Mini Guide to SMS Marketing

SMS Marketing contains a lot of little nuances, but if you follow the rules (in specific the TCPA) SMS marketing can be a huge revenue channel for your business.

Long Codes vs Short Codes vs Toll Free

Long Codes ($) – Your standard 10 digit phone number tied to a specific area code. The number you are currently using is a long code! Great for a smaller volume of communication. Max rates is 5 SMS/second depending on the api that you use. Typically has a cap of 200 or so SMS per day. Renting long codes can be as cheap as $0.8/month.

Short Codes ($$$$) – A 5 to 6 digit number that can be used nationwide with no area code needed. A lot of two-factor authentication messages are sent via a short code for example. You may have seen businesses occasionally sharing short codes as well. Great for a large volume of communication. Can handle anywhere from 50+ SMS per second depending on api that you use. No cap on the amount of messages per day. Renting short codes usually start at about $500/month.

Toll Free ($) – A 10 digit phone number usually reserved for informational SMS. Promotional such as offering a coupon code is typically not allowed on toll free numbers. Renting toll free numbers can be as cheap as $1/month.

TCPA Compliance

Probably the most important part of this guide! Basically, the law generally states that you CANNOT send an SMS to a consumer without prior written consent from that consumer. As well, if a consumer unsubscribes from future SMS messages you must comply and remove them future communications. Further sending a consumer a message after unsubscribing can result in hefty fines. Refer to more detailed explanations on the FCC's website under the TCPA section.

The Juicy Stuff

Ok, now that we’ve gotten some basic jargon out of the way, onto the juicy stuff! SMS marketing has an incredibly high open rates in comparison to email marketing. Although that’s the case, you cannot send anywhere near as much content in an SMS message therefore you have to be very specific with your campaigns. Many sms marketing providers claim anywhere from 75%-99% open rates with SMS marketing. It’s tough to truly know the exact figures without access to carrier data. Most of the open rates percentages are based on surveys.

Try and keep your messages as personal and casual as possible. Think about how you text your friends (ok, maybe not that casual) but less is more here. They are more than likely going to read the message, so keep it short and sweet. Give them something they want! One-off limited promotional opportunities are great. Shorten your links before hand, but DO NOT USE popular link shortening services. They will be flagged by carrier spam filters! Many of the sms marketing companies provide their own link shortening services. For example at Outseed we automatically shorten any outbound links for you. This helps with both tracking and making sure you lessen the number of characters in your message. Time and time again I see people using popular link shortening services killing their campaigns and wasting their budget away.

Opt In Techniques

A lot of marketers also struggle with how to get a consumer to fork over their mobile phone number and to opt into campaigns. This can be tough. You’ll see a lot of e-mail collection style pop-ups on websites offering a discount for opting into their promotion. Despite this, users can and will enter fake phone numbers just for the offer. This can be super dangerous, you don’t want to accidentally message a consumer you don’t have written consent from. I always recommend gating the discounts or promotions behind a follow-up text message. For example, at Outseed you can setup a keyword for a consumer to text. They keyword can then auto-respond with a specific promotional coupon code or discount of some sort. In return, the consumers phone number is saved to the platform for future marketing. Some marketers like to opt in consumers as part of the checkout flow for example. Be very careful with this strategy, when going through a checkout it’s not always immediately obvious that they are opting in for future communications and may tick off some consumers.

SMS Marketing Pricing

There is a HUGE range in sms pricing. Make sure to do your homework on any platform you might be interested in and match the features in relation to the price your willing to pay.

Typical SMS pricing ranges: $0.0075/message – $0.08/message.

That’s a huge range! Consider this, you are sending 10,000 sms messages per month. The pricing of your monthly campaigns could be anywhere from $100-$800. This could be the difference of being profitable versus not being profitable.

Platforms to Consider

Forewarning I own and operate but there are others such as simpletexting, textedly, trumpia and more!

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