Keep Your Text List Subscribers Engaged

Sam Schrup
May 30, 2022
January 11, 2024
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It’s one of the big questions for text marketers; how do we keep our subscribers engaged?

Text marketing engagement can be challenging. People are bombarded from every angle by messaging to the point where it can seem overwhelming. Email inboxes are stuffed, social media is a constant information stream, and we’re sending 6 billion text messages worldwide each day, with the US responsible for about 45% of those.

SMS messaging does have an advantage over email and social media in that it’s not at such a saturated point for marketing messages. People do actively monitor text. In fact, it’s the preferred mode of communication for a large number.

The key for marketers is to be a voice that cuts through the noise in order to maintain subscriber engagement. Here are a few of our thoughts on how to do that:

Message frequency

First of all, how often should you send a text campaign to subscribers? This is a tricky question for marketers; send messages too often and you risk annoying your subscribers. Send messages too infrequently and your SMS program won’t be effective.

Bear in mind that one of the top ways to push subscribers toward opting out of text messages is to bombard them with too many. People are already overwhelmed with messaging, and too many texts feels high-pressure.

We recommend that you text subscribers at least twice per month. We’ve looked at data from many text campaigns and found that engagement declines if you text fewer than twice per month.

Is there an optimal number of times to text? We’ve found that four to six campaigns per month is a good cadence. This is especially true for “text to order” campaigns that feature unique products.

However, your cadence should always be governed by the expectations of your subscribers. If they signed up to receive a daily deal, then it’s definitely acceptable to send a daily text. In fact, some popular daily deal text subscriptions receive complaints if they miss a day!

Laying on bed looking at phone

Be responsive

One thing tends to hold universally true across various consumer studies: people expect that brands will respond promptly to their messages. How quickly? This depends on the study, but some have suggested that waiting more than 10 seconds for a text response is unacceptable, while others want a response within a few minutes.

As a communications channel, text messaging is all about being fast and efficient. The expectation is that brands will respond quickly, and many consumers will lose interest if you don’t. They’re using text because they have a question in the moment or want to get something done quickly. A slow response will often be ineffective because they’ve already moved on from the initial issue.

Does this mean you need to be staffing your messaging services 24/7? No, but it does mean you should invest in a good text marketing platform where you can set up automated responses. At the very least, customers should get a response acknowledging that their message has been received, and giving them an ETA on a reply. On the most effective end, you can automate entire processes to deliver what the customer needs. Text-to-Order features are one example. The entire process can be handled automatically once you’ve set it up.

Be valuable

Finding the right cadence and type of messaging usually involves ongoing testing. One thing that never changes is that all of your messages should make an effort to deliver value to the subscriber.

The question is, what does value look like? That depends entirely on your subscriber base and their expectations of signing up with you. At the very least, you need to meet those expectations.

What do subscribers find valuable? Here are some examples:

  • Getting offers on genuine deals. If you send out the same old offer frequently, they’ll start to tune it out. They didn’t want 20% off XYZ product last time, so they’re not likely to want it the third time they’ve received it either.
  • Sending messages that are relevant to their needs. This is where list segmentation comes in – different subscribers have different interests or needs, so you can engage people by sending them offers or messages that matter to them.
  • Using text for updates or reminders. For example, people like to have timely updates on the status of their order. If a customer has added a product to their cart but not completed checkout, a text reminder can be helpful – as long as you don’t go overboard with too many texts!
  • Offer incentives to text subscribers. “What’s in it for me?” is a question we all ask about products or services. You can provide text subscribers with good incentives for being on your list by offering something they can’t otherwise access. For example, maybe they get the first look at big sales, or perhaps they get text-exclusive discounts. If you stock products in limited quantities, maybe your text list gets the first opportunity to buy when the products come in. Whatever it is, give subscribers a good reason to hang around and engage with you.
Looking at phone drinking with water bottle

Time it right

If you’d like a fast way to get people unsubscribing, try texting them in the middle of the night. No one appreciates waking to the buzz of a marketing message, and you won’t be doing your brand reputation any favors!

Timing is critical. Besides texting at unwelcome times, you need to consider times of the day that are more likely to result in engagement. It may take some testing to determine. You might find people respond to texts in the periods before or after work, or maybe people are more responsive during their lunch breaks.

Fortunately, text marketing software can help with timing. You should be able to set text messages to go out at certain times, depending on the time zones of subscribers. Use good tools to automate the process and you’ll eliminate the potential for ill-timed messages.

Make it easy for people to engage

It’s difficult to keep subscribers engaged if there are roadblocks for them. You have to make it as easy as possible for them to engage with you. Some tips for this include:

  • Always have a clear purpose for your text message. Use common language and communicate exactly what the message is about. Avoid excessive jargon or any sort of vague messaging. That tends to annoy rather than intrigue people!
  • Have clear calls to action. What do you want the person to do and how should they do it?
  • Make the process simple. For example, if there is more than one step, you could achieve this by having subscribers reply to one message, with one instruction at a time.


Keeping text subscribers engaged should be a high priority for marketers. It takes time and resources to grow a text list, so it’s important to optimize how you maintain it.

The tips in this article can help you to ensure your subscribers remain engaged, or even actively look for your text messages. Text is a preferred communication channel for vast numbers of people, so make the most of it!

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