Nobody wants to feel like they're constantly being tapped on the shoulder.

If you don't follow basic best practices around opt-in and opt-out messaging for sending texts to your customers and prospects, this is exactly what you're risking.

Beyond potentially pushing away your contacts, following opt-in and opt-out guidelines is essential for maintaining compliance with relevant regulations in the area where your business operates.

We'll help you learn the ropes by outlining what opt-in and opt-out messages are, exploring some of the best practices for compliance and explaining how you can improve the customer experience by getting this crucial communication technique right.

What Do We Mean By Opt-In And Opt-Out Messaging?

In recent years, "opt in" and "opt out" have become popular phrases in a wide variety of contexts. The terms have a unique meaning in the field of marketing communications, however.

What Is Opt-In Messaging?

Opting in refers to the process through which your contacts agree to receive Short Message Service (SMS) communications or other notifications from your organization. It is similar to providing express written consent. Customers and prospects may opt in by sending a particular keyword to a designated number or by filling out a form.

What Is Opt-Out Messaging?

On the flip side, opt-out features help individuals decline to receive further communications from an organization. These recipients have previously opted in, or the business may have reached out to them after receiving implied consent. Either way, opt-out protocols ensure that individuals can halt the flow of communications anytime they please.

Legal Requirements For Opt-In And Opt-Out Messaging

In the United States, text messages delivered to consumers are regulated by various laws, including the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the CAN-SPAM Act. In Canada, there are protections like Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). Among other guidelines, these regulations can help you determine how you'll handle opt-in and opt-out messaging.

Best Practices For Opt-In Messaging

Industry organization CTIA recommends several principles that should inform your texting practices to maintain compliance with U.S. laws, including opt-in messaging guidelines. Some of the group's suggestions are:

  • Document opt-in consent from consumers.
  • Confirm opt-in for messaging campaigns that will entail recurring messages.
  • Use the opt-in consent for only one specific campaign.
  • Create and verify your own opt-in lists instead of buying, renting or sharing them.

According to Deloitte, CASL allows organizations to send communications with express and implied consent. The article states that implied consent includes:

  • Existing business and nonbusiness relationships.
  • Conspicuously published electronic contact information.
  • Voluntary disclosure of electronic contact information without indicating the party does not wish to be contacted.

Further information about these guidelines is available from the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

Opt-Out Mechanisms And Messaging

The CTIA best practices indicate that, among other guidelines, consumer opt-out options should be:

  • Available at all times.
  • Achievable through multiple channels, like phone calls, emails and texts.
  • Followed by a single opt-out confirmation from the sender.

The CRTC notes that unsubscribe mechanisms must be "simple, quick and easy" for the end-user to perform in order to meet the organization's definition of a compliant "readily performed" action. Complicated multistep opt-out mechanisms wouldn't be suitable.

The Benefits Of Getting Opt-In And Opt-Out Messaging Right For Customer Experience

Today, consumers are shopping right from their phones in greater numbers than ever before. A recent PwC consumer survey found that 45% of respondents increased the amount of online shopping they conducted from a mobile phone during the months following the COVID-19 outbreak. The vast majority were likely to maintain these elevated levels following the pandemic.

With more potential customers hitting buy from their smartphone's touch screen, it's essential to have a careful and thoughtful approach to SMS customer engagement campaigns. Overzealous marketing can drive customers away right as they're ready to confirm a purchase.

While you don't want to overlook the potential value of contact information that you've obtained through implied consent, it may be beneficial to double down by sending out a first message allowing these individuals to confirm that they'd like to opt in for your next campaign. This way, you'll incentivize likely customers without risking damage to your brand reputation by needlessly messaging people who aren't interested. Customers appreciate it when they feel like brands actually value their attention.

Partner With an SMS Gateway That Understands Opt-In And Opt-Out Messaging

It's crucial to work with a partner who understands the nuances of opt-in and opt-out messaging as well as best practices and opportunities for growing your footprint while adhering to relevant guidelines. Reach out to the team at Swift SMS Gateway today to find out how we can help. We're ready to assist you as you work to achieve your organization's text messaging goals.