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.
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.
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.
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.
Express Written Consent
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.
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
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.
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?
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.