May 24 2016

Is Mass Text Messaging Legal?

At a glance, marketing via text messages seems like a no-brainer. After all, most customers have their cell phone with them at all times, so there’s no better way to market to customers. However, there’s a catch: blindly sending unsolicited text messages goes against FCC compliance regulations and may result in up to a $1,500 fine per text message.

Legal precedent shows that even large companies can end up in financial hot water for mass texting, as Papa John’s Pizza was on the business end of a $250 million class action lawsuit after sending out 500,000 text messages to their customers. Fortunately, there are a few easy steps you can take to safely mass text clients without risking financial ruin.

Getting the consent of your customers to send them text messages is number one with a bullet. You must ensure that a clear and conspicuous disclosure of the program is provided and that unambiguous consent was obtained from subscribers. If a subscriber has not provided consent then they aren’t considered opted-in to the text program.

Don’t forget that you must notify the customers that consent to receive texts is not required or a condition of their purchase. When pursuing this consent from old and new customers alike, it is important to underscore the value of receiving these messages, essentially answering the “what will this do for me” customer question before they even pose it.

Give Them a Way Out

Make sure that it is very clear how customers can opt out of future texts. Also, be sure to offer any help they may need in either understanding the compliance information or in opting out. As with any other customer messaging, it’s important to make sure that the language is easy to read and understand and not buried beneath a mountain of jargon.

Be Honest

You must let customers know how often they will be receiving texts. If these messages may be coming from auto-senders, be sure to disclose that information. Make sure that if you are sending the customers to any landing pages that you leave any checkboxes there unchecked. Finally, make sure that all of your content matches up with what the customer initially agreed to when they opted in to receiving your texts.

Use Space Wisely

As the above indicates, you have a lot you must include in order to avoid FCC violations. And since you are using text messages, you are limited in the number of characters you can use. For better or for worse, this means you must be creative within the confines of these restrictions. Sometimes, this is as simple as abbreviating common words to text speak, such as “Y” for “yes.” Other times, it may be a matter of arranging sentences to emphasize value, such as indicating the frequency of the texts after reminding the customer of the value of what you are sending. For instance, if you regularly send out coupons and deals, mentioning that before you mention the frequency makes the customer intrigued at receiving a certain amount of these deals per month rather than wondering what they are really signing up for.


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