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SMS Marketing: How to Get Started

How to build an SMS Marketing List

I have heard from many clients who are eager to get started with text message marketing because they’ve heard SMS messages have a 98% open rate. Unfortunately, that statistic doesn’t tell the full truth about how SMS marketing campaigns work. 

The first step is to build an SMS marketing list. According to the Mobile Ecosystem Forum, only 25% of smartphone users want to receive marketing messages via text. The 25% of customers who will sign up right away can’t come at the expense of the other 75%. 

Building an SMS marketing list requires clear communication with customers before they will be ready to enter their phone numbers into a form. It’s about building trust through transparency and then giving your customers a reason to subscribe. 


1. Find a platform

Any SMS marketing plan starts by finding a platform to help you manage your SMS list and stay in compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

2. Check your TCPA compliance

The TCPA, which applies to marketing calls and text messages, makes it illegal to contact consumers without explicit consent. The best way to comply with TCPA is via a double opt-in process. After someone adds their number to receive SMS marketing, send a text with a code they must use to receive further communications. 

Here are some of the TCPA guidelines to be aware of: 

  • To be compliant, texts must be sent between 8 AM and 9 PM in a customer’s local time zone. 
  • You can’t send a marketing text messages to anyone on the national Do Not Call registry.
  • Every message must include your company’s name.
  • Every message must tell users how they can opt-out.
  • 13 states (AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, IN, NJ, ND, OK, RI, UT, WA, and WI) have their own laws governing text messages. Review the applicable laws to make sure that you are in compliance.

3. Be transparent about your plans for SMS

Avoid customer annoyance by clearly communicating what someone is signing up for before asking for their phone number. Tell your customers how often you’ll text and what you’ll send them.

The best way to communicate this clearly is to set up a page people can visit to learn the details of your texting program and your privacy policy. You can then send the link to customers as part of the opt-in message, so they’ll know all the terms before joining the list.

4. Build an SMS list

You’ll want to consider how to drive sign-ups through all marketing campaigns on your:

  • Website
  • Emails
  • Social media

As a rule, the easier it is to opt-in to your SMS list, the more likely people will do it. Try pop-ups or a form embedded in your email. 

You can also build your SMS list during in-person interactions. Offering consumers a chance to sign up while they’re browsing your store or at the checkout register gives them the opportunity to ask staff about your program. If you attend or host events, consider setting up a phone number collection program there.

Keyword campaigns instruct customers to text a certain word or phrase to your short code to sign up for your text message list. They’re one of the most popular ways to get sign-ups, likely because they work well across all mediums. 

5. Give your customers a reason to sign up

Your customers won’t sign up if they don’t have a good reason to do so. Make people excited to join your SMS list by offering a reward for signing up. Here are some incentives that have worked for others:

Offer a VIP club or insider program

Your most loyal customers will love a program that offers them ongoing perks. The benefits of your VIP program will depend on your brand and sales model, but it should offer perks your customers can’t get any other way. Access to pre-sales, birthday rewards, and free shipping are all great options.

Exclusive text message deals or contests

You can also create an ongoing text message deals program with offers exclusive to those on your SMS marketing list. You may also run contests for prizes that are also exclusive to those on your SMS list. 

6. For best results, combine SMS marketing with other channels 

SMS is great for certain marketing efforts, but its limits to message length (160 characters) and reach mean that it can’t do everything for you. You will not abandon email marketing for SMS marketing in most instances, but your marketing strategy should constantly evolve to communicate with your customers through the medium that is most comfortable for them.

Google My Business: Vicinity Update

A new Google Algorithm update, currently referred to as the Vicinity Update, which primarily affects Google My Business Listings, was rolled out by Google between approximately November 30th and December 8th of 2021. Google confirmed the update on December 16th.

The primary effect that this update has had on rankings is that proximity to the search has become a more important factor, making it more difficult for a business to rank for searches far away from their business location. Previously, this could be accomplished through the use of keywords within the listing and creating strong rankings in SERP (search engine results page) in locations farther away from the location of the business.

At about the same time that the Vicinity update was released, Google made design changes to the local pack, or listing of Google My Business Listings in SERP. The redesigned results will feature a list of three results on the left with a map on the right. The old design—which features three results below a map, has been in place since at least 2016.

Google’s guidelines have not changed much, the algorithm determines SERP results based on relevance, distance, and prominence. Google also suggests that in order to boost visibility, local businesses should:

  • Verify locations
  • Add photos
  • Manage and respond to reviews
  • Enter complete data

As always, Google’s intent with the update is to improve search results for local search. Unfortunately, many local businesses have suffered because of the algorithm change. To survive and thrive, local businesses will have to continue to adapt to the landscape and closely adhere to the guidelines in order to achieve sustainable search success. 

Please reach out to us directly at if you have any questions on this or any other SEO or digital marketing questions. We will always do our best to help.

How Will The iOS14.5 Update Affect Online Marketing?


Apple has confirmed that it will require customer opt-in to be tracked by IDFA or “Identification For Advertisers” with iPhone and iPad users who have the new iOS platform sometime in early Spring of 2021.

How Does This Change Things?  When you visit websites, use search engines or use mobile apps, your activities, in most cases, are tracked using IDFA by advertisers like Google and Facebook to create a profile of what ads would appeal to you.

As it stands now, there are settings in existing iOS versions that allow you to opt-out.  The new version will require you to actually opt-in, or give permission to be tracked by IDFA.  This will result in less IDFA data being sent to advertisers.

I believe that less “big brother”, or more accurately, big data and machine learning for advertisers, is a noble cause.   However, it may come with a steep price.  Google, Facebook, and other internet platforms have to make money.  Right now, the data that is provided by IDFA creates huge income streams for these advertisers.  Without these income streams, there will have to be alternative income streams.

The actual effect on online advertising of this change is to be seen, but Google is reportedly going to follow suit with Apple to “keep up with the Joneses”.   Google is instituting a new program which is purportedly 95% as efficient as the current system.   Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) is a solution that is with Google Chrome only that groups those with like interests into groups for ads.  All privacy will be preserved under this solution.

It seems that there might be a return to good old-fashioned online marketing based on searching for keywords or phrases as opposed to marketing based on interests and intent.  Will this drive the cost of google ads or Facebook boosts up?  Google Display and Facebook ads are some of the most affordable ways for our clients to promote their brands.  Will we return to an online environment where small-sized companies will not be able to afford to advertise extensively on search engines and social media platforms?  

I am confident that these platforms will figure these problems out, but the one certainty is that the digital landscape will again change in the near future.  Most advertisers should also strengthen first-person strategies like email collection, rewards programs, customer data platforms (CDPs), and automated marketing solutions like Sharpspring.

For more on this subject and other Digital Marketing and SEO questions, please go to our website at

Thanks.  Please stay safe and healthy.

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