If you’re just starting to use text marketing and aren’t sure you know all the rules, this article will explain the legalities. If you follow our step-by-step guide, you’ll have no trouble staying in SMS compliance.
Digital communication like emails and text messages are regulated by governmental agencies, mobile phone carriers, industry regulators, and messaging services like EZ Texting. The regulators that oversee the laws are federal and industry entities like the FTC, FCC, CAN-SPAM Act, TCPA Act, MMA, and CTIA:
The Federal Trade Commission oversees complaints regarding business deception, theft and violence via the media and is responsible for enforcing the laws.
The Federal Communications Commission governs all U.S. media communications as well as the parental guides applying to businesses.
CAN-SPAM stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing. This law was passed for the purpose of establishing guidelines for people and entities sending commercial messages.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act is designed to regulate pre-recorded robocalls, telemarketers, auto-dialled calls, unsolicited faxes, and text messages.
The nonprofit Mobile Marketing Association is comprised of various mobile marketing services, like EZ Texting.
The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association is comprised of the heads of telecommunications companies, who are allowed to voice their opinions on any legislation being passed.
Disclaimer: This article is not written by an attorney, but by a leading text marketing software company. The information provided is based on our experience in the industry. We recommend that you consult with a licensed attorney for a clearer understanding of the guidelines and laws enacted by the entities above.
Failing to abide by the law can result in legal action and serious fines, or even being jailed for a period of time. Play it safe by following the steps below and comply with the law.
Text Message Marketing
1. Comply with Opt-In Requirements
Never text anyone that you do not have either written or recorded verbal permission from to do so. The FCC does not play games with this. Written consent can be in the form of a box checked on a piece of paper they manually complete in pen, or by digital means. Digital means can be by either using specific Keywords or a form provided on your website.
If you choose to invite people to opt-in on a website form, you CANNOT have the opt-in checkbox for your messages already checked. The user has to click the checkbox themselves when agreeing to opt in to your list to receive messages.
Make this clear in your instructions and give them a copy that explains exactly what type of offers or information you will send them when they opt-in and sign up. Each time you import or upload contacts manually to your list, you must ensure that you have received their consent through one of the methods discussed above.
The SMS messaging software that we’ve developed makes it easy for you to abide by these consent requirements by enabling opt-in sign-ups through a predetermined Keyword. You will determine what the Keyword is and your users can opt-in to receive text messages from you by texting that particular Keyword to your shortcode.
2. Recurring SMS Programs Must be Clarified
• Your website footer
• All opt-in or sign-up pages
• Product pages
• Physical locations
• In all ads, including flyers, brochures, billboards and others
3. Send Confirmation Messages
Confirmation messages are used to remind everyone that they opted in to receive your messages and to repeat what you will be sending them now that they’ve subscribed. These messages should reiterate the name of your company, what you will be sending them for opt-ting in, how often you’ll be sending them a message, how to opt-out and get help, and you must add that “message and data rates may apply.”
BE CLEAR. Your subscribers will not be happy if they don’t have a clear understanding of to expect by subscribing to receive messages from you. Unhappy subscribers will simply opt-out and they might even file a complaint. No one wants that.
4. Comply with Opt-Out Requests
With every text message, you must provide instructions on how to opt-out of future messages. If you fail to do this your subscribers could become frustrated and file complaints. When someone opts-out, you are given 10 days to ensure they are deleted from your list and are not sent any further messages.
SMS Marketing is Essential
Incorporating text messaging into your overall marketing strategy will help you more personally engage with your clients. You can expect to get a higher response rate than you would from emails, plus your clients will appreciate the convenience.
It is a well-known fact that the response rate from text messages is 45% as opposed to 6% for emails. Texting has now become the preferred means of communication between businesses and their clients and/or customers.
Are you ready to fully incorporate SMS messaging into your overall marketing strategy?