August 13, 2022

Text Message Marketing Best Practices & SMS Compliance

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Text message marketing best practices

Text message marketing best practices and SMS compliance go hand in hand. Both are essential components of a successful SMS marketing program. 

Following best practices helps maximize the effectiveness of your text marketing campaigns so you derive the most value out of every dollar you invest. Following compliance guidelines prevents you from breaking the law and protects you from legal action, which could be costly and damaging to your brand reputation. 

We’ll outline best practices for sending text message marketing campaigns as a business and share compliance guidelines to adhere to within your text marketing program.

best practices for sending text message marketing campaigns

What is SMS compliance?

SMS compliance describes the legal policies and ethical standards that govern text message marketing. 

In the 1990s, lawmakers began taking steps to protect consumers from receiving annoying and unwanted communications via telephone. As text messaging grew in popularity in the 2000s and mobile phones became ubiquitous, regulators realized similar steps needed to be taken to protect consumers’ text message inboxes. 

They came up with (and are still adding to) a list of compliance requirements for companies sending texts for digital marketing purposes. Here are the major compliance components.

Opt-In

This is the step a cell phone user must take to join your text marketing program. You can’t simply start texting a customer because you have their phone number already from a sales transaction or other interaction. They must directly opt-in specifically to receive marketing texts. 

Opt-Out

The opposite of opting-in, this is the step a customer takes to stop receiving marketing texts from your brand. It’s similar to the Do Not Call list for telephone marketers in that communicating with a subscriber who has previously opted out could get you hit with a big fine. Brands should always give customers an easy way to opt-out, at any time. 

This is a more specific definition of what brands need to obtain when a customer “opts in.” It means their consent must be expressed, A.K.A. specific to your text message marketing program, and written, which in today’s world usually means digitally documented. 

Privacy Policy

This is an easily accessible document that explains what personal information your brand collects from subscribers, how it might be used and what you do to protect that information. 

Terms and Conditions

Your terms and conditions tell subscribers what they should expect: what kinds of messages you’ll send them, how often, and any costs associated with the program, in addition to instructions for opting out.

The Benefits of Text Message Marketing

There’s a good reason industry leaders want to keep a tight lid on the way brands use text messaging: because it’s such a personal way to communicate with people. When a subscriber gives you their cell phone number, they’re handing you a fast and direct line of communication that’s more reliable than their email inbox or even a phone call. 

Consumers are highly likely to engage with text messages, reading them almost without fail and frequently interacting with their content. Text messages are handy because they’re easy to come back to. If a subscriber is interested in something they received, like a discount code or special offer, it’s right there in their text messaging app to return to whenever it’s convenient for them. 

Because of text messaging’s high engagement rate, it’s a great choice of medium when generating responses is your primary goal. Brands can use SMS to distribute surveys and quick polls, which are a valuable tools to collect customer feedback. 

Speaking of customer feedback, text messaging also offers the benefit of helping you learn a lot about your customers. Analyzing when and how they interact with your text message marketing campaigns can help you refine your approach for future messages, so you’re continuously improving engagement and in turn, ROI.

Text Message Marketing Best Practices

The express written consent we mentioned above might sound complicated, but it doesn’t have to be (and in fact, simpler is better for everyone involved). It might be as basic as the subscriber entering their phone number in a form on your website and checking a box attesting to the fact that they agree to receive marketing texts. Keep thorough documentation of this consent and update it any time a subscriber changes their communication preferences.

Share Required Documentation

Your terms and conditions and privacy policy should be published and easy to find on your website. Include a link (with a shortened URL) to these documents in the first text you send to subscribers so that if they want to access them later, all they need to do is scroll upthread.  

Personalize Your Messaging

There’s a big caveat to getting the kind of high engagement that makes text messaging so popular: you need to use personalized messaging. Blasting customers with irrelevant content will quickly turn them off. On the other hand, sending them offers that are personalized for their needs, preferences and interests is what will get them to respond. 

Align With Your Sales Funnel

Personalizing your text marketing campaigns also means tailoring your message to your subscriber’s place in the customer journey. For new subscribers, send content that welcomes them and helps them learn about your brand. Nurture leads with value-packed messaging that will help turn them into customers. Keep existing customers coming back by giving them VIP treatment through exclusive discount codes and other perks. 

Maintain A Consistent Cadence

Timing is important in getting the most out of your SMS campaigns. If you haven’t texted in a while, suddenly sending three campaigns in a row will likely result in a wave of unsubscribes. For best results, maintain a consistent text messaging cadence of a few texts per month, spaced out with several days or a week between them.

Industry use cases for text message marketing and compliance

Below are examples of how to remain compliance-focused when using text message marketing in various industries.

Healthcare

Text messaging can be used in healthcare for any and all patient reminders, including appointments, test results, vaccination requirements, updates, and more. 

Text messaging can be a great asset for healthcare providers looking to connect more conveniently with their patients, but it needs to be done with risk-mitigation tactics in mind. A general best practice is to never share personal patient or financial information via text. Instead, use text messages to encourage patients to address account or appointment needs via embedded short links in your messages. This way all personal data is protected and accessed only via your encrypted web portal.

Lead generation

Text message marketing is a staggeringly effective method for capturing the attention of prospects quickly and easily. It can be used to send promotions, deals, or application status updates.

Before engaging with leads via text message marketing, lead generation centers should perform their due diligence when it comes to qualifying lead sources. Ask your lead providers questions about how contact information was obtained to ensure that your lead generators did not obtain customer information under false pretenses. Compliance-focused lead generation hinges on express consent, so make sure you’re providing clear and conspicuous opt-in call-outs so that your prospects understand they’re going to be receiving text messages from you.

Collections

Text messaging for collections is commonly deployed for payment reminder communication workflows. 

Sending a text-message reminder significantly increases the likelihood that a person will pay all, or part, of their account balance on time by 10.3 percentage points compared with people who receive no text-message reminder. In addition, text message open rates are around 95%, research shows. Customers who receive payment reminder texts will most likely view that content much sooner than if it were sent via email. And with the growing decline of customers who answer their phones, it’s an efficient way to get your message front and center. 

There are strict regulations around contacting customers via text message or other digital means. Namely, you can only get in touch during reasonable hours, 8 am to 9 pm and

every message must include instructions for a simple, easy-to-use way you can opt-out of receiving future communication through that method.

Frequently asked questions

What are the best practices for SMS in digital marketing?

The top best practices for SMS in digital marketing include:
Obtaining express written consent
Offering an easy way to opt-out
Sharing clear terms and conditions
Sending concise messages
Sending messages between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in the recipient’s local time zone

How do you market a text message?

It’s easy to turn a text message into a digital marketing campaign with an omnichannel communications platform. LiveVox enables brands to easily send customers promotions, company news, account alerts, and support materials via SMS, with no technical expertise required.  

Is text message marketing legal?

In order to legally send text messages for marketing purposes, brands must comply with the guidelines set forth in documents like the TCPA and CTIA compliance handbooks. Working with a trusted SMS marketing partner can ensure you stay on the right side of the law when sending marketing texts. 

What is the best practice for SMS compliance?

The most important best practice for SMS is to obtain subscriber consent and document it with a consent management tool. LiveVox has consent management baked into its workflows so you can communicate with subscribers while minimizing risk.

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About LiveVox

LiveVox (Nasdaq: LVOX) is a next generation contact center platform that powers more than 14 billion omnichannel interactions a year. By seamlessly unifying blended omnichannel communications, CRM, AI, and WEM capabilities, the Company’s technology delivers exceptional agent and customer experiences, while helping to mitigate compliance risk. With 20 years of cloud experience and expertise, LiveVox’s CCaaS 2.0 platform is at the forefront of cloud contact center innovation. The Company has more than 650 global employees and is headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in Atlanta; Columbus; Denver; St. Louis; Medellin, Colombia; and Bangalore, India. To stay up to date with everything LiveVox, follow us at @LiveVox or visit livevox.com.

To stay up to date with everything LiveVox, follow us at @LiveVox, visit www.livevox.com or call one of our specialists at (844) 207-6663.

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