The fact that the Australian government chose to use SMS to communicate Covid-19 advice to its 25 million citizens is no coincidence. According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), as of 2015, there were enough mobile phones in the country for everyone to have 1.3 devices. Better still, every single one of those phones is SMS-enabled. If you’re starting to think you should be making more of SMS as a business, you’re not alone.
91% of users who opted in to receive texts from a brand see those messages as “somewhat” or “very useful”, and it’s not just direct to consumer models that are using the channel; the use of SMS marketing grew 197% as a strategy in B2B efforts from 2015 to 2017, setting a clear trend for the future.
It’s clear to see why businesses are turning more and more to texting. SMS is a valuable channel for both reach and ROI. But complexities of sending SMS as a business can often put brands off sending at all. In this guide, we’ll explain how to start sending in Australia with ease.
There are many way to get customers to opt-in for SMS marketing.
Asking for phone numbers at the point of customer sign up is a great way to build a database.
You can also use our pages and forms functionality to create on-brand data capture with ease, either on your site, or using an email campaign.
Provide incentives for customers to sign up via ‘text- to-join’ campaigns, by advertising a number online or in-person that they can text to opt in.
Whatever you choose, it’s important to ensure you have compliant consent to send to your customers so that you comply with Australian law under The Spam Act (2003), and also so that you provide a positive brand experience.
While we provide many tools to help you manage your data and make life easier, we always recommend you speak to your own legal counsel or consult with the ACMA in order to ensure compliance. A good place to start, is to check that the numbers you’ve collected for SMS marketing were collected with ‘explicit opt-in’. This just means making sure you’ve made clear you will be using SMS to contact your customer, and that you haven’t relied on assumed consent with inactivity or a pre-ticked box.
When sending marketing messages via SMS in Australia, you must also give your recipients the ability to opt out via the same channel. This means you must support replies in some capacity when sending marketing messages. Transactional messages, like order updates, do not require a way for recipients to opt out.
Key regulatory bodies
An independent Commonwealth statutory authority. They regulate communications and media services in Australia. www.acma.gov.au
Body representing Australia’s mobile telecommunications industry. AMTA members include mobile network operators and service providers, mobile phone and device manufacturers, retail outlets, network equipment suppliers and other suppliers to the industry. www.amta.org.au
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Limited www.tio.com.au
Queensland Government SMS
marketing advice Handy tips for businesses using SMS marketing www. business.qld.gov.au/running-business/marketing-sales/ marketing-promotion/direct-marketing/text-sms which the FCC is able to prosecute.
Numbers that businesses in Australia can send from
You have a couple of options to choose from when sending SMS as a business in Australia. Each has unique rules or restrictions, as well as benefits. Your options include:
Alphanumeric ‘from name’
Often displays as the name of the company. Can include letters and numbers.
Virtual mobile number (VMN)
Sometimes referred to as a long number this appears as a regular Australian mobile number but it used exclusively by your brand.
Which can I send marketing from?
Alphanumeric ‘from names’ and VMNs can both be used for marketing in Australia.
When sending from a VMN, you can simply tell recipients to reply STOP to opt out. However, alphanumeric from names do not support replies. This means that recipients can’t opt out by replying. When sending marketing messages from an alphanumeric from name, you must include a number the recipient can use to opt out. For example, you could end you campaigns with To opt out text STOP to +61XXX XXX XXX. This means that if you intend to send marketing messages, from either option, you must have a VMN.
What else can I send?
You can also send transactional messages such as order confirmations, status changes, delivery updates and much more. These messages do wonders for the customer experience and reduce stress on company call centres.
So, what’s the difference between them all?
Let’s take a closer look at both options.
Alphanumeric ‘from name’
To meet network requirements, SMS from names can be a minimum of three and a maximum of 11 mixed alphanumeric characters and numbers and cannot contain a space. SMS from names cannot be made completely of numbers.
Your company’s name will already be your default SMS from name. Ours, for instance, would be ‘Dotdigital’. However, you can have more than one from name if you wish, and any newly created from name can be set as your new default.
The main advantage of a from name is that your brand is instantly recognisable to your customers.
As we mentioned, this option does not support replies. You must also have another number within the message body which supports inbound messages in order to send marketing from an alphanumeric from name. This is not a requirement if you are just sending transactional messages such as order updates.
Virtual mobile number (VMN)
VMNs are sometimes referred to as long numbers as they consist of a 10-15 digit number, and appear as a typical Australian phone number. You can purchase a number in-app straight away.
You can easily set up text-to-join campaigns by providing the number in store and telling customers to text a trigger word to receive an automatic response. These work well when running competitions.
VMNs are a cost-effective for brands wanting with international customer bases as one number has the potential to be used across multiple countries.
VMNs support replies. This opens up many use cases and means they can be used for marketing as they give recipients the option to opt out
It is not possible to port or migrate VMNs from another supplier.
Inbound messages typically come out of the recipient’s bundle or are charged at standard network rate. If the number is not native to their country, it will be charged as their standard international rate.