Mass marketing texts can be a super effective way to promote your business and engage with your customers on a deeper, more personal level. Text messaging is such an intimate and immediate medium – most people open and read their text messages right away, and that includes marketing text messages. Even when customers know they’re on the receiving end of a bulk marketing text, they’re still going to open that text at a rate of about 99 percent.
That’s because the current regulatory environment allows customers to trust that the marketing texts they receive are going to be texts that they might actually want to receive. You can contribute to the trust customers have in marketing texts by following the laws that govern text message marketing: the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the CAN-SPAM Act.
Under these laws, you have to get express written permission from your customers before you include them on bulk text mailing lists. You can only send marketing texts during certain times of the day, and you have to let customers opt out by replying to a text. The penalties for not following these guidelines are steep – they can easily add up to millions of dollars.
Get Permission to Text Your Customers
Under the TCPA, you can’t send your customers marketing texts unless they have opted in to receive marketing texts. Most companies navigate this by having customers send a text to the company’s texting number, giving their consent to receive marketing messages. You can have them text a keyword to a shortcode number to give their consent to sign up for marketing messages. The offer for consent to receive marketing texts must contain:
- Your company name
- Your reason for messaging the customer
- Info on how frequently you plan to send marketing texts
- A messaging rates disclaimer
- Instructions for opting out
That sounds like a lot of stuff to cram into a single text message, but it really isn’t. Use this template to break it down: “Hi [Name], welcome to text messages from [Company]! We will send you offers weekly up to 5 msgs/month. Message and data rates apply. Reply HELP for terms & conditions, STOP to stop receiving texts.”
Only Text Them at Reasonable Hours
Under the TCPA, you can only send bulk marketing texts at certain hours of the day. From 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., marketing texts are allowed. You will probably want to send your marketing texts when you want to promote time-sensitive offers.
Let Them Opt Out Whenever They Want
Customers should be allowed to opt out of receiving your marketing texts whenever they want. Indeed, it’s that ability to opt out of texts, and have that choice respected, that makes marketing text programs so appealing to consumers in the first place. Under the TCPA, you have to let customers opt out of marketing text messages by replying to any of your texts. Most companies use a keyword code like STOP or OPT OUT to make opting out of marketing texts as easy as possible.
Penalties for Violating the Law Are Steep
If you’re going to use text messaging to promote your products and services, you should know that the fines and penalties for not adhering to the TCPA and the CAN-SPAM Act are enormous. The penalty for each individual violation of the TCPA is $500. Each individual message you send counts as one violation, so if you send a noncompliant bulk text message to 1,000 people, you’ve violated the TCPA 1,000 times and need to pay $500 X 1,000, or $500,000 just for that round of text messages. If it’s decided that you intentionally violated the TCPA when you sent your 1,000 text messages, then the fine per incidence goes up to $1,500 – meaning you could end up paying $1.5 million in fines for just 1,000 non-compliant text messages. If more than one message was sent to each consumer, the fines will be even higher.
The TCPA and the CAN-SPAM Act were enacted to protect consumers from harassment by telephone, email, text, and fax. It’s just not worth it to disregard these laws when you’re putting together a text message marketing campaign. Follow the regulations and do everything right, so you can keep your customers engaged with your text message marketing campaign and contribute to the high degree of trust and confidence consumers have in marketing messages. Many of your customers are eagerly awaiting your texts – you just have to find out which ones.