The prevalence of smartphones and mobile phones has turned short message service, or SMS, messaging into a goldmine for marketers hoping to connect with consumers. You can run these campaigns directly from your PC or use special software and online platforms to create and manage your efforts. SMS gives you a strong way to interact with potential customers, but make sure you have the proper permissions to reach out.
Online SMS campaigns require three basic things: a platform, contacts list and message. You can use many commercially available platforms that give you the software to send SMS messages from your PC and even provide online servers to send the messages from after you build them. Your contact list should be as detailed as possible, containing names, numbers and cell phone carriers if possible. For SMS campaigns, the message needs to be limited to text and not contain videos or pictures.
In-house or Commercial Server
Hundreds of companies offer bulk SMS services online, and their services are typically the easiest to set up, though not always the cheapest. Commercial services offer advanced options, such as creating specific responses to messages that contain certain words, and provide everything you need to create and send messages. For campaigns where you blast, or send out messages en masse, an in-house server may suit your needs. In-house servers use either a GSM phone or GSM modem to send and receive messages and require SMS software such as Kannel, Gammu or RapidSMS (links in Resources).
Get Permission First
A new rule from the Federal Communications Commission went into effect on October 16, 2013 that requires telemarketers to obtain written permission before they can call or text individual users. This rule means you need explicit permission from your text recipients before you can start sending them text messages. Contact forms from before this date are not considered acceptable permission unless they specifically state you plan to send text messages to someone who fills out the form.
You can use your preferred email program to send an SMS campaign if you know which carrier your contacts use. Carriers offer a domain for phone numbers to receive messages, similar to email. For example, a Verizon Wireless user with the phone number (555)555-5555 can be texted through Verizon’s vtext.com domain by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Using email for SMS messaging in this way won’t cost you a dime.
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