Do’s and don’ts of successful SMS marketing

Adding SMS to your marketing channel strategy can be a highly effective channel strategy.

Bulk SMS campaigns can offer many of the advantages of email marketing:

  • Personalisation
  • Auto-responders
  • Trackable calls to action
  • Triggered emails

Here we list the essential do’s and don’ts of SMS marketing. Don’t press send till you’ve read them.

Do make sure you comply with the relevant data and privacy protection legislation and regulations.

SMS marketing is subject to the same data protection regulations as email marketing. This means that as a legal minimum requirement you need to identify yourself.

Your mobile marketing messages must contain your identity and a valid contact address (this can be a web address).

Sending ID’s (or alpha tags) enable you to send bulk SMS from a ‘friendly from name’. Do this to help protect your brand and maximise your open rates:

Make the commercial nature of your message clear to the recipient from the outset.

Offer an opt-out /unsubscribe in all SMS messages you send.

NB: This information is for guidance only. For more information see the DMA Mobile Marketing Best practice guidelines.

Do follow best practice when it comes to using your SMS data.

You’re not just aiming for legal compliance here – your aiming to maximise your open and response rates, minimise your unsubscribes and protect your brand.

Best practice guidelines in this area include:

  • Making sure you invite all your recipients to opt in to your SMS messaging, at the point of data collection. So when you ask for their mobile number then ask if they’d like to receive offers and invitations by text.
  • Considering double opt-in. Asking an opted-in recipient to text back YES on receipt of their first SMS campaign can help solidify the relationship and user engagement.
  • Considering sending regular, periodic opt-ins to re-establish that a recipient wants to continue to receive your messages.

Short codes

Short codes enable you to give your recipients a quick and efficient way to respond to your SMS, either as an unsubscribe (ie ‘text STOP to 80000’ or ‘text REGISTER TO 80000’).

These codes can be standard rate numbers, or toll-free.

Do make sure the response keywords you use with short codes, clearly identify the campaign in question.

Do consider using a shared short code when you start up with your SMS campaigns.

Shared codes offer a cost-effective solution and can be replaced with more costly dedicated short codes once your SMS programme is established.

Dedicated short codes offer the advantage of being exclusive to your business;

  • You don’t have to compete for any keywords you want to use;
  • You own the customer data collected;
  • You don’t risk service disruption due to another company’s abuse of a shared short code.

Writing your text message

Don’t be wordy!

A standard SMS allows no more than 160 characters, so your message needs to be punchy, snappy and short. The 160 characters also needs to include your unsubscribe message.

Remember, common text language allows for abbreviations, so make the most of that opportunity.

Don’t forget the call to action.

Even if you’re just sending a reminder message, or a ‘save the date’ message for example, be sure to include a call to action to help drive response and user engagement.

E.g. ‘text YES to 80000 to reserve your seat’.

Do consider which marketing communications are best suited to text messages.

SMS works great for ‘reminder messages, e.g:

  • Booking/appointment confirmations
  • Cancellation reinstatements
  • Seasonal messages and promotions – eg Christmas, Mother’s day , Valentine’s day
  • Product launches and announcements
  • Recommend a friend
  • Competitions

Don’t waffle.

Space in you SMS is limited, so make sure your messages answers 3 questions:

  • What’s the offer
  • When do they need to act
  • What should they do next

Don’t send an unpersonalised text message.

Make sure you at least know your recipient’s first name so you can say, for example: ‘Hi Jo’, Thanks for your reservation. We look forward to seeing you next Monday 21st.’

Do be sensitive to the timing of your message.

Unlike email, an SMS message can be intrusive so be careful about your sending times. You’re not sending a wake-up call!


Do remember – mobile is PERSONAL SPACE.

You should respect this in every element of your mobile marketing tactics: from collecting opted-in permissions, to the timing and frequency of your messages, and the wording and relevancy of your messages.

Click here to find our more about dotmailer’s integrated SMS marketing service

Call us on 0845 337 9170 for more advice and guidance on using mobile marketing in your digital mix.

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