Sending coupons, special deals, current events and other information to your customers automatically through SMS messaging is a convenient way to reach your market and grow your audience. With many text message marketing services, you can send multimedia messages (MMS) or ask questions with a poll or a survey. You can set up automatic responses to opt-ins, STOP messages and HELP messages, and you can personalize all of the messages you send to your customers. You can also schedule messages for the future or set up drip campaigns, which means that you can create a schedule of marketing deals or other information to be sent out slowly, at various times and on different days.
While different text marketing services have different strengths and weaknesses, there are some features that you should expect from all of the services. These companies should have short codes – five-digit numbers used for SMS messaging – for you to lease, allowing you to use one of theirs rather than forcing you to purchase your own. These services should also be able to set up automatic responses to incoming messages, and you shouldn’t be charged for inbound messages.
You should also be able to choose and purchase the keywords important to your campaign, and to track the use of these keywords. The service should let you track customers who opt in to and out of your text message marketing campaigns.
While different text marketing services have different strengths and weaknesses, there are some features that you should expect from all of the services you look at for this service. These companies should have short codes for you to lease. Short codes are five-digit numbers used for SMS messaging, and services should allow you to use one of theirs rather than forcing you to purchase your own. These services should also be able to set up automatic responses to incoming messages, and you shouldn’t be charged for inbound messages.
You should also be able to choose and purchase the keywords important to your campaign, and to track the use of these keywords. You should also be able to track customers who opt in to and opt out of your text message marketing campaigns.
Mobile marketing can be a great tool for your business, but you should know that SMS marketing is not a free-for-all. There are some laws and best practices you should follow and consider when you plan your campaigns.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which was developed by the FCC, has some laws that you need to follow while you’re collecting contacts and sending out text messages. Not everything in the TCPA applies to text message marketing, but it’s still a good idea to review these laws and be sure you are compliant with them.
For example, you must get permission from every contact before you start sending mass text messages to them. Also, only send text messages between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Remember that this is refers to the time zone of the person you are texting and not necessarily the time zone from which you are sending messages.
CTIA and MMA
The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and the Mobile Marketing Association have similar guidelines on how to appropriately use text message marketing. These guidelines are not laws, but they do provide best practices you should consider following, including these:
- Don’t use the term “free” unless you have a free-to-end-user program.
- All advertising should include the program name, production description and quality, link to terms and conditions, stop instructions, and the note that message and data rates may apply. Alternatively, you can have all this information available when the customer texts HELP.
- Get opt-in approval prior to sending messages
- Allow your customer the choice of opting out.
- Maintain opt-in and opt-out records for at least six months.
- Do not directly advocate the use of tobacco, alcohol or other drugs.
- You may need to require age verification for some marketing campaigns.