7 Common SMS Marketing Mistakes You Could be Making

Since SMS marketing burst onto the scene in the late 90s, it’s matured. It’s no longer viewed as a new and edgy concept adopted by a few forward-thinking tech start-ups.

Most companies have tried SMS in some capacity and many have well established SMS strategies as an integrated and essential part of their marketing mix.

It’s surprising then that we’re still seeing some very basic and potentially highly damaging mistakes. Some of these mistakes are fairly minor but others can result in serious penalties from regulators.

Record fines are being handed out to companies that break antispam rules, causing untold damage to reputation and brand.

To help you avoid these pitfalls, here’s our list of the top 7 most common SMS marketing mistakes.

Mistake #1
Fail to provide an opt out

In the EU and US, the rules are very clear. You are required by law to provide a simple way that consumers can opt out of receiving any further texts. This needs to appear on every marketing text that you send.

To opt out, the customer would normally just reply ‘stop’ to the text. It’s then up to the sender to apply an ‘opt out’ flag against that person so that they don’t receive anything else.

Penalties for failing to comply with this rule can be very severe. In the EU, under the newly launched GDPR, companies can be fined up 20 million Euros of 4% of global turnover.

Under the TCPA, In the US, penalties for spam text message violations can range between $500 and $1,500 per text sent.

With the stakes so high, it’s vital that marketers ensure they’re operating within the law.

Mistake #2
Fail to optimize the web site for mobile

Most marketing texts invite consumers to click through to a website, where they can find out more and respond to the offer.

It should be obvious then that the mobile site should be correctly optimised and offer an experience that’s as good as the main website.

Too often the mobile home page looks and works fine but deeper pages are ignored and are made unusable by lengthy blocks of text or badly sized images.

Before pressing go on your campaign, think like one of your customers. Send the text to you and your colleagues and click through to the website.

How was the experience?
Did the site load OK?
Could you respond easily?

Mistake #3
Bombard your customers with too many texts

According to Frost and Sullivan, 98% of all texts get read, compared to just 22% of emails.

With such incredible read rates, it’s tempting to take advantage of this by sending frequent campaigns in an attempt to generate the maximum response.

It’s almost always a mistake. Nothing will have your customers unsubscribing faster than if they feel like they’re being spammed.

Less is most definitely more.

Mistake #4
Don’t segment your data

One of the more powerful benefits of SMS is that it’s easy to adapt your offer to suit different audiences.

Most organizations hold huge amounts of data on their customers that can be used to make marketing texts as relevant and targeted as possible.

So rather than sending all your subscribers the same message, segment them into broad types, with each receiving a message that’s most likely to appeal to them.

Unlike every other direct marketing channel, there’s no additional cost in creating as many different types of message as you want.

Mistake #5
Send confusing texts

A text contains just 160 precious characters. Every single one of them has to work hard. Although the message is short, it has to communicate who you are, what the offer is and how you want people to respond.

This is all preferably done with charm, humour and a sense of urgency. It’s quite a lot to ask.

The temptation is to look for ever more creative ways to reduce the number of characters.

You can easily end up sending a text that’s exactly 160-characters but doesn’t really make much sense.

To avoid confusing your customers, use normal, jargon free English and keep any abbreviations to a minimum.

Steer well clear of ‘text speak’. It can come across as unprofessional and overfamiliar.

Mistake #6
Don’t Use a URL shortener

With just 160 to play with, every character counts. An easy and obvious way of eliminating wasted characters is to shorten the website address using a URL shortener.

It’s an easy way to win back a few characters.

As well as shortening your URL, you’ll also be able to track and measure the performance of your campaign.

One Seattle based agency achieved click through rates of 20% using Bitly links in their SMS marketing campaigns.

Mistake #7
Just sell

SMS is the most responsive marketing channel and it’s very effective for generating sales.

But you can have too much of a good thing. If every text that you send is just trying to sell, your audience will soon become bored and are likely to unsubscribe.

Mix up your sales texts with other useful information. Try and add some value to what you’re sending rather than just sending similar sounding sales messages.

Plan your campaigns with care

The humble text message is still one of the most powerful tools available to marketers.
Despite the technology being over 25 years old, nothing else is as responsive, quick to deploy or can generate such impressive results.

But it needs to be used with caution, care and moderation. If you use SMS without thoughtful planning or a clear strategy, you risk causing lasting damage and alienating your audience.

Avoid these 7 common SMS marketing mistakes and you’re well on the way to getting the best possible results.

Henry Cazalet @thesmsworks
Founder, The SMS Works