How Retailers CAN Stay Safe from Hefty FCC Fines in SMS Marketing
Over the past few years, SMS marketing has been a steadily growing trend among retailers. SMS marketing, the practice of reaching customers by sending text messages directly to their phones, is a marketing channel which has seriously outperformed e-mail marketing in recent years; not only do mobile-first retailers enjoy 95%+ open rates but they also save on design resources and time by launching a text-only campaign. Particularly for local neighborhood businesses, SMS marketing allows retailers to create a sense of urgency with short-notice deals and promotions that their regular customers can view on the go.
Recent news has alarmed marketers once again however, with the FCC announcing that they have taken aim at text message spam, with fines of up to $1,500 for each illegal message sent. Naturally, any risk-averse small business owner would want to avoid potential fines, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of this very effective marketing channel. Mobile SMS marketing must be treated with great caution when it comes to privacy and ensuring customers’ consent, but with a little bit of planning it can be done!
How to be on the safe side
Whether incentivizing regulars, bringing back customers at risk or simply informing your audience about a new product line, it’s necessary to maintain a healthy customer base. Unfortunately, on occasion some unscrupulous and careless marketers do send campaigns without having recipients’ consent, which forces regulators such as the FCC to step in.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the major regulatory body that protects consumers from unwanted spam texts or robocalls. As a small business owner, you are probably wondering how to be on the safe side if the FCC knocks on your door. If it all seems like a double-edged sword to you, keep reading, it’s easier than it sounds.
Simply put: you need to have a solid policy to “Get Permission First!”. Developing a system to collect, store and update customer consent preferences can seem like a big job at first, but once the process is in place you can leave behind the boring IT infrastructure and get back to your passion: retail.
Technology & integrated solutions save you time
The most common obstacle for retailers seems to be having separate solutions for your marketing and for the processing of in-store purchases, but thanks to touch-screen based smart terminals like Clover or Poynt, you can easily put this problem in your past. Smart terminals are cloud-based so they sync and backup all your purchases and customer data, meaning that you can safely collect and store customer consent in real time.
In a well-organized process, your customers will give their consent right then and there at the register, before they carry on with their day. Let’s face it, your customers are busy people; even if they promise to subscribe to a mailing list or send a text message to opt in to SMS marketing, they probably won’t do it. A lot of their shopping is done by habit and once they leave your store, their mind is already on the next thing, so collecting customer consent during checkout is recommended.
Now you are ready to promote your offerings via text messages directly to the mobile phones of your customer base. Set up your SMS marketing channel in a way that is flexible and up-to-date to ensure that recent opt-outs aren’t included in your next campaign. Don’t forget that it’s equally important to store your customer communication preferences securely, not only to build a healthy contact list but also so that evidence can be provided in case of dispute. It is also good practice to send customers a confirmation upon joining, informing them of how they can opt out if desired.
ONE MORE THING – merchants should remember that verbal confirmation to send an SMS does not qualify as consent.
Digital is always better, faster and more reliable
Customers give their consent almost every day by signing card payment receipts in the grocery store or when they are receiving a parcel from a courier and finger-signing on a tablet; they leave their signature as their personal confirmation for each transaction.
Therefore, signing yourself digitally on a touch screen has become a commonplace solution for customer consent storage and administration. Customers sign once, then their signature is securely stored on a server and you are ready to start a campaign. Integrated point of sale solutions help merchants save time by having all necessary modules in one place. For example, your Register app communicates with your customer contact list and both feed data into your customer retention tool, which can help you strategize your next SMS marketing move. Together, these features give you the peace of mind that busy merchants like you seriously need.
Once you have your contact list app and your campaigns tool working together, you can focus on the creative part of each campaign and on personalizing your message. Any customer retention tactics which remind customers about your business and invite them back with a mobile offer are bound to generate results; hence, many merchants regard mobile SMS marketing as the single easiest way to target your returning customers – no matter what niche you occupy.
Sms - the most effective customer retention channel
According to Mobile Marketing Watch, there are currently almost 7 billion active mobile subscriptions across the globe. Compare that to just 2.5 billion email users and SMS marketing starts to look a lot more attractive than more traditional email marketing. Mobile-first offers score higher response rates and are proven to help with customer retention and increase repeat sales.
Providing impeccable customer service and rewards on the spot are key for building a loyal customer base, but that’s far from everything you can do in terms of retention tactics. Only recently have smart point of sale terminals allowed for SMS Marketing to be combined with transactional data so that efficient, highly-targeted & trackable campaigns can be launched in minutes.
With My Rewards for Clover point of sale terminals, merchants can utilize easy but powerful SMS Marketing tools as well as offer customizable rewards in no time. Its simplicity and flexibility allows owners to configure once, train employees, and pursue their business goals with improved customer satisfaction and better retention rates. My Rewards not only gives customers easy to understand rewards but also reminds them of their favorite retailers with highly-targeted SMS messages that also offer an incentive to spend on their next visit.