Today I wanted to tackle a topic that has recently been picking up quite a bit of steam: compliance for SMS marketing. Because we live in a litigious society where many look to make a quick buck, staying completely above board with mobile is critical. Plus, with mobile still a new and evolving space, there’s no way we have endured all of the SMS compliance-related legal issues.
The main point to understand about SMS compliance and spam is that it’s not super complicated from a business standpoint. I’m not a lawyer, and brands and agencies should always consult their own legal counsel, but the nuts and bolts are clear. Consider these examples:
- Walmart demonstrated that its text message marketing campaigns had not violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
- Papa John’s and Jiffy Lube didn’t fare so well and face steep fines and penalties.
For the uninformed, the TCPA provides protection to consumers by prohibiting companies from delivering unwanted cell phone communication. And it’s this Act that shapes the entire SMS marketing compliance and SPAM debate. So, what makes Walmart different from Papa John’s and Jiffy Lube?
Simple – Walmart followed the principles of opt-in marketing. Papa John’s and Jiffy Lube did not.
And what exactly is, “Following the principles of opt-in marketing?” Here’s all you have to do to remain compliant (in three easy steps):
- Follow industry guidelines. Every company that has faced monetary penalties for non-compliant SMS has disregarded the basic guidelines put out by the Mobile Marketing Association, carriers and CTIA. Lawsuits will come to those companies that try to take shortcuts.
- Find a trusted partner. Brands and agencies should use a trusted parter to help them understand compliance requirements and make sure they stay clear of potential suits. Moreover, this allows brands and agencies to focus on what’s more important: customers and content.
- Get consent. Consent is pretty black and white (again, those businesses getting sued have been skirting simple practices). It requires the following:
- Disclose the nature of the SMS program at the point of sign up (e.g. on marketing calls to action or online sign up forms).
- Send a REAL-TIME confirm to the mobile phone upon signup. This confirm should include opt-out instructions, help guidance and a frequency expectation for the forthcoming SMS messaging.
- Honor the STOP requests and abide by the expectations you set with customers (e.g. the number of messages sent per month or week).
- Maintain a record of the above.
By implementing these straight-forward best practices, companies will quickly, easily and effortlessly put themselves in a much better place to avoid any potential suits around text message spam.
Please let me know if you or anyone you know would like to discuss SMS compliance further. More than happy to help.