How to stay compliant with SMS marketing!

26 July 2016

8.3 trillion text messages were sent worldwide in 2015 alone. That’s almost 23 billion messages per day and 16 million messages per minute. It’s therefore, no surprise that companies are increasingly choosing text message as a regular way to stay in contact with their customers. With mobile phones being the centre of our everyday lives no-one wants to have their mobile phone bombarded with spam texts advertising products and services they don’t want. More than 175,000 complaints about spam text messages and cold calls were made to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in 2014. As a result, the ICO has more powers in being able to prosecute successfully those who are guilty of sending spam text messages. To support you with your SMS marketing strategy, we have put together a guide on how to ensure that your business does not come across as spamming but offers value with your messages.

What are spam text messages?

Spam text messages are unsolicited and unwanted adverts. The majority of companies that send spam messages are lead generation firms. They mainly want people to reply to their messages so that they can sell on that number to another company. They are often looking for people who want to make PPI claims, personal injury claims or to consolidate their debts. Some may announce that you’ve won something, or you qualify for an offer, enticing you to collect your prize by going to a website or calling a number.

Why shouldn’t organisations send spam messages? 

Growing and building your opt-in database can seem like a daunting task for businesses starting off. It may seem like an easier option to purchase people’s details from a unscrupulous third-party however the consequences are fatal…

  1. It’s illegal! It is against the law to send people text messages without having received their consent prior.
  2. Poor quality lead generation – because people have not agreed to receive your messages you brand image will be incredibly damaged. Your business will be associated with spamming, and the likelihood of any sales will be low.
  3. Damaging the effectiveness of SMS marketing – with the rise of spam text messages, people are more hesitant in giving their mobile numbers freely.

There are many benefits in obtaining people’s details legitimately and simple strategies you can implement to gain them quickly.

What are the guidelines?

The ICO set the regulations for SMS marketing messages. If someone receives a spam message, it takes a matter of seconds for them to put in a complaint. They simple need to text ‘7726’ (SPAM) with the suspected spam message. The ICO can then fine guilty companies up to £500,000, its therefore important you know the guidelines! Here are the important points from the guidelines:

  • Identity! You need to make sure the receiver can identify who you are straight away! Never hide your contact number or company name. Many companies tend to use a short code* (5 digit number). Other’s like to display their caller ID as a name such as “Bobs Motors” so the receiver is reassured the message is from a trusted company.
  • Opt-In legitimately! Any text messages you send the recipient must have voluntarily opted in to receive your messages.
  • Ability to unsubscribe! It is imperative that you give your customers the option to opt-out at any time and let them know clearly how to do so. Most companies choose the word “STOP” however you can tell them to text any choose word to any number – however this must be clear to the receiver!

How do I ensure my messages don’t look like spam?

Even if you obtained your opt-in database legally, this still doesn’t mean that you can be subject to spam reports. How your messages appear to receipts is crucial and there are a 5 key things to consider when creating your campaigns.

  1. Avoid “text speak” – messages that contain spelling errors and abbreviations are likely to appear in spam messages. A poorly worded text will make your customers feel your messages are unreliable and ignore them. With TextAnywhere you can send a maximum of 918 characters, however sometimes this can still be difficult. Remember text messages should be used to communicate clear and concise messages. If you want to send more information, then insert a URL link to a specified page in which they can read more.
  2. Avoid frequent messages – Unlike other popular marketing channels, SMS marketing is all about quality over quantity. There is no need to compete for attention as receipts have voluntarily opted-in to your messages. Therefore there is no need to bombard people with constant messages. Not only would this be classed “spam” but there would be no engagement. Sending messages a couple of messages a month gives a strong 23% conversion rate. If you are unsure how many times you should contact your customers, simply ask them before they sign up and provide them with the option to change the frequency!
  3. Timing! It is important to consider the timing you send your messages. No one wants to receive an appointment reminder at 2am on the day of their appointment. As mobile phones are personal, be considerate and think when is appropriate to send your messages. Getting the timing of your messages right will not only reduce the chances of them opting out but also conversion rates. Test and measure various timings to find out what works best for your subscribers. Success will entirely depend on your audience, your business and what type of message you’re sending!
  4. Provide a purpose/value – when creating your message you need to of three key things; who, what and why. Is it clear who the message is from? Is it clear what is on offer? Why are you sending the message? If you are sending a generic message with no value and hidden identity then receiver will delete it as spam. It is vital that you have a clear call to action and your message provides something useful in order for them to not unsubscribe. For example if you just launched a new redesign on your store there is no point in simply texting them to tell them this. Add value by giving them a reason to visit i.e there is a new feature, exclusive giveaway etc.
  5. Allow recipients to opt out! Ensure that it is clearly stated within your messages on how the recipient can opt-out from any future messages. For example “To opt-out from future messages text back STOP”.

How does TextAnywhere help their clients stay compliant?

At TextAnywhere we take spam very seriously. We consistently work very hard in ensuring our systems are free from spam messages. When opening an account with us, every single client is vetted manually by our highly experienced customer service team who are trained in spotting potential spam accounts. Our robust platform has been built to ensure that spam messages are removed from our system with various alerts. We take pride in promoting ethical text messaging which is based on ICO regulations through all our communication channels. Furthermore to support in promoting ethical text message marketing we offer a free “opt-out” service for all our clients who use our service.

To summarise…..

Some quick tips on how to avoid coming across as a spammer: 

  • Never hide your identity.
  • Make sure your consumers have opted in and allow them opt out.
  • Sending spam can damage your brand’s reputation, the mobile marketing industry and result in huge fines!
  • Timing of your texts are important!
  • Avoid the use of abbreviations, misspellings and marketing hype.
  • Quality over quantity – SMS marketing messages are most effective when they aren’t sent frequently.
  • Communicate with your customers rather than try to constantly sell them your product/service!
  • Your texts should always provide value to the customer.

For more information on SMS marketing or our services please feel free to contact our friendly customer care team on 0845 112 1302 or email [email protected].

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