Thursday, 13 November 2014

Tips for collecting an opt in SMS mobile phone database

As you probably know, the Spam Act has been around since 2004, and it protects consumers from unwanted emails and SMS.

Well we all know that it hasn't really stopped emails, but thankfully mobile phones don't get too many spams as it costs the sender...and spammers don't want to pay to spam you!

So how do you collect peoples's mobile numbers and be compliant with the law?

That's easier than you think.

There are plenty of good cheap database programs around now, or use an Excel spreadsheet. There's also companies like Mail Chimp or Wufoo Forms that allow you to create and forms to your website or emails. Or get your webmster to add a simple form to your site.

Make sure you have a call to action on your website where people can subscribe themselves ("opt in" to receiving follow up messages from you. This would normally ask for emails, but why not ask for their mobile number as well?

Put an extra box in the form and give them the option of how they'd like to hear from you.

Here's an example of a form to collect mobile numbers from a US website Dollar General: 

After a customer pays, get the staff to ask if they'd like to receive VIP specials via SMS, and enter them in a database.

Also make sure you instruct your staff to enter data in a consistent manner. Even have a little guide on how to enter mobile numbers so you don't end up with a dog's breakfast database!

EG: A nice format

Dog's Breakfast:
+61 555 5555
0466666 666

If you use Excel, it tends to strip out the first zero but don't worry about that as the SMS Express system converts this into the correct format for sms broadcasting.

But just make sure staff are consistent and the whole 10 digits are there (by the way, we do have some little tools to fix a dog's breakfast database, so holler if you'd like us to tidy it up for you!  Free for all SMS Express customers).

Under the Spam Act you are legally allowed to contact people if they have done business with you, and they'd reasonably expect to hear from you in some way (via email, letter or SMS) . You can use any of the above ideas, or send out cards to your members and clients offering your SMS alert service, or ask people when they join if they'd like to receive your alerts via SMS.

Hairdressers and clubs do this very well by sending out appointment reminders and texting birthday greetings or any special occasions.

There's nothing wrong with running a competition to get people to hand over their mobile numbers, as long as you make them aware via your terms that they are opting in to receive texts from you.

To be frank I am not a huge fan of "buying" customers in this manner, just as I think buying Facebook likes is not really a good strategy,  as people can be flaky! They are likely not interested in your product, and just want a freebie, but that may be fine for your business. You can only prove me wrong!

 ..and of course with any electronic communication, you have to tell people who you are and how to optout if they choose to.

By law you must do this, and simplest way is via a simple statement in your SMS like: "2optout rply STOP". The SMS Express system will automatically add these STOPs to your blacklist so you cannot SMS them again (unless you ask us to release them from the blacklist if it's an error).

 As always, if you have any questions, just contact 1300 668 287 or SMS 0418384394 or visit

Apple in lawsuit over alleged text message blocking

A woman in the US has taken Apple to court alleging that Apple's messaging system blocks people from receiving texts from iPhones if they switched to a rival phone.

Plaintiff Adrienne Moore claims that after she switched from iPhone4 to a Galaxy 5, she no longer received SMS from people with iPhones, and alleges that Apple did not tell consumers that their IOS software system blocks delivery from Apple devices if iPhone uders changed to a non-Apple device.

You can read the full story

Friday, 7 November 2014

SMS ideas to get customers through the door over Christmas and New Year..or anytime!

Christmas is a very important time for retail. After Christmas is also important because it can go a bit dead, so here's a couple of SMS campaign ideas to get customers in the door.

I should also point out that you can use these ideas ANYTIME to generate some traffic, not just for Christmas..also if you are not a retailer, you can still send Christmas wishes or offers to your clients, members or teams.

You can't send images via SMS Express, but who needs them anyway? A text voucher will do the same job and won't cost your customer to download.

Example: (NOTE: SMS Express allows you to personalise messages using the Value placeholders...ask me if you need help).
"Hi Paul, Avoid the crush. Schmooze Menswear is having a post-xmas sale.Show this SMS to our staff and you'll get 50% off anything in the store.See you soon! Jake & Team. 2optout rply STOP"

....or why not encourage Paul to forward the SMS to his friends? More the merrier...

"Hi Paul, Avoid the crush. Schmooze Menswear is having a post-xmas sale.Show this SMS to our staff and you'll get 50% off anything in the store.And feel free to fwd this to your friends & we'll give them a discount too. Show them what great style you have. See you soon! Jake & Team. 2optout rply STOP"

...and get your staff to track how many people redeemed the offer.

If you have an ecommerce site which looks good on a mobile and customers can easily make a purchase, this kind of campaign would be great..

Send them to your website with a promotional code.

"Hi Paul, Schmooze Menswear is having a post-xmas sale. Go to and enter the code TIGER at the checkout to get your 20% VIP discount. See you soon! Jake & Team. 2optout rply STOP"

If you have a long website name (URL), use a service like to get a short URL. has another great can track the number of clicks, and monitor the success of the SMS....and IT'S FREE!!

Now that Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, and whatever else people share is around, it's enough to give you a migraine trying to keep up with the latest app. Never before has it been so HARD to communicate with people as we have so many communication channels. People are not on Facebook, or never read emails, or not on Facebook and Twitter and even good old email are so full of clutter it's hard for your message to cut through.

But good old simple SMS is the main medium that gets through to pretty much everybody, and people pay attention to the beep beep on their phone and they can respond immediately.

If you want to discuss an SMS promotional idea, you are always welcome to give me a call on 1300 668 287. If there's one thing I love discussing, it's SMS marketing!

Oh and don't forget SMS Express has a BIRTHDAY Module where ypu can load and send automated greetings at certain times of the year, like birthdays or anniversaries of special of our clients sends out special funny sms on the anniversaries of when their staff members joined the company.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Is One Day Better Than Another For Sending Text Messages?

This really depends on your business or organisation, and what you think your customers or members are likely to be doing at the time.

It's always best to benchmark yourself by running tests at different days and can even run tests at the same time but use slightly different words in your text message to see which one pulls a better response.

So is Monday better to send than a Friday, for example?

Maybe... maybe not.

Let's say you're a food retailer with weekly specials. It might be good idea to stick to the same time every week, so people come to expect it. Perhaps a Monday at 10am so shopping lists can be added to.

But you probably wouldn't do this if you're a clothing or other type of retailer, as this may annoy your customers. I'd recommend sending out "alerts" when you have new stock in, so your customers feel like they have the VIP treatment. These types of "alert text messages" really can be sent at anytime, but say you want to drive some traffic into your store during the week...perhaps send it on a Tuesday, and say "get in ASAP before it sells out".

OR maybe a Friday afternoon or Saturday morning when they are in more of a leisure mode.

...and don't forget to monitor any replies as people will likely ask questions or may ask you to hold onto something for you! (You can do this via your Account 1300 668 287 or email us if you need help on this.).

For nightclubs and restaurants, what about a Tuesday around 4pm (a typically quiet night for many eateries). "come in tonight for 2 for 1" or "free dessert" or "chef has top quality fresh salmon in tonight only".

Or a café that caters for workers....a text message at 11am when one's mind is usually on the luncheon meal! "Hot roast beef rolls with gravy today! Get em while they're hot. text back to order yours now."

Say if you're a club organising an event? Maybe a month ahead, plus follow up reminders would do the trick. I think any day would be fine for this...

There is also nothing wrong with mixing it up to see what day works better for you. SMS messages sent to customers can be easy to track in regards to responses, and if you need some ideas, we're always here to help.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Vodafone and Optus Outage..Interesting stats about wedded to our mobiles!

You may have been affected by the Optus and Vodafone outage recently. Many many people could not send or receive SMS or calls to their handset.

This affected all SMS providers and there's nothing we can actually do about it apart from be patient until it's fixed.

As with all technology, things can and do go pear shaped, but usually are fixed quickly..telcos don't like losing money!

But a survey by Roy Morgan found that, we really are wedded to our mobile phones!

According to the article:
"Outages on the Vodafone and Optus networks last Thursday raise the question: who can’t live without their mobile phones? Virgin’s customers are the most tied to their mobiles, with the majority (55%) believing their phones are—quite literally—a lifeline.

Amaysim’s customers are the second-most dependent (49%), followed by those with Optus (41%), Vodafone (37%), Dodo (34%) and TPG (30%).

Just 29% of mobile customers with Telstra, whose network was unaffected last week, say they couldn’t live without their phones."

Are Telstra customers less stressed about living without their phones? Somehow I doubt it!

How to send only to certain numbers from within an existing group rather than creating different groups

This is a question that comes up a bit...

For example, you have your Main Groups: Group A and Group B.

But just want to send to a few people from within Group A, and it's not necessary to create a Group C just for this one-off SMS blast.

Can you select just a few people from within Group A?


Just go to Maintain Groups

Select the Group/s

View the fields to filter further

Tip: "Display Value Fields In Results" may be helpful as it shows more info about the record.

Search Data...the info will display.

Select the people you want to send can actually select ALL Groups and cherry pick if you want to.

We have a You Tube video that shows you what to do.

Click here to view HowTo video

Monday, 2 June 2014

What's The Best Time To Send An SMS?

We get asked this question a bit, and it really is a hard one to answer sometimes, because it depends on a few things:

- who is your target audience?
- what is the time to send that they may read it?
- is it time critical?

For example, if you are sending a text message to customers, is it appropriate to send during working hours? These days, everyone has their phone on, sometimes 24/7.

So I reckon it's safe to send during acceptable hours, say 9am-7pm.

And as people do usually have their phones on all the time, I would not ever advise sending at 3am (unless it is urgent)...even if you are up late crafting your winning sales message! SCHEDULE to a later time!

We had one client who tested the system at 5am...they sent a test message out to one of their 5am.

As the initial TEST text message (when you first register for a trial) contains OUR contact details, the poor mate rang our support number at 5am threatening bodily damage!

It took us a few minutes to track who had sent the message, and the mate was most apologetic to us...maybe not so to his mate.

..anyway I digress...back to the subject...

If you have, say, a clearance sale on Wednesday, maybe send a text on Monday, then a follow up reminder that morning.

Have a "VIP exclusive" offer...and I'd advise putting a deadline on it: "sale ends Friday 5pm. Hurry!"

...maybe ask people to show the message to your staff, so they can track instore responses.

What I would also recommend is what's called AB testing...split your Group/List into List A and List B, send at different times, and test which one gets the best response. This is common practice in snail mail direct marketing, and it's a great way to benchmark yourself.

If you have weekly specials or news, then maybe send at the same time every week, so customers come to expect your message.

For many SMS Express clients, they use text messaging for many reasons, like events, staff call-ins, car service reminders... many varied reasons.

Friday, 23 May 2014

How to format your contacts file for import in SMS Express Groups

This is actually an easy one.

Make sure your contacts are in an Excel spreadsheet or CSV file. If your contacts are currently stored in a CRM program, most, if not all of these contact database programs will allow you to export into an Excel spreadsheet.

On your spreadsheet, make sure the mobile numbers are in COLUMN A. Any other data you can keep in the other columns (eg first name, last name)

It doesn't matter if they have the zero at the front missing...excel has an annoying habit of chopping off what's called "leading zeros". It is actually a program for number crunching but many people use it as a contact database.

But this doesn't matter with SMS Express as when the numbers are imported, the system will change them into international format anyway (61 replaces any 0 at the front of the number).

You also don't have to change your numbers into +61 or anything like that. Just make you have valid mobile numbers (eg 0434085892)...and remember it doesn't matter if the front 0 is removed (eg 434085892) as the system will change the number to 61434085892 after import.

Another tip...check your list to ensure there are no landlines or other dodgy numbers in there, as you don't want to waste credits on dud numbers.

A quick way to check your list for dodgy numbers before you import:
- open the spreadsheet

- highlight the whole spreadsheet so all columns and rows are highlighted (quick way is to click the small rectangle in the far left corner between the A column header and 1 Row..that should highlight everything)

- Go to the top menu ribbon and click on Data, then SORT, then a box will pop open. You can SORT BY Column A...if your column has a header in the top row (eg Number) make sure you tick the My Data Has Headers box top right.

- Then click OK.

This will sort that column into highest and lowest, so you'll be able to spot any short or odd numbers. Mobiles are always 04 so anything NOT 04 (eg 03 08 02) should be checked or deleted if not a mobile number.

Also, if a number looks too short, it may have a digit missing making it invalid. Fix or remove these. All Australian mobile numbers are 10 digits (0434085892) so any odd ones should stand out.

Once you are happy, SAVE the file on your PC and then upload into your SMS Express Group using Import Data.

Bamboozled? We've got a good working knowledge of Excel and use it every day! We're here to help. Just call 1300 668 287 or email .

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Using SMS Express (full website version) on your Android Phone

You may know that we do have an app available, but as the app is a cut down version, if you have multiple Groups stored online, the mobile app is probably not appropriate.

But you can certainly login and send SMS campaigns via your smartphone. I personally have a Galaxy Note2 with a nice large screen..I will admit it can be a little bit snug but it certainly works fine (as does iPhone and iPad).

One thing I have noticed though is that the default browser on Android now doesn't seem to work with SMS Express (it used to!), but Chrome browser certainly does, so please download Chrome for your Android device. Any pop ups will appear down the bottom of the screen (such as your SMS message preview that pops up) so make sure you scroll down to view this.

Any questions please call 1300 668 287

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

SMS Broadcast stats - a real campaign example

Earlier on in a post, I mentioned how to tell if people click on the link in your SMS.

To recap, SMS is text only, but if you want to send people a picture or a link to your website content, the cheap and easy way to do this is to include a link in your text message.

For example, Dear VIP Customers, our new range is here so pop in before Fri and show the girls this text for 10% off. Sneak peek here: .2optout rply STOP.

The website will render as a link on most peoples' phones, so if they want to check out your wares, they have the option of pressing the link and viewing your pics on your (mobile friendly!) website.

We never really know how many people READ your SMS, but we can tell how many people took the time to click your link and go to your website...just set up an account with Bitly or Instapage (see earlier post: How to tell if people respond to your SMS message?)

One of our lovely clients, who has a very loyal VIP membership for their fashion boutique did this, and they were able to tell how many people clicked through to the website FROM the SMS message using

Quick stats:
:: 550 SMS text messages sent
:: 109 clicked on the link to view the site
:: 20% clickthrough rate...pretty good!

We can assume that most people READ the SMS and would not have bothered clicking through to see the frocks. Our client also had many customers coming into the store flashing the text message to sales staff, who were able to report back on the success of the SMS campaign.

Upshot: our client was very happy as the sale went extremely well during a normally quiet period, and they cleared a lot of stock...their customers loved the fact they got a VIP Text Alert and got in early to the sale. The girls at the checkout monitored how many people showed the text message or mentioned it.

This client usually does a big sale every quarter, and finds SMS is far more effective than email in getting the message out to her customers as they ALL HAVE THEIR PHONES ON THEM. Interesting observation is, our client's customers tend be be professional women aged 40+ , who are very active mobile users who are out and about, with no time to read email until 'later'. But she also sends out a lovely email newsletter too.

Quote from my client: "when they get the SMS some of them drive straight to the shop!"

NB: Bitly is a URL shortener that allows you to crunch a long domain name into a short link. For example we shortened down to

As an SMS has 160 characters, this saves a lot of space and some money as you don't have to send 2 messages.

Bitly will also give you stats on how many people clicked the link...we LOVE it....and it's free!

Here's a screen shot from one we did ourselves in 2013

How to cancel a scheduled broadcast

With SMS Express, you have the option of sending NOW or scheduling (embargoing) to send on a particular time and date in the future.

So what happens if you schedule an SMS broadcast and then realise that you need to cancel it?

It's actually quite easy to do, but there are a few steps...

How To Cancel A Scheduled SMS
1. Go to Sent/Queued page
2. Select Date Range (if today it will be there already)
3. In box below Select Date Range, find your broadcast and click on View to open the Viewing Send box.

QUICK TIP: copy the SMS text and plonk into Notepad or Word so you can copy and paste later into your new message.

4. Click on Pause…see example below. A box will open asking you to confirm the Pause. Then the box will change to Release/Cancel…click Cancel to stop the scheduled broadcast (Release will ‘unpause’ and allow the broadcast to go ahead).

That's it!

Of course, call us if you get stuck: 1300 668 287

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

How do you cut through the communications clutter?

I was in the process of writing an email and SMS to our wonderful clients telling them about this new blog and I just had an obvious thought.

For most of our clients, we send a quick SMS news alert, but there are a few who we send emails to. Down the bottom of the email I put the links to the usual social media pages...Facebook, our new Twitter, and this blog.

I was very wary of having the message look too cluttered and inducing a migraine in people.. and I refuse to put a line of social media icons that I sometimes see on emails. Apart from mostly being blocked by email filters, seriously, I have no idea what most of these icons are or what they do.

SMS Express is content with the "usuals": blog, Facebook, Twitter and Linked In links for now. I think that's enough! I will leave Pinterest, Instagram, Reddit for those more experienced than me.

So with the plethora of social media, how ARE you supposed to touch base with your customers? Many people are on Twitter and Facebook, and many people are not.

Even when I send out emails and SMS news updates to our clients, the ones on email hardly ever open them, but most people who get the SMS do. Unfortunately email has become like the old post...people will sit on emails for a week, or they will go straight to Junk. Oddly enough, sending a letter in the post now has better cut-through than email, in my opinion, as people take a letter seriously!

However, the one method of contacting people that is pretty much guaranteed to be received and looked at within minutes, and is cheap to send, is a good old text message.

Almost everyone has a mobile phone now, and they all can get text messages.

This makes SMS a fabulously effective communication method that covers all bases, and we are glad to be in this space...even though hipster folk may think we are old fashioned!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Can I send images via SMS Express?

We get asked this a bit, and the short answer is NO, as the system is text (SMS means 'short message service').

Sending images is called MMS, and you no doubt would have MMS'd a picture to somebody, like when you take a photo of a nice dessert and send it to your friend (yes I have done that...)

A few reasons why we think SMS is better for your marketing to customers or staff is:
1) MMS is expensive to send (50c each when I last looked at prices)
2) It may cost your recipient to download...not good when your customers may be charged to view your image!
3) You can't embed a link so people can't click through on the actual image
4) Some phones simply will not display images. This can be a problem with pre-paid accounts. I had this problem myself trying to send images from my personal handset (Telstra) to my partner who was then on Vodafone...he simply never got my pictures.

So what if you DO want to share images? Best way is to send out a plain old text message but include a LINK (URL) to a webpage or your website where people can view the image themselves if they wish to.

The beauty of that is, they have the choice, AND you can track the clicks (we have an earlier blog post that covers tracking link clicks in SMS). You also encourage people to click through to your website where they can take further action, like buy something, or comment..whatever your call to action may be.

If you want help setting up a clickable link, just call us on 1300 668 287

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Australian Privacy Principles

The upgraded Privacy Act came into force on 12 March 2014 in Australia, and we have updated our Privacy Policy which you are welcome to view at anytime on the SMS Express website, or of course just contact us and we'll send you the link or any APP info.

As you are in business, or handling your customers' or personal data, even though you may not be subject to the APPs, it's probably a good idea to use these as a guideline anyway.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner website has all the info on the new APPs, so please click here to visit the website. There's fact sheets and guides for you to read.

SMS Express privacy policy with our customers (you) is, and always has been a matter of strict policy within our company. If you have any queries, we welcome your call: 1300 668 287

...further to this, here's an excellent article on Lifehacker about Cloud Computing and Privacy:

How to tell if people respond to your SMS message?

Traditionally email has been very good at tracking how many people viewed your email, and clicked on the link to your website. This is called "tracking clickthroughs". It can give you some interesting statistics on your campaigns too.

Say if you sent 1000 emails and 100 people actually clicked through to your website and did something, that's a 10% response rate...that may be good or bad, depending on your expectations.

So how can you do this on SMS given that it's a text message with no links?

You really cannot tell how many people "looked" at your SMS, as that would be a bit invasive. However, I'm going to give you a few ideas of how you can track responses:

If you purely want to send an informational text message, you can typically track responses by REPLIES you get back, for example "yes" or "please book me in"...or "STOP".

Of course all REPLIES can be viewed in your account at anytime (and we encourage you to always look), or you have the option of replies being CC'd to your email address (free) or mobile phone handset (1 credit). You may not even care to track these, but you can!

If you are running a promotion to drive people into your store, the easiest way is to encourage your customers to show or mention the text message to your staff when they arrive. Train your staff to track how many people do this.

For example if you are running a sale, you can text something like "Show this message to our staff for 50% off. Sale ends Tuesday".

And if you have a decent retail system or database, you can even track who responds to your SMS messages, and when, allowing you to identify your loyal customers....and of course a mobile number is a totally unique identifier so easy to match the data.

Now here's where it gets interesting and we can track clicks! Say you want to send an SMS and push people through to your website browsing your wonderful wares.

This is a common scenario now, as so many people are on their phones and can easily click a link from your SMS and their phone will open up a browser, and blammo, they are at your website.

So, you send an SMS, customer reads your SMS and then clicks through to your website.. Nice and simple.

Here's a way you can tell how many people clicked through to your site...and it costs nothing extra!

1) First make sure your website looks nice on a mobile phone (both iPhone and Android). If it looks clunky, ask your web designer to do a mobile version OR a cheaper way is check out companies like

2) Open an account with . Bitly is a URL shortener that crunches long website names (URLs) down into a short link. The extra beauty of Bitly is, you can TRACK THE CLICKS!

As you only have limited space on SMS, you don't want your website taking up all that valuable text space, so a URL shortener is a great space-saving solution.

3) Login to your SMS Express account, click on Bulk Messages, select your Group, create your text message, including your URL.

For example: "Dear VIP Clients, we have a new range in store now. Check it out here Pop in B4 Friday for a 20% discount. See u soon! 2optout rply STOP.".

Or if you have an ecommerce site, even better...hopefully they may buy on the spot!

4) Once your message has been tested and sent out, go to your REPLIES section and/or Bitly account and check out both replies AND how many people did actually click the link in your SMS.

If you want to create a mobile website on the fly just for one campaign, Instapage is great for this, and will also allow you to track clicks.

If you don't want to bother with Bitly or Instapage, another cheap way to track visits is to create a unique page on your website specifically for your SMS campaigns.

For example (and if you have a short enough domain name you can use the whole thing in your text if you want)

Only use that page for your SMS promotions, and you should see all visitors to that page by date and time in your webstats, and this will be easy to match with your SMS broadcast times....remember that most people do respond to an SMS within minutes, but we have seen some slow pokes dribble in a week later!

1 SMS = 160 characters including spaces...this is universal. But there is nothing stopping you from sending more than 160 characters, as most phones will join them into 1 message now (unlike the old days!).

Just be aware that it costs you an extra credit. But if you get a good response, it's still very cheap and quick marketing in anyone's currency!

...and of course, always obey the Spam Act and put who you are and an optout in all promotional messages..the SMS Express system will automatically remove any people who reply STOP or REMOVE (and you can also see these too).

If you need to get your head around this, call me, Kerryn, anytime on 1300 668 287 and I will be happy to help you set this up.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Back up your lists and groups!

Sorry if I sound Captain Obvious, but it's easy to overlook this if you are busy.

The SMS Express server is as secure and hosted on a robust platform, but even Google and Facebook go offline occasionally!

In the event of a disaster such as us going offline or some other catastrophe, please ensure that you always back up your Groups...don't even have just 1 copy of soemthing as important as your client list just sitting in 1 place.

The same principle would apply to your website, your laptop..or anything really. Always have a backup...2 backups are better.

If you only store your Groups (lists/databases) on SMS Express, then I recommend regularly exporting your groups to a file on your PC...I'd also copy to second backup place such as Dropbox or OneDrive or a USB stick.

So what happens after you send an SMS from the system?

Many clients have told us that they didn’t realise that they could view information about their SMS broadcast, such as how many were sent…how many text messages were NOT sent…also replies and optouts, so we created a video which covers little tips and tricks that you can do after your broadcast.

Also shows you how to get a FREE copy of any replies CCd to your email address.

Check out the YouTube video here:

Why is SMS only 160 characters?

We get asked this question all the time…when I send a bulk SMS, how come I can only send 160 characters in a text message?

SMS means Short Message Service, and was a Franco-German effort, developed in 1984 by Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert.

Part of Freidhelm’s job was to work out how many characters a text message should be. And his method was stunningly simple…he analysed postcards and telex (remember those?) messages.

His observations found that on average, most were around 150 characters, and Fred successfully argued that 160 characters was sufficient to express most text messages succinctly (source: Wikipedia).

Disaster SMS Campaign Using iMessage To Send Bulk SMS – Big No No!

A business owner called us recently in a bit of a pickle….let’s called him John.

John was new to the world of SMS, as most people are, and decided to send a text message to his client database .

All good so far. He had his iPhone, and someone told him that he could send free SMS via Apple’s iMessage program.

Cheap way to do a marketing campaign…….you’d think.

Except for 2 things:

you can only use this with other people who have iMessage and an iPhone (a lot of of people use Android phones these days so you may miss many customers).
iMessage is meant to be used as a Group Conversation…my 18 year old niece loves it as all of her friends keep up with the gossip of the day.
So John carefully composes his first ever SMS message to his loyal customers promoting his weekly specials, and BLASTED it out to 600 people on the Group setting.

Luckily for John, at least half of his customers also had iMessage installed.

Unluckily for John, when a lovely client replied to his message asking him what time he closed, the other 599 people also got this message.

Then an angry person replied WHO IS THIS?

The other 599 people also got this…then other people started replying…and everyone got multiple messages and got caught in this loop….you can imagine the chaos!

John called us in a flat panic as a few very very angry customers had called him with some choice words.

He needed to send an urgent apology from a proper bulk messaging platform, which we were happy to do, and got the message out in 15 minutes after setting him up with an account.

We monitored the replies, and got a lot of STOP requests, which we expected. John also received replies from upset customers whose phones seized up trying to cope with 599 messages coming in every 10 seconds.

It finally died down around 2am! A few people were also angry that their privacy may have been breached as their email addresses also show up on iMessage.

We used to see this in the early days of email marketing when you plop a bunch of email addresses into the TO: or CC: address bar and press SEND…not realising that everybody else can see your other clients’ email addresses…a bit of a privacy oops.

Free programs like iMessage are great, but they are not geared for bulk SMS. They are for a bunch of friends or colleagues…certainly not for 600 of your customers!

John lost a few customers but now he uses the bulk text platform to send his weekly specials. The system manages opt-outs automatically, plus he gets replies forwarded to his email address for free, so if he can’t login to view the Replies, he has a copy sent to his email, so he does not miss any customer queries or complaints.

Can my business name appear as the sender on an SMS Text Message?

Yes it can by setting up a SENDER ID, which allows 11 characters including spaces. For example you can have the SENDER ID as ACME CO, and this will show up on the recipient’s phone as FROM ACME CO instead of the system’s mobile number.

BUT, there are 2 reasons why SENDER ID is not recommended. Some telcos may block messages that have no proper “reply path” (i.e. a return mobile number) because this is what spammers do….so you cannot trace the number! So your message may never even get to your recipients. Also your recipients cannot reply to a SENDER ID. They can only reply to a number (reply path).

If you really want to use SENDER ID, you can. But if you are sending a commercial message (ad, promotion), ensure you do stay within the Spam Act by adding an Opt Out. The SMS Express ONLINE system (not the app) now has an OptOut placeholder that you can add to your message, which shows up as a URL (website link) in recipients’ messages, and they click to be automatically removed from your list.

We have a video on our YouTube channel which shows you how to do this..or just call us on 1300 668 287

Do I have to pay for replies?

To view replies in your account online, or have them forwarded to an email address or URL is FREE.

However, if you forward replies to a mobile number (e.g. your own phone) that will be charged at 1 credit per reply.

Takeaway store in US Boosts SMS Campaign Participation By 900%

Here’s a really interesting article about a US takeway restaurant doing some interesting SMS campaigns via their Point of Sale software and marketing to their customers during sporting events:

(SMS Express system has an API and can work with POS systems and websites..ask your IT tech to contact us):

How many characters can I use in a text message?

160 characters including spaces. This is a worldwide 'rule' with text messaging and has been since day 1. (Twitter is 140).

You can send more than 160 characters though, but this will equal 2 SMS’s and be charged at 2 credits. Your recipients will also receive 2 messages, but most smartphones will join them up so they should appear as 1 message on their phones.

Reports on SMS Express and what they mean

So when you open a SENT/QUEUED report, what do the various status reports mean? The main ones are:

DELIVERED – was successfully sent out.
UNDELIVERED – was not successful. Usually is a wrong number , so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on these and clean out the dead numbers (if you need assistance with this, let us know).
EXPIRED – I wish we could guarantee 100% delivery but nobody on the planet can.. Normally deliverability is pretty good, but what lets us all down is the telcos (Vodafone especially is a problem in non-metro areas), or if a customer’s phone is switched off or out of range for an extended period. These sorts of errors are reflected in your reports as EXPIRED. This means the system has tried to send and has given up.
SUBMITTED – means the message has been sent to that person’s telco and out system is waiting for confirmation (called a delivery report). If you check back in a little while, this is normally updated to DELIVERED.
Other reports – You also have access to other reports such as:

Date Range Report – this is a downloaded or emailed report that goes back over the last 2 months. It is fairly detailed and includes the network of the mobile number it was sent to (in the ZIP file this is the Line Item report). You can customise what fields you want. It may take a few minutes to generate for download so please be patient.

Number Lookup Report- this will generate a zipped spreadsheet report, and is handy to view the history of a mobile number. The report will show Group Summary and Sent Items. You could use this report if you suspect a mobile number may not be getting texts. A history of UNDELIVERED would indicate the number is disconnected and needs investigating

SMS Sending Report – this is an on screen report (or you can download Excel report)that shows you a chart and a summary of what SMSs have been sent. Like all the reports, you can select the date range.
Summary Report. This will generate a zipped Excel report and you can get a detailed report of the messages, number of replies and optouts, the cost etc.

97% of SMS messages read!

Interesting statistic on Mobitize on SMS versus Email Marketing:

On average, out of 100 marketing emails sent out, only 22% are actually read, with a response rate of less than 2%.

But with SMS messages, 97% are read within a few minutes of receiving, and with an approximate 23%+ response rate.

Occassionally clients ask us to do their bulk SMS broadcast for them, and we monitor the replies...and we can tell you that the SMS' are responded to very quickly, whereas email can sit there for days, or go into a junk filter where it may never get read!

What Does Opt In Mean?

Quite often I get asked what an “opt in” list means. Or what “spam compliant” is all about. It is a very important question because if you don’t know, and you have been sending out SMS to people you have plucked out of a newspaper or business card, then you may land in hot water and risk a fine from ACMA (communications authority)…and an annoyed public!

Spam compliant means you have consent from a person to send them marketing messages like emails and SMS. A compliant list is an ‘opt in’ list. The key is to ASK people if you can add them to your list.

Common ways to do this include, simply asking customers when they call or visit, a website form, from your shop via a card. And of course, make sure you give them a chance to opt OUT if they want. Best way is to use our OptOut button when you compose your message, or add text into your SMS like Rply STOP to optout when you create your message on SMS Express.

Most people know what that means nowadays. Please ask if you have questions about the Spam Act or visit

Welcome to the new SMS Express blogger blog!

Hi everyone,
After much deliberation we have decided to create a blog on the excellent Blogger platform. Many of these posts are imported from our facebook archive and published earlier but we wanted to keep everything in the same spot..but we will continue to publish news and tips here (and on Facebook) as they come to hand.
Talk soon! Cheers Kerryn