Tending the Garden: Consent and SMS
Point of View
October 12, 2022

Tending the Garden: Consent and SMS

SMS is one of the most impactful tools in the marketer's toolkit. Learn how to do it right.

Whether it is flowers, herbs or vegetables, a garden fosters comfort. Sinking our hands in the soil is serene and meditative. If done properly, it yields a bounty that is useful, which gives us a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

But, just as with anything worth doing, a garden is a responsibility. It needs tending in the proper way to ensure it thrives. If done with care, it seems effortless.

The same could be said of SMS consent within Salesforce. It requires attention to detail, maintenance and knowhow. But if done properly — if tended and nurtured in the right way — it satisfies customers in ways that leave them with the calm of well-tended green space.

Tilling the Soil

SMS is an important channel for marketers. It is an important method from the standpoint of conversion and visibility. While it is ubiquitous in many industries, it is important for almost any business.

The main reason SMS is so powerful is that recipients are more likely to look at text messages. Email can easily get clogged with junk, so customers and prospects get used to ignoring it. The average American sees dozens of emails inundate their inbox every day. Because SMS is more heavily regulated, customers have more confidence that an SMS is relevant to them.

To reach a wide array of audiences, SMS is just one tool, but it is a powerful one. Ticking off every aspect of communication enables marketers to take a 360-degree view of the customers, connecting with them in their preferred way. In a nutshell, this tact is about ensuring customer satisfaction, which, in turn, usually converts to dollars for the business.  

Planting the Seeds

SMS messages fall into two broad categories: commercial and transactional. Transactional SMS are straightforward and obligatory after someone makes a purchase. Messages regarding an order status — a receipt, whether it shipped or was delivered — are the most common. Commercial SMSs are the bread and butter of marketers, allowing them to send promotions or blogs to entice customers to make purchases.

Commercial SMSs help you grow your business in a subtle way while transactional SMSs are more of a necessity.. For instance, let’s say you are scheduled to attend a seminar aimed at teaching you to sail small boats. A transactional email would confirm your purchase and inform you of when and where the seminar is to be held. Meanwhile, a promotional SMS might be a link to a blog that illuminates the best sailing spots in your area.

The tenor of a promotional campaign would be tailored to the customer in question, in this case that they are an inexperienced sailor. The campaign would nurture them, giving them essential guides — which products to buy, for instance — unique to someone in their (boating) shoes. The campaign would differ if they were someone who used to sail and is getting back into it.

“The main reason SMS is so powerful is that recipients are more likely to look at text messages. Email can easily get clogged with junk, so customers and prospects get used to ignoring it.” @Accelerize360

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Clearing the Weeds

With Salesforce Marketing Cloud, businesses can send shortcode SMSs in bulk to specific customers who meet designated criteria. Maybe those customers are ones who made a purchase more than $500 or maybe they are 35 or older or maybe they live in the midwest. Maybe all three.

However, being able to have the short code for an SMS requires approval from carriers. In order for carriers to grant a business such a short code, they need to have confidence that the business will be using the short code responsibly. This means the business in question needs to apply for the short code.

Each carrier has its own guidelines on how to collect phone numbers and how to get consent. They are on the line for any fraudulent messages sent on their network. Just as with any technology that reaches a large audience, SMS is abused by scammers. So, these guidelines are in place to protect consumers, and they change frequently, getting more stringent all the time.

This means anyone looking to avail themselves to the network to sell to customers needs to play by carrier’s rules, which are very stringent to indemnify them from being sued.

Water and Fertilize

All this is a way of saying that consent is paramount. The CTIA — a trade industry made up of the major carriers — publishes a manual for companies that lays out the protocol for capturing consent from consumers. Some industries do not even have the right to send short codes, e.g., marijuana, alcohol, payday loans or gambling.

For everything else, Salesforce helps clients manage their preferences to automate customer consent. Companies typically have a preference center. Salesforce has a product called Cloud Pages, which allows businesses to have a custom preference center.

For instance, let’s say you are a customer of a retail T-shirt company. You are subscribed to notifications — app, email and SMS, but lately you are noticing you are getting a LOT of commercial SMSs. This angers you, so you go to unsubscribe. Then, in the preference center, you see an option to receive fewer SMSs, say, two a month.

This is valuable to the customer and to the business. Using Salesforce, a business is able to give more flexibility and agency to consumers. Instead of unsubscribing entirely, they are able to simply dial back the frequency of the messages. Salesforce automatically sets these preferences to reach a balance that works for the customer. These preferences can be set across all channels, not just SMS.


With Salesforce Marketing Cloud, not only is your customer relationship management (CRM) integrated in near real-time, it allows you to set up automations with if/then conditions. They allow you to choose which SMS gets sent to whom. Those specifications are set by the customers, so businesses can rest assured that they meet with consumer approval, giving them lots of autonomy and power.

Knowing all the legal requirements surrounding consent — most of which are set by The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act of 2003 — can be tricky. Luckily, an experienced partner can help you navigate all the ins and outs of the law. A good partner can also help navigate the requirements set by carriers to ensure you are likely to get the approval you need sooner rather than later. Further, they can build a cohesive customer preference center, set up SMS campaign journeys and put in place best practice campaigns.

Fundamentally, all these things are done with the goal of retaining customers. An easy-to-understand layout, having multiple options while also making it simple and reducing lag between a customer setting their preferences and seeing that reflected all help. With these tactics in place, an experienced partner can guide businesses on best practices to ensure approval from carriers is a slam dunk and allow businesses to have a garden that will flourish.

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