SMS Compliance Made Simple: 5 Steps Marketers Should Follow
Are you putting your clients at risk by running SMS campaigns that don’t follow all the legal requirements?
As a marketer, you have an obligation to act legally and ethically on behalf of your client in everything you do. Some campaigns are riskier than others and have strict requirements that you must abide by to avoid problems.
If you’re new to text marketing or worry that you don’t fully understand the legalities involved, then keep reading. We’re going to provide you with a step-by-step checklist that you can follow to make sure that you’re maintaining SMS compliance.
5 Simple Steps for SMS Compliance: A Step-by-Step Checklist
Text messages, emails, and other forms of digital communication are regulated by government entities, industry regulators, mobile phone carriers, and messaging providers — like EZ Texting. The federal and industry regulators you should familiarize yourself with are the FCC, FTC, TCPA Act, CAN-SPAM Act, CTIA, and MMA.
FCC: The Federal Communications Commission regulates all media communications in the US and parental guides for businesses.
FTC: The Federal Trade Commission monitors complaints about business theft, violence, and deception through media and enforces the laws.
TCPA Act: The Telephone Consumer Protection Act was passed to regulate telemarketers, pre-recorded calls, unsolicited faxes, auto-dialed calls, and text messages.
CAN-SPAM Act: CAN-SPAM is short for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing. The CAN-SPAM Act was passed to establish guidelines for commercial messages that are sent.
CTIA: The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association is made up of telecommunications moguls in the industry, and they get to weigh in on legislation that is passed.
MMA: The Mobile Marketing Association is a nonprofit made up of mobile marketing companies — like EZ Texting.
Disclaimer: We are not an attorney. The advice in this article is based on experience as an industry-leading text marketing software provider. Please consult a licensed lawyer for better clarification of the laws and guidelines put into place by the entities listed above.
Failure to comply with the law can have your clients facing a lawsuit with some pretty hefty fines, or possibly even spending some time in jail. If you do nothing else, follow the 5 steps listed below to help keep your clients in compliance with the law.
1. Follow Opt-In Requirements
No matter what, NEVER send a text to anyone that your clients have not received written or recorded verbal consent from. The FCC takes this very seriously. Written consent can take the form of a checkbox on a paper form they fill out in pen, or by digital methods. Digital methods can include the use of Keywords or a form on your website.
If your client chooses to allow sign-ups on a web form, DO NOT have the checkbox to sign up for your list to be automatically checked. The user must actively click the box and agree to be added to your list.
Make your intentions clear and provide a copy that tells the user exactly what kind of information or offers they can expect to receive from you when they sign up. Anytime you upload or import contacts to your list manually, you need to make sure you have gotten their consent by using one of the methods mentioned above.
How to Comply With Keywords
Our SMS messaging software makes it simple for your clients to comply with consent requirements by allowing sign-ups via a predetermined Keyword. How does this work? You or your client will choose and create a Keyword. Users can subscribe to your list by texting that Keyword to your shortcode (EZ Texting number).
Want to keep your mobile number private? EZ Texting helps with that too — thanks to EZ Chat. With EZ Chat, you can text-enable a landline, like your business number, so that customers can text it instead of your mobile number. Forcing them to text a Keyword to sign up meets the current opt-in requirements set in place by the FCC, TCPA Act, and CAN-SPAM Act.
Recommended Reading: What is a Text Keyword & How Can It Help Me?
2. Provide Clarity for Recurring SMS Programs
Some of the most important places these pages need to be mentioned and linked to are your website footer, signup pages, product pages, physical locations, or in advertisements — like brochures, flyers, billboards, or other ads.
3. Utilize Confirmation Messages
Confirmation messages are a great tool to remind people that they signed up to your list and to reiterate what it is they can expect from you now that they are subscribers. Tell them who your clients’ company is, what they will receive for opt-ting in, how often they can expect your client to message them, how to get help, how to opt-out, and something that states “message and data rates may apply.”
DO NOT be vague! Your clients’ subscribers won’t be happy if they are unclear about what being a subscriber means — and unhappy subscribers opt-out or file complaints. You don’t want that, and neither do your clients.
Recommended Reading: Confirmation Auto-Response for Your Keyword
4. Follow the SHAFT Rule for Content
The CTIA enforces rules for best practices in the text marketing industry. One of the most important rules they have set in place is called SHAFT — short for sex, hate, alcohol, firearms, and tobacco. Sending messages related to any of the topics mentioned above is a major violation and will result in your client being banned from using their services.
If you have a client that owns a bar or has a business in the tobacco industry, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, a bar owner could send promotional messages to remind their customers when happy hour starts, or a tobacco company could send an offer for a discount on their products.
The catch is, they must ensure the subscribers on their list are old enough to receive those types of offers (21+). They will need to prevent people who are underage from signing up and use a dedicated toll-free number. Make sure to contact us and speak with a member of our team to ensure your clients in these industries remain compliant.
5. Honor Opt-Out Requests
Your clients must always provide instructions for opting-out with every message that they send. Failure to do so could result in unhappy subscribers filing complaints. Once a user opts-out of the list, you have 10 days to make sure they are removed and do not receive any future messages.
Now It’s Time to Master SMS Marketing
Implementing text marketing into your overall strategy will help your clients connect and engage with their customers on a more personal level. Your clients can expect to see a higher response rate than emails, and your clients’ subscribers will love the ease of use and convenience it brings.
Are you ready to help your clients achieve their goals with SMS marketing? Our experts have compiled all the best tips and advice for text marketing beginners into a downloadable guide. In this guide, we provide you with 9, easy-to-follow steps that will help get you started — and help you master SMS marketing for you and your clients.
Download your free copy of The Roadmap to Mastering Text Message Marketing and create your first campaign with text messaging today!