One of the most frequently asked questions here at Tatango is: how often should you text message your customers? Unfortunately, the answer depends on your business. Since that’s not very helpful, we thought it would be useful to share how often some of the top brands are texting their customers. Hopefully this will give you some insight into how many text messages you should be sending to your own customers.
3 Quick Questions
First, below are three questions to consider to help you get a feel for the right amount of text messages to send to your customer, depending on your business or industry.
1. How Often Does Your Average Customer Make a Purchase?
One of the first questions to ask when deciding how often you should text message your customers is: how often does the average customer make a purchase? For example, if you’re a quick-service restaurant like Chipotle or McDonald’s, customers might visit your restaurant a few times per week. But if you’re a fine-dining restaurant, customers might only come in once per month, for a special occasion or night out.
You want your text messaging marketing frequency to resemble how often customers are likely to purchase from your business. Your text message alerts can serve almost as reminders and incentives for customers to come into your store or restaurant. If you know that your customers eat out a few times per week, then you want to send a text message a few times per week, so your restaurant is always top of mind. If you know that your restaurant is more likely to be a special date night, then you want to send a text message once or twice per month so customers think of you when they plan their special night out.
The same goes for retailers or any other business. If you’re a retailer who knows that the average customer makes a purchase once per month, then you can incentivize them with a coupon or discount once or twice per month to keep your brand top of mind.
2. How Often Do You WANT Customers to Make a Purchase?
Another way to think about this is: how often do you WANT customers to make a purchase? If you’re a fine-dining restaurant who only sees each customer once per month, but you want to increase that to twice per month, maybe you start sending text message promotions a few times per month, so that your customers have more reasons to eat at your restaurant. Maybe you mix in a weekly theme, or rotate a few types of monthly promotions, so customers have an incentive to visit you more often.
Or, let’s say that you’re a car dealership. Maybe your average customer realistically only buys or leases a car once every few years, but you want to increase their life-time value beyond just car purchases. You could text message helpful reminders about oil changes, car washes, brake checks, and so on, just to get customers in the door more often, and incrementally increase their life-time value.
The same would apply if you’re, say, a hair salon. Customers might only need a haircut once every few months, but if you want to increase revenue, you could send text message alerts for deals on hair products or other salon services, so you make money every single month, even if customers only get their hair cut once every few months.
3. When Is Your Busy Season?
It’s also useful to consider when your busy season is when considering how often you should text message your customers. For example, as a car dealership, you might see far more customers in the summer versus winter, as people are much more inclined to walk around a car lot when it’s warm outside. In that case, you may want to bump up your text message marketing frequency in summer time.
Similarly, if you’re a retailer and have an annual or semi-annual sale, that would be a time when you can send more text messages without annoying your list, as customers know it’s for a finite amount of time, and want to capitalize on all the great deals.
While there is no one right answer across all businesses and industries, we hope those questions at least give you a framework to consider how often you should text message your customers. Another helpful way to gauge what’s right for your industry is to see how often top brands are text messaging their customers.
How Often Do Brands Text Customers?
In the graph below, you are able to see how many text messages per week New York & Co, Express, Macy’s, Dressbarn, Bloomingdale’s, Sonic, Papa Murphy’s, Papa John’s, Subway, and Olive Garden are sending their customers.
This data was compiled from SMS Archives, the first ever search engine for SMS marketing. At the top of each brand’s profile page on SMS Archives, you can see the average number of text messages that each brand sends per week.
Below we look at each individual brand, and how often their text messaging their customers, and will give you some insights into their messaging.
Olive Garden is an American casual dining restaurant chain specializing in Italian-American cuisine and family dining. Olive Garden sends text message deals every 7.2 days, or around one text message per week. The restaurant chain typically sends SMS messages, meaning a text message with only copy and no images, gifs, or video attachments. Olive Garden typically sends a text message discount on an entree, or promotes a special day like Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or National Meatball Day.
See actual Olive Garden text messages on SMS Archives.
Bloomingdale’s is an American luxury department store chain selling designer clothing, handbags, accessories and more. Bloomingdale’s sends 3.9 text message coupons per week on average, or two to three text messages per week. Bloomingdale’s mainly sends plain-text SMS messages promoting on offer like 25% off. That’s a pretty good discount if you’re looking for designer items at a steal of a deal.
See actual Bloomingdale’s text messages on SMS Archives.
Dressbarn is an online retailer specializing in plus-size clothing sizes to 2 to 24. Dressbarn sends text message coupons every 5.4 days, which equates to one to two text messages per week. Dressbarn typically sends MMS messages, which we love to see brands using, because MMS messages make the text so much more enticing. Everyone loves to click on a photo, making the call-to-action so much more engaging than just a text hyperlink. Dressbarn typically offers coupons like 25% off or buy-one-get-one-free.
See actual Dressbarn text messages on SMS Archives.
Subway is a restaurant franchise that primarily sells sub sandwiches and salads. It’s one of the fastest-growing franchises in the world, with more than 40,000 locations in 100 countries. Subway sends text message coupons every 4.9 days, which amounts to about one or two text messages per week. Subway primarily sends plain-text SMS messages, with offers like special prices on foot-long subs, or a free foot-long sub when you order a family takeout special. We love when Subway uses MMS, because there’s nothing like a picture of a fresh-baked sandwich to entice us to buy!
See actual Subway text messages on SMS Archives.
Macy’s is an American department store chain. Macy’s has hosted the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City since 1924 and has sponsored the city’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display since 1976. Macy’s Herald Square is one of the largest department stores in the world. Macy’s sends SMS or MMS messages every 6 days on average, or about one per week, with killer deals such as 30 to 50% off.
See actual Macy’s text messages on SMS Archives.
Express is an American fashion retailer that caters mainly to young men and women, selling on-trend jeans, sweaters, dresses, suits, coats, and more. Express sends messages every 5.4 days, or about one text message alert per week, with great deals like 40 to 60% off.
See actual Express text messages on SMS Archives.
Papa John’s is an American pizza restaurant franchise. It’s the fourth largest pizza delivery restaurant chain in the United States. Papa John’s sends SMS messages once every 7.6 days, so about once per week. Papa John’s offers great text coupons like two large two-topping pizzas for just $8 each. Not bad for a weekly pizza night, right?!
See actual Papa John’s text messages on SMS Archives.
Papa Murphy’s is famous for their Take ‘N’ Bake pizzas, where you can pick up a pizza to bake at home, with dough from scratch, fresh-grated mozzarella, and hand-sliced our veggies. Papa Murphy’s sends text message coupons every 1.9 days, so about two to three times per week. Papa Murphy’s offers mouth-watering SMS deals like large five-topping pizzas for just $12.
See actual Papa Murphy’s text messages on SMS Archives.
New York & Co.
New York & Company is an American wear-to-work retailer for women. New York & Company sells apparel and accessories through a nationwide network of retail stores, outlet stores, and an e-commerce site. New York & Company sends text message coupons every 3.4 days, or about two text messages per week. They regularly offer mobile alerts for 30 to 60% off.
See actual New York & Company text messages on SMS Archives.
Sonic is an American drive-in fast-food restaurant chain known as America’s drive in. Sonic sends text message coupons roughly every 4.4 days, equaling once or twice per week. We love their text messages because they are MMS messages full of colorful images, clickable links, and mouth-watering specials on slushies, burgers, corn dogs, and chili cheese fries. Yum!
See actual Sonic text messages on SMS Archives.
How to Disclose Recurring Text Messages
One additional thing: if you’re running a recurring text messaging program, the CTIA requires that you either share a service delivery frequency or recurring messages disclosure. There are two ways that you can handle this.
One, with the Service Delivery Frequency Disclosure, you tell consumers the maximum number of messages that they’ll receive by participating in your mobile messaging program. So, like two messages per week or eight messages per month.
Or two, with the Recurring Messages Disclosure, instead of telling consumers exactly how many mobile messages they’ll receive from your program, you simply tell consumers that they’ll be receiving recurring messages when they participate in your mobile messaging program.
Personally, we at Tatango recommend the latter, so that if you want to start sending more text messages — whether because of a busy time of year, special promotion, or increased ROI — you aren’t at risk of violating your disclosure. You can read more about these recurring messaging disclosures here.