When is the best day to send SMS campaigns?

Topic: SMS Marketing

With consumer expectations at an all-time-high, timing matters when it comes to customer-facing communications. 

SMS is no exception. 

In fact, with its exceptionally high read rate of 98%, the success of your SMS messages often relies on being sent at the right time to the right person than other channels.

With that in mind, how do you know when exactly is the right time to send? And how can you keep aware of what the industry around you is doing?

We’ve taken a deep dive into our own data to uncover some key insights for you to use when looking at the timings of your SMS campaigns and to provide you with a greater understanding of what the SMS world around you looks like. Read through our industry-by-industry breakdown of the data below and see if you’re in sync with the rest of your sector.

Healthcare – Tuesday

The healthcare industry uses SMS messaging for both internal and external communications, with millions of SMS messages sent each year. 

Whilst Tuesday is the most popular day to send, making up 22% of all messages sent, there is a lot of stability throughout the bulk of the working week. The first day with less than a 19% share of the messages sent by healthcare is Friday, claiming only 15% of all sends.

A notable, and consistent, theme we come across several times throughout the data is that weekdays are significantly busier than the weekend. In fact, between Saturday and Sunday, only 6% of the healthcare sector’s SMS messages were sent.

Use case can dictate message volume

For example, we’ve noticed that much of the message volume coming from the healthcare sector is sent out by pharmacies. By far the most common use case for SMS within this niche is one-way notifications, typically to notify customers of their medication deliveries. We see this reflected in the higher message volume during the working week compared to the weekend.

Retail – Monday & Tuesday

With retail, we see our first particularly diverse industry. The effect of this is a far greater mix of use cases and a much less varied data set. In fact, there’s almost no discernible fluctuation in send volume from Monday to Friday. However, Monday and Tuesday do both edge out the rest of the week, both taking a 16% share of the total volume of messages sent by retail.

After this, there’s a fall in volume over the weekend with Saturday and Sunday making up approximately 23% of volume across both days. Though it is worth noting, this is a much less pronounced reduction over the weekend than in some of the other industries (which we’ll cover throughout the course of this breakdown). 

Why is retail so much more consistent than other industries?

This stems from the fact that the retail sector is incredibly diverse – it can range from groceries, to electronics, to white goods to pet supplies. This huge range of sub-industries naturally necessitates a greater range of approaches needed by each individual company, so we see a larger mixture of use cases employed across the retail sector as a whole compared to other sectors.

As a result, different use cases will see different trends, some will work best at the start of the week, some at the weekend, and some will be much more sporadic and random in nature. Whereas in industries where a single use case dominates, we see much more pronounced trends in the data.

For example, retailers tend to favour promotional messaging, such as promo code alerts and flash sales notifications. As consumers naturally gravitate to the weekend to browse and purchase goods, there’s less need for aggressive marketing. Whereas consumers are less likely to shop at the beginning of the week, meaning it requires more effort to change that behaviour. This is likely why there is a more notable reduction in traffic at the weekend compared to the rest of the week.

Financial services – Tuesday

By far the most common use of SMS in the financial services industry is for security and authentication purposes. Think along the lines of receiving a single-use code via text when you log into your banking app, or if you perform a digital transfer. 

We see this illustrated in the data above by the relative consistency of volume across the working week, despite a slight uptick from at the start of the week, as people make use of these services both personally and as part of their professional lives. 

Unsurprisingly, this culminates in a dramatic downturn over the weekend. An interesting UK-specific phenomenon may also be in play, reducing activity over the weekends.

Although banks are increasingly turning to digital channels to communicate with customers in the UK, many people still hold more traditional attitudes when it comes to how they prefer to interact with their banks. For example, even after the impact of the pandemic, more than a quarter of consumers still prefer to visit their bank in person. 

As a result, many consumers still prefer to do their banking from Monday to Friday as they are still more comfortable interacting during this period than the weekend as banks in the UK traditionally close on Saturdays and Sundays. And this applies to digital banking as well.

Insurance – Wednesday

There are many similarities between the insurance and financial services industries. 

They both:

  • Have consistently high send volume during the working week.
  • See a notable drop in volume over the weekend.
  • Share security and authentication notifications as a key use case

Like financial services, two-factor authentication (2FA) is also a common use case for the insurance sector.The other key use case is a one-way confirmation, particularly in consumer-facing companies. Take the following example of a vehicle rental insurer:

A customer hires a rental van to help them move house. They book short-term, fixed term insurance for the duration of the van rental. Upon completion of the purchase, the insurer then sends a confirmation text to verify the purchase and give the customer key information, such as the date the insurance is valid till.

Transport – Thursday

Overall, Thursday is the most popular, but the transport sector as a whole has the most consistent day to day volumes across each of the industries we’ve looked at here. 

Much like the retail sector, a huge range of companies sit under the umbrella of “transport”. So, we see a similar smoothing effect across the data with very little fluctuation in volume across the week. 

With everything from international air travel to local taxi companies, the demand for these companies’ services necessitates a large array of use cases.  The most common tend to be service updates – “Your taxi will arrive at [ADDRESS] at [TIME]”

However, usage of two-way conversations has grown over recent years, mainly to support customer service activities enabling customer queries to be resolved more effectively.

Finally, SMS is also commonly used in the transport sector as an internal shift management platform, helping companies communicate with employees about working times and shift changes. 

This wide range of use cases contributes further to the stability of SMS sends across the transport industry. 

Utilities – Wednesday

Whilst the start of the week as a whole contributes to the bulk of SMS sends for the utilities industry, Wednesday edges out ahead of the rest to hold 19% of the volume.

With water and energy providers, in particular, the main use cases tend to vary between:

  • Notifications of electricity usage compared to a customer’s tariff 
  • Confirmations of engineer bookings
  • Two-way conversations used to triage customer service issues.

We do see message volume trail off towards the end of the week after the midweek peak. This is likely a result of less engineer bookings and tariff notifications at the weekends.

Recruitment – Tuesday

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we see the vast majority of messages being sent by the recruitment sector during the working week with an almost negligible 6% sent across the weekend.

The most popular use case in the recruitment sector comes from temporary staffing coverage, where SMS is used to inform applicants of shifts available to them, and to gauge interest. In these scenarios, two-way conversational messages are used by the recruiter to send out the details of a job, which the applicant may then reply with YES or NO.

These types of messages make up a significant portion of the volume we see in the recruitment industry and is almost certainly why we see such strong performance on work days in comparison to the weekend.

Why is Monday’s volume noticeably lower?

Mondays are often notorious for being ‘catch up’ days in many companies – filled with and inboxes to sort through. The simple answer is likely the same as why email open rates fall on Mondays – people are simply too busy.

Sending midweek is more likely to ensure a successful delivery and greater engagement as typically, they are ‘quieter’ days.

Entertainment – Tuesday 

The entertainment industry is another example of a highly diverse sector serviced by SMS messaging. However, unlike the retail and transport sectors, we see a far less consistent share of volume across the week. In fact, entertainment sees some of the most inconsistent sending patterns out of every industry and sector. 

Heavily dominated by more promotional-style campaigns, the data suggests that when it comes to SMS, the entertainment industry tends to have an “all-or-nothing” approach, with very specific days taking huge portions of the sent messages, whilst other days having much less activity.

This results in bigger players skewing the data by sending en-masse SMS campaigns on days that they’ve found work best for them, leading to the large day-to-day fluctuations and an overall lack of a consistent trend across the week

Tuesday is the most popular based on our data, taking up 26% of all messages sent in the entertainment industry. With Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday all battling it out at approximately 14% each. 

Conversely, if you combine the volume of messages sent on Wednesday and Saturday, the two least popular days to send, it barely scratches 16% in total. 

Interestingly, Sunday, with 14% of all sends, has by one of the highest share of messages sent on the weekend out of all the industries we’ve looked at. This is most likely an attempt to encourage consumers to engage before the start of a new work week when it’s likely that customers spend less time and money on entertainment compared to the weekend.

The unrivalled flexibility of SMS enables a seamless customer experience, regardless of industry.

Overall, it appears that weekdays are the most popular days to send SMS messages. This is perhaps largely due to the fact that people are busier at weekends. As they’re less likely to engage with their phones, messages are more likely to be missed. For maximum impact, your SMS messages should be sent on a week day.

Though, this may also depend on the type of message you send. Did you notice that our data mainly covered one-way notifications and alerts? If you wanted to make the most of conversational messaging, weekends may be more effective as your customers will have more time to process the message and engage with it.

The potential of SMS is nearly limitless. Discover how the unparalleled flexibility that SMS as a channel provides can enable you to provide the best experience for your customers, from top-of-funnel leads, to conversion, and long after. Start your free trial or talk to an expert today.

Author Avatar
Laura Haynes

Hey I'm Laura, UK&I Marketing Manager at Esendex 👋