The Essential SMS Compliance Guide For Business Texting

Vincent Hawley

February 16, 2024
15 minutes to read

Gone are the days of using T9 keyboards and paying 5 cents for each message sent. Technology has come a long way, and today, as consumers, we send messages without even blinking an eye. And, for obvious reasons, its uses have expanded beyond staying in touch with loved ones.

According to a survey published in Textbetter, 97% of text messages are viewed in less than 15 minutes!

Businesses have been leveraging the ubiquitous presence of text messages to the fullest. From appointment reminders to promotional offers, companies are bowing to the power of SMS compliance to engage with customers swiftly.

The evolution of smartphones along with the rise of mobile commerce has made businesses resort to SMS texting as a service like never before. More and more brands are using SMS for customer outreach and product marketing.

This surge in business texting isn’t just a passing trend; it’s a pivotal tool in the contemporary marketing arsenal, connecting businesses directly with their audience, and vice versa.

But, for everything that is served in abundance, there needs to be a system that keeps the exploitation of the service in check. Understanding the significance of SMS compliance within this ever-growing domain is paramount. 

Contrary to the basic understanding, compliance isn’t merely a set of formal checklists; it brings with it intangibles like trust, legality, and ethical conduct in the digital sphere.

Ensuring adherence to rules carved for SMS usage is about respecting consumer rights and fostering a transparent and respectful relationship with your audience.

This blog will shed light on the SMS compliance regulations in the United States and will equip you with key strategies for maintaining compliance throughout your messages.

Understanding Key Laws and Regulations

How sane would you be if annoying telemarketing calls and faxes were flooding your daily routine? And to make matters worse, you had no control over these random calls! To combat this blatant invasion of privacy, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) emerged in 1991 as a shield for consumers.

So, what’s the deal with TCPA? Well, it’s like the rulebook that restricts those pesky sales calls and the use of automatic dialling and messaging systems. The main aim is to give people some peace and protect them from unsolicited texts and faxes.

Companies now need your nod before bombarding you with calls or texts. That means they can’t just ring you up without your approval. Plus, if you’ve said “No” to sales calls by joining the National Do Not Call Registry, they’ve got to respect that.

Remember, getting your consent is key. It’s the cornerstone for any business reaching out to you directly. After all, who likes surprises in their inbox or constant ringing without permission?

Let us dive further into the key provisions laid out by the TCPA. 

Curbing Robocalls and Pre-recorded Messages

Picture a calm morning shattered by a robotic voice selling gadgets—ugh! The TCPA shields our peace by restricting the use of auto-dialers and pre-recorded messages. Businesses can only use these in specific scenarios:

  • Debt collection with strict time and frequency limits.
  • Emergency alerts like weather warnings.
  • With clear consent from consumers for such calls.

Robocalling without meeting these criteria can lead to hefty fines, making businesses think twice before using auto-dialers.

Protecting the Pocketable Pocket

Our phones are personal, and the TCPA acknowledges this by safeguarding them. Unless a business has your consent or an existing relationship, marketing calls to your mobile are a no-go.

Exceptions exist, like calls from NGOs, and service reminders, but consent is key. Without it, calling your mobile for marketing can lead to penalties.

Quieting the Calls After Dark

Early morning or late-night calls invade our personal space. The TCPA restricts telemarketing calls:

  • Weekdays between 8 AM and 9 PM for landlines.
  • There are no nationwide restrictions for mobiles, but some states enforce similar hours.
  • This curbs unwanted calls during your downtime.

The Do Not Call Shield

The Do Not Call Registry (DNCR) acts like a fortress shielding us from the never-ending stream of unwanted telemarketing calls.  Businesses must respect this list, or face penalties. Consumers can file complaints against violators, adding a layer of protection.

Established back in 2003, this digital haven houses registered phone numbers that have opted to stay away from unwanted business calls. 

Using pieces of information like Caller ID and number prefixes, it filters legit business calls from the pesky marketing ones.

Registering your landline or cell number in this registry is a breeze – just visit the official Do Not Call website, or call their hotline and follow the due process. Within 31 days, your number will be added to the list.

But, there is more to DNCR than just blocking calls. It allows the consumer to report companies that bypass the DNCR constraints. This holds these pesky businesses accountable for invading the consumer’s privacy. 

The Opt-In Process

Imagine a situation where the sign-up page on your website has a checkbox that reads, “Yes, I want to hear from you.” Now, it is on the customer surfing your website, whether they wish to hear from you. You have to wait for them to voluntarily respond with a yes, before sending marketing messages.

That is what the opt-in procedure is all about. The most crucial aspect of TCPA opt-in regulations is obtaining recipients’ express written authorization before texting them. Obtaining this kind of consent is required, whether in physical or digital form. The opt-in process must be clear, conspicuous, and unambiguous.

This voluntary user action can be regarded as the first polite step in a cordial relationship between your business and customers.

Getting Started with SMS Compliance

So, unwanted and unsolicited messages are not very user-friendly and more often than not, repel the clients. But, the text-based communication channel could be more efficient for any business owner like you to let go. So, in this section, we will read about the best practices for you to get your customer’s approval in the shortest period.

Obtaining Express Written Consent

Regarding SMS compliance marketing, getting your customers to willingly opt-in for your promotional texts is more than just following the rules; it’s about building trust.

They need to feel they are in charge and accountable for their decision, that they are allowing you and doing a favour. This consent cannot be forceful or ambiguous. Everything has to be crystal clear.

When asking for their consent, you must spell out every tiny detail. Let them know

  1. How often will they be hearing from you: Will it be once a week, twice a month, or more?
  2. What would you be sending in those texts: Exclusive deals, updates, or something else?
  3. Will there be any charges involved: Will they have to pay anything extra?

Clarity is the name of the game here. This step from your end is about building trust and keeping your customers in the loop. 

Diversifying Opt-In Methods for Accessibility

Your customers should voluntarily want to join your SMS communications. One of the Think about incorporating checkboxes on your subscription forms, giving customers the choice to opt into receiving SMS compliance messages from you.

Additionally, using keywords in your marketing materials or ads can be super handy. When texted to a specific number, these keywords allow interested folks to opt in seamlessly. The trick here is to keep everything crystal clear—let them know precisely what they’re signing up for and how they can opt out if they ever wish to.

Leveraging Your Online Presence for Smooth Opt-Ins

Let’s talk about your online space. Your website is a goldmine for gathering opt-ins. Make sure those opt-in forms are visible, easy to use, and integrated seamlessly into your site. Simplicity and transparency are your best friends here.

By offering different ways for people to sign up and being upfront about what they’re getting into, you’re not just ticking compliance boxes but building a bond of trust with your audience.

Maintaining Compliance Throughout Your Campaigns

This section will delve into the various factors that you need to keep in mind regarding compliance with regulations and guidelines, while actively running SMS marketing campaigns.

Message Frequency Limitations and Blackout Hours

With their approval for you, the business owner, to send marketing texts, they have given you their trust and time. You do not have any right to take that for granted. Once the trust of the customer is lost, it will be a mammoth task for you to get them back on your team.

So, when designing an SMS compliance marketing strategy, you must understand that respecting the message frequency claim is pivotal. Your integrity with the expectation setting serves as a guardrail, preventing your brand from inundating recipients with an excessive volume of messages.

There is a reason your customers have chosen to stick with your messaging antics. It is an unsaid rule that they will never entertain random and ill-timed messages.

SMS Compliance varies across regions, with regulations often stipulating daily, weekly, or monthly message caps. Comprehending these thresholds not only ensures adherence to the law but also nurtures a positive user experience, preventing subscriber fatigue and potential opt-outs.

In addition to message frequency, blackout hours often play a crucial role in your business sustaining its loyalists. These designated periods, typically during late-night or early-morning hours, restrict message sending to respect customers’ time. 

More than just being a legal necessity in certain jurisdictions, you respecting the blackout hours demonstrates your brand’s commitment to respecting your customers’ boundaries. This can go a long way in bolstering trust and fostering a more positive brand perception.

Proper Disclosure for Sender Identification and Message Fees

Transparency is the cornerstone of compliant SMS compliance marketing. Sender identification, presenting the brand name or a recognizable identifier, establishes credibility and trust. It enables recipients to recognize the source of the message, significantly reducing the likelihood of messages being flagged as spam.

Moreover, informing recipients upfront about any potential fees or standard messaging rates ensures transparency. Clearly articulating whether charges apply for receiving messages or accessing services protects both the brand and recipients. This upfront disclosure aligns with regulatory requirements and builds a foundation of trust and honesty.

Efficient Handling of Opt-Out Requests

You ought to respect your customers’ preferences, privacy, and burn-out state at any cost. If they wish to no longer continue with your promotional messages, they should be able to opt out hassle-free. 

As a business, you are bound to provide this option with your service messages. For example, your welcome message may include “Reply STOP to unsubscribe.”

The opt-out option cannot be subtle and indirect in the communication with your customers.  These opt-out links or phrases need to be straightforward and placed properly in the message.

Honouring opt-out requests promptly not only complies with regulations but also safeguards your brand’s reputation, ensuring continued trust and positive brand sentiment among recipients.

Best Practices for Effective SMS Marketing

Crafting Engaging and Personalised Text

You need to realise the fact that SMS

The previous section should have helped you with a fair idea of how to get your audience to willingly agree to your SMS marketing strategy. But, it is equally important for you to maintain compliance with the SMS compliance guidelines throughout the customer journey. 

is a mode of communication that is immediate and easily accessible. According to Simple Texting, 30% of consumers reply within 60 seconds of receiving a text message.

Since your customer, for sure, is getting bombarded with dozens of texts every day from numerous places, they can very well just ignore your message and move on.

The key to grabbing their unsolicited attention is personalization. It’s not just about sending texts; it’s about sending messages that resonate with each recipient

A generic “Hey you!” message is cut out for robots. Your consumers are humans who crave that extra ounce of personal touch. A person’s name is the sweetest-sounding word to them. Use it blatantly, reference their past purchases, or tailor your message to their interests. 

This shows that you are taking the time to connect with the reader.

It is a simple fact that when someone receives something that echoes their interests, they feel heard and happy. This simple hack can help your brand get loyal customers.

When you cater your messages to accommodate your user’s likes and dislikes, they feel heard and happy. Your gesture makes them feel that they are being personally spoken to. 

Tracking SMS Campaign Performance with LimeCall

The real struggle begins after you’ve launched your SMS campaign. Now, you need to make sure that your customers are hooked and engaged. SMS analytics can turn the tables in your favour. 

With in-depth analytics, you can get a fair idea of what is working and what is not with your customer base. Moreover, metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and conversions, expose what truly resonates with your audience. 

For instance, your customer’s purchase habits can help you gauge offers that will entice them. You can then curate special discounts to lure them. On the contrary, these parameters will also show you the dark reality of customer engagement.

These analytics can also point to campaigns that have failed miserably and have left your user base disgruntled. 

Let’s understand some of these metrics:

Open Rates: Open Rates highlight the number of people who have opened your SMS. A high rate here signifies that more and more users are connected to your brand

Click-Through Rates (CTR): With the help of CTR, you can ascertain the number of people who have interacted with your message and clicked on one or more of the links. If your website enjoys high CTR it means that your customers are intrigued and excited about the features. 

Conversion Rates: This metric shows the number of leads who have decided to become your customers. A high conversion rate signifies that your message and call to action are working their magic.

Opt-Out Rates: Not everyone’s a fan. These rates reflect the number of customers who have opted out of your message services. It’s a gentle push to check your messages’ relevance and tweak them wherever necessary. 

With the help of these tools, your reps can identify trends in offers and campaigns that have been a huge hit among your audience. Additionally, setting figures about customer engagement can also assist your brand in understanding the optimal times for engagement, consequently enabling you to plan content accordingly.

Ensuring Data Privacy and Security

It’s a beautiful morning and a customer of yours is all set to start their day with a bang, and they get a message from your brand. It is not about the latest deals but about a data breach compromising their personal information. What do you think their reaction would be? Will they ever trust you again?

We saw in the previous sections that compliance with regulations is extremely crucial. Add data security and privacy to it. Security and privacy transcend mere legal obligations. They are the very foundational pillars upon which your customer base’s long-term trust and respect are built.

Your brand’s data security measures must extend beyond regular technical processes like encryption and firewalls. It must boast a robust framework of internal policies like access control and employee training.
Even unintentional access to protected data by your employees can be considered a breach of protocols. Train your employees about your security protocols and procedures to follow in the event of a breach.

Privacy, on the other hand, delves into how that data is being collected, used, and shared. As a business owner, consumer data is the bedrock for your operations. In no circumstance whatsoever, can you afford any compromise on your customers’ data privacy.

That’s why data security and privacy aren’t just buzzwords or legal jargon – they’re the guardians of our digital identities, the gatekeepers of our personal narratives. They’re not just about complying with regulations, they’re about protecting our right to exist online without fear, to share our lives without trepidation, to be ourselves without vulnerability.

Imagine navigating the online world with the confidence of knowing your data is more than just ones and zeros. Picture receiving a clear and concise explanation of exactly what information a brand collects, why they need it, and who, if anyone, might peek at it. It’s like a trusted friend explaining things over coffee, not a corporate robot spewing legalese.

And the benefits of prioritizing this trust? They go beyond just avoiding fines or lawsuits. They translate into real, tangible rewards that build and sustain thriving businesses:

A Stellar Reputation:

In an age of information overload, consumers are savvier than ever. They flock to brands they trust with their stories, their data, and their very identities. Protecting their privacy positions your brand as a responsible and trustworthy digital citizen, attracting and retaining loyal customers who choose you over the faceless masses.

Reduced Risks and Liabilities:

Data breaches are not just inconvenient, they’re financially crippling. Proactive data security measures act like a sturdy shield, protecting your business from costly fines, lawsuits, and irreparable damage to your brand that comes with losing your customers’ trust.

Unbreakable Bonds:

When we feel secure, when we know our stories are safe, we open up. We engage, we connect, and we become loyal champions of the brands that respect our privacy. This fostered trust translates into stronger customer relationships, the kind that thrive on shared values and mutual respect.

Data security and privacy are opportunities – opportunities to build trust, loyalty, and ultimately, long-term success. By safeguarding your customers’ stories, you’re not just meeting regulations, you’re shaping your brand’s narrative as a champion of our digital rights, a protector of our online selves. In the end, that’s a story worth telling, and one that will resonate with customers for years to come.

15, February 16, 2024, Vincent Hawley

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