SMS marketing and legal considerations

3 minutes, 58 seconds

When getting started with SMS marketing, it’s important to have a grasp on the compliance laws governing this channel. As with email, to avoid spam violations, it’s important to understand what spam is, the laws that regulate telemarketing spam (TCPA), and the organizations that protect consumers from spam (CTIA). Please note that Cloud Contact AI cannot provide legal advice regarding US SMS compliance laws, and if you have questions about any of the points outlined in this guide, we recommend contacting legal counsel. 

SMS marketing in the United States

Text messaging laws vary by country. The laws covered in our US SMS Compliance guide are specifically around US laws. If your business is located in another country, or you have customers in other countries, follow all SMS laws and legal requirements in the areas where you do business.

SMS marketing internationally

Currently we are compiling a list of countries that use our systems to generate guidelines and links so you can use SMS marketing. For the benefit of all our customers, these guidelines will be provided to help you comply with applicable requirements and to help ensure Cloud Contact AI’s platform remains compliant with global telecommunications ecosystem requirements.

These guidelines will represent our current understanding of common compliance requirements generally applicable to Cloud Contact AI and its customers, and do not constitute legal advice.

By posting these guidelines, Cloud Contact AI makes no assurances regarding the legal compliance of your application built using our APIs. You are expected to understand and abide by all compliance obligations applicable to your specific application. You should check these pages regularly for updates as telecommunications ecosystem requirements continue to evolve and change, and the information below may be updated or changed without notice.

General Points to consider

While there are a diverse number of rules and regulations internationally in regards to SMS Marketing and Legal Compliance, it is a good idea to consider the following typical points before starting a campaign irrelevant of the country you’re operating from.

  • Always obtain express consent before texting anybody. Even if they have opted into your email list and you have their phone number from a signup form, this does not mean they consent to receive text messages from you.
    • Important note: Express written consent isn’t just for new contacts. It’s for all contacts. Yes, even those that you import. Although we may manually review import requests to ensure your messages can be sent, only you know whether your subscriber list that you’re importing was gathered in a compliant way.
  • Always provide an automated way for them to opt-out at any time. This can be as simple as replying ‘stop’ to a text message that you sent them. Think of this as a way to “unsubscribe” from text marketing.
  • Be clear about what they’re opting into. If they’re opting in to receive shipping confirmations, don’t send them marketing collateral about unrelated products they haven’t purchased.
  • Provide value — if your text messages aren’t helpful, your subscribers will probably opt-out. Provide something of value, whether it’s a discount code, a link to helpful content, or notifications relevant to something they’ve purchased.
  • Avoid acronyms and shorthand because not everyone will be savvy to common acronyms that you may use in text conversations (e.g., “lol” or “lmk”).
  • Cap your frequency. Prevent recipients from receiving too many text messages within a short timeframe. If you’re sending individuals more than one or two texts per day, or four-five a week, you’re likely sending too many and risk that person opting out.
  • Text during normal hours. If you have customers in different time zones, you’ll want to take timezone into consideration. A “Good Morning, [name]” text sent at 11 a.m. Pacific Time won’t make sense to somebody reading it on the east coast at 2 p.m.

Penalties for using non-compliant SMS marketing – Spamming

Legally, any unwanted message from a business or group can be classified as spam. In addition to generally being a bad practice, it is also illegal to send unsolicited text messages to people without their consent, and the fines can be heavy.

In the United States the penalties for violating the TCPA and time of writing are fines that range from $500 per violation to $1,500 per willful violation These violations can add up fast, which is why having concrete processes in place is of paramount importance.

If you think of how many people you have on your campaign lists, imagine texting all of them without express consent at $500 per person. As such Cloud Contact AI strongly recommends that you have an attorney review your entire texting policy and process. This will help ensure you remain in compliance.

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