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SMS Opt-In: Why You Want It and How To Get It

sms opt-in campaigns

1 in 10 smartphone users grab their phone as soon as they wake up. That’s how fundamental smartphones have become to the way we communicate. In a Price Waterhouse Cooper study, 80% of those surveyed said they’d be happy to share their personal details with a company, as long as the company were upfront about how they intended to use the information. The point is, people are happy to opt-in – 49% of them according to a 2014 survey. After all, if your customers have explicitly stated ‘yes, please contact me’ and you provide them with timely, relevant and personalised information, then it is definitely a win-win for both of you.

The Opt-In: Why You Need It

The first thing to remember is that legally, you must give the customer the chance to both opt-in and opt-out of your SMS campaign – the default effect is not in play at this point, unfortunately. Satisfying the ICO requirements is fairly straightforward, as long as you:

  • Indicate who you are
  • Be transparent about your intentions
  • State what your promotions are, and the T&Cs
  • Clearly indicate a way to opt out e.g. text STOP to 87007.

Running an opt-in campaign can be hard work, and it’s tempting just to buy a list of pre-approved numbers where mobile users have given general agreement to be contacted by ‘third party retail partners’. There are some very good reasons why buying a list is not a great idea, like the case of the Leave campaign during the run-up to the EU referendum.

A strong opt-in campaign doesn’t have to start from scratch – you can leverage your more traditional marketing channels and your social media presence to create opt-in. Offering an incentive like a coupon or discount motivates nearly 30% of us to opt-in. And once we’ve opted in, then the default effect does come into play, with less than 3% bothering to opt out again.

Why Shortcodes and Keywords are Your Friends

We’re all familiar with shortcodes – the 5 or 6 digit numbers that appear on opt-in texts and are memorable and easy to use, perfect for creating awareness and brand identification. Shortcodes are used with keywords, which are the ‘Open Sesame’ that unlock the door to the discount or promotions on offer.

SMS marketing can offer you 2 options when you use a shortcode:

  • A shared shortcode with a keyword that identifies you as the user, routing opt-ins directly to your company – this is the cost-effective, easy set-up option for a smaller business
  • A custom shortcode where you control as many keywords as you like is an option for bigger organisations, who may be running multiple SMS campaigns, each with their own identity.

The Opt-In: How To Get It

We’ll assume that you’re not going to be doing any TV, billboard or radio advertising, though a guest spot on a local radio show would be a good way to promote your opt-in campaign by highlighting your shortcode and keyword. Let’s say you run a local bike shop, with a website, a Facebook page and an active Twitter account. You can leverage all these platforms, plus your bricks and mortar, to incentivise your customers to opt-in.

  • In your store: actively promote your shortcode and keyword either on posters around the store or by word of mouth. Offer a free gift like a branded water bottle if customers sign up there and then.
  • At the point of sale: encourage staff to offer customers a 10% discount on their purchase plus future special offers when they opt-in at the till
  • On your website: use a call to action on your website with an incentivised offer, for example free shipping on your next order
  • Email: you’ll certainly have an email list for newsletter subscribers, so include the call to action in your next mail out, offering access to a secret club when your customers opt-in to receive SMS messages
  • Social media post: value doesn’t have to come in the form of a discount – opting in could unlock tips on bike maintenance, exclusive bike reviews or competitions to win gear, accessories or a bike fit.

How to Keep Customers Opted-In, Not Opting-Out

First, you need to make your communications relevant, so hit the right customer at the right time with the right information. Use your metrics cleverly and you’ll send hyper-personal information that your customers appreciate. If you have reservations about frequency, then use SMS to ask your customers how often they’d like to be contacted and with what information.

Now start a conversation with your customers. 64% of consumers prefer to communicate by text, so use SMS to your advantage. Follow up on new purchases with a short customer satisfaction survey and a personal discount code on completion. Engage your customers with gamification – for a bike shop, running a fantasy Tour de France league with regular updates and a killer prize on offer for the winner will begin to build a buzzing mobile community around your brand and encourage others to opt-in and get involved.

Finally, be very clear on phrasing – keep it short and to the point. Funny is often better, but whatever phrasing you choose, make sure you keep your wording consistent across all platforms, otherwise your campaign will seem confused and risk customers opting out.

So Why Do I Need Opt-In Again?

  • Legally, your SMS campaign must be in compliance with ICO rules and for that you need opt-in
  • You’ll know your customers want to hear from you
  • You can target campaigns to specific groups of customers
  • You can integrate a call to action across all your platforms
  • Shortcodes and keywords build brand awareness.

At FastSMS, we offer a full range of SMS marketing services designed to help you get the optimum opt-in and then run an SMS marketing campaign. Contact us for more details.

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