Topics with the term compliance in it are typically dreaded. Unfortunately, they’re the kind of topics that if ignored can leave you in bad waters. SMS compliance is no different. If your business is looking to launch SMS marketing for your own company or clients — you must ensure you’ve got the appropriate SMS opt-in to comply with legal standards. But before we dive into that, let’s understand why SMS compliance is critical nowadays.
Importance of SMS Compliance
If you aren’t familiar with SMS marketing, it’s simply sending text messages to customers as part of a marketing strategy. But you probably already knew that.
SMS communication for business purposes is not new. Today, SMS is the fastest-growing marketing channel in the world, as it’s the preferred mode of communication among consumers. So if you’re not using it to reach your customers, you’re missing out on one of the most practical marketing strategies available.
There are three basic types of text messages businesses send to consumers:
- Promotional: The business sends one-way messages to customers to promote their product or service.
- Transactional or informational: The business and customer engage in two-way SMS regarding the customers purchase or account activity.
- Conversational: Customers and businesses engage in two-way SMS for customer support questions (i.e. customers reach out to the business first).
Because SMS marketing is such a successful strategy, the industry’s forecasted to reach 12.6 billion in value by 2025, and it’s expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 20.3% till then.
With the growth of an industry — take AI for example — comes new laws and regulations. SMS marketing is no exception. SMS compliance standards have become more strict over the years to protect consumers from unwanted solicitations from businesses.
Specifically, businesses must comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). This act was originally enacted in 1991 to protect consumers from telemarketers, but it has since evolved to include text messages. Each type of text message requires varying levels of regulation.
TCPA SMS compliance requirements for promotional messages:
- Under the TCPA, companies may not send messages to consumers without their consent.
- There are strict rules and regulations outlined in the TCPA around consent — it requires written explicit consent from consumers to contact them. In other words, you must have a double opt-in process to verify people want to receive texts from your business.
- You must provide an easy way for customers to opt-out at any time.
- The TCPA specifies that you may not send or schedule texts to arrive before 8 am and after 9 pm in your contacts’ time zone.
- There is also specific regulation around what content you can share. You must provide clear and truthful information and avoid prohibited content (such as marijuana and gambling promotions) in messages.
- Last, you must identify yourself and include your company’s name in every message so customers know who the message is from.
In general, businesses cannot contact customers or prospects with promotional messages if they haven’t voluntarily provided their contact information and provided double SMS opt-in to receive texts (more on this later). It’s a sure way to irritate customers and get into trouble. But the real kicker — without proper SMS opt-in, you could face anywhere from a $500 to $1,500 fine per violation — that means per text message sent!
So SMS compliance is critical if you don’t want nasty fines. Luckily, we’re here to help.
How to Get Compliant: SMS Compliance Checklist
We want to make it easy for you to get SMS opt-in from your customers. While there is more to SMS compliance than outlined above — reading every single rule or regulation that applies isn’t worth your time. So we’ve done it for you and outlined the steps and a checklist you can follow to get an SMS opt-in that’s legally sound (but please note, this information does not constitute legal advice when it comes to SMS compliance).
- Have all of your contacts willingly provided their contact information?
- When providing their contact information, did they consent to be contacted by SMS?
2. Get a double opt-in agreement (explicit written consent): The first text message you must send them should be an automated text asking for additional consent (see below). Customers responding with “Y” or “Yes” are truly opted into your SMS program. Anyone responding “N” or “No” have NOT opted in to receive SMS from you and should not be contacted unless they reinitiate and then provide double opt-in consent.
- Upon receiving consent, did you send an initial text message asking for explicitly written consent through additional opt-in?
- Are only those who provided double opt-in being sent messages?
3. Always provide customers a way to unsubscribe: Just like email — but significantly more important — you must have a way for customers to opt out of receiving communications. For example, in your follow-up text after they’ve opted in you can explain how they can “Reply STOP to unsubscribe.” at any time to stop receiving messages.
- Did you provide a way for contacts to opt out of receiving messages at any given time?
- Have you scheduled texts to send at an appropriate time frame?
- Does your text message include your company name?
Deal with SMS Compliance and Easily Get SMS Opt-In with GatherUp
One reason SMS marketing is so effective is that it’s highly regulated. In addition to fines, phone carriers can flag your account if your opt-in rate isn’t high enough or you don’t properly go about getting SMS opt-in. So the best approach is to target happy customers. Customers only opt into receiving messages from a brand they love and trust. In other words, happy customers are more likely to sign up to receive SMS messages from you.
This is where GatherUp comes into play.
We can easily help you follow SMS compliance guidelines and get SMS opt-in from your contact lists because we know which customers love you or are more inclined to want to hear from you. Only targeting these customers increases your chances of getting a double opt-in and growing your subscriber base.
Through our platform, you can only send promotional messages to customers with a double opt-in status of “Yes.” You’ll be able to note how many customers are eligible or ineligible within a given list before sending.
With this approach, GatherUp extends the impact of SMS marketing by combining your SMS marketing strategy with your reputation management. With GatherUp, you can gather and listen to customer feedback, then engage with them through strategic SMS campaigns. You can send targeted text campaigns, track performance, and glean valuable insights to drive better customer experiences. Using GatherUp for your SMS marketing needs allows you to:
- Easily obtain written explicit consent to build and maintain a compliant SMS subscriber list
- Create segmented lists of customers for more personalized communications
- Test and schedule messages to improve engagement rates
- Use customer feedback and insights to inform your SMS campaign strategy
- Incorporate Net Promoter Score data to identify and win back your detractors, thank your promoters, and influence your neutrals
If you’re ready to learn more, schedule a demo with one of our product experts.