6 Dos and Donts of Text Messaging Promotions

If you’ve participated in a really fun and exciting text messaging promotion, the entire process should have seemed easy.  But that’s only because the team that put together that promotion put in the hours necessary to allow you to just enjoy the moment.  There are quite a few moving parts to deliver that magical moment.  Let’s talk about ‘em.


Let’s start with the good news!


1. Do begin with the end in mind

What is it that you are trying to accomplish with this promotion?  Create a positive brand experience with your customers?  Put a new product into the hands of a lot of people?  Sell something?  Whatever your end goal is, that should drive all the thinking and planning behind the promotion.

2. Do get permission

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times, don’t fall afoul of TCPA. Know when you need to get the double opt-in OR when it is in your favor to rock the single opt-in. Each has its own pros and cons… Single opt-in allows for low barriers to entry, quick responses from fans, and a clear focus on the promotion. Double opt-in allows for additional communication outside of the promotion BUT, depending how the opt-in is presented, may decrease participation.  If you are looking at the long game, get double opt-in whenever possible.

3. Do have a strong and clear Call to Action (CTA)

What is it that you want your customers to do? Make sure that it’s obvious and straightforward. It is not just about making the promotion easy to enter… it’s about making the entire experience easy, enjoyable, and crystal clear. 

4. Do make the customer feel special

People LOVE to win things, or even to be given the chance to win and participate in something fun.  Don’t miss the chance to offer multiple ways they can “win” even when they don’t.

5. Do focus on engagement

What matters is what percentage of the crowd is engaging with you and at what speed.  That can allow you to iterate and do better each time. Engagement starts with the presentation of the promotion…Don’t mess it up! 

6. Do use coupon and promo codes

As we noted above about making someone feel special, you want to give people a chance to continue to engage with you.  And we don’t mean something silly like “5% off.”  Go big or go home.


1. Don’t be slow

Whether we like it or not, the Internet has changed the way our society interacts and we expect speed in almost everything we do.  We’ve previously discussed the statistics that prove that speed matters: be fast.

2. Don’t use complicated words 

It doesn’t matter that you are promoting Budweiser.  Don’t make your customer spell out a German name.  “Bud” or “Buds” will do.  Also, don’t use text-speak like “lol” or “btw”: this isn’t show-friends, this is show-business.

3. Don’t always be about sales

The customer understands implicitly that they are hopping on a promotion vehicle, but don’t get in their face about it, certainly not in the early exchanges.  That’s the quickest way to get them to type in STOP to your short code.

4. Don’t use a shared short code

Speaking of short codes, don’t use shared short codes.  We know it saves a lot of money, but there’s a reason it does: it’s less effective.  Remember party telephone lines?  Do you know anyone who says they wish those were still around?  Well shared short codes are the new party lines: don’t get on a trend that’s already on its way out.

5. Don’t get excited about vanity metrics

As we noted above, we are interested in engagement.  It doesn’t matter if you have 10,000 subscribers to a promotion if only 1% are engaging.

6. Don’t send messages after hours

(Assuming you got your double opt-in) We all need to go to bed sometimes and your customers need to as well.  Respect those invisible boundaries that all of us are putting on our digital lives.



We’ve got even more Dos and Donts that we share with our clients who hire us to run their text messaging promotions.  Want to learn more?  Tell us about your project!