Mobile Messaging Best Practices

6 minute read

Upland Admin

We’ve compiled the most essential mobile messaging best practices so you can easily confirm your mobile strategy is both compliant and performing at the top level. Check out what our expert Success Managers suggest – from content to SMS v MMS to testing and more!

Use the Correct/Proper Originator

  • Shared short codes are no longer allowed per carrier regulations
  • Choosing a 10DLC v Dedicated Shortcode: There are two types of numbers from which to send text messages – long codes (10DLC) or short codes. Long codes are the typical 10-digit phone numbers that people use to call or text each other, but in the mobile messaging world, there is the 10DLC that businesses and organizations use specifically for text messaging. Short codes are 5-or 6-digit numbers used by organizations only for text messaging programs. The below chart will give you a quick comparison of the pros and cons of each. You can also check out this resource for more info!


Adopt Compliant Auto Response Language

  • Provide an easy opt-out. Include opt-out instructions in every message sent (unless it is a one-time transactional message). Ex: STOP to end.
  • Offer an outlet for help. Include the HELP keyword in your opt-in flow so your subscribers can easily contact you if they need help. Ex: HELP for info.
  • Be transparent about message and data rates. Make sure you add text about message and data rates that may apply in at least the first message sent to each of your subscribers. Ex: Msg&Data Rates May Apply
  • Include a Program Identifier. Include information about what your message is about. Whether it’s a service notification, an offer, or a promotion – assure your audience knows that this content is relevant to them.
  • Include frequency of messaging. Include language such as recurring or ongoing messaging in your opt-in flow.

Note: Check out the Short Code Monitoring Handbook for more on compliance!



Both SMS and MMS have their pros and cons, which we’ve listed below. We suggest creating a mobile strategy that takes advantage of the benefits of both types!

SMS (short message service)

This is a message type that is sent in a text-only (including emojis) format and does not support any other type of media.


  • Cheaper to send
  • Great for simple, informational texts
  • Can be sent globally
  • More consistent deliverability


  • Limited to 160 characters per message
  • Only allows for text/emojis


MMS (multimedia messaging service)

This is a message type that supports both text and other multimedia like photos, videos, and gifs.



  • Only available in the US and Canada
  • More expensive to send
  • Require cellular data or internet connection to be received


Craft Effective Opt-Ins

  • Do NOT pre-check your opt-ins. You need your subscribers to explicitly opt-in, and this must be done by them taking the action to check the box for your opt-in.
  • Make sure your opt-in is clear. Include details like the types of messages subscribers will be receiving, the frequency of messages they can expect to receive, and a link to your Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
  • Include a double opt-in. After a subscriber opts in (whether this is on your website or elsewhere), send a welcome message that acts as a double opt-in where the subscriber is required to text back a keyword (like YES) to remain opted in to that list.


Make Your Content Relevant

  • Segment your audiences to target specific interests. Tailor your messages to your subscribers’ interests by using their personal data to create customer profiles that can then be targeted for different messaging campaigns.
  • Collect First Party Data. Continuously collect subscriber data, or first party data, from your audience through text responses, forms, surveys, polls, quizzes, subscriber generated content, etc. to grow segmentation opportunities and broaden your subscriber journey.
  • Personalize your messages. Your audience expects a level of personalization, like using their first name or sending them information based on their location or purchase history.
  • More isn’t always better. Get your message across and stay concise. For example, MMS supports 1600 characters, but you don’t need to utilize all of them.
  • Keep your audience engaged. Use images, videos, contests, subscriber generated photo galleries, and more to promote brand awareness.
  • Always be innovating. Don’t get stuck doing the same thing. Stay up to date with your audiences’ interests and current events.
  • Make sure every message you send stays on brand. If you’re using images, make sure the aesthetic of those images are on brand. If you’re just sending text, make sure your tone is on brand.


Hit the Right Frequency

  • Start your program with 4-5 SMS messages per month (or between 1-2 SMS messages per week). If you’re just starting your program, shoot for at least 4-5 messages per month and work your way up.
  • Don’t over-send. Keep in mind that the desirable message frequency will vary based on industry, and finding the right cadence will take some testing. In some campaigns, you may want to max out at 10-12 messages per month and refrain from sending more than one message per day, but that won’t work for every program. For example, if you’re sending information on breaking news or fundraising events, there will be a higher frequency threshold because your audience is expecting it, but you need to make sure you set expectations clearly. In general, you want to create engagement, but not over send and cause fatigue and opt-outs.
  • Send to your lists at least once a month. Keep your audience engaged. If you are sending less than once a month, your brand will not remain top of mind. Also, remember that a subscriber who hasn’t received a message from you in 6 months or longer is considered stale.
  • Set the frequency expectation in your messaging. Repeat the frequency of messages a subscriber can expect in the first text you send.


Test, Test, Test

  • Execute. Review. Iterate. Determine what KPIs matter to you and set a benchmark that you can use to determine the success rate of future campaigns. Continue to innovate and learn – you’re not expected to get it right the first or even the fifth time!
  • Experiment and learn. Try sending messages using different content, CTAs, tone, etc to see what your audience engages with the most. Compare the KPIs of these messages to previous messages sent to determine if change promoted higher engagement. Below are a few examples of different testing ideas:
    • Rich vs simple content
    • MMS vs SMS
    • Tone: Does your audience respond to a more aggressive or witty tone vs a soft or friendly tone?
    • Reply language: Try changing words to be less abrasive like instead of using reply ‘why’ you could try reply ‘agree’, ‘confirm’, or ‘consent’
    • CTA’s: Test different language in your call to action like ‘click here’ vs ‘enter now’, or ‘click here to fill out a form’ vs ‘send us your email’, and determine what pushed more of your subscribers to take action


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