Texting Your Customers: Get Permission or Get Fined - Texn Rewards Texting Your Customers: Get Permission or Get Fined - Texn Rewards
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Post Date: August 6, 2020

Texting Your Customers: Get Permission or Get Fined

Texting Your Customers: Get Permission or Get Fined

BY PAUL MITCHELL

Text Messaging Short Message Service (SMS) or Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) is all the rage in the marketing world. But, what exactly is it? Simply put: It is the ability to send text or video messages to mobile phones to share a company offer. 

In December 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) affirmed and clarified the prior ruling that protects consumers from unwanted solicitations. With more businesses putting dollars into text marketing; what are the rules? Here is an overview, but it is advised for your protection that you get professional guidance to set up your text marketing initiatives.

Be Respectful

Most marketing text messages sent are SMS.  It is more efficient and less expensive – MMS costs about twice as much. For compliance, the FCC and the mobile carriers regulate mobile marketing (not the states). So let’s look at the basic regulations.

  Carriers (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, etc.) can take steps to disable any mobile program that does not follow mobile marketing best practices (i.e., spam). So, it is best to be respectful. For instance, texting at inappropriate times of the day could be frowned upon, but following the law is more about prior express written consent. Every mobile marketing program must now capture prior written consent correctly.

Law of Texting

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) law is all about protecting consumers and preventing spam. In 2013, the Telephone Consumer Protection act of 1991 was amended to reflect changes in communication technologies (specifically for text). To understand all of this, one should first understand who governs its enforcement. Mobile marketing guidelines are governed by both the Federal TCPA law and Carrier guidelines. Language best practices are required when implementing any text marketing campaign. To send any type of ongoing marketing communication, a business needs to have on file prior written express consent on proper disclosure to that consumer’s mobile number. If they do not have that, it is in violation of TCPA with penalties of $500-$1,500 per violation. So, it is an important issue for businesses when considering the potential risks.

The below example is a proper Text to Join (TEXT2JOIN) campaign. TEXT2JOINs are the most often misunderstood and improperly implemented campaigns because businesses often leave off required TCPA and Carrier language leaving their business at risk.  In doing this, they are not properly capturing prior consent with the proper disclaimer language.

How to comply with the regulations is illustrated above in the “Complete Disclaimer” example. “Disclosure” is what to share with the consumer before they opt-in to a mobile marketing campaign. Promoting a mobile “Call to Action” in print or on a Website Web Widget may be different.

Carrier Language

Here is a breakdown of proper Carrier language, as in the example shown:

  • Name of Campaign Joe’s Pizza Rewards Club. The prospective subscriber knows what business they are joining.
  • Messages per month – Up to 9 msgs/mo. The prospective subscriber knows how many messages they will receive a month.
  • Help & Stop (bold font) – They will know how to opt out at anytime from any text they receive.
  • Message & Data Rates May Apply.

TCPA Language

Here is a breakdown of proper TCPA language, as in the example shown:

  • Ongoing. It is important that you tell the prospective subscriber that ongoing text marketing is to be expected when they join this campaign. If they join a sweepstakes, be sure to tell them they are also joining a list for weekly specials, for example. 
  • Consent not required to buy. This is a requirement of the law, and means that they do not need to join the mobile campaign in order to purchase goods or services.
  • Placement: Carrier & TCPA language needs to be directly below the “Text Keyword to a short code” call to action.
  • One additional precaution that could be added on a TEXT2JOIN campaign to protect a business is to do a “double opt-in,” where the new subscriber must reply “YES” or “Y” to agree they want to join after reading the disclaimer with all the Carrier/TCPA language, and then file that express consent by mobile. Now they are ready for your messaging program.

More Ways to Join a Campaign

  • Web Widget: Please visit Bessler’s U pull & Save as an example. This program has built-in disclaimer language.
  • Kiosk: These programs would have built in disclaimer language.
  • Manual collection: These programs would need to have added the disclaimer language.  
       The complete FCC regulation can be downloaded here.
 
 
*Re-post from Automotive Recycling Magazine
Paul Mitchell

Paul Mitchell

Paul Mitchell is President at Texn Rewards, offering auto recyclers mobile marketing products, including "Just In" Inventory Management Software to notify customers when inventory is made available that matches their preferences, and other mobile marketing solutions.

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