It’s easy to get excited about SMS. The 98% open rate and the 20-35% click-through rate leave email in the dust. Plus, you can set-up SMS campaigns and send in minutes.

What’s not to love? Before you fall too hard, too fast — check for these campaign red flags. Luckily, they’re easy to fix and will help you form a long-term relationship with SMS success.

In this post, we cover:

  • Seven red flags to avoid when setting up campaigns.
  • Practical solutions for campaign success.
  • The ultimate SMS campaign checklist.

Let’s get started.

Consent matters. Sending an SMS to someone without their permission is a big no-no. If you don’t have written or digital consent from your audience, you run serious risks. You could:

  • Be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • Get barred from sending SMS.
  • Do irreversible damage to your brand reputation.

Audience trust is both important and hard to win — don’t break it. Always make sure customers opt-in before you hit send.

How to fix it

So, how do you get people to say yes to the SMS? There are lots of ways to ask for permission. How you pose the question (and where you ask it) will depend on your audience. Here are some of the most popular ways to get customers to opt in:

  1. Send an email to your newsletter subscribers and ask if they want to opt in.
  2. Use an SMS keyword. Customers can subscribe by texting the keyword to a number you supply. You can promote this everywhere from social media to in-store.
  3. Ask for a phone number during checkout or newsletter sign-up. Just make sure your T&C’s include all the important details.
  4. Add a form to your website or social media with a checkbox to subscribe.

Need some inspo? There are some examples in our SMS opt in article. You’ll also discover what types of consent you need for different campaigns.

Hot tip: It’s always a good idea to check the spam laws in your country to make sure you’re doing the right thing.

🚩 2. Never spring cleaning your contact list

Have you ever unsubscribed from a mailing list only to keep receiving emails you don’t want? It can be really frustrating for your audience and turn people away from your brand. Plus, you’re sending messages to people who don’t want them. What a waste of budget. And, more importantly once a contact has unsubscribed it’s illegal to message them again (in most countries*).

Or if you collect customer information in a few different ways, your contact list may include duplicates. A well-managed contact list needs regular cleaning to make sure opt-outs have actually been removed, each contact has one record (and that you’re not sending duplicate messages) and to remove any contacts where messages are failing.

How to fix it

Start by including the option to opt-out in every message. It’s the right thing by customers and it’s the law. It’s simple to include an opt out, you can ask people to reply with a keyword. Or, you can provide a link to a subscription page on your website.

Here’s an example.

Example SMS message including reply stop opt out

Once somebody opts out, take them off your contact list ASAP. Making sure you opt-out (or unsubscribe) people is just as important as getting them to opt in.

Hot tip: You should clean your list regularly. Just to make sure. For best results, contacts should have opted-in within the last two years and lists should not contain duplicate mobile numbers.
*Always check the laws and regulations in your jurisdiction to make sure you’re doing the right thing.

🚩 3. Hiding who you are

Sometimes businesses don’t put their brand name front and centre in SMS campaigns. Unfortunately, due to poor branding these campaigns usually perform lower than expected. Not including your brand name (or putting it in the wrong place) can:

  • Make your messages look like spam.
  • Get your audience to unsubscribe because the message doesn’t seem relevant.
  • Increase the chance of your messages being left on read (only 2% of SMS are unopened, don’t be a statistic).

How to fix it

Branding allows your audience to instantly recognise you and understand why the message was sent their way.

You should include your brand name in your message. Then, think about where you position it. If you’re messaging a new customer, you might want to put it in the first line of the text.

Or it may be the case that you can use your business name as your number, we call this an alpha tag. Using business names is fantastic for building brand recognition and trust. Find out whether your country supports alpha tag sender IDs here.

🚩 4. Giving bad directions

There’s nothing more frustrating than crafting the perfect campaign and getting zero uptick from it. If you want your audience to buy, browse, connect or sign-up — make sure you tell them how to take action clearly.

How to fix it

Remember to include a link (URL) in your text message. Make sure that link takes your audience directly to a website or app page (landing page) where they can take action in one-click.

Some SMS best practice tips to keep in mind are:

  • Use our in-built link shortener to save characters.
  • Always track your links so you know how many people click.
  • Avoid spammy language.
  • Be sure to test your links before you send your campaign.

Hot Tip: The landing pages should be optimised for mobile for the best possible user experience. Learn how to put these best practice tips into action: 5 Things to Remember When Sending Links in Text Messages.

🚩 5. Not getting personal

Everybody likes it when you call them by their name. Good SMS campaigns include a customer’s name at the very least. They also take into account when people want to receive messages, what types of SMS they respond to and what time zone they live in. Sending impersonal sale updates at 3am in the morning? Not cool.

How to fix it

Think about how you can tailor your campaigns based on what you know about your customer. You can include personal details such as account numbers. Or, maybe you want to send them recommendations based on past interactions. Perhaps you know that they usually click-through to offers, so you want to send more discounts their way.

Start by thinking about what information will make the message more relevant and go from there.

Here are some examples:

2 examples of personalisation in promotional sms on mobile handsets

Luckily, personalising SMS is easier than you think. Here’s a help doc to get you started.

Hot tip: Segment your contact lists so you can send messages to the right people, at the right time. If you’ve got customers all over the world, schedule messages when it works for them.

🚩 6. Having one-sided communications

61% of consumers want the ability to text a business back. Ideally, you should encourage conversations and replies when it suits your strategy. However, many businesses don’t allow for SMS replies because they think it will be an admin headache. However, in many cases the opposite is true.

Don’t miss out on opportunities to connect with customers, collect data and streamline your processes.

How to fix it

You can easily set up automated replies based on keywords to solve customer problems and answer queries fast. Discover the 101 of automated replies and get the conversations flowing.

Hot Tip: Did you know that you can manage your customer service with SMS. It’s another great way to involve customers in two-way conversation.

🚩 7. Sticking to what you know

Some brands get a little lazy when it comes to SMS. They start seeing results and don’t look beyond text. Which means they’re missing out on opportunities that come with other messaging products.

How to fix it

Savvy marketers try MMS. Which is just like SMS, but you can send longer texts and include pictures. Using MMS can improve your click through rate by an extra 15% and has 20% fewer opt outs. So, it’s well worth expanding your repertoire.

MMS can be used for sending:

  • Detailed messages, similar to an email (but faster and without spam filters!)
  • Photos, videos, or GIFs
  • Event Posters
  • Maps/Directions
  • Menus
  • QR codes

Find out more about the differences between MMS and SMS.

The ultimate SMS campaign checklist

To help you send your first campaign faster, we’ve created a checklist. Tick off all the items to go from set-up to SMS success. There are links to help docs and videos for more information.

SMS campaign checklist

  • Choose your sender ID.
  • Upload your contact list. Learn how here.
  • Check your contact list. Make sure all contacts who have opted out are taken off the list. Here’s how to list clean.
  • Double check the spam laws in your country and make sure you have the right type of consent. View different types of consent.
  • Decide on the best strategy — SMS or MMS?
  • Write your copy. Keep it to 160 characters for SMS. You can write more for MMS.
  • Add placeholders to personalise messages. View the step-by-step guide.
  • If using MMS, upload your image.
  • Shorten your call to action (CTA) link and add it to your text. Here’s how to shorten your link.
  • Add link tracking to your CTA link.
  • Make sure you’ve included your brand name.
  • Test your links to make sure they work.
  • Send yourself the campaign so you can catch any mistakes.
  • Expecting replies? Check where reply notifications will be sent.
  • If you need to set up automated replies, follow this guide.
  • Click, send.

All checked off? All that’s left is to click send.

Ready to send the perfect campaign?

Sign up and start sending SMS campaigns today. Or reach out to one of our friendly support team members, open a live chat in the bottom right corner of your screen.