Compliance for text messaging

Compliance for text messaging in business is crucial, in more ways than many businesses realize. Ensuring that your business is continually adhering to often changing compliance laws can be daunting. And unlike emails and phone calls, text messaging compliance adds another layer of requirements, specifically the set of requirements set forth by carriers. Luckily, with some research, education, and the right SMS platform you’ll be able to stay confident in your text messaging programs and their compliance.

Compliance for Text Messaging – Regulatory Compliance

We’ve all grown accustomed to the concept of “permission marketing,” meaning we needed a consumer’s permission to send them emails or call them. Consumers and buyers were allowed to “opt-out” of unrequested communications and businesses were expected to honor their requests.

In a world of ever-increasing Spam and a growing necessity for data privacy, the concept of “opting-out” as a path to compliance is not enough. In many countries, this passive approach is being superseded by the legal requirement for consent before we can contact a consumer or business buyer. Not to mention the requirement to protect the personal data we collect in the same way we protect our business data.

Text messaging is regulated by the same laws and legal bodies as email and phone contacts. It follows the same rules, and must be implemented with the same controls.

Compliance for Text Messaging – Carrier Compliance

Text messaging faces another layer of compliance, carrier compliance. Unlike emails, which are sent freely across the internet, or phone calls that are dialed across a voice network, the delivery of text messages is heavily monitored and controlled by each carrier.

Here are some examples of carrier requirements for texts:

  • Different numbers, or codes. Carriers offer different types of numbers to support different types of messaging. Long codes, or regular numbers, are designed for interactive messaging, for example, between a service rep and customer. Short codes are shorter numbers, designed for automated messaging campaigns or large volume sends, for example, an event announcement. Other types of numbers support various messaging types. If you use the wrong type of number for your messaging, the carrier will block your messages and they will not be delivered.
  • Different structures for messages. Carriers limit the number of characters in messages, and the types of characters that can be used. If your messages exceed their sizes, they’ll break up the messages, charge you more money and your message may or may not reach the recipient in total. If your messages contain the wrong characters, they will not be delivered. Some carriers support different types of messages.
  • Message volumes and send rates. Carriers allow different volumes of messages, different velocities of sends (how many messages are sent each second) and different ratios of inbound and outbound messages. If your message campaign breaks any of their rules, your message is not delivered.

Also, even if a carrier blocks delivery on your messages, you will be charged for the failed messages. When your messaging breaks carrier compliance, your budget suffers as well as your delivery.

The Bottom Line

Compliance for text messaging has different requirements for each country and each carrier. You’ll need to understand and follow the diversity of rules and regulations across countries, and proactively manages your messaging to optimize delivery by your carrier.

We created How Messaging Works to make it easier for you to understand these distinctions. It shares information about text messaging key concepts, terminology, diverse carrier and country requirements and the best practices that will get you started in a legal and carrier compliant manner.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be exploring compliance for text messaging in more depth. Be sure to check back every Tuesday for the next installment in our Compliance Textpert Series.

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