Sending bulk SMS messages: The dos and dont’s for business

Sending bulk text messages is an incredibly effective way of marketing. With many people taking their mobile phone everywhere they go, few other mediums can reach people in such a direct way. Text messages provide one of the best open rates in the marketing world; in fact, 97 per cent of texts are opened within 15 minutes of delivery.

As such a direct medium, capitalising on this won’t require a huge investment, but it will need some planning and strategy to ensure you can maximise the impact of your bulk message campaigns.

Additionally, there are some important dos and don’ts to be aware of when sending bulk marketing messages that are very important to follow. Not only will they help you keep inside the law, but following best practice guidelines will help you reach your audience more effectively, ensuring your money goes further and the all-important ROI is improved.

How to get a great response from bulk text messages

DO offer a clear call to action (CTA) to encourage action from your customers. Whether this is a discount offer or a link to your website – make sure you give each recipient a strong reason to act upon your SMS. Experiment with offers, competitions and other marketing tools to see which work best for your brand and which offer the highest ROI. Using codes for discounts or offers such as free shipping can be a great way to track traffic and monitor response.

DO ensure content is appropriate for the audience. Knowing your audience will help you send more targeted, relevant advertising, which is far more likely to generate business. For example, advertising baby products to young single men is unlikely to draw a great response. When it comes to youngsters, there are regulations to be aware of which govern advertising to children; stipulating what you can and can’t promote.

DO use short codes – these clever little numbers can simplify responses for customers whilst helping you build your database. These short codes, for example 60777 can be even more effective when used alongside a dedicated keyword that relates to your brand or campaign.

DO personalise your messages; learning as much about your customers as possible can help you target your messages ensuring they are personal to your customers. Mail merge features can allow you to insert names, appointment times and other relevant information to ensure your message gets the best response possible, even when sending in bulk.

DO make the most of attachments; sending PDFs is an ingenious method to direct customers to more detailed information. A great technique for sending customers brochures or menus, these also make it really easy to track click-throughs.

DON’T bombard the customer with too many text messages as this is likely to weaken the impact, causing them to disregard your messages or even unsubscribe altogether. Equally, don’t be a stranger – regular messages can be excellent for building brand awareness and reminding your customers that you’re there. Schedule them into your marketing diary and build up a calendar of planned outreach.

DON’T think of SMS as a one-way platform. It is a great way of building engagement, so encourage recipients to get in touch. Plus, you can make the most of building your database through engagement. If you have a physical store then use branding and CTAs in store to drive customers to your SMS marketing. The bonus of this is that customers who have opted in to the service will expect to be able to interact with your brand.

DON’T leave your company name out of the message; ensure you identify your company clearly in the text message or, even better, in the sender line. This is important for the customer and to ensure your marketing message is as clear as possible. It is also a requirement from the ICO.

Mobile marketing rules – the dos and don’ts all businesses need to know

There are several things to be aware of including Data Protection laws and The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (PECR). Whilst these are not anything to fear and are much less complicated than they might seem, it’s important to be aware of them nonetheless. The Information Commissioner (ICO) is responsible for ensuring that companies stick to these rules and has been given new powers to come down harder on those companies that repeatedly flout good practice guidelines for SMS marketing.

DO provide an opt-out method that is free as part of the message. Short codes can be a great way to do this, for example: ‘To stop receiving these messages text STOP to 60777’. The law states you must offer an opt-out method for customers to unsubscribe from your marketing list and you must equally comply by updating these lists. The ICO has said it will come down heavily on companies which repeatedly don’t comply with these regulations.

DO ensure marketing lists are compiled fairly and accurately. Not only will this make sure you are targeting your customers effectively by reaching those most likely to be interested in your product, it will also ensure you are compliant with ICO regulations.

DO make sure you are up to date and familiar with laws and industry codes of practice. The ICO has a comprehensive guide to the rules and regulations on its website.

DON’T use third parties unless you can satisfy the strict ‘opt in’ requirements. Opt in phrases such as ‘We will pass your details to third parties unless you write to us and tell us you don’t agree’ will not satisfy the ICO. You need to ensure customers were made aware of whom their details may be passed onto.

DON’T send text messages without gaining permission from the receiver. As discussed above this is a huge no-no and will potentially get you in to hot water with the ICO, not to mention damage your brand, both in the eyes of the customer as well as with the wider industry.

Following these tips can help you maximise the awesome impact offered by bulk text messages as a marketing tool. Remember to make the most of the data available to you and you’ll be even more informed about what it is about your brand that customers love.