Text Spamming: Are You Guilty?

It never ceases to amaze me when an organization has the audacity to send me a text message without my permission to do so. Seriously, do these people not understand the idea of “inbound” marketing?

It all started with an innocent signup for a “free” program that was geared toward people like me who enjoy learning and applying successful internet marketing, and marketing in general for that matter, strategies that others have discovered and produced. I assume (rather stupidly), that there is no reason that I shouldn’t sign up. All it’s asking for is my email address.

I think I’m smart, and I create an email address specifically for this signup (i.e. signupsitename@michaelcarwile.com) and use it to avoid my actual email address from getting spammed. This works – and I use it for almost anything I sign up for – I have almost 400 email “addresses” that I use. Call it OCD, call it nerdy, whatever, I call it smart.

But then, some wise-ass gets the bright idea to actually look at my website (so I assume, anyway, since I am 100% positive that I did not provide my phone number anywhere) and figure out what my phone number is. That’s fine, you’re doing your research – good for you.

The problem: I don’t want to receive your invasive, stupid text message during the middle of my time with my family, and yet, you seem to think that is the perfect time to push your wares.

Sure, I can reply with ‘STOP’ and according to the current laws, you are required to not send me any more messages.

But what will happen if the law changes? As more and more people have smart phones, I fear that the mega brands, with their lobbyists, will alter the landscape for users and find a way to convince lawmakers (you know, those politicians we vote into office to serve for us) that it will be “better for the economy” to allow them to send us all messages to our phones.

It is flat out ridiculous for an organization to subscribe to the philosophy of “text blasts” or “email blasts” as the best way to get people to buy their product. If I wanted to buy your product, I would have clicked on the affiliate link of the four other people that emailed me promoting it. By the way, all four of these people seem to have conveniently gotten my email address that I used to sign up through the first site – so now, stupid marketer, that email address no longer exists – take that.

Or so I thought.

After I took the time to delete the email address, I received your annoying text message. What the…? Okay, I get it, people are increasingly going to use text messages to advertise. So, before you do, maybe you should follow some of these best practices (or at least, what I consider best practices):

  1. Get Permission. Make sure I want your messages. Ask me first. If what you have to offer via your text messages is of some kind of value to me, chances are pretty good that I might actually volunteer to receive them willingly.
  2. Get Permission. Don’t just look up my phone number, and send me a message. It will come off as stalker-ish, and that’s the best you’ll ever get.
  3. Get Permission. Let’s say someone volunteers their phone number on a signup form, maybe for a support request, or similar. Just because you have that phone number DOES NOT mean you can send them marketing messages whenever you feel like it. That is the fastest sure-fire way to lose those customers.
  4. Get Permission. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, ever, under any circumstances, no matter what some colleague or competitor does, buy a list and send messages the people on it. That’s the quickest way to not make any money, and potentially worse – a lawsuit.

Text message and mobile advertising in general is definitely a growing industry, and for good reason. We are a society that is addicted to being connected (I admit, I’m guilty of always having my phone by my side – it’s my crutch). But just because the media is available, that doesn’t always mean it makes sense to use it. And it never makes sense to annoy your prospective (or existing) customers by sending them useless messages that they don’t care about and never asked to receive in the first place. Don’t do it.