Before Uploading Numbers to Your SMS List, Ask These Questions
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Before Uploading Numbers to Your SMS List, Ask These Questions
If you’re already familiar with text message marketing and are looking to switch to a new mass texting platform, you might already have a list of numbers that you want to migrate over. That’s definitely something you could do — it makes sense that you’d want to continue building on the hard work you’ve already put in to your text message marketing strategy. However, before you do, it’s important to take a minute to make sure all of your numbers have been collected in a compliant way. Because text marketing is federally regulated, you’ll need to make sure you’re staying within the rules before you upload your numbers.
Here’s what you need to know about staying compliant before you migrate your text list.
Understanding the Telephone Consumer Protection Act
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was passed in 1991 by the federal government to help protect consumers from unwanted telephone marketing. The regulations financially penalize companies who misuse telephone marketing channels. Just in case you think that only applies to robocalls, the act was amended to include SMS Marketing too. What are the most important regulations you need to be aware of so you don’t get into trouble? Here’s what you need to know about the TCPA, and how the CTIA, which is the trade association that represents the wireless industry, oversees the current regulations.
Emphasis on consent
The federal government wants you to maintain records that prove the people you’re texting have explicitly agreed to receiving text messages from you if you’re texting them for marketing purposes. A reputable business texting platform will make it easy for you to get subscribers to opt in, so if you don’t see anything within your text marketing platform about opting users in, it might be time to search for a different service. Usually, subscribers will either need to opt in via a form on your website before then confirming their opt in by text message. Or, you can have them opt in by directly sending a textword to your short code.
What to ask your team before you start text marketing
Here is the information you should gather from your team and data before you upload numbers to an SMS Marketing list.
1. What is the purpose of this text message?
There are some exceptions where you aren’t specifically required to have written consent, even though it’s still a good idea. In some cases, if you are sending notifications such as appointment reminders or emergency alerts, then you might not need express, written consent from your recipients. These exceptions have a very limited scope, however, so you should review them with your business texting service to make sure your situation fits the scenario.
2. Is there documented proof of consent?
In most cases, you legally need documented, written proof of consent to send mass text messages. This even applies to situations where you’re texting your friends. Let’s say you just opened your very first small business. Just so happens, you’re pretty stinking popular. You have 500 contacts in your phone. You know these people will be excited for your success, and you want to fire out a grand opening invite via text. Is that doable? Unfortunately, no. Yes, these people may very well be thrilled about your accomplishment. And yes, the majority of these contacts would probably love to attend your launch event. However, when your contacts originally gave you their numbers, it was for for personal communication, not marketing messages. You can’t bring your personal contacts over for business purposes, at least in the world of SMS.
You can only upload these contacts if you have proof that they did, in fact, want to join your SMS Marketing list.
3. Were the customers aware that they were specifically opting into a SMS marketing list?
Let’s say you put a sign up sheet at your store, but didn’t include the proper compliance statement. You just simply wrote, “Jot down your phone number for special text message offers” Is this ok? Once again, no. On every sign up form, you need to make sure you have a proper compliance statement. This sets certain expectations, and leaves no room for confusion.
The compliance statement might look something like this.
Up to 4Msgs/Month. Reply STOP to cancel, and HELP for help. Msg & data rates may apply. Terms: bit.ly/1Vc83J2
That helps customers know exactly what they can expect when they receive marketing text messages from you. It also gives them a way to unsubscribe if they’re tired of your text messages.
What if you have an old list but limited proof of consent?
If your company tried running a text message marketing campaign in the past you might have a list of numbers but no documented proof that these people signed up to receive text message marketing messages from you. Your options in this case are somewhat limited if you want to stay within the federal regulations and avoid legal ramifications, but here are some ideas to consider for a strategy moving forward.
Remember: Your numbers might no longer be relevant
People change numbers, develop new tastes and can even forget that they signed up for messages from your company. If you haven’t been developing a relationship with customers since they signed up for your list, they numbers that you have on file might not actually be that relevant anyway. In this case, starting with a clean slate might not be the worst option.
Use list-growth tactics to develop a new list
If you do have to develop a new text list, don’t panic. Even though it might seem like a setback, there are several options that can help you grow a valuable list quickly. As a bonus, you’ll know that everyone on your new list actually wants to be there, which should help increase your open rates and conversion rates. Here are some ways you can start rebuilding your list:
- If you’re a brick-and-mortar location advertise in store to let people know you’re launching a text marketing campaign. Also, get your employees involved in helping to sign people up.
- Provide a great incentive for joining your text marketing list to motivate people.
- Use a text-to-win contest to drive sign ups and help grow your list quickly.