What to Know About the CTIA’s 2019 Messaging Principles and Best Practices

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Find out the latest voluntary guidelines from the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association.

High open rates are one of the main reasons texting is so effective. When people receive texts, they can trust they’re from people or businesses they truly care about.

To protect that bond and prevent SMS from becoming flooded with spam, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) sets forward a guide on Messaging Principles and Best Practices. The first version was published in January 2017. This month, they released an update.

In summary, the purpose of the best practices guide is to make sure consumers only get text messages they actually want. This is in everybody’s best interest. Why waste time and money sending texts to people who aren’t interested?

If you’re just getting started with text marketing, or need a refresher on the rules, take a moment to visit our in-depth guide to SMS compliance. In it, we cover everything you need to know about legally texting customers. We cover the most important CTIA best practices, most of which have remained the same in the latest update including:

  • The need for express written consent before you text your customers
  • Allowing anyone to opt-out of your messages at any time
  • Maintaining an up-to-date record of opt-in consent
  • Following all regulations set forward by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

What Are the 2019 Updates to the CTIA Best Practices?

The new CTIA update clarifies the difference between person-to-person and application-to-person messaging. Here are three key definitions from the CTIA which are helpful for understanding this distinction:

P2P messaging is messaging that is sent by a Consumer to one or more Consumers and is typically considered a Consumer operation (i.e. conversations).

A2P messaging includes, but is not limited to, messaging to and from large-to-small businesses, entities, and organizations.

Agents acting on behalf of businesses or organizations are not considered Consumers.

This means that if you’re a business or organization, you’re engaging in A2P messaging. The document goes on to give recommendations for anyone engaging in this type of messaging.

The CTIA recommends that anyone engaging in A2P messaging:

  • Obtain express consent from Consumers before sending informational messages
  • Obtain express written consent before sending marketing messages
  • Make it as easy as possible for contacts to opt-out of messages

The recommended mechanisms for obtaining consent are:

  • Entering a telephone number through a website
  • Clicking a button on a mobile webpage
  • Sending a message from the Consumer’s mobile device that contains a keyword
  • Signing up at a point-of-sale (POS) or other Message Sender on-site location

Additional recommendations include:

  • Do not send messages beyond the campaign(s) that the Consumer agreed to
  • Once a Consumer has opted out, send them a confirmation and do not send any further messages
  • Opt-in is not transferrable. If a Consumer agreed to receive messages from your organization, do not provide their number to a third-party

Do These Changes Affect You?

As long as you’re properly obtaining express written consent before sending any messages, there’s not much to worry about with these changes.

Prior to this update, some organizations were considered to be engaging in P2P messaging. However, now it’s clear that anyone sending messages who is not defined as Consumer is using A2P.

At SimpleTexting, we’ve always recommended that everyone obtain express written consent before sending any messages—even if you previously were considered to be using P2P messaging.

Staying informed about the latest industry regulations and recommendations is a key part of doing your part in preventing spam. We hope this TL;DR version of the 2019 CTIA best practices update helped you understand the direction the industry is moving in.

As Nick Ludlum, CTIA SVP and Chief Communications Officer, puts it, “As businesses, non-profits, and other organizations increasingly rely on messaging to interact with consumers, it’s absolutely critical that we protect consumers from spam, and maintain the integrity of the platform for all users.”

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