Last updated on January 7, 2024

Jeanie Dunn
Content Manager, SMS @ Yotpo
June 15th, 2022

This is what you need to know before sending international messages to ensure you engage every customer, everywhere.

Table Of Contents

All eCommerce brands today need SMS to reach mobile consumers quickly and reliably — but brands that sell products or services in more than one country don’t just need SMS, they need a global SMS marketing strategy. Why?

SMS marketing laws, regulations, and even best practices vary from country to country, which can make it difficult to connect with your intended audience effectively without facing challenges. With the right resources and strategy, however, you can win over every customer and successfully grow your business across borders.

If your eCommerce brand is sending international SMS messages, or you are planning to start, follow these tips to reach your widest audience yet and drive more revenue with every text.

Maintain SMS Compliance Wherever You Go

Non-compliant SMS behavior can result in hefty fines that impact your revenue stream, while also discouraging subscribers from engaging with you on mobile and increasing opt-out rates. To avoid this, it’s critical that you consider legal requirements in every country you intend to use SMS and maintain compliance with all applicable laws. Pay special attention to the following:

  • United States: Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA)
  • European Union: General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • Canada: Canada Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)
  • Australia: Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)

Your chosen SMS provider should be familiar with these regulatory bodies and can help provide guidance, including how to properly collect consumer consent, so you can grow a healthy subscriber list and deliver the best possible mobile experience to those subscribers.

Consider Consumer Attitudes Towards SMS

SMS marketing is already widely used and popular in the United States, but it’s just taking off in areas like the United Kingdom and Australia. Consumers in countries where SMS is still new might need more convincing to subscribe. What can you do to convince them to opt in? Set clear expectations on how you will engage them with SMS, then incentivize them with exciting offers like exclusive first-access to new collections or a percentage off their next purchase. Use a variety of collection tools to best capture their attention and increase collection rates.

Once you turn those consumers into subscribers, define your messaging strategy based on subscriber location and sentiment. Are they more or less likely to view your text marketing as intrusive? If more, start small: Try sending fewer messages at the start until you get an understanding of what content they prefer to engage with, when, and how often, and slowly increase based on your performance metrics.

Segment Customers to Create Individualized Experiences

Make your international customers feel like people — not just numbers on a list. Segmentation allows you to create specific groups to target with ultra-personalized, relevant text messages that never feel like spam. It’s also a great tool for customer discovery, helping you to learn more about each unique shopper so you can build the best experience for them.

Create segments based on customer location, such as city, country, or time zone based on your customer data. That way, when you send a text message about an exciting event at your brick-and-mortar location, for example, you’re only reaching out to customers who can attend. Or, maybe you want to promote free shipping on purchases made in Australia, but not in other regions — segmentation makes that easy.

You can narrow segmentation further based on your customers’ behaviors too. Send targeted promotions to past purchasers, those who subscribed to SMS within the last 90 days, or customers who spent over a certain amount at your store. There are endless ways to use it to create individualized experiences for maximum payoff.

Plan SMS Marketing Campaigns Around Local Events

Timely text messages are highly effective, but they can be even more engaging when tied to a local holiday or event — beyond the general ones we all share. While the Fourth of July might resonate with your American audience, for example, it won’t have the same impact in France. Similarly, Australia’s End of Financial Year (EOFY) sales are not going to mean anything to your customers in the UK. Plan creative, high-converting campaigns wherever you send international SMS messages to build customer connections, increase the relevancy of your promotions, and increase the ROI of every text. An SMS Campaign Planner can help you keep track of all the possibilities and find the right words to drive clicks.

Localize Your Message Content Too

Like holidays and events, language (including slang) may also vary across your target markets. You may want to consider, are there certain words, phrases, or spellings that you could change to make your communications more relatable to your audience, while still maintaining your brand voice? Adding a small “merci!” (or any common word in the local language), switching your copy from American English to British English, and adjusting the currency when referencing promotions, can all help to increase the sense of personalization and improve the results of your campaigns.

It’s also important to recognize that some SMS marketing functionalities, like MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service), are limited to certain countries. To engage subscribers in locations where MMS is not supported, you can link out to your website, landing page, or social channel to showcase visuals that you can’t include in your text. Alternatively, leverage the combined power of SMS and email, using your email marketing to display a wider variety of stylized, on-brand content, and SMS to share a more direct call to action.

Don’t Guess What Consumers Want — Ask Them

More than half of shoppers in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia want the ability to customize the types of messages they receive from brands. To give your customers exactly what they are looking for, especially if you are entering a new market, just ask them. Leverage real-time SMS chat, automated conversational flows, or even your social channels to ask your customers directly how they want to hear from you via SMS. If it means improved, personalized service for them, they’ll be happy to share.

Manage Send Times in Multiple Time Zones

Once you know what types of messages you want to send, who you want to send them to, and where, make sure you are sending them at the right time. If you are delivering SMS marketing campaigns across time zones — to both American and Australian customers, for example — you run the risk of engaging one group of customers while disturbing another. That’s why it’s essential that you choose an SMS marketing platform that offers advanced features for international SMS messaging, like quiet hours and time zone sending, to guarantee that your texts reach your target customers at the prime opportunity for them to convert.

Which brings us to our most important tip for global brands…

Partner With a Global SMS Provider

For your international SMS strategy to be successful, you need a partner that specializes in global SMS — one that prioritizes compliance and deliverability at every step.

Yotpo SMS & Email provides thousands of leading eCommerce brands across the globe with the tools they need to engage customers effectively. As a certified CTIA partner, as well as being TCPA, GDPR, CASL, and ACMA vetted, we make it possible for you to connect with your customers and scale your SMS program with complete confidence. Not only that, our commitment to compliance is built right into our product, from sign-up units with explicit legal language already outlined to smart unsubscribe safeguards, spam prevention, quiet hours, time zone send, and more.

Having 19 brands across several geographies requires a lot of organization. Having a dedicated resource with SMS experience that can bring in best practices and creative ideas has really been impactful. — Daniel Lawman, Chief Digital Officer, Wolfson Brands

Yotpo SMS & Email currently supports text message sending anywhere, and we know how to maximize the results of your international SMS marketing program. We’ll guide you through phone number setup, verification, and onboarding based on your unique needs and location, and our established relationships with the world’s top carriers will give you access to direct, high-quality routes all over the globe. Our compliance-first approach, combined with the fastest possible throughputs, will ensure your SMS marketing messages are always consented to and high-converting to fuel your growth.

Request a demo of Yotpo SMS & Email to learn how we can support and guide your global SMS strategy.