3 important SMS marketing concepts you need to know

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3 important SMS marketing concepts you need to know

Are you really ready to get cracking on your SMS marketing campaign?

You’re probably thinking, “Of course I am!”. But slow down a minute and take a look at three concepts that you might not have heard about, or at least not thought about using yet. All of them can help make or break a marketing campaign – and your business if not done properly.


You may be familiar with email autoresponders. Well, SMS autoresponders are similar in function, but just a little different conceptually.  There are two basic ways to use an SMS autoresponder: a single reply or specific replies based on keywords received. Here are the differences:

Single reply

Every time your virtual mobile number (VMN) receives a message, a previously created autoresponse will be sent to the sender. This would work great if you wanted to send a standard message to everyone – like an out-of-office notification or a receipt confirmation (i.e. “Thank you for your message, someone will be in touch shortly.”.

But the true power of autoresponders comes in the ability to customise replies using keywords.

Keyword reply

When using a VMN you can specify any keyword you want to use in your campaign (if you’re using a shortcode you’ll have to restrict yourself to the keywords you’ve purchased – unless you own the shortcode too!).  For this, you could run an opt-in campaign using the keyword JOIN.

Anyone who sent the word JOIN would get your welcome message. If someone misspelled JOIN by accident – say they sent JOINT (autocorrect possibly?) – they would get no response – so it’s a good idea to think about the common misspellings and set them up as keywords also.

Using keywords, you could have customers opt in to other lists so you can segment your marketing to make it even more effective. You could also use a series of autoresponders to create a short survey that varies the questions based on the reply received. To do this sort of survey you simply need to ask participants to pre-pend their answers with A1 (for question 1) and then have the keyword ‘A1’ trigger question 2, and so on.

By creating autoresponders based on keyword processing you’ll be able to keep the people on your list informed, make them feel like they are interacting with you (even if they know it’s an autoresponder), and also help you make the most of every message.


Blacklisting means to put someone on your black list. In common usage, blacklisting someone means to exclude them from your group, job, project, or whatever. No matter what, you won’t let them in. But in SMS messaging, the concept actually goes in reverse.

When someone sends you a reply to stop sending them messages, they are putting you on their blacklist – they don’t ever want to hear from you again. But because of the laws regarding electronic communications in the UK, it’s your job to make sure you never contact them again.

Maintaining your blacklist needs to be a high priority if you’re doing any kind of SMS marketing. If you continue to send messages to people who have asked you to stop, they are likely to file a complaint. If the Information Commissioner’s Office gets enough complaints, they can investigate your business and potentially levy hefty fines.

Besides, if these customers don’t want your messages, then you’re wasting money by sending them anyway. Save your money for sending messages to the customers that do want to be on your list and actually make purchases or take action on your offers.

You can even use keywords (e.g. ‘STOP’) to automatically add numbers to your blacklist, then all you need to do is clean your lists against your blacklist before sending.

Linked Messages

You likely already know that a standard SMS message is 160 characters. You may also have also received some really long messages where you’ve had to keep scrolling to read it. That’s got you thinking perhaps you could go beyond that limit – and you’d be right.

Linked, or multi-part messages let you send messages up to 456 characters long, which would then use additional credits. The reason this total character limit is less than 160 x 3 is because some characters from each message need to be used for header information that then tells the receiving handset what order to display the linked messages.

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