WARNING: Text Message Advertising (SMS) Is Now “Illegal”.

WARNING: Text Message Marketing (SMS) Is Now "Illegal"Text Message Marketing (SMS) Is Now “Illegal”.

Okay, so maybe it isn’t “illegal,” however if you’re doing it wrong might cost you as much as $1,500 in fines, per text.

Yes, you review that correctly …$1,500 PER TEXT !!!

Since October 16, 2013, marketers who have actually not acquired prior written consent from customers to send them SMS advertising messages will possibly deal with fines of up to $1,500 per unwanted message under the brand-new TCPA standards.

Simply puts, if your existing SMS approach utilizes longer texts that could rollover to two various messages per user, this might get REALLY pricey … that is, if you do not abide by the brand-new policies.

Keep in mind– these standards effect not just every brand-new opt-in that a marketer acquires, however likewise the existing names in their databases. Yes, your SMS opt-ins have to opt-in once more. Otherwise, you can face a large course action suit.

A peek at the guidelines.

We HIGHLY urge you to review the upgraded policies, so you don’t find yourself out of compliance with the FCC. Below’s a quick overview.

For ALL new text customers, you will have to adhere to the following:.

  1. You now need express written and signed consent from all opt-ins to receive text correspondences from your company.
  2. Correspondence needs to mention “grant get texts not needed OR condition of acquisition.”.
  3. Provide opt-out and help directions.
  4. Indicate frequency of texts.
  5. Indicate that messages could come from autodialers/senders.
  6. Disclosure of possible carrier costs and fees.
  7. If directing to a landing page, any check box fields MUST be left unattended.
  8. Content sent must match that requested by the initial opt-in.

Additionally, for all members of your current data source, you will require to:.

  1. Get brand-new consent from ALL who did not do so formerly.
  2. Share disclosure.
  3. Send a compliant text to re-establish opt-in.

How should you manage this?

When addressing these changes with your text recipients, it’s essential to present the info in a manner that conveys the point about choosing in, without clouding the vital messaging. In this case, it implies explaining that you require their opt-in once more, while reiterating your value recommendation so they DESIRE to stay onboard.

Let’s begin out with what not to do. Take, for instance, this text series from Redbox, a significant video rental outlet:

On paper, based upon what the FCC considers “finest practices” for SMS advertising and marketing, this message IS compliant.

It covers the opt-in (or re-opt-in), offers a link to the details of the policy, and gives clear direction about how to stop messaging or how you can get more information and assistance.

What makes it “less than efficient?”.

1. Extra Length.

long-textRedbox’s mobile marketing group appeared so hellbent on getting this message out there, its developer forgot to do a little nip/tuck deal with the verbiage, and instead selected to send this as a two-part message (which will likely appear to the recipient out of order).

Had they simply found a means to consolidate “Texts could be sent out making use of an automatic telephone dialing system,” or “Consent not needed for any purchase,” they could have squeezed this into one, (slightly) easier-to-consume text message.

Likewise, if they had a link that resulted in a clearly specified landing page, there would be a lot of space to get the point across, instead of wasting it with numerous, confusing links.

Speaking of which …

2. Lack of Context.

The message opens with “Redbox: Reply LOVE now to keep getting our texts after 10/16 (connected).” Not just can this be shortened, but why are they asking me to do my own research by clicking the odd, vague “10/16″ link text? If I wonder, I could click. Even more than most likely I’ll have much better things to do …

… like delete this erase before I read any review.

Likewise, exactly what does “LOVE” relate to a DVD rental company, or its messages? Context-specific text, like “OPT-IN,” “TEXTME,” “SIGN UP WITH” or anything else more action-oriented would convey a sense of urgency and inspire the reader to take a next action.

3. Confusing Language.

Now, no one is going to confuse SMS for classicism– it’s a medium of effectiveness and near-real-time interaction. That’s no reason for bad phrasing or confusing language. Completion of this text message leaves a lot to the creativity– a luxury most readers won’t manage you.

The message closes with “Reply STOP to cancel, ASSIST for help.. [LINK].”

The unpleasant phrasing (and again, absence of context) pleads a couple of questions: First, should I anticipate 2 messages per week? Or, am I enabled to send out simply 2 help request messages per week?

Second of all, what are the new terms about? Is this Redbox’s terms for sending out? Is it FCC-related? Have I simply became part of a brand-new arrangement? How is this link different than the “10/16” link from the previous message?

Opportunities are, this might have been addressed simply by making one CLEAR link, rather than two unclear ones.

4. Hierarchy of Messaging.

While 155-170 characters doesn’t manage you much space to be gracious, your brand needs to remain to be represented in ALL communications, despite medium. The group felt it would best communicate urgency by straight-out informing readers to respond, following it with a small incentive.

Rather of hammering readers over the head, perhaps Redbox should have thought about reminding them why they would WISH TO keep receiving messages.

Maybe: “Redbox Alerts: Want to keep getting special offers on leading DVD rentals? Respond LOVE to confirm!”.

Once again, it’s far from artistic, however it clearly mentions a promise of recurring value, without vagueness.

A much better example …

Yesterday, a wife enrolled in text discounts and informs from 7-11 (which still serves the very best coffee on the planet, without needing fluency in artificial Italian to select a beverage size). She followed the directions and got the following:


Here’s why this is a better message. Even putting just “7-11” before the message would not be as explicit in communicating the purpose of the text.

Next, they consolidate the approval to a “Y” as opposed to “Yes.” With such a restricted character count, every free space matters. This brings about a clearly– and cleverly– defined value proposition.

Right here, by responding “Y,” the user instantly understands they will be receiving special coupons and informs– approximately eight times per month. Whether deliberate or not, by indicating frequency, 7-11 actually handled to enhance value with word placement.

What’s much better than knowing you’re getting a deal? Knowing you’re getting eight of them, that’s exactly what.

After succinctly mentioning opt-out and assist choices, 7-11 made a smart step to provide a very understandable URL. While shortened links help preserve area, their arbitrary, separated look can prevent click-throughs.

Instead, 7-11 developed a brief, but clear vanity URL that lets the recipient know it’s connected to the business website, and directly connects to their privacy standards. Upon clicking with, recipients can see the company’s entire SMS policy.

… but is it certified?

7-11 seemingly did every little thing right, but these new TCPA regulations are stringent. And one key element missing from yesterday’s 7-11 opt-in text is that it does not plainly indicate “consent to get texts is not required and/or a condition of acquisition.”.

The devil lies in the information here, folks.

Moving forward …

Our advice? Let a landing page do some heavy lifting for your promotions and rewards. That’s not to state you should not offer calls-to-action or appropriate information through your texts, however you need to likewise be thoughtful of your recipients, not to mention the constraints of the medium.

Despite the fact that you might think a promo-free text is a lost venture, when space is at a premium, and FCC-mandated text at a maximum, it’s best to keep it easy:.

  1. Plainly state the name of the sender and offer a distinct value proposal (don’t hide the opt-in).\
  2. Offer opt-out directions.
  3. Indicate regularity of texts.
  4. Disclose carrier costs and charges.
  5. Include assistance language– “Text STOP or email XXXX or HELP for assistance”.
  6. Include data language– “Message and information rates use”.

Yeah, that’s a mouthful. Then once again, so are the pages of legal files you’ll be required to review if you don’t comply.

An uncomplicated, clearly specified text message, complicit with FCC and TCPA policies, may be more tough to create, but will likely pay dividends just by keeping you in front of recipients, and from hot water with potential spam whistle blowers.

And, not for anything, however you must reassess your people frequently– have them re-up for SMS advertising and marketing on a routine schedule to minimize the possibility of complaints, and increase the quality of your lists … and the results that originate from them.

Exactly what do you think?

Checked out with these laws if you have not yet. Let us know– are these new rules reasonable or unreasonable?

How do you prepare to change your SMS methods to account for these new regulations, and do you think it will influence your company?

Comment below, and let’s talk about it. As a group, I wager we can come up with a healthy list of ideas and solutions …

**CREDIT: Much of the Information and Images from this post was gathered from www.digitalmarketer.com.