The Second Most Important Rule of SMS Marketing

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sms marketing - keep it simple

I was at a petrol station the other day, and on my way out I saw a sign advertising a contest. You text the keyword “Circle” followed by some seemingly random letters to the short code and have a chance at winning some gift cards from the petrol station. The top prize would mean I wouldn’t have to buy petrol for about six months. Of course I decided to enter!

So while I walked back to my car I repeated the shortcode and keyword in my head so I wouldn’t forget. My kids got mad at me because I told them to stop talking while I furiously typed it all into my iPhone before I forgot.

Just after I clicked “Send”, I noticed my friendly Apple auto-correct function had turned my keyword of “Circle” plus random letters into “Circles”. I sent the wrong code after all!

Quickly I typed in the correct keyword, then clicked the “x” on the iPhone auto-correct suggestion I hadn’t noticed in my frenzy and sent it on its way. I was putting my iPhone away when I heard the familiar sound letting me know I received a text. I read it and saw something I didn’t expect:

“Sorry, this postcode is not eligible.”

Hmm. That stumped me as I hadn’t entered a postcode at all. But I was in danger of being late for my son’s appointment so I put my iPhone away and drove off.

Later when I had time, I went back and looked at the text message to see what happened. After I had sent the correct keyword, the first reply I received was “Thanks for the text, please reply with your postcode.”

That was immediately followed by the text letting me know my postcode wasn’t eligible. A couple of things went wrong here:

  1. Their system didn’t recognize an invalid keyword, or they accept any keyword on that short code and assume it is for the same promotion. I thought about testing the theory and texting a random word, but I didn’t want to endanger my chances of winning the prize.
  2. When I sent my correct keyword, it assumed it was a reply to their request for a postcode and followed that with a reply it wasn’t eligible. Of course it wasn’t because it was a word, not a postcode. But it was a valid keyword.

That wasn’t the end of my adventure trying to enter this contest using a text message. Once I had sent the proper keyword (again) and the correct postal code, I received another reply asking me to send my email address. Ugh. The whole process was starting to feel too much like work.

Still, I did enter my email address. Finally, after sending the email, I received a text with confirmation I was entered into the contest. In that final message was a URL I could visit for the full rules.

If you’ve stuck with me this long, you may have some hint at what the second most important rule of SMS marketing is. Have you guessed?

It’s keep it simple.

Text message marketing works because it is short, quick, personal, and immediate. You don’t want to annoy the people you’re reaching out to. If you’re running an opt-in campaign, or a contest, keep the process to as few steps as possible. And also make sure the logic behind the campaign is working perfectly so you don’t end up confusing people, or looking like you don’t know what you’re doing. They may rethink what they are doing and decide not to participate.

If you’re dying to find out what rule number one is, check out this blog post to learn all about it.

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