How to use business SMS without it getting flagged as spam

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How to use business SMS without it getting flagged as spam
Businesses that have shifted their mechanics to a customer-focused model have seen significant improvements.
Photo by Hannes Johnson on Unsplash

How businesses can remain credible during the rise of spam & scam SMS comms

2021 has been noted for many things, but one of them is the sudden rise in spam text messages that many Australians have been receiving. From the ‘flubot’ scams that see many of us sent malicious links with talk of missed phone calls, or those mentioning an undelivered package. This has also had a significant impact on the finances of thousands of Australians with ACCC’s Scamwatch program revealing $63.6 million was lost to scams involving unsolicited calls or text messages this year, so far. 

There have also been reports of politicians getting caught up in sending out spam or unwelcome SMS messages to the public - this issue has become a mainstream news topic. With this comes a heightened awareness of the matter within the public and something businesses that are sharing reputable information with their customers need to understand in order to continue to provide brilliant customer service and maintain their brand integrity. How can you not be seen as part of the problem whilst still getting a message out there?

So how do businesses who use SMS, a method known to be incredibly effective and the preferred method of communicating with Australians, ensure that they are cutting through the spam and are not contributing to it? 

Here are some top tips for businesses for credible, effective and helpful SMS communications, making sure customers don’t mark your information shared with them as spam:

Conversational Messaging vs broadcast SMS

The majority of spam messages received fit into the category of broadcast SMS. This means that the messages are limited in their capabilities and the engagement can only divert customers to a website or prompt a phone call. Whilst some businesses have been able to effectively use broadcast messages to deliver short, sharp and informative communications - an example could be the telco companies who send out maintenance alerts - these types of messages are usually only effective when limited, if any, action is required from the customer. 

A solution to this is free conversation messaging where the receiver is engaged and encouraged to respond to the messages in order to help with their needs. These conversations are personalised in every way and designed to meet the needs of customers - acting as a replacement for time-consuming and often inconvenient phone calls. The messages appear credible and therefore have a higher chance of engagement than broadcast messages. 

Quality over Quantity

It can be tempting to update customers at every step of the way. From their personal journey within the business to corporate updates and new product launches. One of the key indicators with spam messages, however, is that they are frequent and vague. In order to ensure that your communications are viewed as valid and useful, plan everything thoroughly in advance. Try to avoid sending out random updates, instead focus on a clear and consistent phasing that allows for regular updates without it feeling overwhelming. There will be occasions when you want to send urgent updates, but these should be few and far between.

When using two-way messaging, however, the communication becomes more free-flowing and allows the customer to feel in control. So whilst they may be receiving a lot of messages back and forth, once engaged, it is because this information is useful and addresses their requirements.

Avoid including links

One of the key markers of spam messages at the moment is hyperlinks that drive the receiver to a website. Recent reports even note that customers are being tricked into opening these links to ‘increase their phone security’. This is where the spammers and scammers are, in the worst-case scenarios, infiltrating a person’s phone and personal information. As this is happening more and more, the public is becoming savvier to this tactic and therefore avoiding clicking on links by deleting messages or blocking the contact. Once a customer has engaged with your communications, if using two-way messaging, then sharing links and driving them away from their messaging platform is safe and reasonable to do.

There are many other things that need to be considered to keep a business ahead of the curve on this matter, however, these tips should provide a solid foundation for addressing the ever-changing situation.

In short, businesses that have shifted their mechanics for communications to a considered and customer-focused model have seen significant improvements in customer satisfaction. Technology is ever-evolving and the scammers and spammers do keep up with this, but businesses win when they not only understand what the customer wants from them, addressing it accordingly but also the wider world in which they operate.

Alex Colvin is CEO and Founder, Pendula.

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