Text message marketing is an excellent way to reach your target audience and promote your brand. Texts get read faster and more often than emails, which can balance
out low open rates on email campaigns. Not surprisingly, we’re big believers that it’s the best, most cost-effective way to connect with customers!
That said, text marketing has some established compliance rules and best practices that you should understand to avoid angering customers and incurring regulatory attention. We’re not offering legal advice, but we’d like to share some best practices for maintaining text message compliance.
What Regulations Are in Place?
The most important thing to understand is that texting is a form of permission-based marketing. In other words, consumers should only receive your messages if they provide explicit written consent, and if they opt out, you have to comply. Signing up for your service and providing your phone number does not mean someone has given permission to be texted (per the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)). Customers must actively volunteer to receive your messages. If you text people without their explicit permission you are spamming them. Don’t be a spammer!
How to Get Permission
You can get subscribers in a number of ways. Have you seen promotions where you have to text a keyword like SUBSCRIBE to a number? These promotions are a way to collect consent to text. You can put the keyword and number on a billboard or other advertisements to encourage people to subscribe.
You can also get written consent through email or even through a physical form. For example, if you manage a dental office, you can have people opt in to receive appointment reminders when they physically come into the office. This serves as written consent. Make sure to save records of the in-person opt-in.
One of the safest ways to gain consent to text is for someone to text your keyword into an EZ Texting shortcode. EZ Texting offers an enhanced feature set to ensure consumers know what they’re opting into, such as the Double Opt-In feature. What exactly is a Double Opt-In? It is essentially a two-part method for making sure the consumer wants text messages from you.
Here’s how it works. After the initial sign up, or first opt-in, the consumer receives a second text that says:
Thanks for reaching out to EZ Texting. Respond 'yes' if you want to learn more about EZ Texting's services.
The consumer then responds "yes," completing the second opt-in and making it a double opt-in.
The Double Opt-In works best when the method of the opt-in is a non-text medium, like a web form or sign in sheet. Although a Double Opt-In is not a requirement, it’s a best practice. This is why EZ Texting offers this service to users to ensure they have the right level of comfort in designing their opt-in strategy.
How Do Consumers Opt Out?
EZ Texting’s robust solution handles opt-outs for you!
If a consumer texts STOP, QUIT, END, or UNSUBSCRIBE in response to a text message you’ve sent, that number will be opted out and will not be sent any further messages. This is a CTIA best practice and a regulatory requirement.
It’s worth noting that the acceptable average opt-out rate is 2% or below. If you’re seeing campaigns you’ve sent getting an opt-out rate higher than 2%, it’s time to rethink your marketing strategy and ensure the messages you’re sending are wanted. If they’re wanted messages, people are less likely to opt out.
Requirements When Sending Financial Offers
If you offer financial services and want to text message customers about an offer, you must use a dedicated short code. Financial services messages cannot be sent on a common-use short code due to carrier policies. An exception to this is if you’re working for a financial institution and are sending information to existing customers such as payment reminders, low-balance notifications, or information about an existing service; these are OK to send from one of our application’s shortcodes.
If, however, your company plans to offer a new financial service, please apply for a dedicated short code by reaching out to our General/Sales Team. The following categories are considered financial offers:
- LOAN ORIGINATION AND MATCHING
- PAYDAY LOANS
- SHORT-TERM LOANS
- AUTO LOANS
- MORTGAGE LOANS
- STUDENT LOANS
- DEBT CONSOLIDATION AND REDUCTION
- INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES
- CREDIT REPAIR PROGRAMS
- TAX RELIEF PROGRAMS
- WORK FROM HOME PROGRAMS
How to Maintain Permission to Text
After a consumer signs up for your text message program, you must send a confirmation text. Let them know exactly what types of messages they will receive (ads, event announcements, etc.), estimated text frequency, and what they should expect from the campaign.
When sending a text confirming an opt-in, you must include language which explains what the campaign is doing, that standard message and data rates may apply, and that subscribers can opt out or request assistance whenever they want. Tell subscribers exactly how to opt out or ask for help, such as by replying to the text with the word "STOP" or "HELP."
Below is an example of a compliant confirmation message indicating a subscriber has opted into your messaging.
Thank you for subscribing to EZ Texting alerts and notifications. Up to 5msg/mo. Msg&DataRatesMayApply. For help text HELP, to quit text STOP.
To inform people they can opt in with a keyword, many users will advertise their keyword in a call to action (CTA). It’s worth noting that STOP and HELP in texting CTAs must be bolded, according to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) Best Practices. While you don't want people to unsubscribe,
it's important to remain compliant and to follow the rules. Here's an example of a compliant CTA:
To join our EZ Texting alerts and notifications, text JOIN to 858585
* You will only be contacted in regards to EZ Texting specials, your privacy will be protected and your information will not be shared. Up to 5 msg/mo. Reply HELP for help or STOP to cancel. Msg&DataRatesMayApply. Terms
ACCORDING TO CTIA BEST PRACTICES, A COMPLIANT CALL TO ACTION WILL INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
1. MESSAGE FREQUENCY
2. SERVICE DESCRIPTION
3. BOLDED HELP AND STOP COMMANDS
(OR EMAIL ADDRESS OR PHONE NUMBER)
4. PRIVACY STATEMENT
5. THE TERM "MESSAGE & DATA RATES MAY APPLY"
6. TERMS OF THE PROGRAM
Best Practices for Your Text Marketing Campaign
When you advertise your text message campaign, make your intentions as clear as possible. Let people know specific details, such as:
- What types of messages you’ll send (special offers, discount codes, exclusive events, )
- Your text campaign frequency, such as daily or weekly
- Which days you send text messages (if you have a consistent schedule)
- How consumers can learn more (i.e. by texting a word like “help” or calling a support number)
- How consumers can opt out from receiving future texts
People enjoy receiving text messages from brands they like.
Remember, a customer giving you their phone number isn’t the same as them giving you consent to contact them via text. They must first understand exactly why you’re collecting their info and agree to receive text messages. Otherwise, you’ll be non-compliant and potentially susceptible to legal action; this is why written consent is so important.
If you’re collecting phone numbers via an online or offline form, you can include a checkbox (or something similar) that the consumer can check to request text messaging. This checkbox must explicitly state that the consumer is agreeing to receive text messages and that opting in to receive text messages is not a condition of their purchase or the promotion. This is important to note since it is a TCPA requirement. An example of a CTIA compliant web opt-in checkbox is below:
Check this box to receive special offers via text message from EZ Texting alerts and notifications. Your consent to receive text messages is not a condition of purchase and is optional. You will receive up to 5 messages per month. Msg & Data Rates May Apply. You will only be contacted in regards to EZ Texting specials, your privacy will be protected and your information will not be shared. Text STOP to 858585 at any time to opt-out. Text HELP to 858585 or call (877) 945-9268 for more info. Terms
After you’ve collected phone numbers and received consent, follow the terms and conditions that you outlined. If you make a change, let your subscribers know via text. You can ask them to text back their continued consent with a word like "continue" or "yes."
Making Your Terms and Conditions Clear
Complaints sometimes arise when consumers forget that they've signed up for text message marketing from a business. To prevent this, you can send a monthly text that reminds the consumer that they have opted into your text marketing campaign. Keep your messages as
consistent as possible so users don't forget, identify your company in each message, and don't send messages outside of normal business hours unless there's a significant need.
Keep in mind that these standards apply no matter how you advertise your texting program. You could takeout a TV or radio ad, for example, to get more opt-ins, but you still need to include everything in the CTIA recommended CTA.
Getting the Highest ROI From Your Text Message Marketing Campaign
Once you’ve got a robust subscriber list, use your text message marketing campaign to build their trust. Send them offers only when you said you would, and make sure that there’s a clear benefit in every message you send. Sales, promotions, special events, and coupons are great reasons to text. Remember, these are people who are already interested in your company and are therefore more likely to convert.
At EZ Texting, we do our best to help our customers remain compliant while they build their subscriber lists and improve ROI with text message marketing. If you're unsure about any aspect of your campaign, we recommend reading the CTIA's Guide to Text Message Marketing Compliance and Best Practices.
Curious to learn how text messaging can drive company growth? Sign up for free and start reaping the benefits today!
You can also download a copy of this guide.