Getting Started with SMS in the UK
Text Message Marketing has taken the world by storm, and Listrak is proud to offer SMS service to the UK as part of our international messaging efforts. If you have an existing program today or are looking to get started, here are things to consider for reaching your maximum potential.
How to Send to UK Subscribers
First, it’s essential to understand the different options for sending text messages in the UK. The carriers do not support MMS (text messages with multi-media), so all your campaigns will be text-only. With Listrak, you can send using a dedicated short or long code. Short codes are better for two-way communication, as they’re easier to remember. Long codes are good for standing up programs quickly and can be less expensive.
Growing Your List
Explicit opt-in and consent to receive messaging is required to subscribe contacts to UK-based Text Message Marketing programs. So, it’s critical to load your customer journey with acquisition touchpoints and subscription methods. Here are our best-in-class recommendations for acquisition:
- A Two-Step Popup - One of the most robust and efficient ways to acquire subscribers and gain explicit opt-in is through a Two-Step Popup that positions both email and SMS opt-in as soon as visitors visit your website. Include a compelling incentive alongside all the benefits of subscribing to your program, and trigger the popup to appear as quickly as possible upon entry – This strategy will consistently bring in new contacts.
- The Checkout Process - Shoppers are most engaged during checkout, so now is a great time to promote sign-up to your email and SMS lists. Simply add unchecked checkboxes next to these checkout fields and the required disclaimers, and you’ve got another easy way of collecting opt-in as part of your customer journey.
- In the Stages between First Visit and Checkout - Consider implementing opt-in strategies across your other channels to reach prospective subscribers in as many ways as possible (digital or otherwise). This includes promoting your program to social followers on Instagram and Facebook, to in-store customers on signage, and most importantly, to existing email subscribers – Use unique keywords within content blocks in your marketing email template(s) to regularly promote the benefits of subscribing to receive SMS.
Maintaining Compliance in the UK
With a focus on acquisition, there should be an equal focus on the compliance rules and regulations for sending marketing text messaging in the UK. The concepts are generally very similar to those of other parts of the world, like the United States and Canada, with a few additions.
- UK Text Message Marketing programs must adhere to GDPR guidelines on personal data processing, UK Data Protection Act, and EC regulations.
- All opt-in Calls To Action must be clear with thorough disclaimers and links for full Terms & Conditions, and subscribers must be aware of and able to opt-out at any time.
- There must be automated system responses to STOP and HELP keywords and program name in all messages sent.
Listrak’s platform is equipped to handle these requirements automatically, and our Mobile Operations Team is dedicated to helping our clients navigate the compliance waters and keep programs up to date in the event of any policy changes.
Crafting a Best Practice Broadcast Strategy
Once you’ve gotten a firm understanding of compliance and your subscriber list has started to grow, next comes the all-important task of creating an ongoing broadcast messaging calendar to reach your contacts regularly. Because compliance dictates explicit opt-in, you know these subscribers want to hear from you via text – So you should strive to begin messaging them immediately and consistently.
We recommend starting with a minimum twice-weekly broadcast frequency to your full list to build engagement and channel awareness. This will allow you to reach everyone as they join your list and nurture them as they get to know your brand. The Calls To Action for these messages can be around promotions and sales (most common techniques), but don’t forget about other themes like new arrivals, trending categories and customer favorites, exclusive collections and content for subscribers, in-store events, and more.
Once you’ve established your baseline frequency to the full list, you can begin expanding your calendar with additional broadcasts segmented to core audiences of your list. You’ll want to send more messaging to your most active contacts, including those frequently clicking and purchasing, while limiting sends to those less active. Consider leveraging your existing email and social campaign calendars to identify opportunities where a text message could fit into outlined strategies. Don’t wait until crucial shopping days like Black Friday and Boxing Day to send; instead, strive to build a full messaging calendar for the year so that when critical shopping days roll around, you have a robust and engaged list ready to click.
Send Efficiently with Automated Outreach
In addition to one-off broadcasts, your Text Message Marketing program should include automated campaign strategies to target your subscribers when they’re highly engaged. These campaigns include a Welcome Series at the time of opt-in, Abandonment and other Product Alerts when items are browsed and left behind, and Post Purchase follow-up when contacts buy.
Each provides powerful engagement and conversion opportunities without manually sending texts to individuals or small audiences each time. In our 2023 Cross-Channel Benchmarks Report we saw some campaigns earned triple the average Click-Through rate of one-off broadcast messages and a seven times higher Conversion Rate aggregated across verticals, so don’t leave revenue on the table by waiting to implement these until later!
Trigger Critical Order Updates
Transactional messaging closes the customer journey with order, shipping, and delivery updates sent via SMS. These campaigns have become table stakes for programs as consumers now expect to receive them as text messages. Whether you trigger them on a separate code or alongside your marketing messaging, subscribers most click on Transactional texts. Your body copy should be short and sweet with a Call To Action to click through and manage current orders onsite, whether checking shipping status, where a refund request currently sits, or anywhere between. Listrak can trigger these directly through your Shopify Plus integration or via our SMS REST API if you use a different ecommerce platform.
Get Started Internationally
Text Message Marketing unlocks a new level of engagement with your best customers, and outreach in the UK provides an opportunity to elevate your digital strategy in an emerging landscape. Prioritize building a solid list of subscribers with acquisition strategies across your customer journey and maintain a consistent broadcast frequency to build channel awareness. Supplement your calendar with additional automated campaigns and Transactional messaging can take engagement further and increase revenue. And follow compliance rules and guidelines keeps your program in good standing. For more information or to start sending in the UK, contact your Account Manager.