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Why you want to keep your SMS marketing database clean

Getting people onto your SMS marketing list – the opt in – is important and where most people focus their efforts. But as a company in Dublin recently discovered, making sure you take people off your list is just as important.

In February, MTS Property Management Ltd was fined €1000 for sending an unsolicited marketing text message to one woman. When the company decided to offer a special deal on cleaning services, they gave their entire list to a third party company that managed the SMS campaign. The result was an SMS marketing message sent to everyone on the list.

The woman’s mobile number was on the list because she’d previously made an enquiry to the company. But that was five years prior. And they never had explicit permission to send her SMS marketing messages.

To add to the trouble, the marketing message she received didn’t provide an option for her to opt out. This is also a violation of the EC Directive which contains the rules and regulations regarding electronic communications. Marketers are required to provide a way for people to stop receiving the messages, as well as get their permission (opt in) to receive the messages in the first place.

The property company had been warned in the past, according to an article in the Irish Times. So the lack of permission and missing opt out option drove the decision to finally fine the company. If the company had followed best practices though, they could have avoided the issue all together.

We’ve written quite a few blogs about running good opt in campaigns and elements that need to be included in each message. But this company’s plight is a good example of why you also need to do some housekeeping from time to time.

When you’re first starting your list, don’t just take the information you already have and assume you can use it for marketing purposes. While it’s true you can legally contact people who have purchased from you or made enquiries, it’s a bit of a leap to send them blatant marketing text messages.  Instead, clean that list before you enter it into your database for SMS marketing. Decide on some criteria such as last contact with the person (hopefully you have this information), then use that to remove people that don’t meet the criteria. In The MTS Property case the last contact had been five years prior, well beyond any reasonable amount of time one could expect a person to be interested in receiving text messages.

Before sending a marketing message to the remaining people on your list, first send them an opt in text. This short message would ask them to reply with a keyword to confirm they’d like to receive future marketing messages. While you might think this reduces your marketing database, and it likely will, remember that those who opt in are much more likely to act on the messages they receive. Instead of marketing to a large group of virtually unknown interest, you have a smaller group with a definite interest. When you consider the increased response from the smaller audience, along with the reduced cost of marketing to them (sending less messages) it all adds up to greater profits.

But you also don’t have to throw away those other people you cleaned from the list. You just have to use them differently. Depending on how long ago you had contact with them (and the nature of that contact) you could send them an email announcing your new SMS marketing service and describe the benefits they’d receive if they opted in. For the even older contacts, you could try sending something via post. This is much less intrusive and won’t generate the types of complaints that got MTS Property into trouble. And you might just bring back a few customers that had not thought of you in quite a while.

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