Compliance for sms messages

One of the concerns we hear most from companies considering using SMS messages is about compliance. The consensus is that achieving compliance is too hard, so therefore, they can’t use text messaging to grow their business.

With the Converse platform, compliance is simplified and automated to ensure that you’ve properly received and recorded consent from your prospects and customers for your SMS text messaging programs—whether for marketing, sales, or service.

A Review of the Basics of Compliance for SMS Messages

Compliance refers to the rules that guide SMS messages, what you can do, how you can do it, and things you want to avoid.

This post focuses on the US regulations. Text messaging is governed by The Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC is the primary body in the US for regulating communication by satellite, wire, radio, television, and cable, so text marketing also falls under its domain.

Text messaging compliance follows the specific rules of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA.) The TCPA is the main anti-telemarketing law in the U.S. It also applies to text messaging, since texting is viewed as a transaction like a phone call.

The fines for violating regulations can be steep – up to $1,500 for each text message if a court thinks you’ve knowingly violated the rules for compliance. So, let’s not let this happen.

4 Tips to Follow for Compliance

First: Get Consent

The FCC is concerned about controlling spam, so you need to gain permission from people before you can text them. The first thing you need to do to use business text messaging is to build a compliant opt-in list.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • All contact consent should be in writing and records kept for 4 years to comply with TCPA. You must also make them aware that you will be sending them text messages in the future—before they consent.
  • Consent is easily achieved digitally and recorded automatically in the Converse Intelligent Messaging Platform and captured/stored in Salesforce. This includes via website form, email, text message, a check box on a form or application, or digital document.
  • Make sure that consent is optional.
Second: Decide if You Need Single or Double Opt-in

The main thing that determines this choice depends on how you receive consent. The objective is to prove that you have consent from the device owner.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Single Opt-In: If you receive consent via an SMS message from a mobile device, you have the written consent of the device owner. An example is if they text a keyword to sign up for your text messaging program.
  • Double Opt-In: If you receive opt-in via other means, such as a web form, check box or paper (via a trade show, for example) then you should send a single message to the device owner to verify they’ve opted in by texting YES in reply. This is a requirement of the US wireless association (CTIA) and the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA).
Third: Disclose the Details

When you’re inviting prospects and customers to opt-in to your text messaging programs, you need to disclose information about the program they’re signing up for.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Provide an overview of the types of messages they should expect to receive and the message frequency (e.g. 4 messages per month). The overview can be a broad description, such as marketing and promotional messages related to your products and services. Or it could be specific and targeted to appeal to a role or to expand about a topic the person is interested in learning more about. Just remember that what you promise is what you need to deliver to stay in compliance.
  • Provide links to your terms and conditions and privacy policy.
  • Inform them of how they can opt out of the program.
  • Inform them about possible carrier costs and fees they may incur.
  • It’s wise to send a confirmation text upon opt-in that restates the program details.
Fourth, Respect Opt-Outs

One of the most important aspects of compliance for business text messaging is handling opt-outs correctly. If you don’t, your business will be at risk for penalties for spamming.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Offer an easy way to opt-out in your messages. An example is “Text STOP to end text messages.”
  • Make sure you include the opt-out wording in a message at least once per month.
  • When you receive an opt-out, make sure to acknowledge it with a message so the person knows you’ve received their request and acted upon it.
  • Converse will automatically record and timestamp the opt-out, providing you with an audit trail, and remove the contact from messaging programs.

The Bottom Line

Compliance for SMS messages is no different than getting permission for email marketing. The Converse App for Compliant Opt-In/Opt-out comes preconfigured to allow you to comply with regulations and automates what would otherwise be a complex manual process to keep track of consent status.

You can learn more about compliance best practices in our course for text messaging.

Here’s how to get started building a compliant opt-in list for business text messaging.

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