Lesson 1: Everything you need to get started

How to choose an SMS marketing provider

Easy set-up & launch

More often than not, the key factor in a successful SMS program is a smooth rollout.

Consider how much guidance you’ll receive from your SMS partner, and if they offer training and learning opportunities that will help you boost your strategy (and revenue). Your provider should have resources to help you easily grow your subscriber list, send and schedule messages, create targeted segments, analyze the performance of your program, and more.

You should also prioritize an SMS marketing platform that focuses on reliable deliverability. Make sure your provider has close relationships with carriers so they can quickly advise on any deliverability issues the carriers are experiencing (or any updates they’re making) and provide direction on how to resolve the issues.

Guidance on compliance

The SMS industry is held to high compliance standards, so staying compliant with SMS regulations is crucial. These regulations also differ depending on the country you’re sending messages.

For example, in the United States, you must be compliant with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the guidelines of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), while brands sending messages in Canada, the United Kingdom, or Australia need to comply with other regulations like Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL), the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK-GDPR), and Australia’s Spam Act 2003. No matter which country you’re sending in, if you don’t comply with the guidelines, it can lead to costly results including consumer complaints, suspension of your short code, and even lawsuits.

It may sound intimidating to keep up with all the SMS-specific regulations, but don’t let it stop you from getting started with this marketing channel. The right vendor should be able to provide you with guidance to help you navigate these guidelines in the region you’re sending messages.

While exact regulations depend on the country you're sending to, at a high level most regulations require that:

  • Your subscriber must explicitly opt-in for SMS marketing.
  • You must explain to potential subscribers what types of messages they’ll receive and clearly state how they can opt-out.
  • You must respect opt-out requests.
  • Your SMS platform should also help you determine the right phone number for your business, whether that’s a dedicated 5- or 6-digit short code, a toll-free number, or a 10-digit long code.

Integrations that connect with your tech stack

While SMS is a top performance marketing channel on its own, it can become even more powerful when integrated with your existing tech stack. The data you collect from e-commerce platforms, ESPs, CDPs, CRMs, and other technologies lets you centralize and access valuable customer details so your brand can send more relevant text messages and increase revenue.

Integrations also help amplify your SMS marketing efforts—and ensure consistency with your other marketing channels, like email—so you can deliver more personalized subscriber experiences.

Think about your brand’s other important marketing channels—such as email or your website—and how you might be able to use customer data to improve your text messaging results. Then, make sure your SMS vendor lets you easily integrate with those channels. For example, Attentive has advanced integrations with select ESP partners to allow for easy orchestration across email and SMS, in addition to other marketing technologies.