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Nov 11, 2021
5 minutes read

Opt-in policies for text messaging: how to stay compliant with SMS

Getting permission to text your customers is one of the first rules of SMS marketing. Opt-in text messaging protects consumers by reducing unwanted spam and ensuring they only receive texts from businesses they actually want to hear from. In this blog we’ll go over why opt-in text messaging is required for SMS compliance and how to use SMS opt-in policies to obtain legal permission to text your customers.

While SMS compliance can seem challenging at first, it doesn’t have to be. Following SMS opt-in policies can increase your engagement and response rates to help you create successful text message marketing campaigns. 

What Is Opt-In Text Messaging?

Opt-in text messaging is the process of getting permission from consumers before sending them marketing messages. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires that businesses get express written consent before sending SMS marketing messages to consumers.

Express written consent is a written agreement, on paper or sent electronically, from a consumer that proves they consent to receive texts from your business. Many companies also use double opt-in messages, which require consumers to confirm their subscription after signing up. Double opt-in acts as an extra protective measure to avoid fines, legal fees, and a damaged brand image that can come from non-compliance.

Why Do You Need to Get Permission to Text Customers?

SMS marketing can transform how you connect with your customers, but SMS compliance is just as important. SMS opt-in policies protect consumers from unwanted spam and help businesses comply with mobile marketing compliance laws. These laws prohibit companies from simply buying subscriber lists and blasting texts to consumers without their permission. 

SMS marketing regulations also require that businesses frequently present the option to opt out. For instance, consumers can usually opt out of receiving text messages by sending the word STOP to the number they want to unsubscribe from.

Failure to comply with these country regulations can be costly for businesses. Although only some laws allow the government to fine non-compliant organisations, many others enable criminal and civil charges against organisations that have violated the law.

What Are the Benefits of Opt-In Text Messaging?

While SMS compliance laws mainly exist to protect consumers, businesses can leverage opt-in text messaging to make sure they’re only texting people who want to hear from them. Here are some other benefits of opt-in texts:

  • Higher engagement and open rates: Customers who opt in to receive texts from your business are much more likely to read and respond to your messages.
  • Protection from legal fines and penalties: Documenting customer consent with opt-in texts creates a record that can be used to prove your business’s compliance with SMS marketing regulations if it ever comes into question.
  • Fewer spam complaints: Thanks to SMS compliance, less than 3% of SMS messages are marked as spam, compared to more than half of all emails.
  • Increased conversion rate: Texting consumers who willingly signed up to receive your messages, rather than random groups of people, can help you convert subscribers into paying customers.
  • Direct communication with your customers: Opt-in text messaging also allows your business to connect directly with your customers, since 85% of smartphone users report that they prefer to receive SMS texts instead of emails and calls.

How to Get Permission to Text Your Customers: 6 Opt-In Methods

Having your customers opt in to receive marketing messages from your business isn’t that tricky. In fact, with the rise of multichannel marketing, it’s easier than ever to promote your SMS marketing list and gain new subscribers legally.

Here are some ways you can use SMS opt-in policies in your marketing communications to grow your list:

1. Website Popups

Because it’s one of the first messages a person sees when they visit your site, a website popup is a simple and effective way to share information about your SMS marketing list. You can use a call-to-action to ask visitors to sign up for SMS texts, email newsletters, or both, in just one step.

2. SMS Keywords

An SMS keyword is a five or six-digit word that subscribers can text to your phone number to sign up to receive texts. You can even use multiple SMS keywords to segment your subscriber list.

For example, a pizza restaurant that offers catering services can use the keyword CATER to segment their catering customers away from dining patrons, who would use PIZZA to sign up for general promotional offers.

Promote your keywords across your marketing channels and website to encourage people to sign up. 

3. Online Forms

Online forms make it easy for website visitors to sign up for marketing messages while also allowing you to collect more information about them to create personalised campaigns. For instance, you can ask subscribers to share their birthday so you can text them a special offer during their birthday month.

4. Paper Forms

If your business has physical locations, don’t forget to ask those visitors to sign up for your SMS marketing list. In-store customers are naturally more engaged than website visitors, so you don’t want to miss out on potential subscribers. You can also offer a special discount code for customers who sign up to receive texts at checkout.

5. Banners

You can create physical or digital banners that ask customers to opt in to receive text messages by promoting your SMS keyword or a QR code that links to a landing page on your website. By making it easy for customers to subscribe to your message service, you can quickly build a list of interested SMS subscribers.

6. Special Offers

By offering special discounts to SMS subscribers, you incentivise customers to sign up for your text messages. Using unique offer codes for your SMS marketing list can help you gain insight into how effective your SMS marketing campaign is at converting subscribers.

Start Texting Your Customers with CM.com’s Easy SMS Gateway

Opt-in text messaging protects your business from costly non-compliance and allows you to build a more engaged audience. If you’re ready to get started with high-quality text message marketing and painless SMS compliance, our user-friendly SMS platform can help.

CM.com helps businesses connect with millions of global customers where they prefer to spend their time — on their mobile devices. With our fast and reliable SMS messaging platform and SMS Gateway API, you can use our built-in SMS opt-in policies to increase customer engagement while meeting GDPR, and other mobile marketing compliance requirements.

Learn more about our SMS Gateway API.

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