Is Text Advertising Legal?

Advertising via text messages is a perfectly legal practice, though there are rules and guidelines that you should be aware of before you launch your own SMS marketing campaign for your business.

This article will cover the following topics:

  • Functionality of Business Text Messaging

  • Consent and Compliance Laws

  • CTIA and the Structures Within It

  • The TCPA and How it Affects Your SMS

  • Tips for Structuring your SMS Marketing Messages

Read on to learn more about the compliance side of text message marketing and exactly how to navigate these rules for your business marketing messages.

What are Business Text Messages?

Business text messages are any marketing messages you are sending from your business to your customers.

Since these are commercial text messages, there are a variety of SMS marketing laws that have been put in place to protect both your business and your clients.

One of the most attractive features of SMS messaging for your business is the accessibility feature– you are able to communicate with your clients directly through their cell phones, and they are able to reach out back to you through the same format.

The text message in itself is an informal mode of communication, which makes it appealing to businesses who are looking to foster relationships with their clients.

These commercial messages can cover a lot of content, but the general goal of text message marketing is to be able to create a user friendly communication channel to make your business and employees more easily accessible.

Since these are electronic messages, there are a few text message marketing laws that are in place to provide conspicuous disclosure to your SMS messaging efforts.
Before you get started on your own SMS marketing, let’s review the important legislature and compliance rules that govern your business text messages.

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What is Written Consent?

Written consent is defined as a clear and conspicuous disclosure from each customer that states they would like to be receiving your SMS messages.

Once you have received express written consent through a confirmation message, you’ll be able to include this recipient in your text message marketing campaigns.

It is important to outline the difference between implied consent and express written consent.

Express consent is usually obtained through an opt in message that clearly states the recipient would like to be included in your SMS campaign.

This form of written consent will likely take the form of clicking a button from a message you have provided, and might even have a double opt in feature to ensure that consent has been properly recorded.

Conversely, implied consent operates under the assumption that once you have obtained consent from that given customer, you don’t need to provide opt in and opt out instructions in future messages.

This assumption falls under breaking text marketing law, because you have to make sure that opt in and opt out instructions are included in EVERY message.

Even once you obtain prior express written consent, you must still include opt out instructions to allow your customer a chance to unsubscribe from your SMS if desired.

Now that we know a little bit more about written consent and express consent, let’s take a closer look at the text marketing laws and rules put in place by the Federal Communications Commission for the safety of everyone involved in SMS campaigns.

What You Should Know About the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA)

The CTIA is a mobile marketing association that deals with primary text spam law and other SMS marketing regulations that are present within SMS marketing strategy.

Let’s list out all that the CTIA oversees when it comes to SMS marketing and text spam laws:

  • Deals with any electronic communications regulations and their data rates

  • Ensures safety of electronic marketing methods as a wireless communications industry

  • Protects consumers personal data

  • Monitors the messages consumers receive

  • Requires registration from wireless carriers to prevent unwanted text messages

  • Deals with all facets of SMS marketing, including the automatic telephone dialing system, telemarketing calls, and pre recorded messages

  • Makes sure that consent is being properly obtained in accordance with marketing regulations and SMS compliance rules

Essentially, the CTIA deals with all things electronic communications regulations and marketing text messages.

The organization is mostly focused on text message privacy laws, and the CTIA drew a lot of inspiration for these prior consent laws from Canada anti spam legislation that warrants an established business relationship to exist in order for SMS texting to occur.

The CTIA is also the first line of defense when it comes to general data protection regulation through the data protection act, meant to protect from business who can spam a phone number’s inbox without permission.

While the CTIA covers a lot of ground in the SMS marketing and SMS program arena, their most prevalent text marketing law is the telephone consumer protection act (TCPA).

Let’s review exactly what the telephone consumer protection act means for your electronic communications and why it was created by the Federal Trade Commission.

What Does The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) Entail?

The telephone consumer protection act (TCPA) deals with all things consent within SMS marketing and commercial messages.

Like other SMS marketing laws, the TCPA was put into place to protect the consumer, while also ensuring that prior express consent and other text messaging compliance features were being followed and enforced.

Let’s outline the text messaging laws that the TCPA covers:

  • Ensuring proper opt in and opt out options are present in every text message

  • The inclusion of a data protection officer if needed

  • Ensuring businesses obtain written consent with no exceptions

  • Outlining display opt out instructions for phone numbers and each mobile device

  • Other marketing regulations like preventing phone numbers that can spam and where message and data rates apply

Businesses that can spam act as “predators” in the eyes of the TCPA, so there are many text message laws that have come into effect in order to combat these companies that don’t obtain consent.

Since each text message must contain these consent options, it has been a process to properly construct the text marketing rules that now govern SMS texting.

Using Canada’s anti spam legislation, many of the TCPA’s and CTIA’s text message laws came into effect, especially in the SMS marketing regulations department.

There are now rules in places regarding tax exempt nonprofit organizations, businesses that can spam, and other entities that don’t obtain consent through a mobile device.

These text marketing laws may seem daunting, but just err on the side of caution when it comes to obtaining consent and other text message privacy laws.

If you just make sure that your SMS subscribers want to receive your messages, you’ll be good to go!

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How Should I Structure My Business Text Messages?

Now that we know the ins and outs of SMS compliance, let’s get into the real fun: constructing your SMS business texts!

The basic structure can be broken down into three main parts:

  1. The opening

  2. The message

  3. The closing

Since these communications are taking the form of a text message, you want to make sure that it is as simple as possible and in line with the above structure.

With the opening, make sure to include a friendly greeting with both your name (or the name of your business) and the name of the client you are messaging.

With a mass message, you can alter setting within your SMS software to ensure that the correct names will be used here.

The meat of the message should also be short and sweet.

Keep the content as short as possible in your SMS texts, and try to only utilize texts when you are delivering important or urgent information to your clients.

A big reason that text messaging laws came into effect was to prevent lengthy and convoluted messages that were coming from unwanted senders.

Make sure to keep your message central and cohesive, and always include an opt out.

Include the opt out button in your closing, along with a means to contact you or your business.

Use SMS to create a convenient communication channel for your clients to reach you– you’ll find that customers appreciate and value accessibility with the businesses they chose to receive service from.

If you utilize SMS in a way that benefits your clients and you keep in mind the elements that can spam, you’ll be in a great spot to begin creating SMS campaigns.

How Kennected Uses Text Advertising

At Kennected, we see the value in introducing text advertising and text message marketing into your business strategy.

We use SMS marketing to foster important client relationships while also making ourselves more accessible and easier to reach if need be.

We have seen that our clients appreciate this initiative and feel more comfortable reaching out to us through an SMS channel.

Once you begin an SMS campaign for your business, you’ll see these benefits too– just keep the statutes of the TCPA and CTIA in mind as you begin to navigate the text messaging laws in place. 

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