Direct marketing – doing it responsibly

We recently received a text inviting us to be a part of a fundraising campaign. It irritated us because we had never given permission for our mobile phone number to be used in this way.

It made us wonder whether the person was aware of the responsibilities and conditions attached to direct marketing, and the likelihood that he had breached the Spam Act.

What is direct marketing?

Text marketing is direct marketing. It is also called SMS marketing. Other examples are direct mail, telemarketing, email marketing, letterbox drops and direct selling.

If you are thinking about using text/SMS marketing, you need to know a few things before you get started.


Anyone receiving your text must have either agreed to receiving your messages, or has to be an existing customer or individual who already has a relationship with you and your business.


The message has to accurately identify your business.


The message has to include a functional ‘unsubscribe’ facility to allow an opt out which you have to honour within five working days.

The next steps

Once you have sorted out legalities, it is time to think about your direct message. This is not as simple as imagined – if you are going to get a good response.

Call to action

You have 160 characters to convey your message and cover all legalities so the message must be strong and to the point.

Don't use slang and acronyms

While the copy should be concise, remember you are a business so write appropriately. Leave out emojis and acronyms.

Timing is essential

You should know when the best times of day to contact your target audience. A parent will not want to receive anything at meal times, school holidays, drop-offs and pick-ups. Commuters are best sent text messages at the end of the day.

Deadlines are vital

Remember to put a short deadline on any offer. Drive people to your website or to contact you immediately to take up the deal.

Be available

Be available to respond to any enquiries or make the bookings.