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April 26, 2022

Text Message Mistakes: Common SMS Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

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SMS marketing is the practice of distributing marketing material through SMS

SMS marketing mistakes can be embarrassing and costly, and in the worst-case scenario could do serious damage to your reputation. An invasive or overly pushy text could turn an engaged lead into an annoyed one, while a text sent at the wrong time of day could land you in hot water with the FCC and result in a hefty fine. 

This doesn’t mean you should avoid SMS marketing. After all, it’s one of the most effective ways to communicate with customers quickly and effectively. Instead, you should craft thoughtful, well-planned campaigns that comply with the best practices for the medium. 

Here, we’ll share the biggest SMS marketing mistakes to avoid and some strategies for success with your SMS campaigns.

Understanding SMS marketing

SMS marketing is the practice of distributing marketing material through SMS, or short message service. Most people use the term SMS interchangeably with text messaging, and on most newer devices today, there’s pretty much no difference between the two. 

In marketing, SMS refers to brands communicating with customers via text message. Brands might use this communication platform to send promotions, notify customers of company news, spread the word about new products, send payment alerts and reminders, send order status updates, and much more. 

One of the biggest benefits of bulk SMS marketing is that it’s almost guaranteed that a subscriber will read your message after they receive your text. Sixty percent of customers read texts within five minutes of receiving them. Only a paltry 6% leave texts unread for more than an hour or two. 

SMS also has the benefit of being an ‘owned’ channel, which means you have total control and ownership of your subscribers and the content you share. This is in contrast with a channel like social media, where you own neither your followers’ data or the technology by which you communicate with them (Facebook or Twitter, for example, could crash tomorrow and you’d have no way to reach the followers you’d acquired there, whereas you’ll always have access to your own list of SMS subscribers). 

SMS is uncrowded. Despite the many upsides of texting, many brands still don’t send SMS messages as part of their marketing strategy. So, those who use it face less competition for attention than on other channels. 

Perhaps the biggest benefit of all, though, is how consumers feel about SMS marketing–they like it. When they’ve given a brand permission to send them texts (which you should always get), customers respond very positively and engage well with personalized SMS campaigns.

Avoiding SMS marketing mistakes

Planning an SMS campaign

Follow these steps to plan and set up an effective text blast.

Define Your Audience

With text message marketing, personalization is key. Because SMS is an owned channel, as we mentioned above, you own and can leverage the full scope of data you have on your subscribers. Use this data to create campaigns targeted to audience groups defined by factors like their account activity, browsing history, geographical location and communication preferences.

Define A Goal

Every SMS campaign should have a single, narrowly defined goal. Are you looking to get people to make a purchase? Pay a bill? Take a survey? Add an email address to their account? Text messages are compact, so it’s imperative to use your limited space to focus on just one objective. 

Decide How Recipients Will Take Action

Just as with your campaign goal, your call to action needs to be very well defined and have only one option. Your call to action might be to click a link, respond with a word or phrase, or call a phone number, to name a few options. Make it excessively easy for subscribers to do what you want them to do, keeping in mind the limitations of mobile devices. You don’t want to ask recipients to click on a link that takes them to a survey with 10 free-entry fields, which would be a nightmare to complete on a tiny smartphone keypad.  

Check For Compliance

The main piece of legislation governing SMS compliance is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), as well as the case law resulting from it. Under these guidelines, marketers should only send texts between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in the recipient’s local time zone. Some states have even stricter windows, so be sure to check the rules specific to the area where you place to send messages. 

Next, make sure you maintain an up-to-date opt-out list and check it against your recipient list for every campaign to make sure you don’t send it to anyone who has opted out. Violating this policy can result in a huge financial penalty.

Text message mistakes to avoid

To avoid an SMS snafu, beware of these common text message marketing mistakes. 

Messaging Without Consent

Under the TCPA, businesses must obtain “express written consent” before sending subscribers or customers communications for marketing purposes. This consent could actually be in writing, like on a paper signup form, but it could also be a digital record, like filling out a form on your website or texting an opt-in code to a specified number. If you flaunt these consent requirements, you could get hit with a penalty of up to $500 per violation. That’s not even accounting for the potential for millions of dollars in damages if a subscriber decides to sue you for their trouble. 

Not Offering An Easy Opt-Out Option

Another stipulation of TCPA is that businesses must offer a way for consumers to opt-out. To be compliant, you shouldn’t make customers jump through hoops to unsubscribe. Instead, provide a single-step opt-out, like replying to any message with the word ‘STOP.’ Make your opt-out instructions clear in the first message you send to subscribers, and also make them readily available in your SMS terms and conditions. 

Doing All The Talking

If you had a friend who continued to send you an endless stream of text messages even if you never wrote back, you probably wouldn’t be friends very much longer. And yet, many brands approach SMS marketing like it’s a megaphone and they’re shouting into the infinite void. Instead, make it a natural conversation by enabling two-way messaging. Allow customers to respond to your texts, or reach out via SMS for support requests. This boosts engagement and aids in subscriber retention.

Sending ‘SHAFT’ Content

The CTIA is a trade association representing wireless carriers in the United States. It has a set of guidelines and restrictions for brands that send messages from shortcodes. One of those guidelines concerns the sending of SHAFT (sex, hate, alcohol, firearms and tobacco) content, as well as content related to gambling or sweepstakes. If you run a business involved in one of these areas, like a bar that wants to promote happy hour specials, you’ll need to follow additional wireless provider requirements when sending SMS marketing. It’s a good idea to work with an SMS messaging partner who can advise on best practices to remain compliant. 

Making Autocorrect Mistakes

Autocorrect fails are a flub that happens to the best of us in our personal text conversations. But as a brand, the embarrassment is 100-fold. Avoid autocorrect mistakes by always having a second set of eyes look over your campaigns before hitting ‘send.’

Avoiding SMS marketing mistakes

Sending Too Many Messages

Most consumers treat their text messages very differently from their email inbox. It’s easy to let emails pile up in your promotions folder or simply mass delete ones you know you don’t need to read. Text messages are different; nearly 100% of them are opened and read by the recipient. This means you need to use them sparingly to avoid coming across as spammy. The fewer messages you can use to achieve your objective, the better. Instead of sending a high quantity of messages, use the tips we’ve outlined here to create quality messages that count.

Frequently asked questions

What causes SMS to fail?

There are many reasons your SMS message might not have been delivered to a recipient. Some of the most common reasons are the recipient opting out of receiving marketing messages, the recipient blocking texts from your number, or texting restricted content like hate speech. It’s also possible there was a network error with your recipient’s mobile carrier. 

What should never be discussed in a text message?

To avoid running into deliverability or compliance issues, marketing text messages should avoid content pertaining to sex, hate speech, alcohol, firearms, tobacco, gambling and sweepstakes. 

How do you fix an SMS problem?

To avoid problems sending marketing text messages, partner with a reliable communications platform service provider. An omnichannel communications platform can maximize your deliverability rates and help you remain compliant with all applicable legal guidelines. 

How reliable is SMS?

SMS is one of the most (if not the most) reliable forms of communication, with delivery rates close to 100%.

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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; New York City; 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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