Clients and prospects often ask why we have so many security measures and verification steps in place before they are able to upload a list of contacts. The short answer is that we are trying to keep our clients from becoming the next Papa John’s and Jiffy Lube, who had to settle class action lawsuits for unlawful texting to the tune of a combined $63 million. Cases like these give our entire industry a black eye and hurt both the client and the consumer. The only winners, if you can even call them that, are the unethical SMS companies who allow such non-compliant text marketing blasts since they’re the ones who made a profit.
The down side of an up tick
SMS marketing has been growing for years due to its high response rate and the shift in consumers behavior using text as a preferred form of communication. The down side of such growth has been an uptick in illegal “SMiShing” (SMS Phishing) campaigns. We’ve seen our share of users attempt illegal blasts, such as the Walmart gift card scam, on our platform and that only increases our resolve to protect consumers and our industry from such unethical campaigns. The FCC regulates the text marketing industry by categorizing SMS into two previously existing sets of laws, TCPA and CAN-SPAM, and it’s never a bad idea to familiarize yourself with them.
The key to compliance is “unambiguity”
Here’s the simplest rule to follow: If a customer didn’t specifically opt-in to receive text marketing messages from you, don’t send them a text blast.
The two most common justifications we hear for blasting without opt-in are:
- They’re already an existing customer.
- They joined our email marketing list through a form that included a phone number field.
Unfortunately, including their phone number in an general online form or a piece of paper isn’t enough and the “pre-existing business relationship” loophole expired in 2013. According to the CTIA and the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), the consent to receive text messages from your business must “unambiguously” be provided by the mobile device owner himself. This basically means you can’t receive permission for one type of message (ie: email) yet send another (ie: SMS). This creates “ambiguity.” FCC regulations require unambiguous consent.
The customer filled out my web form to opt-in. Isn’t that enough?
Filling out a form which clearly states that they are opting-in to receive text marketing messages from you may not equate to compliance. Consent in this situation can be unclear because it is not possible to verify that the owner of the phone number is the person who filled out the form. Someone else could have used your phone number in a form, thus creating a grey area.
Verification is easy to achieve through an opt-in campaign. The ‘Yes’ reply from a mobile number clearly states that the device owner consents to receiving marketing messages from your business. This is why governing bodies such as the CTIA and MMA recommend a double opt-in, which involves sending a confirmation text message to the number provided through a non-device opt-in. A confirmation to this text message leaves a trail that the mobile device owner has indeed consented to receiving marketing text messages from you.
How can you qualify to upload a list?
There are a dozen or so verification steps we take to ensure your marketing list is compliant including:
- Validating that the business is legitimate and operational
- Requiring the business to be located in the United States
- Confirming the information on the payment method and company match.
- Required MFA authentication
- Proof of SMS opt-in
- Review of method used to collect contact data (ie: landing pages, forms)
- Limited list size upload for initial blast
- Manual approval of outbound messages
- IP Geolocation verification
This are just some of the steps we take to help you avoid TCPA violations. Once you’ve met all our requirements and we’ve activated the upload feature, you can start sending blast campaigns without doing an opt-in campaign.
How SireMobile can help you out
We want to make sure that you meet all the guidelines and rules set by the Federal Communications Commission in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). If your lists are not fully compliant, our support team will provide all the guidance necessary to help you setup up an opt-in campaign. Remember, our stringent requirements were not implemented to keep you from running powerful SMS marketing campaigns. These requirements exist to make sure you stay within the good graces of the FCC and out of any potential lawsuits.
We know these policies sound daunting. Our team is here to simplify things and walk you through the process, every step of the way.
As an additional reference, here’s a great, non-legalese summary by the DMA: https://thedma.org/resources/compliance-resources/tcpa/