SMS Announcement Best Practices - Please Read Carefully

SMS text messages have higher open rates than regular email messages, but are more invasive and annoying when they are not wanted.  It is important to only send SMS to people who have opted to receive them, and to show courtesy when sending SMS messages.  Here are our recommendations:

Getting Permission

  1. Create one or more publications (Communications > Publications) specifically for SMS messages.  These are differentiated from regular email publications by including "SMS" in the publication name.  Example publication names: "SMS Announcements (1 per week)", "Action Alerts via SMS (4-6 times/month)". It's important that subscribers know how often to expect your SMS announcements.  Including that information right in the Publication's name guarantees that they do.  We recommend no more than 2 to 6 SMS per month in most cases. Any more may annoy your subscribers.
  2. Add the SMS Publication as a subscription option on a new or existing Databank signup form
  3. Make sure the signup form:
    • asks for Mobile Phone number
    • includes the advisory: "Message and data rates may apply. You may opt out of receiving SMS messages at any time by replying STOP." 
    • indicates how frequently you will be sending to this list (stating it in the Publication's name, or in the form's text).
  4. Drive people to the signup form.  Create a PowerMail issue that includes a personalized link to the signup form, and send the email to your audience.  You may also want to put a link to the signup form on your site or elsewhere.
  5. Send an introductory message to people who sign up. Example: "Thanks for subscribing to [publication name]! We hope you find it useful. Message and data rates may apply. Reply STOP to unsubscribe."
  6. Note that when someone replies "STOP" to your SMS message, they are unsubscribed from ALL SMS messages, whether sent via publication or as an ad-hoc message.  This underscores the need to respect your audience and avoid unsubscribes.
Sending SMS
  1. Pay attention to your sending frequency.  If your signup form and/or publication name says "1 per week," do not exceed that frequency or you will risk people unsubscribing.
  2. Text during normal hours. No one wants to be awakened in the middle of the night, or to have their dinner interrupted, by an SMS message.  If the goal of sending SMS messages is to have people take immediate action, those are the times they will be least likely to follow through, and most likely to unsubscribe.
  3. Minimize your use of SMS shorthand terms (TBA, AKA, EOD, etc.*), as many in your audience may not understand them, and they can look unprofessional.
  4. Make every message count.  Provide value with your SMS messages or, in other words, only send messages when you have something to say.  Don't repeat the same message to the same recipients.  Keep message content fresh and interesting.
By following these best practices, your organization and its subscribers will benefit from this powerful tool.  If you have any questions about following these recommendations, please contact us at
* "To be announced", "Also known as", "End of day"
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