Contact Import Guidelines for Text Messaging

Published on October 30, 2015

We’re flattered that you like us, but we’re going to need to get to know you and your list a little better before we can allow imports. Federal law and industry regulations are such that we manually review each import request.

Marketing Messages

To import a list for text message marketing purposes, you must have prior express written consent from each contact on that list.

You may be thinking: What’s “express consent” and how is that different from plain ole “consent”? Well, when you sign up for a service (e.g., Gmail) and you agree to the user agreement, you consent to a bunch of language you probably didn’t read. But that type of consent isn’t good enough here—you can’t bury consent to text message someone in a privacy policy or user agreement. You must provide clear and conspicuous disclosure of what the user is consenting to, and who he’s consenting to get it from. No hide-the-ball tactics allowed here.

"To import a list for text message marketing purposes, you must have prior written express consent from each contact on that list."

What about the “written” requirement? That sounds so 20th century. Yes, it doesn’t actually have to be written by hand. A digital agreement is sufficient.

Oh—and lest we forget—you cannot force someone to opt in to your text marketing program by making the opt-in a condition of purchasing property, goods, or services. This means you can’t tell someone you won’t sell them a slice of pizza unless they opt in to your text message marketing program.

The Small Exception for Non-Marketing Informational Texts 

The one slight exception for would-be mass texters is that you need not get express consent in writing if your texts are for informational purposes only. That means that professionals such as doctors may receive oral consent from their patients to send appointment reminders, annual checkup reminders, and other similar messages.

Further Reading

This is kind of complicated—we know. But you’re a curious chap or gal and would like to learn more. Luckily, there some great resources out there for you. Here are some of our favorite links:

* Andrew Lustigman, Esq.—a respected attorney in the Advertising and Marketing legal space tells it like it is: http://www.insidecounsel.com/2014/10/28/tcpa-the-right-consent-for-the-right-message 

* If the American Bar Association won’t tell you the truth, who will: http://www.americanbar.org/publications/blt/2013/05/01_smith.html 

* Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is a large firm with great legal talent and the resources to put out nice resources like this PDF: https://www.wsgr.com/publications/PDFSearch/wsgralert-prior-consent.pdf 

Final Words

As always, when it comes to permission-based marketing, you should know the regulations, use common sense, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But even more importantly—if you’re still unsure, seek the guidance of a qualified attorney.

—The SimpleTexting Team