Businesses today are using a multi-channel marketing and branding strategy to get their message across to potential and existing clients. One popular means of communication they are employing is text messaging due to its advantages, including high opening rate, quick response time, and low cost. However, businesses can get into a heap of trouble, including hefty fines and lawsuits, if they do not follow the laws and regulations set forth by regulatory bodies.
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Spamming clients with promotional text messages without their consent can be very annoying and inconvenient for receipts, which will negatively impact your brand image and incur legal action.
Organizations overseeing text messaging regulations in the U.S.
The following are four governing bodies are promoting and implementing proper text messaging practices to protect consumers:
- Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA)
- Mobile Marketing Association (MMA)
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
CTIA and MMA promote ethical wireless communication and marketing practices for mass SMS texting. While, FCC and FTC hold legislative powers to establish and implement laws, regulations, and penalties for businesses using text messaging.
Text messaging laws in the U.S.
There are two text messaging privacy laws enforced in the U.S. that all businesses must take into account when devising effective SMS marketing strategies – the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the CAN-SPAM Act.
According to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), all businesses and organizations need to obtain written consent from customers prior to sending them any text messages. Consumers must receive “clear and conspicuous disclosure” of the kind of text messages they might receive from the business and must agree to receive these messages on their specified phone number. Companies cannot send a text message to an individual without written consent regardless of whether they have a pre-established business relationship or their valid phone numbers.
Furthermore, all text messages should include the sender’s identity to ensure full transparency.
Also, businesses must provide consumers the option to opt-out of the text messaging service by replying to the said message. Most businesses give consumers the option to respond back with a ‘Y’ (Yes) or ‘N’ (No).
All texts can only be sent between 8 am and 9 pm, so consumers do not suffer any inconvenience or disturbance at odd or busy times.
Noncompliance with these regulations can cost businesses financial damages worth anywhere between $500 to $1500 for each text message sent to an individual who did not provide consent. Note: All tax-exempt nonprofit organizations are exempt from the “do-not-call” and opt-in requirements set forth by the TCPA.
CAN-SPAM Act forbids organizations from sending commercial email messages (advertisements or promotions for a product or service) to any mobile device.
However, this does not include non-commercial messages or messages that communicate or alert customers about an existing transaction or relationship, like a delivery notification.
CAN-SPAM requires that any commercial email sent to a mobile phone needs to be easily identifiable as an advertisement.
Recipients need to be provided the choice to unsubscribe or opt-out from receiving further messages at any given time.
Also, the sender must include a return email address and postal code in a commercial email sent to a mobile.
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