A tidal wave of technology has swept across the world since the first text message was sent in 1992. No advance, however, has been powerful enough to replace or even challenge the simple but mighty SMS message. SMS marketing is powerful, direct, cost-effective and intimate. Unlike emails, virtually all text messages are opened and viewed within minutes of being received. But cultivating a strong SMS list must be preceded by a thorough understanding of the rules and appropriate boundaries associated with the medium.
The FCC, Permission and Opting Out: Knowing What NOT to Do
As discussed in the article “4 Things You Should Know Before You Launch Your First Text Message Marketing Campaign,” the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) governs and regulates text message marketing. According to strictly enforced federal rules, marketers may not send unsolicited messages to a recipient’s phone. This means you need to establish their consent with more than just a verbal agreement. Potential recipients must proactively assert their permission by texting a code, responding to an email or clicking a call-to-action button.
Recipients must give their explicit permission before receiving messages, but they also have a legal right to opt out when they no longer want to be on the list. Give a clear, simple and easy way for your audience to opt out, such as asking them to text “STOP” or a similar action word.
Keep it Short and Introduce Yourself Up Front
The standard SMS message contains a maximum of 160 characters, including spaces. This includes all caveats, including the applicable rate charge and other disclosures. Keep all messages within that character limit and make sure to say who you are and include your value proposition at the top of the message. Include further details, such as contact information, address or day of a sale further down.
Also, don’t use an SMS platform that sends emails. Instead, always use a platform that sends from a five-digit short code. Avoid delivery problems by adding to a list incrementally over time, instead of dumping lots of new numbers on your outgoing list at the same time. Also, make sure to switch it up! Don’t regurgitate old messages and don’t recycle tweets or Facebook posts. SMS messages are a form of content, and content should be unique to its channel.
Offer value to your recipients, and always give them a way to opt out.
Building and maintaining an SMS list is not easy, but text message marketing is an incredibly powerful tool if done correctly. First and foremost, follow the rules established by the FCC, and follow best practices as well as basic common sense. Consider the medium, meaning, keep it short and get your value proposition out right away. Respect your recipients, offer something of value and always give them a way to opt out.