How to Promote Text Message Marketing

Best Practices: Text Messaging for Doctors and Healthcare Practices

Make sure you're texting patients in compliance with HIPAA.

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When trying to grow your business through text message marketing, it’s vital that people actually realize you provide this kind of service in the first place. Just like your main business products or services, you need to promote your text campaigns to gain people’s attention and grow your list of subscribers.

Here are the best practices for creating ads and promotional content that are both engaging and compliant with the applicable regulations.

Make the Purpose Clear

You never want to grow your list by tricking people into sharing their personal phone number with your brand. Not only does this create a bad user experience, it also might get you in legal trouble. Instead, state your purpose clearly from the beginning. You don’t have to spell out the details of “we are asking for your phone number to increase revenue,” but you at least need to specify what people should expect in return for their information.

This largely comes down to compliance, where you disclose that the information people will receive by signing up for text messages will be for marketing purposes, that it will be sent by an automated system, and that there’s no condition of purchase for signing up.

An easy way to include this information is with a sentence like the following:

  • By submitting this form, you agree to receive marketing text messages from our automated system and acknowledge that this agreement has no condition of purchase.

Most people are used to seeing brief disclaimers like this when signing up for things like online accounts and newsletters, so you don’t have to worry that the slightly legal-sounding content will scare people off.

Describe Your Value

Few people will voluntarily share personal information like their phone number without getting something in return. The good news for most businesses is that providing a small incentive for getting people in their database is often well worth the investment. Ideas for how to display the value of your text message marketing include:

  • Coupon codes
  • Early access/alerts
  • Important updates
  • Exclusive content

The more creative you can be with the type of value you provide for your text subscribers, the more likely it is that people will join!

Save Space With Known Abbreviations

When sending content in text message campaigns, character count matters. Keeping your messages short is a good idea to make sure nothing gets cut off or delivered in multiple messages as opposed to one. Fortunately, the history of texting has made dozens of abbreviations commonplace even as our devices got smarter and easier to send full sentences. This led the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) to officially develop a list of approved abbreviations so as to not punish some automated systems from using them. Among the most common abbreviations for texting include:

  • Msg – Message
  • /mo – Per Month
  • Txt – Text

What Not To Share in Text Message Marketing Campaigns

Both the CTIA and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) recommend or require automated text campaigns to avoid certain content or even specific words to enhance the user experience and continue making your purpose clear throughout the length of the campaign.

First, do not use the word “free” to describe the cost of your text messages. Instead, use the ubiquitous “Message and data rates may apply.” This is because you don’t know every potential subscriber’s phone type and plan, and even a single text might result in an overage fee or contribute to a person’s pre-paid plan. It’s not a requirement, but it’s strongly recommended.

Second, don’t make promises you can’t keep. Using complicated incentives, such as “The first 100 subscribers will receive a special gift!” can backfire if you don’t have the ability to follow up with it.

Finally, remember the SHAFT topics (Sex, Hate, Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco) are off-limits. Don’t include hateful speech or profanity in any of your text message campaigns.