10 Steps For Sending Compliant Text Messages

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To keep your SMS marketing compliant, you must adhere to the text message laws set forth by the TCPA. Take the steps to avoid legal trouble by following these 10 tips.

When it comes to text marketing, there are some hard and fast rules on what you can and cannot send. In order for your text marketing efforts to be legal and compliant in the U.S., the guidelines set forth by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) must be followed. Additionally, these laws will vary across the border in Canada.

If you’re interested in learning more about these regulations and where they come from, we have a helpful guide on SMS compliance. For those looking for general guidelines, we’ve compressed the information down to what you absolutely need to know in order to send compliant text marketing messages. Follow these 10 tips and it’s rare you’ll run into any trouble!

1. Don’t purchase a list of phone numbers

When it comes to sending mass marketing texts, it’s the recipients right to choose who texts them. You cannot text anyone without their permission!

2. Consent must be written

So how do contacts give you their permission? For mass SMS marketing, customers must provide their consent in writing—for example by filling out a physical or digital form with their info or texting you first with a keyword. Be sure to document or save these forms for your records.
Example of a compliant text message sign-up form

3. Give people the option to “opt out”

Once someone has given you consent, the first text they should receive from you is a compliance message. This message includes a few things, including directions on how to unsubscribe. To make things easier, SimpleTexting automatically creates a compliance message for you!

JoesCoffee: Reply STOP to unsubscribe or HELP for help. 4 msgs per month, Msg&Data rates may apply.

4. Don’t misrepresent your intentions

When advertising your text marketing services it’s important to make it clear what people are signing up for—monthly tips, coupons, appointment reminders, etc. If you advertise your program with a specific purpose, you cannot drastically depart from that.

Example of non-compliant text marketing messages

5. Don’t over-send

In your compliance message you’ll tell your subscribers the number of messages they can anticipate receiving from you each month. While this doesn’t need to be exact, it can’t vary dramatically from your target. For example, if you tell subscribers to anticipate 4 messages a month and send 12, you’re breaching their expectations and violating the agreement.

6. Never say that texting your business is free

In 2019 most people have an unlimited texting plan. But how someone finances their cell phone plan is completely dependent on their carrier and their contract. Therefore, when advertising, you must always say that message and data rates may apply.

7. Always have a privacy policy

Somewhere, either on your website or on a flyer, you should have your texting privacy policy for people to review if they’d like. The main purpose here is to show subscribers how their data is handled.

8. No violence

Plain and simple, no graphic violence, threats of violence, or hate speech in any of your sms marketing. 🚫

9. Keep it clean

Similar to the restrictions on violence, there are also strict guidelines prohibiting the distribution of messages that contain nudity, sexually explicit content, or anything promoting illegal drugs/substances. This content is commonly referred to as SHAFT (sex, hate, alcohol, firearms, tobacco).

10. Respect copyrights

Last but not least, we have copyrights and trademarks. You cannot send any copyrighted material that you have not licensed for use or created yourself. If you’re in need of some free images or videos, check out sites like flickr creative commons or unsplash!

The consequences for breaking these rules can get pretty serious, but you shouldn’t let that scare you. Thousands of people are legally text marketing each day without issue. And of course we’re always here to help if you have any questions!

🚨Disclaimer: Please note that this advice is for informational purposes only and is neither intended as nor should be substituted for consultation with appropriate legal counsel and/or your organization’s regulatory compliance team.

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