SMS can be a powerful part of your marketing strategy. However, before getting started with SMS, please make sure you're compliant with your country's communication laws. Similar to email, SMS is a regulated channel with its own specific rules and regulations. So, it's important to understand the regulations for SMS marketing in the US, including TCPA, CTIA, ADA, etc.
Consent / Opt-in
What Is Proper Consent?
Consent can't be bought, sold, or exchanged. For example, you can't obtain the consent of message recipients by purchasing a phone list from another party.
Aside from two exceptions noted later in this section, you need to meet each of the consent requirements listed below. You must require your customers to adhere to these same requirements when dealing with their users and customers.
- Prior to sending the first message, you must obtain agreement from the message recipient to communicate with them. This is referred to as "consent" you must make clear to the individual they are agreeing to receive messages of the type you're going to send. You need to keep a record of the consent, such as a copy of the document or form that the message recipient signed, or a timestamp of when the subscriber completed a sign-up flow.
- If you do not send an initial message to that individual within a reasonable period after receiving consent (or as set forth by local regulations or best practices), then you will need to reconfirm consent in the first message you send to that subscriber.
- The consent applies only to you, and to the specific use or campaign that the recipient has consented to. You can't treat it as blanket consent allowing you to send messages from other brands or companies you may have, or additional messages about other uses or campaigns.
- Proof of opt-in consent should be retained as set forth by local regulation or best practices after the end user opts out of receiving messages.
Alternative Consent Requirements
While consent is always required and the consent requirements noted above are generally the safest path, there are two scenarios where consent can be received differently.
1) Contact initiated by an individual
If an individual sends a message to you, you are free to respond in an exchange with that individual. For example, if an individual texts your phone number asking for your hours of operation, you can respond directly to that individual, relaying your open hours. In such a case, the individual’s inbound message to you constitutes both consent and proof of consent. Remember that the consent is limited only to that particular conversation. Unless you obtain additional consent, don't send messages that are outside that conversation.
2) Informational content to an individual based on a prior relationship
You may send a message to an individual where you have a prior relationship, provided that individual provided their phone number to you, and has taken some action to trigger the potential communication, and has not expressed a preference to not receive messages from you. Actions can include a button press, alert setup, appointments, or order placements. Examples of acceptable messages in these scenarios include appointment reminders, receipts, one-time passwords, order/shipping/reservation confirmations, drivers coordinating pick up locations with riders, and repair persons confirming service call times.
The message can't attempt to promote a product, convince someone to buy something, or advocate for a social cause.
Periodic Messages and Ongoing Consent
If you intend to send messages to a recipient on an ongoing basis, you should confirm the recipient’s consent by offering them a clear reminder of how to unsubscribe from those messages using standard opt-out language (defined below). You must also respect the message recipient’s preferences in terms of frequency of contact. You also need to proactively ask individuals to reconfirm their consent as set forth by local regulations and best practices.
Identifying Yourself as the Sender
Every message you send must clearly identify you (the party that obtained the opt-in from the recipient) as the sender, except in follow-up messages of an ongoing conversation.
An easy way to do this is to write your company name at the beginning of the SMS message followed by a colon. (e.g. "Critical Impact: ")
The initial message that you send to a subscriber needs to include the following language: “Reply STOP to unsubscribe.”
We automatically append "Txt STOP to cancel. Msg&data rates may apply." to the from number reply messages. We'd recommend that you add this type of text to the first SMS send you send to a list as well.
Once a subscriber revokes consent by texting "STOP," they will be unsubscribed from all SMS in your account. When an individual opts out, you may deliver one final message to confirm that the opt-out has been processed. You can edit this message from the from code's "Stop response" reply message.
A subscriber must once again provide consent before you can send any additional messages.
Remember, this article is not intended to provide legal advice. Please consult with your legal team before launching your SMS marketing strategy.