Create a Sending Schedule Based on SMS Engagement

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Overview

Knowing how different groups of subscribers engage with your SMS and MMS marketing messages is important for creating a sending schedule and driving high click rates. Frequently texting those who are unengaged can lead to high unsubscribe rates. Using engagement tracks, you can establish different sending cadences based on how subscribers respond to your marketing messages and ensure that your unsubscribe rates remain low.

Engagement Tracks

For SMS, we recommend setting up four engagement tracks:

  • Track A: These are your most engaged or recent subscribers, who you should be messaging regularly
  • Track B: These are the subscribers who engage with about 25% of your messages
  • Track C: These are the subscribers who rarely engage with your messages
  • Track D: These are unengaged subscribers who are nonresponsive to your messages

Your regular sending frequency will apply only to those who are in your highest engagement track (Track A). For those in lower engagement tracks (Tracks B–D), it is best to target them less frequently. Below we outline recommendations for several different sending schedules that may work for your brand.

Picking a Sending Frequency

There are a few things to consider when deciding on an SMS sending frequency. If you are just starting out with SMS/MMS marketing, you should start slow and work your way up to a more frequent cadence. By spacing out your text messages, you can get a feel for how your audience engages with your brand without overwhelming them. You will also get a feel for what content resonates best with this audience.

Common SMS sending schedules include:

  • Weekly
  • Bi-weekly
  • Monthly

For general marketing messages, do not send to customers daily like you might with email, as this will quickly overload your subscribers and lead to a high unsubscribe rate. Once a week should be the most often you message your subscribers, unless the subscriber knowingly opted into daily reminders (e.g., for taking a supplement).

If you explicitly collect your customers’ communication frequency or content preferences, be sure to tailor your communications to those preferences. For instance, if someone asked to only receive information about events, do not send them promotional material. After some time, and if they are highly engaged, ask if they’d like to update their preferences to receive more information.

As you send, monitor your unsubscribe rate. If you are losing SMS subscribers extremely quickly (5% or more per campaign), scale back your sending frequency and look at how your customers respond to the new frequency as well as your message content.

Weekly Senders

For weekly senders, try to keep things as fresh as possible. For instance, if you are in the food and beverage industry, you can send out weekly food specials or links to recipes.

Use both conditions below for all of your tracks. The only exception is in Track A for the new subscriber segment, where you’ll need to include those who consented to receive SMS recently:

  • If someone is or is not consented to receive SMS > Person is consented to receive SMS
  • What someone has done (or not done) > Consented to receive SMS zero times in the last 30 days

The only things that will change between the different tracks in a certain sending schedule are the number of clicks, timeframes, and, for Track A, having new subscribers. If you don’t always include links in your text message, consider lowering the click requirement, extending the timeframes, or both. 

Track A: High Engagement
Send the majority of your content to Track A, since these are your most engaged customers. Create two separate segments for this track: new and highly engaged.

For the new customers segment, define it as anyone who has signed up for SMS in the last 30 days.

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Those who are highly engaged will have received at least 2 SMS in the last 30 days and clicked at least once in the last 15 days.

Recommended sending schedule: maintain a weekly sending cadence.

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Track B: Medium Engagement

Your moderately engaged audience will be in Track B, which means they will receive messages less frequently than those on Track A. To create this segment, set the conditions to capture those who have clicked 1 message in the last 60 days, received no more than 3 text messages in the last 30 days, and received at least 2 texts in the last 60 days.

Recommended sending schedule: message this track bi-weekly. 

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Track C: Low Engagement
These are the people who rarely engage with your brand. Try to win back these customers by adding them to a flow. Space out the winback flow’s messages based on your sending schedule and turn on Smart Sending. The people in this track will have received at least 2 messages in 60 days, but no more than 6 in 60 days to prevent those in Track B from being included. Then, add that they need to have clicked at least 1 in 90 days.

Recommendation: message this track once a month at most and add to a winback flow.

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Track D: No Engagement

This group consists of those who are not responding to your SMS messages at all. Exclude this track from your sending schedule and immediately place them into a sunset flow. For the segment definition, include that someone has received at least 4 SMS in the last 120 days and has clicked 0 times during this time.

Recommendation: sunset these subscribers.

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Example Schedule

Below is an example of a schedule for the different tracks for weekly senders.

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Bi-Weekly Senders

Sending every other week ensures that you still touch base with your subscribers a few times a month, and thus send timely and relevant content. It also keeps your content creative and engaging. For instance, you can send information about upcoming events, specials, or sales. Sending bi-weekly also means that subscribers aren’t getting pinged as often as weekly senders.

Use both conditions below for all of your tracks. The only exception is in Track A for the new subscriber segment, where you’ll need to include those who consented to receive SMS recently:
If someone is or is not consented to receive SMS > Person is consented to receive SMS
What someone has done (or not done) > Consented to receive SMS zero times in the last 30 days

People will move between tracks depending on how they engage with your SMS messages. Note that engagement is defined by if they click an SMS; however, if you don’t always include links, you may want to extend the suggested time frames or number of clicks.

Track A: High Engagement
You’ll want to message your most engaged customers per the bi-weekly schedule. This group will include not only those who consistently click your SMS messages, but also those who have recently consented to receive SMS messages from your brand.

In this segment, include those who opted into SMS marketing in the last 30 days.

Track_A_new.png

Define your high-engagement segment by including anyone who clicked at least once in the last 30 days and received at least 2 SMS messages in the last 60 days.

Recommended sending schedule: maintain a bi-weekly sending cadence.

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Track B: Medium Engagement

Track B consists of one segment and comprises people who engage with around a quarter of your messages. Here, set the definition to include anyone who has received at least 2 but no more than 6 text messages in the last 60 days, and has clicked 1 in 90 days.

Recommended sending schedule: message this track once a month.

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Track C: Low Engagement
These are the people who are less engaged with your brand, but not completely unengaged. Try to reconnect with these customers by adding them to a winback flow, but keep in mind that you should be careful to space the messages out from your normal sending schedule. The people in this track should have received at least 2 messages in 210 days, but no more than 3 in the last 90 days, as well as clicked at least 1 in 180 days.

Recommendation: message this track once every two months and add to a winback flow.

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Track D: No Engagement

This group consists of those who are completely unengaged with your SMS marketing. When sending out SMS messages, exclude this segment from all campaigns and flows. Then create a segment-triggered flow to sunset these subscribers. For the segment definition, include that someone has received at least 4 SMS in the last 240 days and has clicked 0 times.

Recommendation: sunset these subscribers.

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Example Schedule

Below is an example of a schedule for the different tracks for bi-weekly senders. 

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Monthly Senders

With a monthly sending schedule, you may want your content to be more of a roundup, linking to an information page that goes into more detail about future sales, product launches, or events (either in-person or virtual). You may even want to include this all in one MMS message; however, we recommend testing to determine what works best for your audience.

Add the following conditions to all of your segments except in Track A for the new subscriber segment:

  • If someone is or is not consented to receive SMS > Person is consented to receive SMS
  • What someone has done (or not done) > Consented to receive SMS zero times in the last 30 days

Your subscriber will move up and down the tracks based primarily on how many SMS messages they click. If you don’t always include links, you may want to consider extending the suggested time frames or number of clicks.

Track A: High Engagement
If someone is clicking on at least half of your SMS messages, include them in track A and send them all of your content. For this purpose, you’ll need to include both those who actively engage already and those who have just signed up for SMS.

In your segment of new SMS subscribers, include anyone who has consented to text message marketing in the last 30 days.

Track_A_new.png

You can consider someone to be highly engaged if they have received at least 2 SMS in the last 120 days and clicked at least once in the last 60 days.

Recommended sending schedule: Maintain a monthly sending schedule.

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Track B: Medium Engagement

If someone engages with only about a quarter of your SMS messages, add them to Track B. Set the segment to include those who have received at least 2 text messages in the last 210 days, received no more than 3 in the last 90 days, and clicked at least 1 in the last 120 days.

Recommended sending schedule: message this track every other month.

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Track C: Low Engagement
These are the people who are less engaged with your brand, but not completely unengaged. Try to re-engage these customers by adding them to a winback flow, but keep in mind that you should be careful to space the messages out from your normal sending schedule. To do so, you can turn on smart sending.

The people in this track should have received at least 2 messages in 240 days, but no more than 2 in 60 days. Then, add that they need to have clicked at least 1 in the last year.

Recommendation: message this track every third month and add to a winback flow.

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Track D: No Engagement

This group consists of those who are not responding to your messages. Exclude this track from your sending schedule and immediately add them to a sunset flow. For the segment definition, include those who have received at least 4 SMS in the last 365 days and have clicked 0 times.

Recommendation: sunset these subscribers.

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Example Schedule

Below is an example of a schedule for the different tracks for monthly senders.

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Optimize Your Sending Strategy

As mentioned above, no matter which sending schedule you choose, carefully monitor your unsubscribe rates. Further, regularly look at your segments to see how many subscribers are in each, as you may want to tweak your sending schedule based on this information.

Another way to optimize your SMS strategy is to utilize A/B testing. This can help you find out if those in Track C only want to hear about sales or if they also want to know about product launches. You can determine if your audience prefers infrequent, long-form content over more frequent, shorter SMS messages.

As always, abide by and ask for your subscribers’ preferences, particularly when it comes to your low-engagement tracks. In the winback flow for Track C, for example, you can ask for this information as part of your effort to provide content that customers are more interested in so they more regularly engage with you.

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