Text Messaging Laws that every Marketing Manager Needs to be Aware of
It’s a good thing text messaging laws are in place because it would be much easier for scammers and soliciting companies to take advantage of unsuspecting victims without them.
Texting is one of the most common ways people communicate these days, so it’s essential that we’re all aware of what is and isn’t legal when soliciting via text. In this blog post, we will discuss what you need to know about texting laws.
Why follow text marketing laws?
Text marketing is an effective and efficient medium for delivering messages to a broad audience. For example, businesses can use SMS marketing to generate leads, promote events, announce sales and promotions, offer coupons and discounts, invite people out for a night on the town, or thank donors for their contributions.
However, text marketing messages must be sent legally. A text message campaign conducted illegally could result in punitive action against your company and the companies you use to send your promotional SMS. If that happens, you can kiss your marketing campaigns goodbye.
Can my company legally send text messages to my existing customers?
Yes, provided that the customer has opted in to receive them. If they have not done this, then it is illegal for you to text message them.
You may include a check box on your website or print an opt-in text message on your business reply card that states, “Yes, text me” or “Subscribe to text messages.” When people opt-in by checking the box or sending the text message back to you, they permit you to text them.
Text Message Privacy Laws in the United States
Electronic communications in the United States are carefully regulated through strict SMS rules. In addition to these federal regulations, individual states also have their legislation, so it’s essential to familiarize yourself with your state’s texting laws as well.
Stakeholders that oversee wireless device laws for texting in the U.S.
- Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA)
The Wireless Association, a pro-business lobby group that represents the wireless telecommunications industry in the U.S., is charged with setting rules and regulations for SMS use.
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
FCC ensures that wireless carriers operate within their assigned radio spectrum segments to prevent disruptive interference from other signals. In addition, these rules also aim to protect consumers by ensuring that they have access to emergency services and restricting cell phone use while driving
- Mobile Marketing Association (MMA)
The MMA is a non-profit association that advocates responsible use of text messaging for marketers and suppliers to ensure that consumer privacy is protected
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The FTC plays a vital role in protecting consumers from being victimized by various types of text scams. For example, the Community Preparedness Team provides tips on avoiding getting caught up in SMS phishing scams. At the same time, the Consumer Education team publishes information on what to do if you have been targeted.
Text messaging privacy laws enforced in the U.S.
There are two types of text message privacy laws enforced in the United States:
- Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
The TCPA regulates text messages sent to wireless devices, including text messages soliciting goods or services. It also applies to text messages sent to collect debts or any text message that delivers a commercial advertisement.
The TCPA prohibits text messages from being sent to wireless devices without the express consent of the receiver. What this means is that text messages must be sent with an opt-out clause so that people have the chance to request not to receive text messages from you.
There must also be a reply-to number or web address so that text recipients can opt out of text messages.
Text messages sent as part of an existing business relationship, such as those alerting customers about their bills, delivery notices, and other related text messages, are exempt from the TCPA rules.
- CAN-SPAM Act
The CAN-SPAM Act establishes the rules for text messages containing commercial advertisements or solicitations sent to wireless devices.
It also restricts text message solicitations sent to anyone under the age of 18. In addition, the act regulates text message content, text message sender identification, and requests to stop receiving text messages.
Texts must include an opt-out clause so that text senders can stop messages. Also, text message solicitations must not be misleading or deceptive, and text messages must consist of the option to opt-out of future messages.
Text messages sent with prior consent are exempt from CAN-SPAM rules.
Text Message Privacy Laws in Canada
Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) Act
This act defines text messaging as a commercial electronic message, so text messages falling under this legislation are those containing advertisements or solicitations.
Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation aims to protect consumers by preventing text message spam. However, there are different rules for text messages depending on what type of text it is.
The text message must be sent with an opt-out clause, so text senders have the option to stop text messages.
Soliciting by text message is currently prohibited by CASL, except for text messages sent by or on behalf of an organization to an employee, customer, supplier, or another individual with whom the organization has a business relationship.
CASL text messaging exemptions
Texts that deliver emergency alerts are exempt from CASL text rules, including weather alerts and Amber Alert text messages.
It also covers text messages sent by or on behalf of registered charities soliciting donations. Moreover, text messages containing political solicitations are exempt if sent without compensation by or on behalf of a registered political party during an election period.
Exemptions for prior express consent include text message updates or reminders sent by healthcare organizations about appointments, hospital pre-admission tests, screenings, and other health-related text messages.
Text messages sent to collect a debt owed by the text recipient are exempt from CASL text messaging rules. This includes text messages sent to recipients who owe money or misused their credit card details to pay online.
Required sender information under CASL
Commercial electronic messages, including text messages, must contain specific information such as the name or business name of the text sender, text sender’s contact information, text message identification, and an unsubscribe mechanism.
CASL rules prohibit text messages sent without prior consent
The law prohibits text messaging for commercial purposes to cell phones belonging to individuals who have not given their consent.
Text messages sent to text recipients who did not consent are considered unsolicited text messages.
Under the provisions of CASL, text messages sent even on an unsolicited basis must include an opt-out text message.
How Businesses Can Use Text Message Privacy Laws for Marketing Success:
Get written consent
Any unsolicited texts before getting written consent from customers are illegal and negligent business practices.
Ensure compliance across all platforms
As text message privacy laws are platform-specific, text messages sent using text messaging software or text marketing platforms will need to abide by text message privacy laws on the medium used.
Keep records for compliance
Text message opt-in consent can be time-sensitive. Businesses must keep text message records with date, time, phone number, and text content. Additionally, text message marketing agreements should be kept on file for compliance with text message privacy laws and text marketing regulations.
Verify text messages
The practice of verifying text messages is not required in most countries with text messaging privacy laws. However, this has been proven to help avoid spam text complaints and text opt-in revocation requests. Verifying text messages involves sending customers a one-time confirmation text message after they have opted in to receive marketing text messages.
Keep the process simple
As new technology emerges in the form of smart speakers and IoT devices that use voice recognition software and artificial intelligence (A.I.), businesses must keep their customer’s comfort level regarding how they interact with the brand. For example, many text message opt-in text messages used on intelligent speakers may be more off-putting than text messaging text opt-ins
Test text message marketing initiatives
Lastly, text message privacy laws are set up to protect consumers. This means that text marketing messages must comply with text message privacy laws, ensure all text messages appear legitimate, and adhere to guidelines intended to keep consumer trust high.
As such, businesses should test text messages before sending them live so as not to get complaints of non-compliance with CASL, GDPR, or any other text messaging law companies face when using texts for their business growth.
In conclusion, text messaging laws can be an investment or a headache, depending on how businesses prioritize text message privacy laws.
To ensure text marketing text messages comply with text message privacy laws, TextP2P can do the following:
- Get consent from customers to send text messages;
- Verify all texts sent to clients for opt-in purposes; and
- Keep records updated for compliance.
This simple process will help your business avoid fines and other legal action that may arise from text message privacy law violations and increase business growth while keeping trust high among customers. Sign up for a 14 day free trial here.