Text message marketing is an effective strategy for businesses looking to engage new and existing customers, primarily because SMS technology is so prevalent today.

The most recent data from the International Telecommunications Union, an agency of the United Nations, reported that there were 6 billion mobile phone subscribers worldwide at the end of 2011. That’s nearly as many active cell phone accounts as there are people on the planet, and a significant percentage of those individuals have cell phones that can send SMS messages.

It’s clear to see the substantial market share available to businesses that embark on a text message marketing campaign, but to run a successful initiative, executives need to follow a few cardinal rules.

To start, best practises dictate text messaging in short-code should be brief – 136 characters or less assures your message will be within a single text across all carriers.

In this case, brevity might actually benefit marketers. A recent blog post from Twitter noted that a large contributor to the success of the microblogging website is the fact that it was essentially “born” for mobile. Customers enjoy the ability to send and receive short tweets wherever they are. 

Corporate marketers should keep the success of Twitter in mind when designing their own mobile marketing campaigns. They can make the most out of those few characters by offering mobile coupons or promotions to appeal to their audiences. By providing quality content on this medium, businesses are less likely to wear out their customers with unwanted advertising. 

CIO.com also suggests a few disclosure practices to help recipients manage their SMS messages. Companies should offer customers easy ways to opt out of corporate communications or receive additional help, while also providing clarity on how often the business plans to contact them with texts. These steps give control back to the consumer and build confidence in SMS message campaigns.