Why Brits are Lucky When it Comes to SMS Spam
Worldwide, around 50% of the people who use SMS receive spam messages at least once a week. Worse, 28% say they are spammed every day!
Those numbers come from new research shared by eMarketer. Over 5,800 people were surveyed from Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Nigeria, South Africa, the US and the UK. A lucky 16% say they’ve never received an SMS spam message, and another 20% receives them only occasionally.
When looking deeper into the data, it turns out the UK has some of the lowest daily spam rates at 20%. Only the US and Germany are lower. That’s in stark contrast to India and Nigeria who have rates in excess of 35% for daily spam. And in Nigeria, 76% receive SMS spam at least once a week. Both those countries have issues with enforcement and reporting.
The UK, though, is unique among all the countries surveyed. It’s the only one where more people report spam than delete it. When asked what they usually do with spam messages, 55% of Brits said they report it. Another 36% say they just delete it. In every other country the majority of people just delete rather than report (except the US where the percentages are about equal to each other).
The report offers some explanation for this, by concluding that the UK “has a mature regulatory sector”. Reporting spam is easy in the UK, and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) takes its job very seriously.
Steve Eckersley, ICO’s head of enforcement, says, “There is nowhere to hide. If you break the rules we will find you and fine you.”
I’ve discussed ICO enforcements in past blogs. But since they never stop investigating claims, there is always more to add.
Last month, Carfinance247 was fined £30,000 for sending 65,000 unsolicited SMS messages. They employed a third party marketing firm and claimed they were told the individuals had all consented to receive the messages. But over 900 people complained about the messages. The ICO investigation revealed that the company had violated the regulations because they had not obtained consent properly.
This month, Rainbow (UK) Limited was fined £20,000 for sending 21,045 unsolicited SMS messages regarding car loans. The company also used a third party opt-in which did not properly give them permission for direct marketing. The interesting bit in this decision is that Rainbow initially sent 580,302 messages, but because of an error only around 20,000 were sent. They could have been responsible for a much larger fine had all their messages been sent.
In September 2016, the ICO made 8 enforcement actions according to their website. Not all of these were for SMS, but it shows how active they are in investigating and taking action on complaints. This is one of the main reasons SMS spam is so low in the UK.
How to Report
Though it appears most Brits already know how to report SMS spam, here’s a reminder. You can forward any spam message to 7726. This will provide the message and your complaint to the ICO. You can also contact them directly to submit a complaint.
On the ICO website, they do recommend you use the opt-out feature in SMS prior to filing a complaint. This usually is a word you send as a reply, for example STOP is commonly used. But if the company keeps contacting you, then you can forward the message as spam. Of course, if you never signed up in the first place, you may feel more inclined to report it than to ask them kindly to stop sending messages.
I’ve read that in India, people don’t even bother to look at their SMS messages anymore because the spam is so bad. People in the UK are lucky to have the regulations and enforcement in place so they aren’t hounded by SMS spam as often as other countries.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issued seven monetary penalties against companies this year. We’ve read through them all – so you don’t have to – and discovered two lessons every company should learn about SMS marketing if they want to be successful.
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.
"UK B2C data for SMS marketing" - That was the search result headline I found while researching online. Interesting I thought. It must be relating to SMS marketing statistics for B2C (business to consumer) sales. Since I was searching for some updated information and studies about SMS I decided to click and read.
Enterprises are large companies. Sometimes that means they think they should be able to do everything themselves. But when it comes to SMS messaging, building an in-house gateway is more difficult than you might think. Read why finding a good SMS service provider is a better option.
Companies use contests and giveaways all the time. It turns out that doing them over SMS messaging works really well, and offers some advantages over other channels. Read our blog to see the types of results various companies achieved when using SMS giveaways.
When conducting an SMS marketing campaign, there are a number of compliance regulations you should be aware of, to ensure that your communications are as effective as possible, without being potentially damaging to your campaign or your business. If you're marketing to a UK market, the UK Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) gives clear guidelines on what falls within the rules. Here we've highlighted some key tips to ensure your next campaign is compliant, based on common questions that arise.
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.
In last week’s blog I covered how the Trump campaign sent unsolicited SMS messages to voters. This week I’m stuck on the same topic, but from a totally different angle: what we can learn from that failure. Because honestly, their biggest issue might not be violating the law. It might be the people they have writing their SMS messages. It’s time to dissect the message that spawned the law suit, and learn what we can from it.
One of the major metrics in SMS marketing is how many people opt in to receive your messages. But there’s a flip side to that metric: how many people opt out. In the ideal world, no one would ever leave your list and instead continue to make purchases or support your organisation for as long as you decide to message them.