SMS Marketing Disasters – and How to Avoid Them
Here at FastSMS, we passionately believe that SMS Marketing, also known as text message marketing, is a powerful and cost efficient marketing tool when used correctly. However, as we have covered in recent posts, there are rules and legislation to abide by. If the law is not followed, then it leaves businesses facing enforcement action, whether or not their actions were due to lack of knowledge, being careless or was intentional.
So following on from our articles on some of the laws surrounding marketing by SMS text messages, we are going to take a look at some recent real life examples where companies were punished as a result of their text communications with customers, what happened and how to avoid making the same mistakes.
Provident Personal Credit Ltd (Satsuma Loans)
In July this year, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) published enforcement action it had taken against Provident Personal Credit Ltd, based in Bradford, West Yorkshire. They were found to have sent almost a million text messages through third party affiliates promoting Satsuma Personal Loans over 6 months, although it is possible that a higher number were sent. How did they break the law? The messages were unsolicited, none of the customers had consented to receive such marketing.
The ICO ruled that PPC Ltd had contravened regulation 22 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003. This effectively states that senders should not transmit or instigate the transmission of electronic mail for direct marketing purposes unless the recipient of the mail has previously notified the sender that they consent freely and specifically to such communications.
The ICO’s spam reporting service had received 285 complaints regarding this company’s campaign between 6th April 2015 and 13th October 2015. After the ICO investigated, they issued a monetary penalty, or fine, of £80,000 under section 55a of the Data Protection Act 1998. PPC Ltd will have the right to appeal this.
The Head of Enforcement for the ICO, Steve Eckersley commented: “The law is clear. You can’t send marketing texts to people who have not signed up to receive them.
“Being bombarded with texts you didn’t ask for and don’t want is an intrusion into people’s privacy, an irritation and, in the worst cases can be upsetting. Companies have no excuse whatsoever for sending nuisance texts, whether they do it themselves or employ someone else to do it for them.”
The company released a statement about the action: ‘’Although the ICO found that the contravention was not deliberate, PPC takes this contravention extremely seriously. It has reviewed its marketing processes and put in place procedures designed to prevent such conduct happening again’’.
There have been several other businesses fined by the ICO within the last year for breaches of the DPA or PECR during SMS text messaging direct marketing campaigns.
The key to preventing any such problems in your business is to ensure that you or at least one competent member of your staff maintain an understanding of privacy and data legislations and double check each campaign to ensure they meet the rules. Don’t leave things to chance – seek advice from a correctly accredited provider when unsure as the legislation can be complicated.
Clean Carpets Plymouth
Although this case centres around a contractual argument rather than direct marketing, it definitely provides a clear example of how not to deal with customers by text. On 7th February this year, a newspaper article in the Plymouth Herald, later picked up and published by some of the national tabloids, alleged that the above company had harassed a young couple through text messages.
The couple had apparently booked a carpet cleaning session but then cancelled due to suffering a miscarriage and hospitalisation as a result. The company felt that the customer had not provided cancellation within the appropriate time and should pay a cancellation fee. What followed was a series of text messages between the company owner and the customer, some of which were printed in the newspaper articles, appearing to show the company taking quite an aggressive stance towards the customer. Each time the customer responded, the company raised their administration fee by £25, so by the end, it reached almost £1000. It was even reported that the carpet cleaning firm had said the couple deserved to lose their baby although they strongly deny this.
The customers reported the company and its owner to the police, who were investigating if a crime had been committed under the Malicious Communications Act 1988. Whether or not any prosecution case will be brought against the company is unknown as of yet, but two days later, another article was published where the company owner claimed that he and his wife had received death threats and risked losing both their business and their home as a result.
Moral of the story? There is such a thing as bad publicity. This may seem a pretty extreme example, but it’s easier than you think for you or your employees to send texts containing inappropriate or easily misconstrued wording or content and this could unravel your company’s reputation and business security quicker than pressing the send button. A poorly trained or resentful employee could wreak havoc so at the very least, make sure you have tight approval protocol systems in place.
For more information on some of the many laws applicable to SMS Marketing, we recommend that you also read the following articles:
SMS Marketing is one of the lowest cost and most effective forms of marketing available and offers great potential for ROI across every sector. To learn more about how we can help your business to grow with our bulk SMS messaging solutions, get in touch with the friendly and professional team here at Fastsms now and we’ll get you started in no time.
While traditional advertising methods are declining, SMS marketing is increasing and it is a trend that looks likely to continue. Here are 6 recent marketing trends that open the door for you to take advantage through your next SMS marketing campaign.
Over the last month or so I’ve signed up for quite a lot of webinars. I’m always trying to learn more about technology, marketing, best practices – you get the idea. So I’ve been excited to see many organisations offering SMS reminders for webinars. But there is one experience I had with an SMS reminder for a webinar that I simply had to share.
6 steps to sending your first SMS marketing campaign. Whether you’ve already decided to use fastsms, or are still trying us out – these simple steps will show you how quickly you can get up and running and sending texts to your customers.
The digital age has seen a rise in demand for business coaches to aid you in every aspect of your entrepreneurial efforts. From money mindset to technological solutions, earning passive income and attracting high-paying clients, these days there’s a coach for everything. But running a coaching business isn’t as simple as the hype would suggest. SMS marketing is the perfect way of supercharging your promotion of your coaching business, here’s how.
Executed properly, SMS direct marketing is a hugely effective and successful means of building customer loyalty and improving sales. But even genuine and honest marketing companies can suffer huge damage to reputation or even break the law through simply lacking knowledge or not double-checking before releasing campaigns. Read this article to learn more about the definitions of spamming and harassment, current UK law and how to avoid simple but costly mistakes.
Given that network marketing is very much dependent on communication, there are ways in which SMS marketing can be used to help increase recruitment, improve retention rates, create effective discussion, boost sales and motivate teams. Here’s how…
Whilst some businesses still offer physical sales, many companies have an online presence as well. Whether they trade solely on the internet or maintain physical stores, it’s vital for businesses to cater for online customers. In order to increase sales and turnover, companies rely on a range of marketing methods, such as offline advertising or digital promotions. Whilst these can be effective, many businesses are overlooking the potential of SMS marketing.
SMS marketing is one of the most effective and efficient marketing channels currently available, enabling businesses to directly communicate with their target customers. If you’re considering building your first SMS marketing campaign, or you have already ran a campaign but achieved limited success, read on to see how you can build an effective SMS marketing campaign to achieve your business objectives.
Text messages can be a pretty powerful way of communicating with potential customers. They land directly in people’s inbox and offer a clear and direct sales channel. They’re also hugely popular. So how can you launch a successful SMS campaign for your business? These 10 steps should help you outline an effective plan.
If you’re an estate agent who isn’t using SMS to increase their database of buyers and sellers, then you’re an estate agent who isn’t maximising their clients’ phone numbers. A mobile number is something your purchasers and sellers are quite happy to share with you, and this voluntary opt-in can be invaluable when it comes to getting an edge in a competitive market. Using this information, you can create effective and affordable marketing campaigns, whether you’re alerting your clients to a change of price or promoting a particular property.