3 Rules for SMS Compliance (and How to Grow Your List Within Text Law)

By Tinuiti Team

In the ever-evolving mobile culture we live in, your investment in digital marketing is now more crucial than ever.  

Are you optimizing ROI and ensuring time and resources are dedicated to the right marketing efforts? 

If so, then you are likely on the verge of launching a new SMS marketing program and identifying strategic ways to grow your list and target customers in new, more personalized ways. 

SMS / Text Message Marketing Benefits

SMS marketing is quickly emerging as one of the most reliable ways to communicate with your customers with the highest potential return on investment. 

With 90% of SMS messages read within three minutes of delivery, your investment in this channel is likely to have a higher ROI than your email marketing or social media efforts. 

Whether starting a new SMS program with zero or a thousand contacts, you will need to ensure a strong onboarding strategy and customer experience are in place. 

This starts with permission and ends with highly targeted campaigns that give the customer another easy way to shop with your brand, not just another annoying notification on their cell phone.  

SMS Marketing Laws

Let’s talk legal first. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) outlines legal regulations for telemarketing, inclusive of text messaging and any marketing to a consumer on their cellular device.  

In addition to these legal requirements, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) provides additional guidance on best practices that is widely enforced by wireless providers in the United States. 

Top 3 Rules for SMS Marketing Compliance

SMS Marketing Rule #1: Explicit digital or written permission is required for all contacts. 

A customer’s purchase does not qualify them for SMS messages and, similar to email regulations, you cannot purchase or rent a list of phone numbers. You’ll need proof of consent for all SMS contacts, a requirement from TCPA that carries hefty fines if violated.

SMS Marketing Rule #2: The first message to any contact must be a compliance message.

Required by TCPA, this message confirms the contact has opted in and provides a preview of what to expect from the program, how to opt out, and that messaging rates may apply.  For new SMS programs with existing contacts, a double opt-in message is recommended to ensure contacts still want to receive text messages from your brand. 

SMS Marketing Rule #3: Be cognizant of your cadence and the time of day you send SMS messages. 

CTIA outlines guidelines how often and when to send messages to contacts. Best practices is 1 message per week sent during daytime hours based on a contact’s time zone. These guidelines will help ensure healthy engagement in your SMS program, as well as ensure you are viewed positively by wireless carriers. 

Now, let’s start growing your list.  

How to Grow Your SMS Marketing List

Promote it to on Your Existing Digital Marketing Channels

The most effective way to grow your SMS list is to promote it in your existing digital marketing programs. From email to social media, customers are already connecting with you on mobile devices and some studies have found that a quarter of Millennials check their phones more than 100 times a day. Use these opportunities to promote your new SMS marketing program and gain explicit consent to begin providing customers the same great content, in a brand new way. 

Display Announcements About Your SMS Program on Your Site

Update your website to prominently display announcements about the SMS program launch, as well as incorporate the ability to sign up into any existing email opt-in captures on-site: checkout, top/bottom navigation bars, overlays, etc. Consider a dedicated landing page to use as your hub for the promotion of the new program; across channels such as email, Facebook ads, and Google search. This provides a seamless customer experience and more visibility into sign up conversion rates by channel. Analyze sign up rates and revenue by source to further increase ROI for any paid list growth efforts. 

Target Segmented Audiences for a Better SMS Strategy

Once these foundational aspects of your SMS program are in place, ensure contacts receive a compliance confirmation as their first message, and then let the targeting begin! Demographics, location, age, gender, browse behavior on-site, etc. are all segmentation audiences to explore and test in the initial phases of building SMS communication strategy.

Integrate Your SMS Messaging With Your Email Program

Seamless integration of SMS messaging with current email efforts is also a must. 

Plan overall messaging strategy with both channels in mind, so as not to inundate contacts with messaging promoting the same or comparable content.  Use these two impactful channels in conjunction with each other to ensure optimum engagement with a promotion or product launch. 

Many times, Tinuiti CRM & Email clients plan email marketing and SMS messaging calendars simultaneously to ensure they are cohesive and provide the best customer experience for contacts receiving both types of campaigns.  

SMS Acquisition and Compliance: The Bottom Line

Overall, SMS marketing is quickly becoming one of the most important digital channels to explore in 2020, but it is imperative that your brand invest efforts in the right way.

It is important to fully understand requirements and best practices outlined by TCPA & CTIA before you begin sending messages to ensure you can capitalize on the potential ROI awaiting in this channel.  

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