SMS Compliance Guide

Opt-In Text Messaging Rules and Methods


We’ve highlighted the fact that you can’t send customers texts without their permission. In this section, we’ll provide an overview of different sign-up or opt-in text messaging rules and methodologies you might use to obtain their express written consent.

Opt-In SMS Keywords

Once you’ve picked a number for your business or organization, it’s a good idea to create keywords. A keyword is a word or phrase that people can text to your number in order to opt-in for text messages. If someone texts in a keyword, this counts as express consent as long as the advertisement contains the required opt-in terms.

[Watch: How to Set Up a Keyword]

Part of your responsibility when using keywords is to advertise them properly. To ensure your advertisements are TCPA compliant, they must clearly and conspicuously disclose that a) the messages to be received will be marketing/promotional in nature, b) the messages will be sent via an autodialer and c) the agreement to receive the autodialed promotional text messages isn’t a condition of any purchase.

Additionally, in order to also comply with the CTIA’s guidelines, your advertisements must include your campaign purpose, message frequency, info about message and data rates, plus a link to your terms and conditions and privacy policy. Below is an example of compliant call-to-action. We’ll show you more examples of compliant CTAs in the next chapter.

To finalize the opt-in process, the CTIA’s guidelines require that new contacts must get an immediate reply that includes: your business/program name, STOP instructions, HELP instructions, frequency of messages, and finally the phrase “Msg&Data rates may apply.” At SimpleTexting, we set up this CTIA-compliance template message for you. All you have to do is adjust how many messages you plan to send per month a.k.a the frequency, and your message will be sent when your customers opt-in to your campaign.

Graphic Generator

This tool enables you to create an eye-catching graphic to promote your keyword in minutes. Importantly, we also automatically generate TCPA and CTIA-compliant terms for you, greatly simplifying the process. All you have to do is enter a few details, like how often you plan to text your subscribers.

Mobile Sign-Up Widget

You can also make an engaging sign-up experience for potential and existing customers. Create a button that opens up a pop-up with a graphic promoting your SMS program. When your customers click on the call-to-action, it launches their messaging app, with both the SMS prewritten and your contacts prefilled.

Web Forms

Another straightforward way to gain subscribers is with a web form. We’ve built the ability to create sign up forms right into our platform. Adding one to your website is as easy as copying and pasting a small piece of code.

However, if you decide to add a phone number field to an existing form, a) make sure the text message opt-in language is TCPA compliant and b) be sure to have a box that users must check to opt-in for messages. This checkbox cannot be pre-checked.

[Watch: How to Add a Sign-Up Form to Your Site]

sms opt in web form

Paper Forms

We get it. Some people like to keep it old school. You can absolutely use a paper form to collect phone numbers and get express consent. Just like with a web form, your paper form should at the very least have a checkbox that people need to tick off to sign up for messages; however, a written signature or even space to initial would be preferred. Never send a message to someone who hasn’t given express consent to be messaged via signature, initial, or clearly checked box, and always store your completed forms in a safe place for reference.

Of course, the methods above only work if you promote them. In other words, you need to tell customers about your keyword, drive traffic to your web form, and get your paper form in front of people. In the next section, we’ll go into the rules surrounding exactly how you should phrase your promotional material.

💡 Key Takeaways:

  • Opt-in text messaging is the process of a customer giving their express written consent to a business for the purpose of receiving autodialed promotional messages which, in turn, makes them subscribers of your text marketing platform.
  • People can opt-in to your messages using keywords, web forms or even paper forms.

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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