The Value of Timing: When to Send Email and Text Messages

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John Brogan, founder, Global IntelliSystems
John Brogan, founder, Global IntelliSystems

Email, meet text message…text message, this is email. Marry these two forms of digital messaging together, add links to company websites, Facebook and Twitter pages, time it all correctly, and companies can produce a winning strategy that makes marketing efforts pay off more substantially.

Whether the company is a giant firm with millions of database contacts or a much smaller operation, knowing when to send text messages and related emails is an art form not to be discounted. Is there a special time of day to send a particular client or potential customer those messages? What data mining services are available to help pin that down if the information isn't available in-house? The answers to these questions are vital for today's marketers.

Combining text and email

Time-sensitive information can first be delivered by a call-to-action, via text message. For example, a client playing the stock market might rely heavily on messages telling him when to buy, hold, or sell. In this case text messages are ideal for grabbing someone's attention.

After their attention is captured, an email (including a website link) delivers more in-depth information and shares more of the why and how-to: the reason that person should take action. The click-through mechanism provides the link where recipients receive all the details.

Sending a text message first also helps cut through the clutter of the email avalanche many receive on a daily basis. Too many text messages can raise a person's ire, however, so that's where timing comes in. Email marketers don't want the dreaded “unsubscribe” return message. Since in many cases there's a per-message charge, as well, it pays to be efficient.

Higher rates of return

To generate higher rates of return, adjust to each customer's time zone. First, think about where they live. Don't wake up a Californian with a 4 a.m. text, even though an East Coast customer might be perfectly fine with a 7 a.m. alert. Rely on data analysis to pinpoint when people typically open their text messages.

Second, reinforce loyalty. The more a potential client opens messages and clicks through to a website, the more incentives and bonuses they should receive. Ultimately, the stars may align and visitors will discover an offer too good to pass up.

Step-by-step

What do customers and prospects want to receive from vendors and potential suppliers, and when? Talk to them. Try a test campaign first. See who's opening text messages versus emails. If they're opening emails at a much higher rate than text messages, rework your texts, looking for a higher open rate. Look at crafting dynamic (customized) messages. Don't send a diehard baseball fan golf-related messages, for instance.

Retailers can review sales data or buy information from outside services that allows them to pinpoint what customers actually like to open message-wise. Clients in the stock market leave an e-trail that indicates what investment opportunities might be most attractive to them.

Study what links customers click on. That produces another way to help tailor a message and seek to optimize open rates. Then adjust the offer made, using everything learned from data analysis. The goal, of course, is to make a sale or get the customer to take the action desired by offering the right incentives.

Here's an example. One brokerage client learned that the majority of its open rates came between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. As a result, the company adjusted the timing of its text message to “land” at 9:25 a.m. and followed up with an email at 9:45 a.m. Click-through rates soared because the messages fit subscriber activity patterns. Sales went up, and now the company pays close attention to open rates and when to send text messages.

Easy does it

Data mining is a valuable asset, but don't overdo it. The art form is to not over-text by sending too many messages. Realize the value of timing when sending messages, combining text (the trigger) with emails (background information). Texts or emails sent out via a big blast, without the open rates being analyzed, aren't an efficient way to do business.

Let the digital tools available do the work by helping to craft and readjust future messages. It might also make the bottom line look better when it comes to overhead. Automation can replace human analysis in many cases.

Anyone can send text messages and related emails to clients or potential customers. The art of making those messages targeted, timely, and more impactful is the key.

John Brogan is founder of Global IntelliSystems

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