Eight Rules for Effective SMS Marketing Compliance in the US

Mary Kearl By Mary Kearl Feb 26, 2021

Disclaimer: Brands that send SMS campaigns must adhere to specific legal requirements. To ensure that your company is deploying SMS campaigns in compliance with all applicable laws, your organization should seek out legal counsel. This article should not be taken as—nor should it replace the need for—legal advice.

Whether your brand currently sends SMS marketing campaigns to your customers or your team is considering exploring text message marketing as a potential customer engagement channel, here's a look at what you need to know about SMS marketing compliance in the US.

SMS Laws, Regulations, and Legal Considerations

With billions of texts sent each day, SMS marketing is an incredibly powerful channel for connecting and engaging with your customers. It's also a form of communication with a high level of government oversight and compliance, including regulations like the U.S. Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which requires companies to get individuals' explicit permission before sending them text message campaigns. Other laws, such as the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM) as well as guidelines set forth by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have been put in place to help protect consumers from unwanted outreach.

Eight Rules for Effective SMS Marketing Compliance

With SMS marketing open rates as high as 98%, it's no wonder this is a channel many brands are considering adding to their customer engagement mix. Here are some important guidelines to keep in mind when preparing to launch your SMS outreach, based on recommendations put forth by the Cellular Communications Industry Association (CTIA) with its latest Messaging Principles and Best Practices and our experts here at Braze.

Before Building Your SMS Marketing Audience

1. Work with your legal team to create a legally compliant SMS marketing program. This work is absolutely foundational to any successful attempt to use SMS as part of your customer engagement strategy, and there’s no way to move forward without getting it right.

2. Create and add your SMS marketing privacy policy to your company's website. That way, your customers can easily access—and understand—it.

When Building Your SMS Marketing Audience

3. Clearly state the purpose of joining your SMS subscriber list. This should include a simple call to action that's easy to understand; you should also explain why customers may want to receive your SMS updates and the benefits of doing so. When putting this together:

  • Provide the telephone number or short code (that is, a 5-6 digit dedicated number) from which your SMS campaigns will be sent

  • Share the name your organization will be using to send the SMS messages

  • Include details about any potential text messaging fees or charges or terms and conditions, as well as your company's privacy policy

  • State how customers can opt in and opt out

  • Inform customers how they can get more information or help

  • Avoid using deceptive or misleading language

Collect explicit opt-ins from customers who sign up to receive messages from your brand. Text campaigns should be delivered to individuals ONLY after they have opted into receiving them, such as by:

  • Signing up via your company's website, app, or online form

  • Agreeing to receive messages in person/at your company's point of sales (POS)

  • Texting to opt in using a code included in a text opt-in ad campaign

5. Send an opt-in confirmation, immediately upon signing up. Let customers know what they've signed up for and provide directions for how they can opt out. Include:

  • Your company's customer service contact information

  • A disclosure describing the recurring campaigns that customers can expect to receive and any details about associated messaging charges

6. Build a compliant SMS subscriber database and maintain all customer opt-in records. Be sure to document and save all SMS opt-ins every time any individual gives consent to hear from your brand. Keep a log of records, such as:

  • The specific time and date your customers have provided consent

  • The types of SMS campaigns they have provided consent for (such as marketing campaigns or transactional SMS messages)

  • Key customer information, such as the subscriber's phone number, language preferences, and name

  • The specific text campaigns your customers have opted into

On an Ongoing Basis

7. Make it easy for customers to opt out at any time.

  • Offer plenty of ways for customers to stop receiving message, such as by opting out via phone call, text message, or email

  • Send a final opt-out confirmation message to let individuals know they've successfully opted out

  • Do not send any messages after individuals have opted out and received confirmation of doing so; otherwise, you run the risk of significant monetary penalties

8. Do not rent, sell, purchase, or share opt-in lists. All of the customers you send campaigns to should be acquired via your own opt-in campaigns.

Final Thoughts

In keeping with SMS marketing industry best practices, we at Braze—as well as each of our sending partners—have put checks in place to maintain compliance with government mandated SMS regulations so that our clients can leverage this popular channel with the peace of mind that comes with knowing they're reaching out only to those customers who really want to receive (thoughtful, helpful, and timely) SMS updates.

Ready to explore sending SMS campaigns alongside the other channels you already rely on to keep in touch with your customers, such as email, push notifications, web messaging, messaging apps, and more? Dive into our step-by-step guide, Adding SMS to Your Cross-Channel Strategy, to get started.

Mary Kearl

Mary Kearl

Mary Kearl is a writer and digital strategist, who has led email, social media, and content marketing for several brands. She has helped launch six mobile apps and one niche social network and is always up for a good Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime binge recommendation or travel tip

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