what so you can segment them with a tailored marketing message.
Examples of Effective Low Frequency Texting Campaigns
Want an effective way to win more customers through low-frequency texting campaigns? Focus on win backs. These are the customers who haven’t bought in a while, but trust your brand. And chances are, they haven’t heard from you.
Low frequency texting campaigns are especially effective for customers who forgot to take action. Gently remind them to take an additional step. You may “activate” a customer who forgot they were in the middle of a purchase.
Ford once launched a text marketing campaign targeted at win backs. The campaign was simple: identify customers who had failed to fill out their online form. They created a customer segment for those who had entered a zip code, but forgot to fill in their name. Typically, these signups would receive follow-ups from a local Ford dealer. If the customer didn’t enter their name, Ford would send three reminders within a month. Right in the “sweet spot” for low-frequency campaigns.
The win backs worked. The campaign resulted in a 15.4% conversion rate for Ford.
Carl’s Jr. offers another example of a successful low-frequency SMS campaign. It retargeted existing customers by sending them 50% discounts on various meal combos. The campaign was so successful that 20% of the entire list ended up redeeming the coupons.
Carl’s Jr. also built a mobile marketing campaign that would send out approximately five messages per month. They incorporated customer segmentation using zip codes to provide location-specific offers.
The lesson? Less can be more. Especially when you know who your customers are.
There are also conversational campaigns, in which you don’t send out any new texts. You wait for the customer to reach out, and then treat that text as a conversation. Here’s an example of Maev doing just that:
This is an example of a low-frequency, high-impact interaction with a customer. But remember that the key is in customization: you’re only interacting with the customer on a personal level. To take advantage of this position with 10 SMS blasts a month might throw them off. If they signed up for conversations like the above, they’re going to be less tolerant when you take advantage of their contact information for higher-frequency campaigns.
The lesson? Less can be more. Especially when you know who your customers are.
Examples of Effective High Frequency Texting Campaigns
What if your customer segment wants more texts? Then there may not be a black-and-white rule of thumb for the ideal frequency of your text campaigns.
Nanamacs, which works with Postscript, has enough product release updates that their customers want to stay in the know with more texts. And frequent shoppers will stay tuned to a higher-frequency text campaign to keep discounts coming.
Another famous example is Snapple Facts. Snapple’s “Snapple Facts” SMS campaign included daily fun facts. These were similar to the fun facts that appear under their caps, like “Giraffes can lick their own eyes.”
This campaign uses a higher frequency for entertainment purposes. Users know exactly what they were signing up for. And because Snapple was reinforcing what it already did--including facts under their caps--it helped build consistency with the Snapple brand.
But you don’t have to have a pre-existing campaign like “Snapple facts” to make this work. Redbox created a fresh campaign: 10 Days of Deals. Once again, the high frequency of texts was advertised before the opt-in. Redbox didn’t hide the fact that it would be sending daily messages.
It was a success. Redbox saw a high redemption rate for their deals. They also attracted a bigger audience, adding some 200,000 potential customers to its SMS reach.
What happens when you don’t set clear expectations from the outset? It can backfire on you. That was the case for Jiffy Lube, which sent texts to customers without giving them opt-in options. The intention behind Jiffy Lube’s campaign was good: to provide customers with a 45% discount. But sending out text blasts without the opt-in was against regulation. The resulting fines were in the millions of dollars. When you don’t think about your customers’ preferences, any number of texts can be too many.
What is the Best Time to Send SMS Marketing?
There’s one risk you run when you send texts too often: you’re more likely to run into poor timing.
Mondays are notoriously bad. According to MobileMarketer, ”Mondays have shown the lowest response most likely due to the overwhelming content that people receive after [the] weekend via email, television and mail.” Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the most popular with SMS and email campaigns.
What about your timing during the day? Catch people when they’re more likely to be on their phone. That means reaching people in the morning or from 5 to 9 p.m, according to Text Marketer. And according to them, Friday “is the most popular day to send SMS marketing messages.”
But these are just rules of thumb. The best time to reach your customers will depend on the customer segments you’re targeting. If you have a daily marketing campaign like Snapple Facts, you won’t have to worry about being selective about the days of the week.
What are the Consequences of Texting Customers Too Often?
It’s possible to overthink your SMS campaign. But that leads to another question: is there an optimal frequency for text messages? Is there a hard “line” that no SMS marketer should cross?
Upland Mobile ran the numbers and found that sending texts too frequently did have a substantial effect. This study looked at two campaigns, each with approximately 500,000 subscribers. They watched the opt-out rates with every text blast. One campaign sent out a blast about once a week while the other averaged multiple times per week. In the higher-frequency campaign, new text blasts sometimes came in every day.
Those daily text blasts would see whole integer gains in drop-out percentages. Although the less-frequent text blasts also resulted in some drop-outs, the effect was minimal.
The data suggests that with each text blast, there are going to be some customers who change their mind no matter what. “The value provided with each message was not sufficient to retain customers’ interest,” wrote Upland. “To be clear, other factors beyond message frequency contribute to Orange and Blue’s respective successes, e.g. the content contained in each SMS message and the call to action advertising the promotion.”
Keep in mind that this study doesn’t reflect message timing. While the text blasts between the two campaigns did sometimes overlap, they didn’t always. But one thing is clear: the higher-frequency campaign drove the highest drop-outs when texts were coming in fast and furious.
As you send texts more frequently, there can be a cumulative effect. By the end of twenty days, the differences are clear. If the value of your content is too low, higher frequencies of text messages could lead to higher churn.
Using Postscript to Send the Right SMS at the Right Time to the Right Customer
We find that anywhere from 2-6 texts per month will tend to generate the best results. We find this in case studies as well as the hard data. But there are exceptions. Customers might choose to opt in to interesting, engaging SMS campaigns with the goal of receiving them every day. It comes down to choosing what’s best for your list.
The good news is that once you decide on a strategy, you’ll be able to incorporate these insights automatically. Postscript makes it possible to:
- Follow up on new purchase with texts that are automatically timed to fit with the principles you read above
- Exclusively target abandoned cart customers so you can gently “nudge” them without spamming
- Schedule your campaigns to include high-impact texts, sent on a schedule you designed for maximum impact
The result: every customer will feel the increased personalization that your SMS campaigns deliver.
Want to see it in action? Schedule a live demo of Postscript by texting DEMO to 72599.
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Written by Kaleigh Moore
Kaleigh Moore is a freelance writer for ecommerce companies.