The Rules and Regulations of Text Messaging

Like everything else, marketing is bound by a set of rules, and sms marketing is no exception. In 2013, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) introduced protocols to text marketing to avoid consumers being bombarded with spam.

Known as the ‘CAN-SPAM Act’ in the United States, the regulations specify the do’s and don’ts of commercial text messaging and emails. Here’s a quick overview.

Permission

A business must get permission from customers before they are able to send sms marketing messages. When a consumer makes a purchase, it does not give companies the right to add that customer to their database. Furthermore, it is not a legal requirement for businesses to ask customers for their phone number to make a purchase – although there is no law that prevents you from doing this. The best way to get permission from customers is to encourage them to send a text message to your short code quoting the keyword you give them.

Opt-in Confirmation

Before a business can legitimately send consumers commercial sms marketing messages, you have to have confirmation. Although consumers have the choice to ‘opt-in’ from the outset, FCC rules now state they also have to confirm they want to receive text marketing messages – ironically by sending them an sms. The exception to the confirmation rule is if the customer sends you a text independently quoting your keyword to the short code.

Notification of rates

If customers do not have a free text messaging plan with their mobile phone service provider, they will be charged when replying to any of your text messages. You are therefore required to notify them that “Msg&Data Rates May Apply” in the lower third of your advertisement or confirmation sms.

48-hour rule

Companies have to add customers that confirm they want to receive sms marketing messages within 48-hours.

Businesses that fail to comply with FCC rules and regulations could face lawsuits and are forbidden to use sms text messaging services. For more information about text message marketing visit the FCC website.