Mobile Marketing Industry Faces Tightened Regulations
Last week saw the first major shake up of mobile marketing industry regulations in two decades. The introduction of new regulations governing the telemarketing and mobile marketing industry means that advertisers are now required to obtain written consent from current and future subscribers before initiating contact for business purposes.
The FCC is amending the violations code of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA). The new rules will affect SMS opt-in procedures, as the FCC seeks to protect consumers from unsolicited marketing text messages. Penalties for non-compliant companies range from $500 to $1,500 per message.
The key amendment concerns ‘prior express consent’ exemption for telemarketing calls to wireless phones using autodialers. The TCPA states it is unlawful to:
“Make any call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with the prior express consent of the called party) using any automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice ... to any telephone number assigned to a ... cellular telephone...”
“Initiate any telephone call to any residential telephone line using an artificial or prerecorded voice to deliver the message without the prior express consent of the called party, unless the call is initiated for emergency purposes or is exempted by rule or order by the Commission.”
The previous rules allowed telemarketers to use autodialers to call numbers that customers had provided as their primary contact number. Oral consent was also permissible. As of October 16, mobile marketing companies must obtain written consent, and there will be no ‘grandfathering’ of consent. Significantly, consent to contact must not be a condition of purchasing goods or services.
Obtaining written consent will present a big challenge for the industry, especially for larger companies who have customers with whom they don’t communicate electronically. As the new mobile marketing industry regulations kick in, companies will have to work closely with TCPA compliance counsels to ensure they are adhering to the rules.
Can I turn these changes to my advantage?
There’s no doubt that the new TCPA regulations will present a major, time-consuming challenge to the mobile marketing industry. But before your marketing team has a meltdown, bear in mind that obstacles like this can lead to some interesting diversions for your strategy. Overbearing and inconvenient she may be, but necessity is still the mother of invention. It’s now more important than ever to get your audience truly excited about opting in to SMS lists. Create inventive, relevant and worthwhile text campaigns that will encourage consumers to opt in.
One tactic for gaining written consent is to offer rich content – songs, movie clips, games – as an enticement tool. A checkbox prior to accessing content is more likely to be ticked than a checkbox with no content. Even better is running a competition. Get customers to create videos where they talk about something brand-related, and offer a prize to the winner. Dangling such carrots will usually encourage people to sign up to receive future promotional information, and you get a bunch of user-generated content to boot.
As the technology continues to evolve at a rapid rate, updates to mobile marketing industry regulations will doubtless become more frequent. For now, any company that uses telemarketing or mobile marketing should review the new TCPA rules, revisit the drawing board, and revitalize their strategy with some fresh ideas.