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SMS marketing in the UK: Benefits, compliance, and best practices

Reading Time: 6 minutes

It is a common misconception that SMS marketing in the UK is ineffective. Many marketers are concerned that UK SMS marketing won’t provide a strong return on investment.

In reality, SMS marketing remains one of the UK’s most efficient and cost-effective marketing channels.

A survey by Attentive shows that 90% of UK residents are open to receiving SMS from brands. Yet, only 34% subscribe to SMS services.

The takeaway: UK ecommerce businesses aren’t utilizing the full potential of SMS marketing despite the significant consumer demand.

In this post, we answer important questions about SMS marketing in the UK. We also explore how Omnisend can help you unlock the full potential of SMS marketing.

Keep reading to learn:

  • If SMS marketing works in the UK
  • The cost of running an SMS marketing campaign
  • The benefits you stand to gain from using SMS marketing in the UK
  • The regulatory requirements for running SMS marketing in the UK
  • And more…
Omnisend merchants can send SMS to all countries, and doubled their orders from SMS last year.

Does SMS marketing work in the UK?

SMS marketing is a proven and effective way to reach and engage customers or prospects in the UK or elsewhere.

This is because of the following:

  • People already love to text. Do you know anyone who doesn’t text? One reason it’s such an effective marketing channel is people are already using this channel heavily.
  • SMS marketing has a 45% response rate. If you really need a response from your audience, you should be using SMS. The immediacy of the platform lends itself to action.
  • SMS marketing has a 33% conversion rate. Omnisend findings show that almost a third of the people who receive your text messages will buy or sign up for your offer.

The data is clear: SMS marketing is a highly effective way to reach and engage with your UK audience.

Learn key stats and tips

SMS is easier to use and more cost-effective than ever. Discover the real impact behind SMS marketing and why you should incorporate this valuable channel.

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Is SMS marketing in the UK expensive?

Contrary to popular belief, SMS marketing is cost-effective even for small and medium-sized ecommerce businesses.

Omnisend offers budget-friendly and efficient UK SMS marketing. It provides competitive features at a low price, translating to a high ROI for brands.

Omnisend also offers a very flexible and transparent pricing plan for SMS marketing in the UK, with three pricing plans:

1. Free: Omnisend’s free plan gives you access to all its notable ecommerce-focused features. The free plan allows you to send up to 60 SMS at no cost, and you can purchase additional credits if you want to send more.

2. Standard: This plan also offers up to 60 SMS, with the option to purchase credits.

3. Pro: The Pro plan includes free SMS credits to the same value of your plan’s monthly cost. So if you spend $59 on the Pro plan, you’ll receive $59 in free SMS credits—which would pay for up to 3,933 text messages.

To estimate the costs of an SMS marketing campaign, take a look at Omnisend’s free SMS calculator.

Omnisend's SMS calculator
Image via Omnisend

And if you’re still on the fence, consider this: Omnisend research found that SMS marketing campaigns recorded an average ROI of 2,700%.

Benefits of SMS marketing for UK businesses

SMS marketing holds myriad benefits for UK businesses, including:

  • Instant and direct communication: SMS messages are delivered and read within minutes. You can communicate with your UK customers in real-time. And because of the direct nature of this channel, you can tailor your SMS messages to your audience’s preferences and needs.
  • High customer satisfaction: Text marketing in the UK can help you improve your customer relationship and loyalty. It also enables you to send useful information, timely reminders, exclusive offers, and personalized rewards.
  • Increased website traffic and sales: Text marketing in the UK can help you drive more traffic to your website and boost sales.
  • Enhanced omnichannel strategy: You can use SMS marketing to integrate with other online or offline marketing channels. This fosters a consistent and cohesive experience for your customers.

Are there any SMS regulations in the UK?

SMS marketing is subject to several rules and regulations in the UK. These prevent spam and abuse, and protect your customers’ privacy and rights.

The regulatory body primarily responsible for overseeing SMS marketing in the UK is the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

This organization enforces the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). The PECR dictates the rules and requirements for sending electronic communications, such as SMS messages, in the UK.

Here are some marketing SMS compliance requirements:

1. Obtain consent: Never include a UK customer in your SMS marketing campaign without first seeking and obtaining express consent. Your customers must voluntarily use their mobile number to opt-in to your SMS marketing list.

2. Provide an opt-out option: You must provide an opt-out option in every marketing SMS. They could reply with action words such as ‘STOP’ or ‘UNSUBSCRIBE’ or by clicking on a link.

An SMS opt-out option in Omnisend
Image via Omnisend

3. Identify yourself: Failing to identify yourself when sending an SMS in the UK is a red flag. Omitting little details like the company name or website can get you blocked by the customer or network provider.

4. Operate within approved hours: Sending marketing SMS late at night or in the wee hours of the morning is unacceptable. Keep it civil and only send SMS to your UK customers between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Are there penalties for breaching SMS regulations in the UK?

There are steep consequences for breaching UK SMS marketing regulatory laws.

The ICO has the power to impose fines and sanctions on businesses that breach the PECR, up to £500,000. In June 2023, it fined two energy companies £250,000. Since 2022, the ICO has issued £2.4 million in total fines through its enforcement of PECR.

Sending unlawful marketing text messages could result in a civil action from one or multiple individuals.

That’s why you should use reputable marketing platforms like Omnisend to comply with UK SMS marketing regulations. Elevate your SMS campaigns with confidence and precision using Omnisend’s advanced features.

Best SMS marketing practices for UK businesses

Here are some of the best practices for SMS marketing in the UK:

1. Segment your audience: Not all UK customers are the same; their preferences and needs differ. Therefore, it’s crucial to segment your audience based on different criteria such as location, demography, behavior, purchase history, and interests.

2. Timing, timing, timing: Timing your SMS marketing messages cannot be overemphasized. An Attentive study shows that 1 p.m.–5 p.m. is the peak time to send marketing SMS in the UK. This maximizes your revenue per send and has the highest click-through rate. With Omnisend’s automated SMS, you can send your UK customers the perfect message at the right time.

3. Keep it short and sweet: SMS messages have a limited character allowance, so make every word count. Spice up your SMS using:

  • Catchy and compelling language
  • A clear and strong CTA, such as ‘Shop now,’ ‘Claim your offer,’ or ‘Reply Yes.’

Here’s an example of a well-composed marketing SMS by Omnisend:

Marketing SMS example by Omnisend
Image via Omnisend

4. Test and optimize: SMS marketing is an ongoing process so you need to test and optimize your SMS campaigns regularly.

Use Omnisend’s analytics and reporting tools to track and analyze your SMS marketing metrics. You can also use Omnisend’s A/B testing feature to test different versions of your messages and identify what works best.

To fully leverage this channel for your business, watch our tutorial on how to do SMS marketing for ecom.

Wrap up

SMS marketing is a powerful and effective marketing tool for UK businesses, helping you engage with your audience and reach your marketing goals.

It’s crucial that you follow the rules and regulations governing SMS marketing in the UK. However, you don’t have to do it all on your own. Use Omnisend to help you create killer SMS campaigns in the UK and optimize your marketing operation.

Use the power of SMS marketing to your business and accelerate growth in 2024.
Richard White
Article by
Richard White

Richard is a Content Marketing Manager at Omnisend. An avid writer, he's said to have been born holding a pencil. Fascinated by all things handmade, if he's not reading or writing he can often be found practicing leathercraft.