SMS marketing is quickly becoming one of the best and most efficient ways marketers can reach consumers. Promotional text messages are opened and read at an astonishing 98% rate. However, there are important rules that marketers must follow as well. If you do not, you can end up paying huge fines and settlements. This has happened to multiple companies such a Steve Madden Shoes, Jiffy Lube, AutoNation and Papa John’s. To keep your company protected from lawsuits that have faced companies like these, there are a few easy steps to take to make sure you are complainant with all SMS and text marketing guidelines.
Three Organizations that Govern SMS Rules
To understand the rules in place, you must first understand the organizations that make the rules. There are three main ones to be concerned with. These are the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
The CTIA and MMA are two organizations that both put forth best practices marketers should follow. Neither set of rules are laws though. The laws come from the TCPA and when you do not follow those, it can result in lawsuits and multimillion-dollar settlements.
How to be SMS Compliant
By following a few simple rules, it is easy for your company to experience all the benefits of SMS marketing without running into problems with the law. Here is what you need to do.
1. Get Permission
Before you send text messages, you must get permission to do so. People must actually opt into receiving your messages. The TCPA (the one that is the law!) requires “express written consent” to be provided for consumers to opt into receiving these messages.
2. Include a Call to Action
A clear call to action is an important first step in registering consumers to receive recurring messages from your organization. They need to clearly know what they are signing up for when giving their number to you.
3. Provide Information
Another way to make sure consumers understand exactly what is involved in the SMS marketing process is to provide them with a full explanation of everything going on with them receiving your messages. This includes:
- Campaign Purpose: What type of message are they going to get from you? Are they promotions, coupons, reminders? Be as clear as possible so people who opt-in get exactly what they expect to get.
- How Often to Expect Messages: This is a big one for consumers as people hate getting too many messages. Let them know the approximate number of messages they should expect. If it is daily, weekly, or monthly consumers are less likely to unsubscribe or complain if this information is communicated up front.
- Charges May Apply: In 2019, most people have unlimited texts in their mobile plans. However, this does not mean you shouldn’t still tell people that “message and data rates apply”. It is something you need to be transparent about.
- Terms and Conditions: Any terms and conditions that apply to opting in should be explained. This includes who your company is, what they are signing up for, and how to opt-out. You can do this directly or apply a link if it is a long document.
4. Honor Opt-Outs
One of the quickest and easiest ways to get in trouble in the SMS marketing world is by not honoring consumer’s requests to no longer receive messages from you. You need to give the consumer a means to do this and if they do, stop sending them messages in a timely fashion. Not only will you be breaking the law if you do not stop, but you will also be angering consumers which can hurt your brand reputation and make it much more likely that you will be reported as a rule-breaker.
Once you know the best practices and laws, staying SMS compliant is relatively easy. It mostly comes down to being transparent with consumers and honoring the mechanisms in place that allow consumers to not be bombarded by unwanted texts. Now that you are aware of the steps to follow, you can start utilizing SMS and text marketing and reap the rewards for your business.