Understanding Text Messaging Privacy Laws
Consumers are text obsessed, so it should come as no surprise that SMS text messaging is gaining popularity as an effective and efficient marketing medium. According to a recent report, 90 percent of consumers open, read and respond to new text messages within 30 minutes of receiving them. This gives marketers access to target audiences like never before with higher engagement rates than more traditional mediums, such as email.
Email marketing has lost its luster, with lower engagement and multiple spam concerns. In September 2019, spam emails accounted for 54.68 percent of all traffic. However, as more businesses take advantage of SMS texting, there’s a greater chance consumers receive spam texts, which can potentially cause frustration and build distrust toward text marketing. That’s why, as an industry, it's critical to filter out bad actors and limit spam before it becomes a problem.
Compliance-related mandates and laws, like the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and CAN-SPAM Act, do some heavy lifting to help curb bad actors and unwanted activity. However, if you’ve recently invested in text marketing, you may not know all the necessary measures that need to be taken to remain compliant.
Make sure you remain compliant by understanding these two laws:
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act
Passed in 1991, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) limits the use of "automatic dialing systems, artificial or pre-recorded voice messages, SMS text messages and fax machines.” Originally enacted to slow down the number of telemarketing calls and, more specifically, limit robocalling, the TCPA is regulated by three different government organizations, with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) taking the lead.
The most important aspect of the TCPA for businesses with text marketing campaigns is that the bill states you must obtain written consent before sending messages to any individual. It’s also best practice to alert recipients of the number of texts they’ll be receiving monthly, what they can expect in terms of the type of content, and how they can opt out if they choose to do so. It’s important to note that TCPA stipulates that providing a phone number when interacting with a business doesn't constitute explicit opt-in consent.
A subscriber must be able to make a purchase or request information without being forced to opt into texting. You can achieve this by making the phone number field optional in your web form or having an additional checkbox that allows the subscriber to optionally opt in to text updates. Following these best practices will help you remain compliant and avoid any potential problems.
Similar to the TCPA, the CAN-SPAM Act prevents businesses from sending advertisements or promotions without consent. However, it’s not just texting impacted by CAN-SPAM. It relates to “any electronic mail message, the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.”
The specific requirements outlined in the CAN-SPAM Act revolve around transparency. Businesses are discouraged from using deceptive language (especially within the subject line or header of the message), must signify the text is an ad, must tell recipients how to opt out, and must honor the opt-out request quickly. It may sound restrictive, but as long as you maintain transparency with your outreach, you should comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
Text message marketing is the future medium of the industry, but it’s incumbent upon those taking advantage of the channel's incredible levels of intimacy and engagement to ensure safety and compliance for their customers. One way businesses can maintain compliance and stay up-to-date with legislation and regulations is by partnering with reputable platforms and providers.
Matt Reid is chief marketing officer of EZ Texting, the No. 1 SMS marketing software, setting the standard for business texting platforms.
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Matt Reid is CMO of EZ Texting, the #1 SMS marketing software, setting the standard for business texting platforms.