If your business wants to reach customers quickly and easily, text messages are the most efficient and effective method. Today’s customers are increasingly drawn to communicating with businesses via text message. In fact, 91% of customers say they’re interested in receiving texts from brands and companies – and more than half have already signed up to do so. Text messages have an overwhelmingly positive open and response rate: up to 95% of text messages are opened and answered within three minutes. Forward-thinking businesses are taking note, which means taking care to adhere to specific telephone related regulations.
Enacted by the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) in the early 90s to protect individuals from a swell of telemarketing campaigns, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) regulates the conduct of telemarketing campaigns. The TCPA restricts and regulates the use of both telemarketing practices, such as the use of pre-recorded messages, and equipment, like automatic dialers. The TCPA sets out strict rules for solicitation, and outlines the penalties when any of the rules are broken. Under the TCPA, obtaining customer consent is the first and most important step for businesses who want to contact their customers directly whether by phone, fax, or text message.
Like most legislation, the TCPA can seem like a dense and complicated document to navigate. But since text is the swiftest, most powerful way to communicate with your customers, it is vital to follow the TCPAs instructions and guidelines. We’ve put everything you need to know in order to stay compliant into a handy checklist.
Do get express written consent.
In this case ‘written’ does not necessarily mean ‘on paper’, it means a customer’s consent must be given in a manner that is both documentable and archivable, like an online form, or a keyword to be texted back. It must be clear what the individual is consenting to. *Express written consent does not include a message sent to any person the company has an established business relationship with.
Do provide full disclosure of terms and conditions.
After receiving consent, send a full disclosure message with links if necessary. Make sure your customers know what they’re signing up for and what to expect.
Do include a clear unsubscribe/opt out option.
The option should be visible and accessible, and you should keep a record of any opt-outs for at least five years.
Do use clear and concise language.
Be as straightforward as possible. There’s no need for tricks: customers want to sign up texts.
Do keep on top of regulatory updates and adjust accordingly.
The TCPA undergoes periodic amendments. Make sure to stay up to date on these changes and implement any required changes as quickly as possible
TCPA Do Nots
Do not text anyone on the Do Not Call registry.
Violating the DNC registry put your company at risk. Maintain your own Do Not Call list and honor it for at least five years. *The DNC registry is only applicable when an establish business relationship with the individual does not exist.
Do not use any language that can be deceptive, unfair, or abusive.
Your business text messaging reflects your organization: texts should be trustworthy and aboveboard.
Do not message people before 8am or after 9pm.
This condition is especially important since your customers may be spread across multiple time zones. Ensure each message contains your business name and contact information.
Do not text anyone who has opted out from your messages.
Respect and adhere to your customers’ choices. Be very clear about what recipients have (or have not) consented to.
Maintaining TCPA compliance is a sound business decision and risk management strategy. Any instance of non-compliance can draw considerable fines and penalties. Non-compliance can come in many forms: failure to obtain clear consent, inadequate privacy protection, absence of full disclosure, etc. Each occurrence of non-compliance can result in fines of up to $500 per text message. Considering how many text messages are sent per month, the risk of potential loss can be enormous.
But cultivating TCPA compliance is also the ethical choice. No business wants to damage the good name of its brand by alienating the privacy or choices of their customers. By maintaining TCPA compliance your business can continue to engage customers on their preferred channel: personalized, informative business text messaging.
Download our complimentary whitepaper to learn more about business text messaging compliance.
*There are some exceptions to the above Dos and Don'ts. An Established Business Relationship implies consent and allows businesses to communicate with customers who's last purchase, delivery or payment came within the last 18 months regardless of if that customer is registered on the National DNC registry.