SMS sending is generally limited by the behavior of the local carriers who actually deliver the message to the device, as well as the handset used by the recipient. It may be that certain carriers or devices do not support some features, such as numeric/alphanumeric From names.
Emarsys maintains a Reach Table which lists the geographical idiosyncrasies that you can expect when sending to different parts of the world; please contact Emarsys Support for information on your target destinations.
Below you can find more general guidelines to help you when selecting the right content for your SMS campaigns, to ensure the best possible deliverability, as well as best practice guidelines on how to manage your SMS subscriptions. In short, all SMS messages sent using Emarsys must include the following elements:
- Your SMS marketing messages must include a single opt-out process that immediately discontinues sales and marketing SMS messages to a subscriber.
- All opt-ins must be collected by you.
General Content guidelines
As with email, SMS content should not:
- Violate any laws or regulations
- Be deliberately deceptive
- Contain obscene or pornographic content
- Be harmful to minors
- Be defamatory in nature
Some additional tips:
- Content should always include a clear and relevant call-to-action stating the purpose of the message, for example a reminder, discount, sale, etc.
- Personalize any external links and use these in combination with attractive offers to not only improve campaign performance, but to help reduce opt-out requests.
Sending marketing SMS content requires a separate, visible and explicit opt-in, which means that if a contact has opted-in for email content you must not send them any SMS content just because you also have their mobile number. You can (and should) use double opt-in for SMS in the same way as you do for email, with the contact signing up on your website followed up by an SMS opt-in confirmation request being sent to them for agreement. A best practice SMS opt-in message is made up of the following:
- Clear description of what content they will receive
- A clear opt-out / unsubscribe link
- An indication of how often they will receive messages
- Any associated data rates and/or costs that may apply*
- A legally compliant SMS Opt-in message
*This is mandatory in France and the USA. The following phrase must be included exactly as is, since it is mandatory for any SMS message content being sent by businesses: “Msg&Data rates may apply”.
Managing Opt-outs (Unsubscribes)
We support two methods for opting out of receiving SMS content. These are the only replies that the automated SMS module handles within Emarsys.
- Using an SMS Unsubscribe link
Even for countries where this is not mandatory, our recommended option is to place a unique unsubscribe link in your SMS message. The link is provided by Emarsys in the form of a short URL. Clicking the unsubscribe link will cause the contact’s SMS opt-in to be set to FALSE without further action needed by you, and at no cost to the contact.
Note: The link will reduce the total size of the message by around 22 characters.
- Using STOP Words (mandatory in France and the USA)
A contact can reply to an SMS using the STOP keyword. Emarsys will recognize this and change the sender’s opt-in status to FALSE in your account (i.e. they are flagged as having opted out).
To enable this, you will need to request your own dedicated number from Emarsys. However, we do not recommend this method except where it is mandatory, since purchasing a dedicated number per country is time-consuming and expensive.
Please also bear in mind that if a contact sends you a STOP word, they might have to pay a fee for sending the SMS reply, particularly if you are messaging them from a non-local number. Generating costs for a contact to unsubscribe is a sure-fire way to damage their impression of your brand.
Furthermore, if you use an alphanumeric From name instead of a number, then this functionality will not work. It is also not universally supported by all carriers and is country-specific.
In addition to this, there are two methods for managing unsubscribes that you can handle yourself.
- Through your own Customer Service number
If you want to handle unsubscribes (or any other form of SMS replies) yourself, then you must provide your own valid From number (for example your Customer Services helpline) and collect and process the replies yourself. This is subject to a numeric sender ID support in your regions, and of course incurs costs for the contact.
- Making a manual unsubscribe request
Contacts can also make a request to unsubscribe via another channel such as telephone, email, or directly to your own Customer Services, in which case their opt-in status needs to be manually changed in the Emarsys database. You should search for the contact in the Emarsys application and then set their Mobile SMS Opt-in status to FALSE.
Further Compliance and Best Practice Information
The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) is a global non-profit organization responsible for establishing mobile marketing standards that works with mobile and wireless compliance associations. On a regional level, SMS and MMS messaging activities fall under the regulatory guidelines of several groups, depending on the nation in which you send the messages. Below is a list of some of these regulatory agencies:
- Germany – BNA
- UK – OFCOM
- France – ARCEP
- Australia – RTR
- Brazil – ANATEL
- Japan – MIC
- Sweden – PTS
- Canada – CRTC
- USA – CTIA, MMA
The CTIA also publishes voluntary guidelines regarding SMS regulations and best practices for use by those involved in mobile messaging activities.
See our own FAQs for more information.