SMS Marketing, SMS Compliant, Tips for Success Webinar

SMS Marketing, SMS Compliant, Tips for Success Webinar

January 31, 2018


Hello everyone, welcome to another Digitize Your Firm webinar – with me, Stephen, your host! Today you better get your cellphones out because we’re giving an advanced look at SMS marketing.
For anyone joining us who is a text message master or for those who are just starting out, I welcome all comments and questions, simply click the green speech bubble at the top of the screen to open the chat and either type out your comment or ask to speak. If you haven’t already, be sure to click the ‘phone’ icon next to it the chat icon to ensure your audio is connected.

As with all Digitize Your Firm webinars, this will be recorded for later playback in case you wanted extra time with a certain section or for listening on the go. If you haven’t already, please visit the Weekly Webinar Schedule on our Digitize Your Firm page to check out our past webinars.

Now, let’s go over today’s agenda.


We’re going to start off by answering the basic question: What is SMS Marketing. Before you get too excited, we’ll talk about compliancy too before diving into tips from the pros on how you can stand out. As always, we’ll review and tease the topic for next week.

What Is SMS Marketing?

The use of text-messaging, or SMS as it is known, is on the rise while email usage is on the decline. On top of this, more mobile phones are sold around the world every day when compared to personal computers.

As a marketer, if you want to reach consumers with highly targeted campaigns, you had better put a mobile marketing strategy in place now. In this webinar, I will explain why mobile marketing, particularly SMS marketing, is the ideal platform to reach consumers.

Most of us are familiar with SMS text messaging, but applying effective SMS marketing to your business may seem difficult.

That is why I am here. After today, you will be able to have SMS campaigns up and running and you will start to see the benefits of the medium right away.

So – What exactly is SMS marketing anyways? You know, the texting of quick messages that everyone is doing. We are not talking magic or witchcraft. Nope, it is pretty simple to understand. If you look around, everyone has a mobile phone attached to their hand and are waiting for it to beep. Now, all you have to do is send them a text message that adds value to their lives and engage them to take action.

Seems simple enough, right? Well, just like other types of online marketing, there are those who do it well and those who don’t. Guess who gets the engaged reader in the end?

Yep, you guessed correct, the ones who do it right.

The goal of this webinar is to highlight just how important mobile marketing is and how sending well-timed SMS messages will benefit any business.

The mobile world is growing at a rapid pace. We all know that. Email is becoming white noise, while people continue to pounce when getting text messages. Now is the time to get ahead of the curve and read all about how to do SMS marketing the right way.

Studies are predicting that by 2014 mobile Internet usage will surpass desktop Internet usage – and guess what, they were right! In 2016, mobile internet usgae . Now do you see why you need to get with the program?

Before you know it, your message will be the one triggering beeps, whistles and good vibrations.

SMS marketing, simply put, is marketing using a mobile phone. SMS stands for short message server, otherwise known as text messaging.

SMS marketing is done using a mobile device to transfer marketing communication to interested consumers. It is an area that is gaining a great deal of interest by businesses both large and small due to its ease of use and the high rate of success that can be achieved.

That being said, it is not ideal for every business and that is something you need to figure out first.

Do you have a list of phone numbers?

What are the downsides (if any)?

How will you send your message to everyone at once?

Why SMS Marketing Works

SMS marketing works because a text message is the most engaging marketing tool that was previously not available to small businesses. Recent data shows that over 90% of text messages are read within the first five minutes. That alone should signal to business owners that text messages are more effective and a low cost means of promotion.

Mobile or Smartphones are easily the most common accessory carried around by people. Thatis not going to change. According to Google, 91% of the population has a mobile phone already.

Add to that, more consumers are spending more time on their mobile devices. If you send a well-timed, informative text, most of the people will at the very least open it.

SMS marketing is cost-effective. Sending a text is similar to the cost of email marketing and much less expensive (and less time consuming) than direct mail or traditional advertising.

SMS is simple and effective, while not allowing extra sales or marketing fluff. You don’t have space to waste on words.

Text message marketing is a simple and effective way to reach customers.

But what are some best practices? We’ll be covering that tomorrow!

Being SMS Compliant

Before you go off and start blasting your company message to everyone’s mobile phone, there are rules in place and suggested protocols you need to follow. If not, you are not only turning off your customers’ interest but you could be putting your whole business in jeopardy.

Most of the same rules apply as other marketing mediums so if you have ever done email marketing or fax marketing, you will be in great shape.

The main goal when doing SMS marketing is to provide value. Please always follow this one rule of rules. Customers are opting in to receive your message because they want value. Do not just send out the standard offers and information that can easily be found elsewhere. You need to make the client feel special, as if you were sending the message just for them.

People have a very special relationship with their mobile phone and you don’t want to infringe on that with junk. If a customer allows you into their mobile space, don’t take it for granted. They will remove you and never let you back in. They may even tell other people about their negative experience.

Consider Why You Are Using It

The message you are sending is clearly the information you want to convey but what does the user want from you? If you think in those terms when you are crafting your message, it will be very helpful. What useful information can you provide in response to a keyword for example? One of the best uses for SMS marketing is customer service.

When You Are Using it

For many, text messages rank higher than email, tweets, Facebook updates or even the actual phone. So that means the vibrate or chime is set to go off. Consider this for sending times. Do you really want to wake someone up with a vibrating phone, just so they read your special deal on flip-flops? That person will be very unhappy. You will get an open but no engagement or action. A good rule of thumb is to try and stick to business hours of your company.

Don’t send after 9 pm local time or before 11 am local time to avoid aggravating night owls and early risers. This is why it is good to think ahead and request time zone information from clients so you can send your SMS in waves.

Have an easy Opt-Out Code

The universal opt-out command is the word “STOP”. When a consumer sends in the word “STOP” to the mobile number (or SMS Short Code) attached to a campaign, the consumer’s mobile number should be removed from the campaign database and broadcasting of campaign messages to their mobile number should cease. You need to be very proactive and transparent about your opt-out process. If someone wants off the list, you need to follow through.

Now that we have covered the main best practices, we want to take a moment and focus on some of the more dry and legal rules of SMS. Don’t worry, it will be quick. But we do know you will want to read then over. The rules are simply called the mobile marketing code of conduct and are put together by the Mobile Marketing Association (meaning this needs to be taken seriously).

The following is an excerpt from the MMA’s mobile code:

1. Notice: provides consumers with the information they need to make choices about a marketing program.

Marketers must provide information about the products/services offered and the terms and conditions of the program. If you have a web page for users to join your mobile marketing list, for example, the page should specify what types of communications the user will get, how often, and other important details.

2. Choice & Consent: enables consumers to control which mobile messages they receive.

Marketers must implement an opt-in and opt-out process to obtain consent from the user for all mobile messaging. This can be via SMS opt-in, a web form, or other method, as long as the opt-in and opt-out mechanisms are clear and easily discoverable. Program messaging should include opt-out instructions on a regular basis.

3. Customization & Constraint: provides relevant and responsibly tailored messages.

Marketers should use information collected about users to customize marketing to their needs and interests, and any user information that’s collected must be sensitively and responsibly handled. Mobile marketing messages should also provide value to the user (i.e., avoid sending irrelevant or unwanted messages).

4. Security: procedures and policies that protect consumers’ information.

Marketers need to implement “reasonable technical, administrative, and physical procedures” to protect all user information collected. If you gather information like cell phone numbers and names, that data needs to be safeguarded so that only those who need to access that information do, and that the information is not transferred, changed, or disclosed for unauthorized purposes.

5. Enforcement & Accountability: requires MMA members to comply with the Code.

The Code is included in the MMA’s Consumer Best of Practice Guidelines. As of now, there’s no third-party enforcement of these guidelines, so it’s the responsibility of marketers to ensure that their programs are compliant with the standards above.

All programs must comply with federal and state laws, as applicable.

“Msg & Data Rates may apply” must be clearly added on promotion/advertising. Cost of premium or other fees must be clearly stated as well.

Advertising must note that participation requires users to be 18 years or older or have parental/ guardian permission.

Selling mobile opt-in lists is prohibited.

The STOP and HELP keywords (not case-sensitive) should be featured in advertising and messaging to offer subscribers the opportunity to cancel or get more information about the program at any time.

The Do Not Text List

Unlike email, which relies on filters that are far from foolproof, it is entirely possible to block commercial texts.

In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission prohibits automated dialing, which includes mass SMS, without the express consent of the called party.

India has already instituted a Do Not Text list. Telecommunications companies exist to serve their customers, not marketers. SMS can be an entree to a customer’s inner circle or it could go the way of telemarketing.

Avoid the “Cold Text

Did you really think you could send an SMS blast to a bunch of people who are not expecting it and get positive results? Instead, offer customers the opportunity to sign up for SMS through your website, Facebook page, blog, or through shortcodes. Much like the dreaded telemarketing call during dinner, an unwanted cold text leaves the same bitter taste in customers’ mouths about your company or product.

Tips for SMS Success

The Opt-in is A Must

You have heard this one before and we can’t make it clear enough. You should always obtain the prior consent of the recipients before sending out your marketing and promotional messages. This includes SMS, email, voice or any other kind of promotion. Unsolicited communications should not be sent to your target audience ever.

Not only are there legal requirements to do so (any reputable service provider won’t touch purchased lists), but also obtaining permission will improve the success of your campaign as people are more likely to be receptive to messages when they have given their permission to receive them. If you think of messages you have received via text that you didn’t opt-in for, you probably trashed them.

Be Crystal Clear With Message

Creating the content of your messaging is no different than a message communicated via any other form of advertising. It needs to be relevant to the intended audience and very clear on who it is coming from.

Identify yourself right away. Mobile marketing must contain the identity of the sender and a valid contact address (this can be done within the body of the message or as the sender ID, also known as an Alpha Tag). The contact address could be a web or physical address where a consumer may send an opt-out to or to request a full copy of the terms and conditions.

Take advantage of common text language abbreviations which will allow you to say more within the standard 160 characters of an SMS. Remember that SMS is supposed to be interactive. Your message creation should have a strong call to action to exploit the opportunity to encourage a response. An example would be “for more info send the word MORE to 70011.” Then you follow up with the meat of the offer.

It’s All About Timing

You have heard this before when it comes to how you do your marketing. Timing is everything. You need to engage with the customer at the ideal time for a sign up or purchase.

When you actually send is very important when it comes to mobile. If you can master the art of sending when your customers are in the mindset to buy from you, that is gold.

For retailers, this would be early evening when people are out of the office and on their free time. It of course comes down to what your product or service is and knowing as much about your customers as possible. Gather these preferences at the point of opt-in if you can.

On your full site opt-in page, request all the critical information and permissions you will need. Request time zone/area code, critical segmentation data, and specific program permissions. If you add programs down the road, you will need to get new permissions, so the more comprehensive you can be at the outset, the fewer subscribers you will lose as your program expands.

Engage Right Away

Understand that your sending works before you even begin to collect phone numbers. When someone signs up on your website, they need to get a confirmation to their phone right away. If this message does not come for weeks or months later, the user most likely won’t be interested anymore and you will lose a significant portion of your reach.

Vanity is Recommended

Start to use a numeric vanity shortcode in your messages. It’s fine to use a shared shortcode in the beginning, but if you want to achieve the best results, invest in your own. When you share a code, you share keywords, so a “stop text” unsubscribes an individual from all programs. Brief, logical, common keywords get used up quickly. Vanity short codes represent a commitment to a great program and if you don’t have that you can’t grow.

It is important to remember that most users are not texting on a traditional telephone keyboard, so the digits that spell out a name are far less useful than easy-to-remember numbers, such as 121212 or 777777.

It is highly recommended to offer several different types of SMS campaigns for your customers, letting them opt-in for as many as are relevant to them. For example, try an SMS strictly for promotions only available through that service. Or, include an SMS specifically for company updates and news. If your company is using shortcodes, customize the digits for the specific type of SMS.

Simplify SMS Features

SMS marketing is a two-way street, where customer-to-company interactions should be simple. Like we have mentioned already, ensure that your SMS includes a feature where customers can text directly for help or technical issues. Allow customers to text “HELP” for assistance and “STOP” to unsubscribe. Don’t create frustration or hoops to jump through. Yes, it is bad that a customer wants to stop receiving messages from you but you should not punish them for it.

Always Test & Analyze

To better understand what works and what doesn’t, analyze your data after each SMS send. Is there one type of SMS that is doing better than another? Are more customers signing up through shortcodes or an online opt-in form? Are SMS promotions more successful than another marketing strategy?

Compare data within SMS and also compare the data collected through other marketing strategies. This will not only provide a better understanding of how customers are interacting with your company but also point out how customers like to receive your information

There you have it, all the best practices a person could need to properly do SMS marketing. Because the channel of communication is so easy to start, many jump right into sending without knowing the rules first.


1. SMS Marketing is on the rise and it’s no wonder why. Email is quickly becoming white noise to many people receiving multiple promotional emails a day. By using SMS, you can become engaged with your customer by sending everything from flash sale updates, appointment reminders, newsletters, coupons, and more. Internet usage on mobile has already begun to eclipse desktop usage which is a major paradigm shift that not only shows favor to mobile phones but the ability to access content from SMS messages. Another key staple to SMS marketing is that any business, large or small, and use it due its malleability for campaigns, reminders, and more.

2. When it comes to SMS marketing, just like any other medium, you need to stay compliant. When it comes to SMS, ensure that you’ve received consent from the customer (by having them opt-in via shortcode, webpage, etc) that they are willing to receive text messages from you. The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) has laid out key principles that anyone can following, from providing your audience with information of how the service will be used, to committing to having their information stored securely and more.

Remember to never buy mobile lists – ever. Never ever. After all, not only is it in many cases illegal but would you open a message and follow a link or download a coupon from a number you didn’t know? Absolutely not. On that same note, ensure you know the federal, state, and provincial laws regarding mobile marketing set out by the country you are marketing in.

3. When it comes to planning your first SMS campaign, keep a few of our tips in mind, such as:

– Having an easy opt-in process
– Having an even easier opt-out, or information process
– Ensuring you are sending messages at the correct time – no one wants to wake up at 2:43 AM to a promo text
– Engage with your audience as soon as they opt-in with a thank you message or coupon
– Use variety with your texts, send downloadable coupons, links to pages, tailored content, and more
– Test different types of campaigns for your industry, such as flash sales and promotional items for retails, lunch specials and appetizer deals for the food industry, and ideas on that vein.

Next Week

We’ll be continuing our discussion next week on SMS where I’m going to give you the best tips to building your list, what messages work best for SMS, and how to track your SMS analytics.

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