SMS Marketing Rules: Complete TCPA Compliance guide for beginners
Updated: Dec 19, 2022
Text messaging is a proven method used by top brands to market their products and services. With an open rate of nearly 98% and a response rate of around 45%, text messages are far better than email, which has an open and response rate of 20% and 6%, respectively.
However, texting without adhering to the rules and regulations laid down by TCPA can put your business at risk of legal action. By being TCPA compliant, you can safeguard your business from potential legal threats by sending messages to those customers who wish to receive them. This will also lead to an increase in the overall effectiveness of your communication by avoiding the possibility of sending unwanted messages to people who aren't interested.
But if you are not sure where to start your journey of making your business texting TCPA compliant, keep reading and we will walk you through it.
What is TCPA?
TCPA stands for Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which was enacted in 1991 to regulate telemarketing through voice calls, faxes, VoIP calls, and text messaging. It lays forth the laws and restrictions that telemarketers must follow before sending out any public message. It aims to protect customers’ privacy and prevent any inconvenience caused by telemarketing practices that are repetitious, irrelevant, and intrusive.
How to remain TCPA compliant?
Now that you know what TCPA compliance is and why it's important. Let's look at the critical checklist that you should be kept in mind while creating an SMS marketing campaign. To begin with, you must ensure that these two issues are being addressed to make your business texting TCPA compliant:
You are sending texts to those customers who have opted in for that kind of communication.
You are giving your customers an option to unsubscribe from receiving any further texts.
To ensure these two rules are being followed while building an SMS campaign, you should go through a checklist of compliance norms which we will go over in more depth below.
01. Prior Written Consent
Before you send your first text to your customers, you need to take prior consent from them, preferably in writing. Customers can be given an online form or a checklist through which they can express their consent to receive communication from your business. These consent forms are needed to be documented and saved.
02. Full Disclosure
You need to provide full disclosure to your customers about the name of your business, terms, and conditions, the purpose of messaging, and so on. This disclosure can be sent through an opt-in message where all these details can be mentioned.
3. Option to opt-out
Every message you send to your consumers should include an opt-out option, allowing them to opt-out of receiving future messages at their convenience. The instructions regarding opting out must be clear and straightforward. Generally, businesses ask their customer to reply STOP or UNSUBSCRIBE to add them to the opt-out list.
4. Message timings
As per TCPA, all businesses must send promotional texts after 8.00 A.M and before 9.00 P.M. Any message sent outside regular business hours is unsolicited and can attract penalties.
5. Do not call the registry
You need to make sure that you do not call or send a text to any contact on the national do not call registry. Besides this, you also need to maintain a personal record of all the customers who have opted out, and it is imperative to honor their requests.
What are TCPA exemptions?
If you text someone from your phone, in that case, TCPA won’t be applied to you.
Certain messages related to emergencies are also exempted and can be sent outside business hours. Although the definition of emergency can vary based on the situation.
If you are a Non-Profit organization, you don’t need to follow the do-not-call registry, and there is no compulsion for non-profits to maintain a personal record of not call list.
The basic rationale behind these exemptions is to provide relief to businesses, provided the message they are sending does not cause any inconvenience or invasion of their customers' privacy.
Fines and penalties for TCPA violations
TCPA violations are estimated based on per violation committed. The fines per TCPA violation are $500 and can increase to $1500 if the consumer can prove that offense was committed knowingly and willfully. There is no cap on statutory damage; hence thousands of violations can lead to millions of dollars in penalties.
In 2020, a health supplement company named ViSalus was fined $925 million for TCPA violations of sending approximately 1.8 million unsolicited robocalls. However, a case against Microsoft in 2015 turned out in favor of Microsoft, which shows that you can easily curb these penalties if you comply with TCPA and are not using any unsolicited means to collect customers’ contact details and send them messages.
Now that you've learned about TCPA compliance, you can start making your texting TCPA compliant to protect your company from potential legal action.
If you are still unsure about how to go about it, start messaging using Falkon SMS, which will make your work easier by providing you with several features that will ensure your texting is TCPA compliant.
See all the SMS features that we provide, and then you can decide for yourself. If you want to know more information schedule a meeting with us. One of our team members will get in touch with you.