How important is it to run an SMS opt in campaign?
When you use SMS messaging for marketing, you have certain legal obligations to meet. One of those is obtaining permission to send direct marketing messages to the people on your list. While it’s true you can send messages to customers in the course of business with them, sending marketing messages needs to be done with care.
As an example, last month Optical Express (Westfield) Limited was issued an official warning by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to cease its use of marketing via text messaging to anyone who has not opted in to receive their messages. The ICO had received nearly 5,000 complaints about the company’s marketing between September 2013 and April 2014.
In the marketing message, the recipients were asked to enter a contest to win free laser eye surgery. The message also allowed them to opt out by replying STOP.
On the surface it appears they used appropriate marketing guidelines by giving people a way to opt out. But the real issue came because the messages were sent to people who had no association with the company, and had never given permission to be contacted electronically. The ICO estimates that only one in every thousand people will complain about spam messages. If that is true, then the company must have sent around well over a million text messages.
The enforcement notice, dated 19 December 2014, doesn’t state how the company obtained the mobile numbers of the people. It only specified that the Information Commissioner’s Office was satisfied the company didn’t have the permission to use SMS messaging for direct marketing to those recipients that complained. If the company doesn’t stop sending the messages they will be held criminally liable.
According to an article on the dailymail.co.uk, the company plans to appeal the warning. Perhaps then we’ll be able to see how they believed they could send messages to all these people.
What this example highlights though, is even if you believe you have permission, it’s best to make sure you do. Even if you aren’t fined, the costs to the company in bad PR, lost customers, and lost business will undoubtedly be high.
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.
When you start using SMS marketing, one of the first decisions you need to make is whether or not you’ll need to get replies. If you do, then you’ll need to decide between shortcodes and a virtual mobile number (VMN, also called longcode). If you don’t, then that’s alright too.
Is SMS marketing the worst idea ever? That’s the opinion of one author in Entrepreneur Magazine. He gives five reasons why companies should never bother sending SMS messages to customers. I take him on, point by point to show why he’s wrong and SMS marketing is the best idea ever.
Electronic marketing is a tricky thing. There are rules and regulations you need to follow, and it can all seem pretty intimidating at first. To help you get started, I’ve gathered five of the most commonly asked questions about SMS marketing and the regulations and summed them up here.
SMS spam is a problem worldwide. But in the UK, we’re less likely to get it than many other countries. Find out why that is, see some examples, and how you can do your part to keep your SMS messages free of spam.
Yet another company (Quigley and Carter Limited) have been fined by the ICO for not having permission to send SMS messages. In this case, they had outsourced their marketing to a third party who then sent messages on their behalf. So is staying compliant with the regulations regarding SMS messaging so difficult? It doesn’t have to be.
ICO, the Information Commissioner's Office, has recently imposed a huge fine on direct marketing company Help Direct UK for sending illegal SMS messages.