We know that SMS is an effective way to engage with customers — it’s cost-effective and convenient, with an average open rate of 98%.
For these reasons, businesses are increasingly integrating texting into their communications strategies, from sending automated account notifications and alerts to using SMS for customer engagement and support.
There are strict regulations that dictate how organizations can interact with end users via text, with significant penalties for getting it wrong. So it’s more important than ever to understand what the rules are and how to comply with them.
Here are some tips to help you get the info you need.
Who makes the rules?
SMS rules and regulations are built on a foundation laid out by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) and the Federal Communications Commission’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
In general, the aim is to protect end users from receiving unsolicited or unwanted messages via SMS. The penalties for getting it wrong can include an immediate shutdown of service or fines ranging from $500 to $1,500 per message.
The first step to compliance is to read and understand the regulations set out by the CTIA and in the TCPA.
Which type of number should I choose?
When it comes to business messaging, there are several number types available, each with its own set of rules. It’s important to be aware of these and choose the number type that’s right for your use case.
Long codes are 10-digit phone numbers designated by mobile operators for P2P communication. They are for non-marketing use only, so appropriate use cases include chat applications and customer service.
Short codes are five- or six-digit phone numbers that customers can lease from the Common Short Code Administration. Users need to opt into this type of message. Short codes are most commonly used for password resets and alerts.
Toll-Free SMS is used to send text messages from toll-free numbers (e.g., 800, 888, 877, etc.). Unlike short codes, toll-free numbers can support both phone calls and SMS, so customers can respond to an SMS alert by texting or calling the same number. Example use cases include appointment reminders, account notifications and emergency alerts.
Messaging best practices
Here are some factors to consider that impact both compliance and customer experience:
- Opt-in and opt-out requirements - Make sure you’re meeting the regulatory requirements and making processes user-friendly.
- Terms and conditions - Be aware of what users need to know and when so they can easily access the information they need.
- Consider timing - Don’t send messages at inappropriate times.
- Identify yourself - Your customers should be clear on who’s messaging them.
If you’re using SMS as a tool for your business, it’s your responsibility to read up on the regulations and make sure you’re getting things right. It’s well worth the time investment if you are to fully realize the benefits of this popular and convenient communication channel.
Want to learn more about SMS compliance? Download Your Complete Guide to Messaging for additional insight into business messaging.
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