SMS Marketing Best Practices

Introduction to Best Practices for SMS or Text Marketing Campaigns

SMS marketing, also known as text message marketing, can be a powerful way to reach customers and clients. But with great power comes great responsibility.

There are certain laws, rules, and guidelines you should adhere to while wielding the power of text marketing. Papa John’s was hit with a $250 million lawsuit after playing fast and loose with these rules and sending 500,000 illegal text messages.

Following these 7 commandments of SMS Marketing will ensure you stay within the law, stick to industry guidelines, and provide your customers with the respect and discretion they deserve.

7 Rules for Successful SMS Marketing Campaigns

1. Consent

You must get consent before sending marketing messages. Without consent, you run the risk of facing heavy fines, damaging your brand, and annoying your customers. By getting consent first, your text marketing campaign will be legal and yield a greater response as you’re texting customers who want to receive your messages.

What constitutes consent and how do you get it? If customers are opting in by texting your keyword (e.g., “Text SIMPLE to 555888 to get our texts”), you already have consent. By texting your keyword to subscribe, they give consent to receive your messages.

If you’re importing contacts manually, you must first have express consent, either spoken or written. You may not need consent if you’re sending a transactional message (e.g., an appointment reminder) or a noncommercial message (e.g., an alert from a church or nonprofit).

If you’re not sure whether you have consent or need consent, contact our experts at

2. FrequencyDon’t text too much. No one wants their inbox flooded with texts from your business. Best practice is to send 2–4 texts a month. Any more risks annoying your customers.

Also, be clear about the frequency of your texts. You should state, either in your auto-confirmation message or when advertising your text campaign, how many texts you plan to send per month. The Pittsburgh Penguins were sued after sending more texts than stated in their terms and conditions, so be sure to stay within your limit.

3. Disclaimers

CTIA, the Wireless Association, requires that you include the following information on any advertisements for your text campaigns:

“Msg & Data rates may apply”—This simply means that the customer may be charged by their carrier for receiving your text message, just as they would for any text.

Consult the CTIA’s Short Code Monitoring Handbook for full details.

4. Opt-out

Always let your subscribers know they can opt out at any time. SimpleTexting automatically includes this information in the auto-confirmation message, but you should also include instructions on any advertisements.

Simply include “Text STOP to unsubscribe” when promoting your text campaign. By informing your customers that they can stop your texts at any time, you establish trust and credibility.

5. Hours

Only send texts during business hours. Would you appreciate a marketing text at 3 a.m.? Neither would your valued customers.

Keep your texts within reasonable business hours to avoid annoying your customers. Besides, there’s no point in texting customers when they can’t immediately act on your offer. It’s common sense and common courtesy.

6. Language

Text like an adult. It’s tempting to lapse into “textese,” using shorthand like “2” for “to” or “U” for “you.” Texting like this does save precious characters—but it also looks unprofessional.

Compare these two texts:

  • Go2 Joes 2day 4 a gr8 deal! 20% off ne slice wen u sho dis text
  • Visit Joe’s today for a great deal! 20% off any slice when you show this text.

Sure, the first one is 15 characters shorter, but it looks like it was written by a preteen, not a respectable business.

7. Value

Make every text worthwhile. Your customers are giving you permission to text them. In exchange, you should offer them something of value.

Don’t blast them with the same vague ad every week. Instead, make sure every text you send is worth their while. Discounts, exclusive savings, important announcements, event alerts, and useful information are all valuable things to share with your customers. Consider using MMS marketing to send images or other rich media as a way to diversify your engagement with subscribers.

If you’re not providing your customers with value, there’s nothing stopping them from unsubscribing.

Call Elkmont Media for all of your digital marketing needs, including: social media, website design, SMS, text message marketing, video, and email marketing.

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