How to Get Started with Commercial Text Messaging

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Whether you need to send promos or connect with leads, commercial text messaging lets you get in front of your audience. Find out how to get started.

Your smartphone is millions of times more powerful than all of NASA’s combined computing in 1969—the year that man first set foot on the moon. It’s true. We won’t bore you with all the details, but the iPhone can perform instructions 120,000,000 times faster than Apollo-era computers.

Still, even with all this power, the most widely-used feature on cellphones is often the most simple: text messaging.

The Pew Research Center surveyed over 2,188 smartphone owners and found that 97% of them sent text messages during the course of the study.

And the popularity of SMS only continues to rise. That’s why more businesses are beginning to seek out commercial text messaging services to connect with their customers and employees.

2 Types of Commercial Text Messaging

There are many ways your business can use commercial text messages. We’ve seen organizations use them to do everything from conduct research studies to drive app downloads. Before you seek out a text messaging service, it’s helpful to really nail down exactly what you want to accomplish.

An easy place to start is by asking yourself, “Do I need to send mass text messages, have conversations, or both?”

1. Mass Text Marketing

If you need to reach large groups at the click of the button, a mass text messaging service is what you’re looking for. This is ideal for sending bulk marketing campaigns. With SimpleTexting, your bulk messages aren’t limited to just text either. You can send both SMS and MMS messages.

This type of commercial text messaging is most often used for sending:

  • Coupons and promotions
  • Emergency alerts
  • Event invitations and reminders

At its core, text message marketing is simple. You write a message, then use software to send it out to a group of contacts. But not all service providers are created equal. You should be able to do more than just send SMS texts.

A good service provider should also offer the ability to:

  • Receive incoming SMS messages free of charge
  • Send MMS messages with photos and other multimedia
  • Integrate with your existing tools such as Mailchimp
  • Set up autoresponders which send after a delay
  • Send and track links in messages
  • Poll subscribers and host sweepstakes

The above list is a start, but there are other commercial text messaging features you should look out for. For a complete list, click here. In the end, all of these features involve reaching large groups of contacts. And this is what sets mass text marketing apart from the next type of texting—1-on-1 business texting.

2. 1-on-1 Business Texting

Business text messaging looks a lot more like the type of texting you do on your personal phone. It’s designed for having back-and-forth conversations with individuals, as opposed to reaching a large group of recipients.

This type of commercial text messaging is most often used for:

  • Providing customer service
  • Reaching out to job applicants
  • Connecting individually with sales leads
  • Staying connected with field staff

In an era of online interactions, the personal touch of customer service can often be lost. Commercial text messaging helps you forge better relationships. But it’s not just about the ability to send and receive text messages. You also need features which will make managing multiple conversations easy.

When choosing a business texting service, you should pick one that can:

  • Text-enable an existing landline, toll-free or VoIP number
  • Provide you with a new local or toll-free number
  • Send files and schedule messages in advance
  • Easily filter conversations by time received, or time waiting

Top Benefits of Using Commercial Text Messaging

Now you know what you can do with text messages, but why exactly would you want to send them in the first place? After all, there are plenty of other marketing channels out there. How do text messages stack up to, say, email or direct mail?

Higher open and click-through rates

Email has an average open rate of around 21%. That’s okay, but not great. As a marketing manager or business owner, if you spend valuable time writing messages then the last thing you want is for them to be ignored. With commercial texting, you can be sure they’ll be read. Research points to open rates as high as 98%. Plus, data from SimpleTexting shows that links sent using SMS text messaging have an average CTR of around 17%!

Inexpensive and flexible pricing

These higher open rates don’t come at a higher price tag. Our flexible pricing plans let you start small and gradually scale your SMS efforts. Starting at $25/mo you can send out 500 text messages to your customers. You may be wondering—but what if they reply to my messages? Won’t that drive costs up? Nope! All incoming SMS messages are free.

Ability to automate your messaging

We’ve explained why SMS messages are convenient if your budget is tight. But what about if you’re short on time? With features like scheduled texts, templates, and autoresponders, text messages actually help you save time. Here are just a few ways texting cuts back on busy work:

Commercial Text Messaging Laws and Regulations

Thousands of reputable businesses use texts to reach their customers. Unfortunately, there are also some bad players out there who try to take advantage of texting’s impressive engagement rates. That’s why there are many laws in place to stop text message spam.

Knowing Who’s In Charge

There are three main organizations you need to know about: the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). These are the groups in charge of preventing unwanted spam.

The first two, the CTIA and MMA, are industry groups who set guidelines and best practices. However, it’s the FCC who really has the power to create and enforce laws. Two pieces of legislation which they’ve passed to regulate commercial texts are the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and CAN-SPAM.

Ensuring Compliance

Compliance is important, but it isn’t too complicated. You know the golden rule you’ve been hearing since you were a kid? “Treat others as you wish to be treated.” Well, there’s a golden rule of text marketing, and it’s even more simple. “Get express written consent. Always.”

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), set forward by the FCC, says that business and organizations must have express written consent from contacts before sending them even a single text. Express consent is not implied or assumed. It must be given by filling out a website form, texting in a keyword, or in a recorded verbal agreement.

Express written consent is the single most important rule to follow when ensuring compliance, but there are a few others. For example, there are certain disclaimers which must be displayed conspicuously along with any call to action prompting people to sign up for your messages. And finally, it’s important to note that the rules for mass text marketing and 1-on-1 business texting are slightly different. But don’t worry, we go into these in detail in our guide to SMS compliance.

Understanding the Penalties

A single spam text can land a business in serious hot water. The penalties for TCPA violations are steep. For example, the shoe company Steve Madden was accused of sending consumers 200,000 unwanted texts. They tried to argue that these messages were sent by a third-party advertiser. In the end, they agreed to settle for $10,000,000 dollars.

Most businesses don’t have millions of dollars to spend on lawsuits, that’s why it’s absolutely essential that you follow CTIA best practices and follow all TCPA rules.

Choosing the Right Commercial Text Messaging Service

There are dozens of quality SMS service providers out there. As you do your research, here’s a checklist you can follow to help you make the right choice:

  • Does the company have clear and reasonable pricing?
  • Can you send mass texts and have 2-way conversations?
  • How easy is it to get in touch with customer support?
  • Do they offer unlimited opt-in keywords?
  • Is the interface easy for beginners and experts alike?
  • Do they offer an app for both iOS and Android?

We check all of the above boxes. Yes, there’s no doubt that we’re biased about who the best SMS provider is. But we’d never just ask you to just take our word for it. Take a look at what our customers have to say about us. And if you’re still not convinced, why not see for yourself? We offer a risk-free 2-week trial so that you can try out all our features before you commit.

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