With everybody living on their phones these days, text messaging has become the preferred method of communication. While the typical open rate for email hovers around 20%, text messaging averages 98% consistently. However, this medium does come with compliance regulations that are important to follow. Otherwise, there could be repercussions from mobile carriers that may involve the *FCC, FTC, and other government agencies, not to mention the chance of annoying your customers.
Why Compliance is Important
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted rules to protect consumers and businesses from the rapidly growing number of unwanted electronic mail messages. The Commission began this rulemaking process when directed by Congress after the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM Act) was passed.
The CAN-SPAM Act requires the FCC to issue rules and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce the provisions of the Act when it comes to commercial email and text messages sent to wireless devices, including cell phones. The CAN-SPAM Rule, which implemented the Act, requires commercial messages to contain, among other things, accurate information, and provide the recipient with the ability to opt-out of future messages.
In addition, section 14 of the CAN-SPAM Act requires the FCC to develop rules to protect consumers from “unwanted mobile service commercial messages.” The primary statute that affects the use of texts is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), which restricts telephone solicitations and the use of automated telephone equipment. TCPA also specifies several technical requirements for types of communications, including SMS text messages.
The Type of Content Matters
Whether or not a message is covered under the CAN-SPAM Act depends on if the communication contains commercial content or transactional or relationship content. What matters is the “primary purpose” of a message, which can include three different types of information:
- Commercial content, which advertises or promotes a commercial product or service. That includes content on a website that is operated for a commercial purpose.
- Transactional or relationship content facilitates an already agreed-upon transaction and/or updates a customer about an ongoing transaction.
- Other content is neither commercial nor transactional or relationship.
If the message contains only commercial content, its primary purpose is clearly commercial, and it must comply with the requirements of CAN-SPAM. However, if a communication contains merely transactional or relationship content, its primary purpose is deemed transactional or relationship. In such a case, it still must not provide false or misleading routing information but is otherwise exempt from most provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act. For more information on the differences in content and whether or not restrictions may apply, click here.
The CAN-SPAM Act establishes requirements specifically for commercial messages, affords recipients the right to put a stop to the communications, and spells out severe penalties for violations. Each separate communication in breach of the Act is subject to stiff fines, so noncompliance can be very costly. However, following the law is not difficult. To stay in compliance, here’s a rundown of the basic requirements for commercial communications under CAN-SPAM:
- Although the law gives you much leeway, you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
- Don’t use false or misleading information. In the case of emails, the communication must have an accurate header and subject lines and include a valid physical address.
- Recipients need to have a clear and apparent means in which to opt-out of receiving future communications from you. And, you must honor any opt-out requests promptly.
- The law is clear that even if you have others manage your marketing communications, you are still responsible for the communications and must comply with the law. Always monitor what others are doing on your behalf, as both you and they are legally responsible.
So, how do you make sure that you stay in compliance? By adhering to best practices with your communications. When it comes to texting, here are some things to keep in mind:
Opting-in is Important
It’s essential for mobile users to “opt-in” for any business-related texting. Businesses that use texting as a form of communication must obey all legal requirements and regulations for their area, and should always follow text marketing best practices. Simply avoid any compliance issues, and you’ll have both successful text marketing campaigns and happy customers.
Keep your database of clients compliant and only send messages to legally-obtained cell numbers that have opted-in. Be very clear what your clients are signing up for, including the type of content and the maximum frequency of communications in a given period (per day, week, or month) they should expect. Follow through on your promise and send only what and how often you said you would send. You also want to give your clients a way to opt-out (i.e., Text STOP to halt text communications). And, if you’re made aware of any violations or customer complaints, rectify them quickly and thoroughly.
Keep it Legal
With any form of marketing, messaging and engagement are essential. Be sure to keep your communications professional but relatable and to utilize different forms of media for better customer engagement and action. In the case of texting, it’s best to have a clear purpose for the communication and to keep things simple with concise messaging and an easy call to action.
Rosy Text Message Marketing
How it Works
With Rosy’s Text Message Marketing, you can send an individual text or message a larger group to share news, promotions, trends, new services, recommended products and tools, and so much more. Whether you send messages immediately or schedule them for later, Text Message Marketing is a cost-effective form of communication that lets you send a one-time message or create ongoing campaigns.
To get started, just log on and hit the marketing tab in your Rosy Salon Software account – then switch Text Message Marketing on and select how many messages you want. Next, you’ll secure your dedicated number, which is what your clients see on their phones for text campaigns from that point on. Last, give your clients the option to choose to receive your text messages with a simple opt-in process. Your customers simply text one of three keywords to your dedicated number, and then you’re set to send out text messages and market directly to your customers where they live…on their phones.
So, are you ready to up your marketing game with Text Message Marketing?
Pro Tip: Enhance your COVID compliance by having your client text when they arrive and are ready from the parking lot. Learn more about this and contactless checkout ideas here.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable in all 50 states, D.C. and U.S. territories. They protect the integrity of all mobile communications, including text messaging.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the U.S’s consumer protection agency. It collects complaints about companies, business practices, identity theft, and episodes of violence in the media. Its primary function is to ensure text marketers adhere to proper business rules and conduct.