Best Practices for Successful SMS Campaigns, Part 3

In part 1 and part 2 of this three-part series, I shared best practices for attracting and retaining SMS subscribers and how to create text messages your customer will find important and engaging. In this part, I will finish up with best practices for tailoring and adjusting your SMS campaign to make sure you’re sending the right message to the right customer at the right time.

Timing Is Everything

Do you like waking up in the middle of the night because of an incoming-text chime, only to find that it’s a coupon for shoes? Didn’t think so. It’s not that I have anything against saving money on shoes, but I really don’t need to wake up at 2 AM for that.

However, if you’re sending a “Buy one drink get the second drink free coupon” to a night-clubber, sending it out after midnight may be perfect.

When your SMS campaign targets a single region, country, or several neighboring countries, all in the same time zone as you, then you don’t need to worry about time differences. However, if you’re in New York and sending an SMS to customers in Russia, it’s a good idea to check where each recipient lives and adjust the send-time for the time-zone difference.

Again, Timing Is Everything

So we’ve made sure your text isn’t waking up your customer in the middle of the night. That’s important. It reduces the risk that they’ll curse you out and opt out on the spot. However, that’s not enough. We want to make sure your customers engage with your SMS.

As mentioned in my post on SMS having high conversion rates, 90 percent of text messages are read within 3 seconds of coming in. This means that you can use precise timing to maximize conversion. Say you want to send out an offer that’s only valid this Saturday afternoon. If you send it on Monday morning, most recipients will have long forgotten about it by the time it becomes relevant. Instead, send it out Saturday in the late morning, say 11 AM, which is when most people will decide what they’ll do that afternoon.

If you own a chain of Mexican restaurants and want to tell customers that tonight is burrito night at your 5th Ave restaurant in New York City, send it at 5 PM, when people start making their dinner plans. If your restaurant is in Paris, it’s better to send the SMS at 6 or 7 PM to account for the later dinnertime in France. In Spain, it might be 7 or 8 PM.

Not sure when is the best time for a particular message? A/B testing is your best friend.

Bad Landings Are a Problem

From personal experience, many Web landing pages I reach from links within text messages are a disaster. They’re not mobile-friendly. They’re not personalized. They don’t match the source SMS. They have complicated forms to fill out with multiple steps, where you have to click “No” 3 times on the app download.

If you’ve gone to the trouble and expense of crafting a compelling SMS opt-in invitation and creating killer text messages, why would you send recipients to a miserable landing page that destroys any chance they’ll convert?

Consider Cross-Channel Marketing Fatigue

Have you experienced receiving the same message from a brand via email, push, and SMS, perhaps all on the same day?

Annoying, isn’t it?

There may be unique circumstances where you might want to send the same message across all channels at the same time, say if you’re canceling an event. In most cases, however, it just maximizes the likelihood you’ll irritate your customers and get them to unsubscribe and opt out.

Use smart rules on what messages you send via which channels and when. If your push wasn’t read, you may want to send a follow-up SMS. If an email was left unopened, sending a text message could be helpful. The same is true in the other direction: if your SMS didn’t lead to engagement, a follow-up email or push notification might be called for.

On the other hand, if your customer engaged with an email message already, you should probably skip sending them an SMS today and vice versa.

Yes, setting up such business rules does require an advanced campaign management solution, but it’s just one of the nice features of Adobe Campaign.****

The best way to manage cross-channel marketing fatigue is to ask customers what they want to receive. That’s right, your customers, not your team. Deploying a great preference center makes it easy on your customers to tell you exactly what they want.

Keep Your Database Up-to-Date

Mobile phone numbers change over time, so you have to keep them up-to-date. Use emails and website visits to ask your opted-in customers to check if their phone number is still the same. You should also pay attention to errors when you send out text messages. Finally, you can purchase services from companies that specialize in data quality and verifying phone numbers.

Measure Engagement, Not Just Open Rates

If your SMS is just an alert or transactional message without any links, track deliverability and open rate. However, for any SMS that provides an engagement opportunity, track engagement. This includes:


Your SMS uses that most-intimate device, the customer’s mobile phone, to put your message in front of him, intruding on whatever activity he’s engaged in. In 9 out of 10 cases, he’ll read your message in a matter of seconds. This means that you need to make sure your message is getting to the right person at the right time.

Keep your database up-to-date. Don’t send messages when they’ll disturb your customer’s sleep but rather when he’ll be able to use the content right away. Send him to a personalized and easy-to-use landing page. Don’t let your SMS contribute to cross-channel marketing fatigue. Finally, and most important for marketing ROI, measure, measure, measure. Track everything you can to make sure you see what works and what doesn’t, then change the latter.

Follow the best practices presented above and in the first two installments of this series to help your SMS campaigns gain opt-ins, reduce opt-outs, and maximize ROI. If you’re using SMS campaigns, what other best practices do you employ?