Responsible Marketer Workshop
Text Message Marketing Campaigns
Whether it's the realities of a post-covid world or simply a sign of the times, businesses today are expected to communicate with customers directly and in real time.
The ability to engage customers with purposefully placed on demand messaging has become table stakes in today's marketing world. Text messaging stands head and shoulders above other marketing channels when it comes to being able to do just that.
The real question isn’t “should we do it” but “how do we do it right”.
Text message marketing is more complicated than you may think. Once you dig into it you’ll quickly find yourself Googling things like opt-in, SMS/MMS, P2P, A2P, TCPA, and CTIA.
This many acronyms will likely put a damper on your excitement. If jargon weren’t enough, there’s always that pesky risk of sending the wrong text to the wrong person at the wrong time. Alternatively, your text may just not make it to its destination at all, lost in the ether of the mobile carrier’s usage policies.
A welcomed text message to the right person at the right time can be a powerful driver for your brand and your relationship with that customer. It places you front and center for the prospect, allowing you to skip the line and break through the noise. It also allows you to hijack and irritate if you don’t do it right. You have to mind your manners here more than with other channels.
As a brand, it makes sense that you would proactively monitor your messaging campaigns to see if your audience is truly welcoming them (without relying on anecdotes). With as high of open rates as there are with SMS campaigns, the wrong messaging will quickly become spam.
Innocently enough, spam boils down to a mismatch between the message and its audience. Unwelcomed messaging. So monitor your channels, don’t use bots, and make sure you implement best practices.
We help marketers and business owners with workshops for running responsible text message marketing campaigns. Help yourself with this introductory summary:
What is Spam
Spam is when there is a mismatch between the message and its
What are SMS/MMS Campaigns
SMS/MMS marketing is categorized into marketing campaigns and operations campaigns
Marketing campaigns are usually broadcasts (one to many) and have more restrictions on what mobile carriers will allow versus block/filter
Operations campaigns are usually conversations (think fulfillment or confirmation related) and have much more lenient restrictions
There's always the gray middle. Mobile carriers are promoting conversations and blocking passive broadcasts (there’s always email for that)
Campaigns are measured as a conversation, not an individual text. This matters with some of the finer details. For example, you have to identify your brand to begin each communication, but you do not need to continuously state your name throughout the conversation.
What is Consent
It’s more about ensuring that your audience is a willing participant than it is about making sure a box is checked (although that checked box is pretty clutch too).
Consent is required upfront and is an ongoing thing.
Before your first text
Clearly identify your brand
Clearly identify what the content and frequency will be
Receive affirmative consent (save it).
If more than 30 days have passed before your first text
Receive fresh consent.
This can be with a text asking the recipient to confirm.
Opt outs are quietly much more important than opt ins
Make sure your audience has an automated opt out method
Make sure it's working.
Make sure they know about it
Being cautious would say you should end each message with a reminder to “Reply STOP to unsubscribe” or similar.
Maybe you don't do it with every single communication, fine, but you want to remind your audience often enough so that no one can say they didn’t know (or make a case that they didn’t know).
Monitor inbound replies if possible (even if you state that you don’t) to make sure that no one is complaining without your realizing.
Make the opt out “term” something obvious, it matters.
When consent isn’t required.
Alternative consent is granted if the customer initiates the conversation or if the conversation is regarding a pre-existing relationship. I.e., confirming an order or sending a receipt.
If someone has entered your audience via alternative consent, this does not give you the green light to send them marketing texts. That still requires consent.
It does however grant you the opportunity to end the conversation by asking if they’d like to receive different types of messaging.
Content Strategy - Deliverability
In order to ensure deliverability (based on mobile carriers’ policies) stick to these fast rules:
Don’t include multimedia in the general broadcast
Keep it short, try to keep it to one message (SMS)
Limit characters that carriers’ algorithms may search for as spammy, although they don’t provide a definitive list (on purpose) think of symbols or acronyms such as $, %, #, THC, CBD, USD
Don’t include multiple calls to action (i.e., only one URL at time)
Complete URLs > shortened links (bitly)
Don’t be repetitive between broadcasts
Avoid restricted terms (like cannabis, porn, profanity)
The closer you are to being engaged in a genuine one on one conversation via text, the more lenient carriers’ algorithms will be with you, as long as you’re not using restricted terms.
Images and multimedia is a great way to provide more robust messaging and engaging content. These are allowed through carrier filters in conversation threads (and automatic replies). As opposed to sharing them in broadcasts.
Practices to consider
Use smaller segments
Use keywords to provide auto-replies as an alternative to jam packed texts
Solicit replies and actually monitor conversations
Content Strategy - Compliance
For restricted industries, don’t share product pricing or images via broadcast. Solicit that the solicit the information by doing something like clicking a link or sending a specific reply in order to view the restricted content.
Do not use bots to manage messaging or conversations.
Do not use irregular terms for opting out (i.e., use terms like STOP or END).
Identify yourself at the beginning of each conversation.
Do not design your content to evade carrier filters (the cat usually finds the mouse). Go with the flow on this one, it’ll give you better marketing results.
No fraudulent messaging (that’s you foreign princes with business opportunities).
No malicious messaging (no viruses or hacks please)
No hate speech (be a good person).
No pharmaceutical sales allowed.
If you've made this far it means you're probably interested in the topic. Let us know if we can help your team with a one hour workshop. We'll go over your goals and what you're doing today and provide your team with a few recommendations as to best practices. Don't worry, it's free!
Please note that compliance with legal frameworks, such as the TCPA, may be fact- and and context-specific. The information contained in this whitepaper should not be relied upon as legal advice or to determine how CTIA requirements or the TCPA applies to your use of SMS. This information is provided “as is” and may be updated or changed without notice. You may copy and use this content for your internal, reference purposes only.