How to prepare to launch SMS marketing

    Last updated: July 9, 2024

    On July 18, we’re launching SMS on Omeda to help you broaden your communications and connect with your audience. 

    Done well, SMS marketing gives you more places to engage your audience and promote time-sensitive offers. 

    But a rise in robocalls and text-based phishing attacks have made people protective over their phone numbers — and for good reason. That means if someone’s happily subscribed to your newsletter, they might not see the point of opting into texts as well. 

    Stay ahead and read our Q1 2024 email engagement report to uncover trends & best practices for success:

    So you can’t just slap an opt-in form on your site and hope the sign-ups follow. You need to plan effective, SMS-specific content that comply with privacy laws, please your audience and help you spark revenue. Learn how to do it below: 

    1. Review SMS-specific privacy laws 

    Before launching SMS, make sure your messages comply with the two major regulations governing text-based marketing — the TCPA and the CAN-SPAM Act. 

    Key requirements of the TCPA include: 

    • Obtaining prior express written consent for marketing calls/texts to cell phones when those communications are initiated using an ATDS
    • Suppressing against the National Do Not Call (DNC) registry when no exemption is available 
    • Accepting and honoring DNC requests from consumers 
    • Ensuring a name and number is displayed on Caller ID 
    • Placing calls/texts only during the hours of 8am to 9pm, local time for the receiver 
    • Treating texts the same as calls when utilizing an ATDS 
    • Disclosing certain material facts
    • Monitoring for compliance both internally and for third-parties 

    The CAN-SPAM Act also regulates all commercial messages, including texts. Under this law, commercial senders need to include the following in their messages: 

    • Identification: Clearly indicate that the message is an advertisement or about goods and services.
    • Opt-out instructions: As with email, you need to provide clear opt-out instructions and ensure that once someone unsubscribes, they don’t receive any further messages. 
    • Return address: Your message needs to include a return phone number.

    2. Secure opt-ins

    Encourage your audience to opt into texts from you with some of these strategies: 

    • Run an interactive poll or quiz testing someone’s knowledge about your covered topics, then encourage them to subscribe to SMS upon completion. 
    • Provide an offer or subscription discount for opting into SMS.  
    • Offer exclusive content and/or first look access to content to SMS users

    3. Create an SMS-specific landing page

    When promoting SMS, link back to an SMS-specific landing page that answers the following questions: 

    • What kind of content will I receive via SMS? What can I receive via SMS that I can’t get from your email list or other channels? 
    • How can I subscribe and unsubscribe from your list? 
    • How frequently will I receive messages from you? 
    • Will my cell phone provider charge me for receiving your messages? What happens if I don’t have cell service when the message is sent? 

    Also allow recipients to sign up for specific lists or adjust their sending frequency. Your recipients are more likely to engage — and stay engaged — if they have control over how, when and how frequently they hear from you.

    4. Define your content and monetization strategy 

    Next, consider how SMS will fit into your broader content and monetization strategy. 

    Consider running a survey to see how your audience will respond to SMS marketing. 

    Before investing time and resources into your SMS strategy, set yourself up for success by asking your current audience what they want to receive from you. Some sample questions: 

    • Would you like to receive SMS messages from us? 
    • If so, what kind of messages would you like to receive? (Choose between transactional messages, promotional messages, and/or editorial messages). Use this to create audience segments specific for SMS. 
    • If you’re interested in receiving editorial messages from us, what topics do you want to hear about? As you did above, create specific audience segments for each list, then use this to make your SMS campaigns more relevant. 
    • How frequently would you like to receive messages from us?

    But this comes with a caveat: Your survey respondents are more likely to be highly engaged audience members, so their responses could overestimate your audience’s enthusiasm for mobile. So even if the results are highly positive, ramp up your SMS marketing slowly and be prepared to adjust your sending cadence in response to your engagement numbers. 

    Create compelling, direct SMS-specific campaigns 

    Once you’ve determined what your audience needs, start creating campaign asset specifically for SMS. Follow these best practices to maximize engagement:  

    • Use clear, direct copy. 
    • Use emojis and multimedia strategically. Since these assets will raise your campaign costs, only use them if your audience has already responded to them on other channels. 
    • Include a single clear CTA.  
    • Use a link shortener to save space. (Use a link shortener from your provider whenever possible, since using and other third-party link shorteners can result in spam complaints) 
    • Link to one article or landing page.  

    Consider adding SMS to your premium subscription package if you’re providing additional value or your writers are providing an additional service. For instance, subscribers to the New York Post’s Sports+ package can receive real-time breaking news and talk to the company’s writers via SMS.

    5. Determine and monitor your KPIs

    Like any other channel, identify your most important metrics and plan to review them periodically. 

    Don’t obsess over open rates — many uninterested recipients will open the message just to get rid of the notification. Instead, focus on optimizing: 

    • Click rate
    • Click-through rate (clicks as a percentage of opens) 
    • Conversion rate
    • Delivery rate
    • Subscription rate
    • Complaint rate 
    • Cost per conversion 

    The most important metric depends on your campaign goals. Conversion rate is most important if you’re sending a renewal or paid subscription offer. But if you’re linking to your newsletter or sending breaking news? You’ll want to optimize for clicks and subscriptions. 

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