In 2013, FCC guidelines were amended to allow businesses to market to customers via SMS (text) and MMS (multimedia message) under certain conditions. And that could be a huge boon for your business.
Text messages feel much more personal and targeted than email messaging and even targeted ads or push notifications on social media platforms. Most American mobile users check their phones 160 times a day, with 46 percent of Americans reaching for their phones and checking their notifications before they even get out of bed in the morning. But most of those mobile users have turned off push notifications for email and social media platforms, so text message marketing may offer a more effective and direct means of reaching them with promotions, updates, and more.
What Is Text Message Marketing?
Text message marketing involves sending short messages about sales, business news, promotional offers, and other relevant information to your customers via text message. You can send these messages in bulk to groups of customers or entire segments of your market. To customize the experience for targeted customers, send individualized messages as appropriate.
Obey the Law
There are strict rules and guidelines governing how and when you can send marketing text messages to your customers. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act, you can’t send unsolicited marketing messages to someone’s telephone number. Under these laws, you have to get specific permission from each customer before you can send them marketing messages. It’s the same as with email marketing messages.
So, customers need to opt-in and provide you with their number so that you can legally send them marketing text messages. Whether you’re doing text message marketing for restaurants, pet stores, clothing stores, or a service that you wish to provide, you have to get customers to opt into your marketing messages, and it’s a good idea to send a confirmation text for every opt-in. This confirmation lets customers know that they have given you permission to send marketing messages to their phone numbers, as well as giving them the chance to opt-out if they didn’t know. The confirmation message should also include:
- Your company name;
- The types of marketing messages you plan to send;
- The expected frequency of those messages;
- A warning that standard data and messaging rates apply; and
- A statement that no purchase is needed.
Remember to include the fine print — including opt-out information, a link to terms, and contact information for support — in any promotional materials designed to encourage customers to add their numbers to your text marketing list.
Text Message Marketing Best Practices
While getting customers’ permission to market to them via text message may be enough to comply with the law, it’s usually not enough to keep customers engaged with your marketing campaigns. If you want your marketing text messages to ultimately lead to conversions, you have to follow some simple best practices.
For one thing, keep your marketing text messages short. Customers won’t read lengthy text messages — at best, they might start reading them and then give up, and then opt-out of future long messages. SMS messages have a character limit, anyway, so it’s best to keep your marketing text messages to 160 characters or less.
You should also make sure that you’re not bombarding customers with an unending onslaught of text messages. Customers will definitely opt back out of your marketing campaign if they start getting tons of text messages from your company all the time. Stick to sending only as many messages as you need to, and further restrict yourself to marketing only to specific customer groups, rather than trying to craft a text message general enough to appeal to your entire customer base. Send marketing texts only during daylight hours — normal business hours are best — so that customers aren’t annoyed by marketing texts coming in at 3:00 a.m.
No matter what your marketing text message says, it should add value to that consumer’s experience with the brand. Messages should be both relevant to your customers’ interests and pleasing to them. So think of messages that include promotional offers and discounts, or exclusive company news. Customers should be happy when they get one of your marketing texts, not annoyed or frustrated.
Text message marketing can do a lot to keep customers engaged with your brand. Follow best practices to stay on the right side of the law and foster customer loyalty, and your text message marketing campaigns can help your business grow more than you ever dreamed.