While text messaging seems like a casual medium, there are very serious consequences if you don’t follow the rules. In fact, you can be sued for up to $1,500 per text!
Who has the power to govern your program and what are the rules for compliance? Read on for a breakdown.
Governance, Guidance and Best Practices
Overall, there are 3 industry groups involved:
- The FCC regulates SMS programs under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) which limits solicitations by phone. Text message marketers can be sued (and have been) under the TCPA. In fact, big companies like Facebook, American Eagle and eBay are currently facing lawsuits.
- The CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association) is a trade association of wireless carriers, including AT&T, Sprint and others. It publishes guidelines for SMS and while it doesn’t have legal authority, it can report your program to the carriers, which can, in turn, suspend your account.
- The MMA (Mobile Marketing Association) is also a trade association. It offers marketing best practices for SMS and publishes documents to help marketers optimize their mobile programs.
Rules for Communicating by Text
There are some very strict guidelines you must follow when sending marketing messages by text. Here are some simple tips to help you avoid any violations:
Make the consumer opt in
Whether they sign up by text or web form, consumers must opt in. If you’re using a web form, follow it up with text asking the customer to confirm their opt in. This ensures the consumer does in fact want to receive your messages and that someone else didn’t enter their number by mistake.
Include required disclosures
There are some key pieces of information you need to include when you advertise the program and BEFORE a consumer opts in. They are:
- Business name
- Program name (or the keyword for the program)
- Frequency of messages (Ex: “up to 4 messages a month”)
- A disclosure that “data and messaging rates may apply.”
- A notice of written consent: “By participating, you consent to receive text messages sent by an auto phone dialing system.”
- Confirmation that “no purchase is necessary.”
Tell them how to opt out
You must also tell the consumer how to opt out. Ex: “Text STOP to stop.”
An example message could look like this…
Get $5 off your next purchase at Acme Sporting Goods!
To sign up for this and other discounts and alerts, text ACME to 65047.
Message & data rates may apply. Up to 4 messages a month. Text STOP to stop. No purchase necessary. You consent to receive autodialed text messages from Acme Sporting Goods. See privacy/rules at www.acme.com/mobilerules
Keep in mind also that text messages are not allowed to be sent outside the hours of 8 am and 9 pm—in the consumer’s time zone, not yours.
Following these rules is a small price to pay to reach your customers on a powerful platform and the device they attend to the most… their mobile phones!
Contact us for help with your text message marketing compliance.