In the words of the Great Stan Lee: "With great power comes great responsibility". SMS is a powerful communication tool, but the tool comes with its price. SMS is a personal channel and can be perceived as intrusive when used for marketing. As a result of that, there are a lot of guidelines and laws that regulate how you can use SMS. Especially as a marketing channel. You´ll have to make sure that you´re in compliance with the law. At the same time, you should keep your customer´ best interest in mind. In order to succeed, it´s important that you´re aware of and avoid these 5 common mistakes with SMS marketing.

Unsolicited SMS marketing + TCPA = A hefty fine

Do you happen to have thousands of dollars set aside for a multi-million dollar marketing fine? I´m guessing not! Gambling with sending SMS marketing to customers who have not given permission to receive them is like shorting a stock. The potential profit is high, but you risk losing everything and then some. If you send unsolicited SMS marketing, you´re putting your company´s wallet and reputation at risk.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) covers unsolicited calls and texts to cell phones. They protect consumers from unregulated use of their personal information and unsolicited advertisements. You’re prohibited from sending marketing SMS to individuals who haven´t voluntarily given their consent to receive these types of messages. The same goes for SMS marketing in Norway. This is regulated by The Norwegian Consumer Authority under the marketing law.


So, what happens if you break the law? Let´s look at an example:

The company Jiffy Lube recently found themselves in a sticky situation. They sent out a great offer via SMS that cost them a whopping $47 million. They got served with a lawsuit for violating the TCPA after sending an unsolicited SMS campaign to their customers. None of whom had given their consent to receiving these types of messages. The company had used phone numbers provided by their customers on invoices from previous sales and used them for marketing. It´s safe to assume that the return on investment on that campaign got butchered.

The laws and regulations for SMS marketing and cell phone communication may vary from one country to another. It can be easy to forget or simply temping to ignore these regulations. But it´s safe to say that it will cost you more than the time you spend researching them. So, make sure that you´re aware of which laws and regulations you´ll have to comply with based on which countries you operate in.

One message to all customers

This mistake is somewhat tied to the first point made in this article. The motivation behind both mistakes is getting a better ROI (Return on Investments). The irony is that these types of messages will perform worse than campaigns more tailored to smaller subgroups of customers.

Unless you offer a single line of product or target a specific type of audience, you´ll benefit from segmenting customers. There are many different criteria to base your segmentation on. The most important part is that it´s tailored to the customers´ interests and needs. This way, your messages will be perceived as relevant on the recipients’ part, and therefore result in a higher ROI. Not to mention that you´ll save a lot of money on sending less messages in the long run.

Right message, wrong time

It should be self-explanatory that you should avoid sending messages late at night and especially after midnight! The same goes for early mornings, unless you want a bunch of complaints and angry customers. A good rule of thumb is to avoid odd hours in general.

There is no definite answer to when you should send SMS marketing campaigns. It all depends on your industry and customers. You can use the tools you have at your disposal at Intellipush to get a better idea of when your customers engage with your messages. After testing it out for a while you´ll get a clear indication of when it may be preferable for your customers to receive messages, and when to avoid sending them.

No way to opt-out

Your customers should have an easy and quick way to opt-out of receiving SMS marketing. In addition to that, you risk a fine for up to $1,500 per text message you send to a customer who has opted-out, but hasn´t been removed from your list. So not only do you have to have to make sure that your customers can opt-out easily, but you also need a system in place for what happens if and when they do.

An simple way to make sure that your customers have an easy way of unsubscribing is by having a short code. This way your customers can easily opt-out by texting the short code to a specific number. For an even more seamless experience, you can include these specific instructions at the end of each message you send. This way your customers know exactly what to do if they want to opt-out.

To ensure that you comply with the TCPA and other laws and regulations, we have created what we call a "blacklist". This blacklist ensures that every number that opts-out of your SMS marketing will end up on a separate list blocked from receiving text messages from your company. The only way for your customers to get removed from this list is by manually and voluntarily opting-in again.

An Unclear CTA (Call to Action)

CTA, or Call to Action, is a marketing term that refers to anything designed to prompt an immediate response from your customers. It could be that you want to encourage your customers to visit a website, buy a certain product or sign up for an event. Whatever it is, it´s important that you are clear and precise about the message you´re trying to convey. Otherwise, your marketing campaigns will seem as irrelevant and disruptive for the recipients. Always ask yourself: What am I trying to achieve with this message?

The easiest way to do that is by including a link to the landing page you want to direct customers to. If the message is 20% off children's shoes, then the link should lead to a landing page for children's shoes. The same applies to events - if you want customers to register for an event, the link should lead to a registration form. The point is, avoid linking to a generic page that will only confuse your customers. Remember: the more specific your SMS marketing is, the better results you'll get.

We have rolled out the red carpet and showed you the way - It´s now up to you to walk the talk.