Text messages are a highly effective tool that you can leverage to reach your target audience. Stats show that SMS messages have the highest open rates of all marketing channels and are usually opened within 3 minutes of being received. This means it can be an extremely valuable channel of communication for marketers. However, the disruptiveness of an SMS message also means that marketers must be very careful with the content sent to ensure that it’s valuable for end contacts, while also ensuring compliance with regulations.
Text messaging is governed by an entirely different set of requirements compared to emails. In the United States, text messaging governance is controlled by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) because a cell phone is classified as a radio transmitter. The governing law is the Telephone Consumer Privacy Act (TCPA) because a cell phone is a telephone. In Canada, the law governing text messages is Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL).
The laws governing SMS marketing is very strict and the penalties for non-compliance are extremely heavy — more so than enforcement and penalties assessed for non-compliance to laws governing email marketing. Therefore, ensuring compliance to the regulations is critical.
Compliance with SMS marketing regulations requires express consent from your contacts. Maropost does not currently support 'Text-to-Join' capabilities, therefore you are responsible for securing express consent from the cell phone owners before you can subscribe them as a contact and send them marketing text messages.
The most common means of acquiring consent and cellphone numbers are from an online form. To ensure compliance with regulations, your online form MUST contain the following elements:
- A clear description of what the person is opting-in to receive when they provide their cell phone number
- A link to a Terms and Conditions page that explains what the SMS marketing program is all about.
The example below shows proper compliance for a web capture page for mobile numbers. Note how each of the required elements are clearly explained in the form.
Terms and Conditions
You website’s online Terms and Conditions page must include a section that specifically addresses your text messaging program. This is the first page that wireless carriers will look at when evaluating whether or not you are compliant with their requirements. Consult with your Legal team to ensure the proper verbiage. At a minimum, the T&C must mention the following:
- An outline of the maximum message frequency subscribers may receive
- A statement indicating the carriers are not liable for any delayed or undelivered messages
- A statement indicating that Message and Data rates may apply to any text/sms communication
- Information on how a user/subscriber can opt-out (e.g. “reply STOP to opt out")
Accessing SMS Messaging
In order to activate the SMS Messaging feature, you will first need to complete a pre-screening assessment to ensure that your SMS marketing program is in compliance with the regulations.
Once the feature has been activated in your account, you can access it by hovering over 'Mobile' and selecting 'SMS' from the drop-down menu. If you are not able to see this, please contact your Customer Success Manager to start the activation process.
Manage SMS Contacts
To access your SMS lists, hover over SMS and select 'Contacts'. You will be able to view an index of the existing lists in your account, as well as the subscribers and unsubscribes in each.
Create a new SMS List
To create a new SMS list, click on 'New SMS List' in the bottom-right of the screen and enter the list name in the popup window.
Import Contacts into an SMS List
You have two options to Import contacts: Automatic Import or Manual Import.
SMS contact information can be automatically added from the same opt-in forms that users are filling in for email, using the SMS API. You also have the option to manually import SMS contacts by following the process below.
- Click the 'Import' icon
- Click the 'Choose File' button, select the file from your desktop, and click 'Next.' The file may be in CSV or TXT format – to see a sample of what formatting is required for CSV, click on 'Example' in the upload window to download a sample file.
- Map the column from your file to the Phone Number field.
- Optional Mappings: You can also map a column in your file to the Subscribed field and the UID field. To map a subscription status, the proper values for this field are either 'S' for 'Subscribed' or 'U' for 'Unsubscribed.'
- Select the options to Import New Contacts and/or to Update Existing Contacts.
- Click the 'Import' button.
- When the import is finished, you’ll receive a notification in the Announcement Center.
Create an SMS Campaign
Maropost for Marketing sends broadcast text messages to a list of contacts who have given their consent to receive promotional messages from you.
To create a new SMS message (Mobile > SMS), click on 'Compose Your Message' in the bottom-right of the screen.
Step 1: SMS Details
- Message Name – Enter a name for the SMS campaign.
- Message – You have a limit of 160 characters in your text message. Your message MUST include the following words:
- “STOP”, “CANCEL”, or “UNSUBSCRIBE” – when a contact texts back either of these keywords, they will be unsubscribed from all the list(s) used to send the text messages.
- (optional) “STOP ALL” – If you are using one-off lists to send a campaign, and will not be using that list for any repeated messaging, then you may include this keyword in your message. When a contact replies to your text message with STOP ALL, they will be unsubscribed from ALL lists and added to the Text Messaging Do Not SMS list. They will no longer receive any further text messages from you.
- “Message and data rates may apply” or “Msg & data rates may apply”
- Test Message – If you’d like to test the text message before sending to your contacts, enter a mobile number that you want to receive the test text message on.
Step 2: Select Audience
Select an SMS contact list that you have uploaded from the drop-down options.
Step 3: Schedule/Activate
Select the date and time (in Eastern Time Zone) that the broadcast SMS message will be sent, then select your send option.
- Save as Draft – the SMS campaign will be saved in Draft status. It will not be sent.
- Send Now – Send the SMS campaign immediately regardless of the scheduled date and time.
- Schedule – Send the SMS campaign at the specified date and time.
Do Not SMS List
If there are any contacts who have replied STOP ALL to any of your SMS campaigns, they will be added into your Do Not SMS List, and will never be able to receive SMS campaigns from you again. To access or manage your Do Not SMS List, hover over your username in the top-right corner, and navigate to 'Account Settings' from the drop-down menu. Here you will be able to import or export contacts to your Do Not SMS List. Clicking on 'Manage' will allow you to view the individual mobile numbers that are present in this list.