MS is an amazing channel to reach customers, it has message open rates of over 97% compared to the 1-3% for email. Practically everyone has at least one mobile phone (some have more), capable of receiving SMS, and they usually carry it with them. SMS is a gift for direct marketing, however with such a direct channel it is important not to abuse it. So, here are my 5 golden rules for marketing using SMS.

1. Protect Your Channel

SMS is not like email or post. Junk email or junk mail it is easy to ignore or dispose of. With email there are ways of filtering or re-directing junk mail so they are not objectionable. With junk mail it is easy to transfer it to the bin without even reading it.

With SMS it is in your face! SMS is a much more direct, intimate channel, so don’t abuse it. Use it sparingly, send information that is relevant to the recipient. Use the power of the database. Store more customer preferences, add to this with every customer contact. Explain why you are doing this, allow them to opt-in or opt-out see later.

2. Brand Your Message

I am amazed at the number of SMS messages I receive with no company name or brand. They usually have just a cryptic message and a telephone number to call. This is terrible. You should always put the company or brand name in the message and have a way to contact the message originator back.

Some SMS providers allow messages to be sent with the company name in the origination field. Although it does show the company name, there is no way to reply directly to the message. So, how do you stop unwanted messages? In my opinion the origination field should only contain the originator’s number to allow the recipient to quickly reply with the minimum of effort.

There is another way to get your company name or brand to pop-up on the recipient’s phone when they receive a message from you AND to allow the reply. This is by sending them a vCard by SMS when they first make contact. Once they accept the vCard, anytime they receive a message from you it will pop-up with your name. You have the added benefit that your company contact details are in their phone.

3. Offer A Real Benefit

An extra 1% off some widget you are selling may be a big deal to you, but I can guarantee that 99.99% of your recipients couldn’t give two figs!

Remember SMS is a valuable channel, it costs you money to send down it, it costs your recipients time, distraction to read your message. Make it worth yours and their time!

Guaranteed a great way to lose subscribers is bombard them with a stream trivial offers. Use the power of the database, offer relevant worthwhile offers.

4. Get The Message Right

The message must be a real benefit to the recipient. Think about it. Do the calculation yourself. Put youself in their shoes, is it really worth acting on? Does it stand out from advertising you see or read? Does it stand out or blend in? Be bold! Is you message something you would just toss, or does it have a real resonance with your target?

Use the strength of SMS, it’s timeliness. If it is quiet in the restaurant offer an exceptional time limited offer.

‘The boss is away, so **PARTY** at The Brasserie, 25% off tonight only.’

5. Put The Recipient In Control

Although it is my last golden rule, it is probably the most important. SMS is not like any other channel it is a very intimate, it is also very obtrusive if you receive unwanted or unsolicited messages. Unlike email it is not possible to filter or selectively reject messages. For this reason it is essential to put your subscribers in control. Allow them to stop messages, or setup filters. Allow them to reply ‘stop’ by text to stop messages, but also provide a website/mobile page to allow them to control their message preferences.