At Respond Flow, creating great experiences when both sending and receiving text messages is our top priority.
If you've never heard of the TCPA and CTIA, here's a quick primer for how to follow best practices and legal guidelines for text message marketing. This post is meant for general information only, for legal advice, please consult a professional.
What is the TCPA, and why should I care?
TCPA stands for the "Telephone Consumer Protection Act" and was passed into law in 1991. The TCPA limits the use of robo-dialing systems, artificial or prerecorded voice messages, SMS text messages, and fax machines.
What happens if I violate the terms of the TCPA?
People may bring suit in local small claims court or the state court for damages up to $500 - $1500 for each violation, if they can show that you knowingly and willfully violated by sending out messages to people that had not authorized them.
What is the CTIA, and why should I care?
The CTIA, or Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, represents the U.S. wireless communications industry and the companies throughout the mobile ecosystem in the United States, such as carriers and suppliers. The CTIA promotes the industry's voluntary best practices.
What happens if I don't follow the CTIA best practices?
While the TCPA is federal law, the CTIA is not. If you are not following CTIA guidelines, wireless carriers may be unhappy and decide their own appropriate course of action, such as suspending your account.
What are the best practices for being TCPA and CTIA compliant?
General guidelines include and are not limited to
- Get permission to message your customers.
- Acquire the customer's clear consent to receive informational messages via SMS texting.
- Acquire the customer's express written consent to receive marketing messages via SMS - texting. Written consent may include electronic or digital forms of signature (such as a website form, text message, or email).
- Maintain a record of each customer's consent.
- Disclose useful information and opt-out instructions.
Can I send a text blast asking for people permission to send text messages?
No. You can not! It’s important to understand compliance before you send a message. Express written consent from your contacts is mandatory.
What are some best practices?
- Disclose that message and data rates may apply.
- If you are asking people to subscribe to a recurring campaign (such as a weekly or monthly update), then clearly explain the regularity of messaging (i.e. "sign up for weekly updates").
- Message thoughtfully and carefully.
- Message people between the hours of 9 AM and 9 PM, their local time.
- Be specific. Messaging "Text YES to subscribe to Respond Flow's weekly update and receive deals" is more likely to increase your opt-in rate than a message like "Text YES to subscribe".
- Be smart. Do not include content that involves illegal behavior or substances, violence, adult content such as nudity, profanity, or hate speech.
Remember - customers are giving you access to their most personal and private device - their mobile phone number. Use this privilege wisely, respect people's privacy, and treat others as you wish to be treated.