Our texts are sacred and can be far more personal than our emails and other mediums of communication. This means that Text message/SMS marketing is an extremely powerful tool for communicating with your audience and reaching large amounts of people.
However, just because we can send text messages to our customers, does not necessarily mean we should. It's important, however, that you follow specific guidelines when using a mass text messaging service as the laws are quite different from other forms of marketing and communication. There are some simple rules you can apply to know whether SMS marketing is right for your business or whether you should avoid it.
We have provided some guidelines or practices to follow and compiled them into this list of best practices for you.
The first step in any text message marketing campaign is to secure consent. In the SMS world, consent is just a way of saying someone has knowingly agreed to receive promotional texts from your business. There are a few ways to go about obtaining consent from your subscribers
You must have permission from people before sending them text messages. If you don't have their explicit consent, not only will you be breaking laws and possibly be subject to legal penalties, it will also cause you to look like spam, create a bad name for your organization, and annoy your audience.
So how do you get permission? If your subscribers are opting in by texting to join, then you already have it. Consent can also be given by keyword: If your business has set up a specific keyword for a campaign, anyone who texts in that keyword have expressed consent.
Consent can get a little tricky when it comes to transactional vs. marketing messages. You may not need consent if you’re sending a transactional message (e.g., an appointment reminder) or a non-commercial message (e.g., an alert from a church or non-profit). However, all texts (marketing or not) will always require a compliance message that gives consumers the option to unsubscribe or ask for help.
Be Clear About Your Campaign
People should know exactly what they're signing up for when subscribing to your text marketing list. The intent of your campaign should be clear to everyone and set their expectations about what they will be receiving in the future.
This doesn't mean you need to provide a long explanation of what your program is all about. You just need to ensure people know what to expect. This can easily be done in your opt-in language both when advertising your text program and in the auto-response subscribers receive after they first join.
Pay Attention to Frequency
Don't send too often. Nobody wants to receive an excessive amount of text messages from your business or organisation. We recommend no more than 2 – 6 SMS per month in most cases. Any more may aggravate your subscribers.
You also must make sure they know how often you'll be texting them. This is important! Be crystal clear about how many text messages they can expect to receive every month. Additionally, your business might send multiple texts each week, or perhaps even daily.
The most important thing is that you are clear with your subscribers about the frequency of your texts – then stick to it.
The CTIA is an international non-profit trade association that represents the wireless communications industry. They provide us with many of the best practices used in text marketing and also govern all short code SMS messaging. They require you to include things like "Message and data rates may apply" in your initial opt-in language; because these disclaimers are so important.
Note that your subscribers will only see this once! Only when they first join your list—not every time you send a mass text message. It is both good practice, and legally required, of you to include a disclaimer stating just that.
SMS marketing is unique in the sense that it has the comfort of a mass marketing campaign with the advantage of providing the feel of one-on-one communication. Successful campaigns take advantage of on this by employing custom fields and segments to send smarter and more relevant texts to their valued subscribers.
Rather than sending the same message to everyone, you’re likely to get better results if you tailor the message to the individual as much as possible.
Provide an Exit
Your subscribers need to know that they can opt-out of your text messaging program at any time.
Again, this is included ONLY in your auto-reply. They will not see this in every text you send out. However, occasionally include those instructions in your text blasts to remind people of how to opt-out if they'd like.
There are two places where opt-out instructions are required:
The first is wherever a call to action is for people to join your text program. At every place, whether it is text to join, an opt-in form, or a sign-up sheet, you must include opt-out instructions. It can be as simple as “Text STOP to opt-out.”
The second place you’ll want to include them is after someone opts into your SMS marketing program and receives their first confirmation text. Reminding people of how they can unsubscribe every so often will keep your list clean and your customers happy.
Text during Normal Hours
You should only send text messages during normal / expected hours. Be courteous to your subscribers. They won't enjoy waking up to your text messages in the middle of the night. Also, as a business, think about how counterproductive it is to message them outside of your optimal hours.
One of the many benefits of text marketing is to inspire immediate action from your subscribers. It's unlikely that anyone will take action in the middle of the night.
Use Common Language
Use SMS shorthand sparingly, if at all. While many text abbreviations are widely understood by people today, not everyone will get what you're trying to say.
If you need to save characters by shortening some of your words, start with the most common text abbreviations and try to keep them to a minimum. Also, respect the 160 character limit of text messages.
Character limits may seem frustrating at times, but they’re a helpful tool for sharpening your language. And if you need to, utilising MMS will allow you to use up to 1,600 characters!
Make sure that every text message you send is one of value! If people are willing to give you explicit permission to text them, you should be giving them something worthwhile in return.
Also, if your text program is used for marketing, make sure to keep your messages fresh and exciting. If you're not giving your subscribers something of value each time you send, chances are, it's not worth it for them and they'll unsubscribe. Discounts, exclusive savings, important announcements, event alerts, and useful information are all valuable things to share with your customers. Consider layering in some rich media, like photos or videos, to diversify and engage your audience.
Instead of blasting your subscribers with the same vague ad each week, instead, focus on “smart” marketing. With each offer or announcement, ask yourself if it’s SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely).
SMS Marketing In Conclusion
Marketing campaigns are unique to business goals and objectives. It may take a combination of strategies and tactics to reach achievements. If SMS marketing is one of your strategies, sticking to these guidelines will set you up for success!
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