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Do’s & Don’ts of SMS Marketing

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SMS marketing has the potential to create intimacy, and reach out to the customer in incredibly timely ways--but don't abuse it!

SMS marketing has the potential to create intimacy, and reach out to the customer in incredibly timely ways–but don’t abuse it!

In our short-attention span world, short messaging service (SMS) just might be the only type of message (almost) guaranteed to be opened and read all the way through. Marketers are very aware of this fact and are taking steps to maximize the benefits of mobile marketing.

SMS, which is also called text messaging, has been in widespread use for some time. in recent years, texting has become popular with more than just teenagers or 20-somethings. The CTIA, a wireless industry trade group, has estimated 3.5 billion text messages fly through the air each day. Much of this growth has been attributed to users over the age of 30.

Marketers love many things about SMS technology. People are pretty much tethered to their mobile devices these days, which means SMS marketers have 24/7 access to them. Also, marketers know most if not all text messages will be opened and read in their entirety, causing some marketers to consider SMS “the certified mail” of the marketing world. However, there are some guidelines to follow for effective use of SMS marketing. Here are five do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.


1. Don’t do anything illegal

Avoid marketing firms that specialize in blasting your message to millions of random cell phone numbers. While there aren’t penalties for text spamming at this time, there likely will be soon.

2. Don’t start off too salesy

Once a potential client gives you the use of their cell phone number for marketing, try and make your very first message to them something inviting — perhaps a coupon for a free item.

3. Don’t focus on one-offs

SMS marketing is more suited to the long-term relationship. Avoid the “hit and run” style of marketing. Keep messages courteous and engaging so you can keep the dialogue going.

4. Don’t text excessively

The general rule is to text no more than once a week. More than that starts to feel excessive and spammy to the user.

5. Don’t be too cute

Keep your marketing messages direct and to the point. Since most texts are limited to 140-160 characters, this should be pretty easy to do. However, don’t use confusing slang or abbreviations unless you’re sure the user will understand them.

And now for the do’s:

1. Choose from legitimate SMS marketing options

You can choose from an auto-text coupon service, a vanity short code for your business or a more interactive agency to craft a fully customized marketing strategy for you.

2. Support your text campaign with traditional marketing

SMS marketing shouldn’t be used in place of marketing via other media. You can have the best of all possible worlds by finding ways to integrate a number of approaches for maximized results together.

3. Plan ahead

Receiving your own dedicated vanity code takes 10 to 12 weeks, so order early if you’ll need it for a particular campaign.

4. Make vanity codes simple

Always provide both the letter and number versions of your vanity code in your messages. Avoid using quotation marks around them so users won’t mistakingly type them in.

5. Exercise restraint

Always be selective about the types of messages you send and the frequency with which you send them.

Follow these basic do’s and don’ts and you’ll be well on your way to mastery of SMS marketing!


Thomas is The Marketing Robot's Technology and Competitive analysis writer at large, when not covering the online media landscape he enjoys the occasional Bob Dylan record as well as a visit to Hawaii now and again. Follow him on Twitter @theMrobot