Californians woke up to the new year with a new law that bans text messaging while driving. The Golden State isn’t the only one; according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, texting is prohibited for drivers in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Washington state, and the District of Columbia.

Recalcitrant marketers might use this as an excuse to not use SMS campaigns. But they shouldn’t!

The benefits of SMS–high ROI that results in bigger revenue–are what all business will need during this recession. So it’s worth marketers’ efforts to create campaigns that effectively reach customers, stay within the law–and don’t cause accidents.

Foremost, try not to send messages out during rush hour or other periods when consumers are much more likely to be behind the wheel. Instead, text them just before they hit the road. For example, a restaurant promoting a lunchtime special should send the SMS at 11 a.m.–right when people are starting to wonder what they’re going to eat. A coffee place would do well to send an SMS coupon or other promotional message at 6 a.m., just before the big morning drive.

Also, if you have a campaign about a day-long event such as a sale or festival, it makes sense to send texts about it the night before–say, 9 p.m. on a weeknight. You’ll still generate the excitement of timely messaging (“there’s a 50% off sale on bedroom furniture tomorrow only!”)–and even give the consumer a few more hours to prepare. If you believe you’ll make a bigger splash by sending such messages the day of an event, then follow the early-morning rule that I suggested for coffee houses.

Weather, traffic, and news alerts can still be sent as usual. But if you haven’t already, consider offering the subscriber the choice of when and how often to receive such alerts–such as “every four hours” or “at 7 a.m. and at 7 p.m.” If you really don’t trust their judgement, then limit the choices to timeframes when they’ll be less likely to drive.

Anyone have any other ideas they’ve implemented? I’d like to hear about it!

Eydie Cubarrubia, Marketing Communications Manager, mobileStorm
“I’d rather you text me”