SMS Marketing – Should You Buy a List?
Starting an SMS marketing campaign can be a daunting task. Gathering explicit opt ins can take time, as you need to make an investment in advertising. So why not just get a jumpstart and buy a list of mobile numbers from an organisation that already has the opt ins?
You could do that, but it’s probably harder than just getting people to opt in on their own.
There have been some changes, or updates, to the rules and regulations for direct marketing using electronic media. Organisations and businesses can still use a “soft” opt in if they choose to with their own customers. But when people opt in to accept third party marketing (which would be you if you bought a list from someone), they need to be expressly told who will be marketing to them (by name or specific category) before they sign up.
It’s no longer ok to just use the phrase “third party retail partners” or the like. The regulations also say that only the first third party can use this indirect consent. So you can’t buy a list from someone who bought a list. If you use such a list, you will be in violation of the regulations.
It's Already Happened
The new rules have already been used by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in one high profile case. Better for Country Ltd, the organisation behind the Leave.EU campaign, sent 501,135 SMS messages to people on a list it received “from a third party supplier” according to the ICO.
The messages were considered direct marketing because they were promoting a cause and asking people to take action. Here is the text of one message from the ICO documents:
“Hello, it’s Richard from The Know. Text YES to support our fight to leave the EU or see http://goo.gl/sOS9DU for more info. Reply STOP to opt-out”.
Over the course of the six-month campaign, the ICO received 134 complaints to their 7726 service (you can forward an SMS message to the ICO with the keyword SPAM added using the shortcode 7726 to report it as spam). Another six complaints were made directly to the commissioner.
After an investigation the ICO found that Better for Country did not have permission to send the SMS messages. The people had agreed to a more general opt in with a clause about messages from third parties, but the permission was not explicit enough to cover the messages the Leave.EU campaign sent.
Even though the Commissioner found the company hadn’t deliberately tried to violate the electronic communications regulations, they were responsible for it. In the end, Better for Country was fined £50,000.
What To Do Instead
This is just one example of what can go wrong by trying to take the easy route out by buying a list. Even though the Leave.EU organisation tried to ensure they did everything right (and if you read the full report from the ICO you’ll see they really thought they were complying with the regulations), they still ended up in trouble.
So while running an opt in campaign seems like a lot of work, it’s easier than trying to understand the legal implications of a third party list. There are still regulations for building your own list, but they are much easier to understand.
And in light of the new changes, the ICO has published two new documents. One is a guide specifically for political campaigning. Non-profits and political causes are required to follow the same rules as everyone else. But because of the activities of some organisations, the ICO created the “Guidance on political campaigning” to make the requirements placed on those groups clear.
For everyone else looking to use SMS marketing, they’ve provided the “Direct Marketing” document which outlines everything you need to know to stay compliant with privacy and communications regulations. You can download either document using the links provided or find them on the ICO website.
Is SMS marketing a viable strategy for SMEs to grow their businesses? A recent article by a US SMS provider suggests not but we debunk that view. Read how and why Fastsms can help small businesses can succeed with SMS marketing without breaking the bank.
Starting an SMS marketing campaign can be a daunting task. Gathering explicit opt ins can take time, as you need to make an investment in advertising. So why not just get a jumpstart and buy a list of mobile numbers from an organisation that already has the opt ins? You could do that, but it’s probably harder than just getting people to opt in on their own. Here’s why.
Any UK business that collects, stores and uses other people’s personal data for purposes such as marketing and selling is subject to the rules of the Data Protection Act, and those using SMS marketing are no exception. Having a basic understanding of the DPA legislation and its main requirements is useful to maintain best practice in direct marketing such as SMS marketing and also helps to uphold your hard won customer trust - as well as avoid the potentially costly consequences of falling foul of the law. Read this article to learn how to avoid the simple pitfalls and get your SMS marketing campaign off to the right start.
The PECR Regulations, better known as the Privacy and Electronics Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 are one of the most important pieces of legislation affecting those involved in SMS Marketing. They exist to safeguard the privacy and use of personal information when used for direct marketing through electronic means, including communications by SMS. Parts of it crossover with the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and where it does so, both pieces of legislation should be complied with. Unlike the DPA, the PECR is obligatory whether or not you process personal data in the course of your business. Read this essential guide to PECR for SMS Marketing to ensure you know everything you need to know.
ICO, the Information Commissioner's Office, has recently imposed a huge fine on direct marketing company Help Direct UK for sending illegal SMS messages.
If you are looking to get going with SMS marketing it's worth learning a bit about the "tricks of the trade" so you avoid the common pitfalls and get off on the right foot. Read about three important marketing concepts that will maximise your success in this venture.
SMS Marketing, also known as test message marketing, is one of today's most powerful and cost efficient marketing tools when used correctly and offers endless opportunities with a little creativity added to the mix. However, whether careless or intentional, some mistakes can be harmful to your brand and reputation - as well as leaving you in legal trouble in certain circumstances. Luckily, this is extremely rare and it is easy to stay safe and make sure your SMS Marketing is an all round success. In this article, we look at come examples of how not to do things and offer our advice for ensuring your campaigns are effective and profitable.
In many of our previous posts, we have discussed the whys and hows of SMS marketing, listing the benefits, and the impacts on lead generation. There’s no doubt that by employing a marketing strategy that uses business SMS as a medium that your processes will become more efficient and your leads will become more targeted, meaning a better ROI. Here we will look at the best practices for SMS marketing to ensure your campaigns are offering the best for you and your users.