As a business carrying out SMS marketing activity, you must allow subscribers to opt out of your text message alerts if they wish. This is part of ensuring your campaign adheres to text marketing compliance.

Read on to learn the best options for allowing your SMS subscribers to withdraw consent. You'll also discover the main reasons people unsubscribe from SMS marketing and what you can do to lower your opt-out rate.

Text message marketing explained

Businesses and brands use text message marketing to promote their products or services to a database of consumers who have opted in to receive this type of communication. SMS marketing is heavily regulated in most countries – it's illegal for businesses to send promotional texts to people who haven't given their express written consent.

Typical text message marketing messages include special offers, discounts, coupons, flash sale notifications, review requests and automated alert messages.

Unsubscribe laws for text message marketing messages

In the U.S. alone, 11.36 billion spam texts were sent in April 2022, hence why regulation is needed! Text message marketing laws exist to protect consumers from spammy text messages and unwanted automated texts.

These laws vary by country. E.g. the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) governs the use of unsolicited phone calls and text messages in the U.S. In addition, the telecoms industry has its own set of guidance relating to the limitations of SMS marketing.

One requirement across text message marketing laws is that consumers should be given a 'reasonable' way to unsubscribe from marketing text messages at any time. They should be able to withdraw consent just as easily as they provide it. The good news for businesses is that adhering to unsubscribe laws is fairly straightforward.

How to unsubscribe from marketing SMS messages

There are a couple of ways brands can offer an unsubscribe option for consumers, within the message content itself.

The first is by including instructions to text a specific keyword if the subscriber no longer wants to receive marketing messages.

Many automated SMS services share a set of fairly universal commands or phrases that consumers can use. Common ones are STOP or UNSUBSCRIBE. Others include CANCEL, QUIT, OPT-OUT, YES (Y) and NO (N).

Another method is to include an unsubscribe link at the end of the text message, which takes the consumer to an external webpage to update their marketing preferences.

Here are some examples of how these unsubscribe options might look:

Hi Kyle, great news! Our bestselling Smart Light Switch is back in stock! See it here: [URL] Text STOP to [Shortcode] to opt out.

Hi Kyle, great news! Our bestselling Smart Light Switch is back in stock! See it here: [URL] Reply Y/N to tell us if you still want SMS marketing.

Hi Kyle, great news! Our bestselling Smart Light Switch is back in stock! Call us on [Number]. Unsubscribe here: [URL]

Once someone from your contact list unsubscribes, it's essential that they don't receive any further marketing text messages from your business, aside from an unsubscribe text message confirmation.

Otherwise, your messages would breach the abovementioned laws and could be reported as spam. Consumers can easily report spam text messages by forwarding them to the shortcode number 7726.

Related: How to Avoid SMS Spam Complaints

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Why people unsubscribe from marketing texts

Even if you’re legally sending text message marketing messages, there are times when you'll get unsubscribes. This is to be expected – in any marketing campaign, unsubscribes happen, irrespective of the channel.

The main reasons why people unsubscribe from marketing texts include:

1. They feel like they're getting too many marketing texts from your business (or too many texts in general).

2. The content you're sending isn't valuable or relevant to them.

3. They just don't want to hear from your brand anymore.

4. They only opted in for a temporary incentive, such as a text competition.

5. They don't remember opting in, in the first place.

So what's a 'normal' unsubscribe rate, and when should you worry? Well, opt-out rates vary across different sectors, but if you're seeing less than 1% of people unsubscribing per text campaign, this is pretty normal.

If you notice a sudden spike in opt-outs, it's time to investigate and get to the bottom of why people are unsubscribing.

How to avoid unsubscribes from your text message marketing

Some of the reasons mentioned above you can't do much about. If someone doesn't remember opting in or was just trying their luck to win a prize and didn't want to sign up in the first place, your hands are tied. However, there are ways to tackle unsubscribes for the other reasons mentioned.

First and foremost, evaluate your unsubscribe rate after each marketing text message campaign you send. This can help you identify when unsubscribes are becoming problematic and give you some clues as to why.

Issues with content

If you think your content isn't hitting the mark with subscribers, there are a couple of options for resolving this.

1. Send out a text survey to ask subscribers what type of content they would like to receive from you.

2. Based on the results, segment your marketing list based on your subscriber's content preferences, and ensure that future content is relevant to them.

Wrong message frequency

Once you're using SMS marketing software and you realise how easy it is to send out campaigns, you may end up unwittingly increasing the frequency of them. Check what you promised subscribers when they signed up. Are you taking liberties with their expectations? Have you sent a few more automated alert messages than planned this month?

It might be time to take your SMS marketing strategy down a notch or two. Cut your message frequency in half for a while and see if your opt-out rate drops.

Lost interest in your brand

Sometimes, customers naturally move on. But to reduce the chances of them looking elsewhere, focus on making memorable connections. A simple way to do this is to personalise your texts with the customer’s name or text them one-to-one every so often to check in. A personal birthday text message is a good option for this.

Also, consider setting up a loyalty programme to reward existing customers and show them how much you value them.

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How Messente helps with SMS unsubscribes

We've built a feature into the Messente dashboard that allows you to easily provide an unsubscribe link within your SMS marketing campaigns. If your contacts want to opt out, they simply click the link and add their phone number to your ‘unsubscribed list’, which you can download.

If you've integrated Messente into your CRM, there's an option that sends unsubscribe responses directly to your system. Learn more about campaign unsubscribes with Messente.

Not yet signed up with Messente? Test our platform (for free) to see how easy it is to send an SMS message. Create your account here.