Simple SMS Marketing Guide

What is SMS?

SMS stands for Short Message Service and are generally 160 character text messages sent between mobile phones. SMS uses a unique network that alerts the recipient the second the message arrives. SMS is a very fast and personal communication method on par with a phone call in perceived trust.

What is SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing is the practice of building lists of mobile numbers than sending SMS advertising messages to those lists. Lists can be built in many ways but there are compliance rules set by the ACMA on how people consent to be opted into your lists. Unsolicited commercial messages sent to a person is called spam and is illegal under the Australian Spam Act 2003. Mobile marketers usually use an online SMS system to manage the SMS sending process. These bulk SMS systems range in price and functionality. The best SMS marketing platforms have a good combination of cheap SMS and web SMS features. Make sure you only deal with a reputable SMS gateway as delivery reliability can vary a lot.

Getting permission to send SMS

The idea behind consent is that the recipient should want to receive your message and find it useful when they do. There are two types of consent.

 Express consent


  • An opt-in checkbox on a web subscribe form. This checkbox must not be checked by default, the person completing the form must willingly select the checkbox to indicate they want to hear from you.
  • If someone completes an offline form like a survey or enters a competition, you can only contact them if it was explained to them that they would be contacted by email AND they ticked a box indicating they would like to be contacted.
  • Customers who have purchased from you within the last 2 years.
  • If someone gives you their business card and you have explained to them that you will be in touch, you can contact them. If they dropped their business card in a fishbowl at a trade show, there must be a sign indicating they will be contacted by SMS.


The recipient must be clearly aware that he or she may receive commercial messages in the future. You cannot send an electronic message to seek consent: this is in itself a commercial message, because it seeks to establish a business relationship. Keep a record of consent, you may need to prove it later.

 Inferred consent


  • Through an existing business relationship. If an organisation has a strong relationship with the owner of the number such as a club member or service subscriber receiving messages may be implied.
  • Through conspicuous publication of a work-related number.


Consent may also be implied by the publishing of numbers on websites, in magazines or other publications. The recipient must be identified as relevant to your message. eg if you want to send information about a technology product the recipient must be identified as the IT manager. If there is a statement that unsolicited commercial messages are not wanted you cannot infer consent.


Leave a Comment