Text message marketing holds a lot of power, but as the number of SMS marketing campaigns continues to grow across industries, businesses must get compliance out of the way.
We understand that dealing with rules and regulations can be daunting and off-putting. That's why we've put together a guide to help you understand what you need to know. We'll talk through each critical element and answer the key questions.
The Campaign Registry
Also referred to as TCR, The Campaign Registry is a new entity created by mobile network operators (MNOs) for U.S. text message broadcasting. In August 2020, TCR initiated SMS registration which required organizations to have a fully enrolled text message campaign to make business text messaging a more secure and trusted platform. With The Campaign Registry, MNOs can manage 10DLC (10 digit-long-code) phone numbers and shortcodes that are often used for application-to-person (A2P) messaging.
Do I Have To Register?
Starting with everyone's burning question: Is it imperative that I register my campaign? The answer is yes.
Every single company that utilizes SMS in the U.S., regardless of purpose or industry, has to register its campaign with The Campaign Registry to establish itself as a legitimate business. Campaign registration prevents scammers from successfully manipulating vulnerable recipients by requiring a full identification and validation process. If you don't register your U.S. text message campaigns, it's likely your text message initiatives won't get delivered.
If your business has more than one use case, unfortunately, it's not possible to solely rely on one phone number to send multiple types of campaigns. Each campaign type requires an additional registration number to text from.
The Consequences of Non-Compliance
Lack of delivery isn't the only undesired outcome of avoiding registration. If your company fails to register its U.S. campaign, then it's highly likely that you'll encounter hefty financial penalties from carriers.
Carriers can charge you $10 per message which, in the context of business texting, can add up very quickly, and The Campaign Registry will invoice you $25 monthly for unregistered SMS use. In the worst-case scenario, carriers have the power to ban your brand from using mobile services in the future which halts your brand's marketing initiatives completely.
That's why compliance is of utmost importance. To avoid these penalties, you'll need to provide the following information.
The Campaign Registry Requires:
- Legal business name.
- Country of registration.
- Entity type.
- Tax number/ID/EIN.
- HQ address.
- Website link.
- Company size.
- Support email.
- Support phone number.
For more detailed information on the required information for campaign registration, see our comprehensive guide here.
How Long Does It Take To Register?
For standard-use campaigns, The Campaign Registry states approval can be provided shortly after submission. However, for special use cases, such as charity, education or emergency services, registration may take slightly longer.
Laws Related to Text Message Marketing
Newly established governing bodies have recently implemented telemarketing regulations. The main acts and entities that enforce important guidelines include:
1. Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
Also known as the TCPA, was established in 1991 as the primary telemarketing law in the U.S. to protect SMS recipients from receiving unsolicited marketing texts. This act requires customers to provide on-record consent before a business can reach out to them via text message. It also enforces privacy rights through the following measures:
- Identification — Commercial entities must make their company name clear, along with their reason for contact.
- Operation hours — Businesses can't use automation to send texts during unsocial hours, between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
- Autodialer restrictions — The use of robocalls (also known as automated dialing systems) is strictly prohibited.
- Clear opt-out options — Companies can't text a customer without providing a clear opt-out option in every message.
Failure to adhere to TCPA guidelines could result in $500 fines per text message, and if there's evidence to prove a business intentionally avoided compliance, costs may triple to $1,500 per message.
There are some exceptions to the TCPA, often for campaigns with special SMS use cases, for example, emergency messages can send texts during unsocial hours without an option to opt out.
2. CAN-SPAM Act
In 2003, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act to address recipients receiving unwanted offensive, explicit or inappropriate content through marketing channels, such as email or SMS. As the CAN-SPAM Act doesn't govern all aspects of SMS communication, the FTC is planning to write up-to-date text marketing regulations.
3. Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA)
This association is a national trade group that isn't technically considered a governing body. The CTIA has the right to block businesses from using wireless communications if they refuse to comply with its guidelines. Their guidelines emulate that of the TCPA and CAN-SPAM Act and you can read their messaging principles and best practices here.
4. Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)
The CASL is another set of regulations that apply to SMS and mobile communications. When it comes to texting, if businesses are already following the TCPA guidelines, it's more than likely that they're also complying with CASL laws as they're also very similar. However, it's important to know that Canadian text message broadcasting is not registered with the Campaign Registry. In Canada, your text message gateway manages your compliance and approvals.
It's also essential to keep international laws in mind when evaluating your brand's legal compliance. Regardless of a business's primary HQ location, companies must also comply with international consumer privacy laws, the strictest being the General Data Protection Act (GDPR), which requires companies that handle European customer data to meet their seven data privacy principles:
- Lawfulness, fairness and transparency.
- Purpose limitation.
- Data minimization.
- Storage limitation.
- Integrity and confidentiality.
Be sure to consider these elements when obtaining sensitive information for enhanced data protection and consumer privacy. This helps to prevent issues arising further down the line, like data loss in a potential cyberattack.
Best Practices For SMS Compliance
Rules and regulations can be difficult to comprehend all at once. To help you remain compliant with international laws, here are some best practices to consider:
- Double opt-in methods: To ensure compliance with opt-in legislation, consider implementing a double opt-in for customers. By asking recipients to confirm their subscription by responding with a keyword, such as "Yes" or "No", double opt-in functions as a secure way to guarantee customer awareness in signing up for your SMS campaign.
- Apply the SHAFT rule: Introduced by the CTIA, the SHAFT content rule helps you remember to avoid sex, hate, alcohol, firearms and tobacco in your text messages. Keeping this in mind should hopefully maintain awareness of acceptable content guidelines.
- Text how you wish to be texted: When creating content for your SMS campaign, try to embody the mind of a customer. For example, would you prefer companies to contact you once a day or once every two weeks? Adopting this mindset will help you understand the boundaries customers expect from businesses.
If you're still feeling uncertain about national rules and regulations, it may be beneficial to seek legal advice or consider the services of a third party that will be able to assist you.
Want to get started on your SMS journey? Contact Swift SMS Gateway today!