Text (SMS) marketing

Text messaging (also known as short message service or SMS) is a cheap, personal and instant form of communication. It allows businesses to reach individual customers with time-sensitive offers, and send messages to large groups of people at low cost.

Most people monitor and read their text messages closely, so your messages are less likely to be ignored than messages sent via direct mail or email marketing. However, strict privacy regulations govern commercial text messaging. So if you're considering SMS marketing – be aware, be specific and be responsible.

Types of SMS marketing

SMS marketing approaches include:

  • sales alerts on specials and product offers
  • links to website updates
  • appointment reminders or delivery or pick-up arrangement reminders
  • personalised messaging such as birthday greetings.

Tips for SMS marketing

Keep it short. Your recipient is likely to read your text message if you keep it short and sharp. Focus on a single message – an offer, reminder, greeting, referral – that your recipient doesn't need to scroll down the phone screen to read.

Respect your customers' personal space. Mobile phones are a personal device, and mobile phone users tend to view text messages as an informal means of communication. Your recipients may find your unexpected text intrusive, so keep your message courteous, functional, and not overly familiar.

Don't overuse text messaging – for the same reasons, text messages from your business are best kept brief and infrequent.

Have a good reason for your text message. Mobile phone users use text messaging to convey a personal message or to receive a tangible, practical benefit. Use your messages to convey a piece of information, send a reminder, clarify an arrangement or send a link or update.

Be responsible. The Spam Act 2003 (Cwlth) applies not only to email marketing but also to mobile phone messaging. Many mobile phone users have also become wary of SMS marketing because of the increase in fraudulent and deceptive commercial SMS scams. Under Australian law it is illegal to send unsolicited commercial electronic messages. In order to comply with the act, every commercial phone message and email you send must meet the following conditions:

  • consent – the recipient must have either expressly consented to receiving your messages, or must be an existing customer or individual who has some existing relationship with your business
  • identify – the message must accurately identify your business
  • unsubscribe – the message must contain a functional 'unsubscribe' facility to allow the recipient to opt out from receiving further messages. You must honour unsubscribe requests within 5 working days.

You do not have the right to send a single unsolicited electronic message and including an unsubscribe facility does not remove this constraint - even if you act on unsubscribe requests immediately. However, if people have agreed to receive message from third parties, you can buy a list of contacts matching your target profile from another organisation.

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