Marketers become more effective when they understand the path that customers take as they progress from interested website visitors to paying customers. If marketers do not take care to analyze each stage of this customer journey, there will be a significant number of leads that fall out of the funnel, never to return. The best way to take advantage of all leads that are initially engaged is to optimize your conversion funnel.
Over the past few years SMS marketing has become a legitimate advertising channel in some parts of the world. This is because unlike email over the public internet, the carriers who police their own networks have set guidelines and best practices for the mobile media industry (including mobile advertising). The IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) and the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), as well, have established guidelines and are evangelizing the use of the mobile channel for marketers. While this has been fruitful in developed regions such as North America, Western Europe and some other countries, mobile SPAM messages (SMS sent to mobile subscribers without a legitimate and explicit opt-in by the subscriber) remain an issue in many other parts of the world, partly due to the carriers selling their member databases to third parties. In India, however, government's efforts of creating National Do Not Call Registry have helped cellphone users to stop SMS advertisements by sending a simple SMS or calling 1909.
Kaplan categorizes mobile marketing along the degree of consumer knowledge and the trigger of communication into four groups: strangers, groupies, victims, and patrons. Consumer knowledge can be high or low and according to its degree organizations can customize their messages to each individual user, similar to the idea of one-to-one marketing. Regarding the trigger of communication, Kaplan differentiates between push communication, initiated by the organization, and pull communication, initiated by the consumer. Within the first group (low knowledge/push), organizations broadcast a general message to a large number of mobile users. Given that the organization cannot know which customers have ultimately been reached by the message, this group is referred to as "strangers". Within the second group (low knowledge/pull), customers opt to receive information but do not identify themselves when doing so. The organizations therefore does not know which specific clients it is dealing with exactly, which is why this cohort is called "groupies". In the third group (high knowledge/push) referred to as "victims", organizations know their customers and can send them messages and information without first asking permission. The last group (high knowledge/pull), the "patrons" covers situations where customers actively give permission to be contacted and provide personal information about themselves, which allows for one-to-one communication without running the risk of annoying them.
Since spam laws differ from country to country, SMS service providers are usually location specific. This is a list of the most popular and reputable SMS companies in each continent, with some information about the number of phones in use. It is important to note that message pricing, message delivery, and service offerings will also differ substantially from country to country.
Unfortunately, this is a loaded question because one portion of the question is 100% legal and then one portion of the question is 100% illegal. So, let me explain. You can purchase mobile phone numbers. There is many data brokers that are out there that will sell you mobile phone numbers. On the other hand, you cannot text message those phone numbers because it is illegal. So, while you can, yes, buy mobile numbers, you cannot text message those phone numbers. Now why can’t you text message those phone numbers and why is it illegal? Well, here in the United States, we have the FCC. And FCC developed federal law called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. It’s pretty long but some people call it the TCPA. And essentially, it says you cannot text message consumers without their consent. And it has to be prior consent. It can’t be consent after the fact because that’s really not consent, I think. So, in the TCPA, it’s very clear that you cannot text message customers without their consent. Now, if you do text message customers without their consent, so let’s say you purchased a list of mobile phone numbers, and you text message those phone numbers, that would be text messaging people without their consent. Now, if you do that, under the TCPA, which is federal law, consumers have the right to sue your business for anywhere between $500 and $1,500 per text message. Now that’s not text message you sent out. So if you send 1 text message to a million people, you’re not gonna be sued $500 to $1,500, you’re gonna be sued for a million times $500 or $1,500. So you can see that buying phone numbers, while that is usually cheap, the consequences of buying mobile phone numbers and then text messaging those phone numbers can be in the millions or hundreds of millions of dollars. So you do not want to buy mobile phone numbers and text message them because while it is legal to buy the phone numbers, it is 100% illegal to text message those phone numbers that you purchased that never gave your business consent to send text messages to them. So hopefully that answers the question as to, “Can you buy mobile phone numbers for text message marketing?”
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Once you've collected your mobile numbers, verified that you have followed all of your legal responsibilities you can start your SMS marketing campaign. I'd suggest using a 3rd party service provider to ensure that you are able to track the return on investment for your campaign, embed an unsubscribe message, and easily manage your SMS marketing database including unsubscribes.