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The SMS Compliance Checklist For Sales Teams

The SMS Compliance Checklist For Sales Teams
9 min read

While some may assume that SMS compliance is only relevant to large corporations, the truth is that businesses of all sizes must make it a priority.

Text messaging is a potent tool for business communication, but it comes with a set of regulations that cannot be ignored. Whether you're a small startup or a well-established enterprise, understanding and adhering to SMS compliance measures is essential if you intend to engage in customer texting.

Before diving into SMS marketing, it's crucial to grasp the significance of compliance and familiarize yourself with the legal framework. We'll explore the fundamentals of SMS compliance and its ever-evolving role alongside advancements in artificial intelligence.

Be aware that the information in this guide is not legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is recommended that you seek professional advice regarding any specific legal requirements related to this subject matter.

Why is SMS Compliance Important?

In a nutshell, SMS compliance encompasses the regulations and guidelines that businesses must adhere to when utilizing text messages for business communications or marketing. These regulations aim to safeguard consumers and promote fair and ethical communication practices among businesses.

SMS compliance is a must for businesses for several key reasons.

First, it keeps us in line with regulations, protecting your businesses and customers from potential legal trouble. With SMS compliance standards, we can avoid spamming and misuse of text messaging, preventing customer frustration and safeguarding your brand's reputation.

Moreover, compliant SMS practices lead to better deliverability rates, ensuring your messages reach the right people without being blocked or filtered by carriers. You can also leverage the power of AI texting to connect with countless customers simultaneously, boosting scalability.

Failing to comply can have serious repercussions. Remember, businesses can face fines ranging from $500 to $1,500 per violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) for sending unsolicited text messages. That's a penalty per message.

SMS compliance not only ensures legal adherence but also enhances the customer experience. Studies show that 74% of consumers are more likely to trust brands that prioritize privacy-safe data use. Compliance demonstrates a company's dedication to respecting customer privacy and preferences, ultimately fostering trust and credibility. 

SMS Compliance Checklist

Make sure your SMS marketing strategy complies with relevant regulations and guidelines. Now that we’ve covered the SMS compliance basics, it's time to put theory into practice with this complete checklist. 

1. Choose a provider that complies with SMS regulations

It starts with selecting the right SMS provider. This is a critical decision that directly impacts your SMS compliance.

Look for providers that have a proven track record of compliance and a reputation for adhering to industry standards. Ensure that the provider follows guidelines set by regulatory bodies. Evaluate their compliance measures, data security protocols, and privacy policies to mitigate risks associated with non-compliance.

Consider Meera as an example that prioritizes data privacy. Meera does not disclose personal information without consent and prohibits selling, redistributing, or sharing data with third parties. It also seamlessly provides an opt-in feature to secure and document consent, automatically opting out contacts when necessary.

2. Register your phone number and campaigns

Registering your phone number and SMS campaigns is a step to prevent spamming and establish accountability for your messaging endeavors. Regardless of the type of phone number you utilize, registration is a prerequisite before reaching out to customers via text.

This process enables entities like mobile carriers to authenticate your business, texting purposes, and opt-in procedures. Most SMS platforms offer features to facilitate this registration process within the application.

Before launching an SMS marketing campaign, you should also register your campaigns with The Campaign Registry. By providing comprehensive details about your campaign, carriers can better comprehend your messaging source and intentions, leading to smoother message delivery and fewer compliance issues.

3. Get informed consent before sending messages

Consent is a key component of SMS compliance laws. It involves clearly explaining to individuals what they are signing up for and how their information will be used.

Provide details about the type of messages they can expect to receive. Keep records of consent, including timestamps and consent mechanisms used, to demonstrate compliance with regulations. Informed consent not only complies with the law but also fosters transparency and trust with your audience.

4. Use a clear call-to-action to confirm opt-ins

Including a clear call-to-action (CTA) in your SMS messages is essential for confirming opt-ins and maintaining compliance with SMS regulations. Your CTA should clearly communicate to recipients how they can subscribe to your SMS list and provide consent to receive messages.

Use plain and direct language, and provide simple instructions to make the opt-in process as straightforward as possible. Additionally, ensure that recipients are informed of their right to opt out of receiving messages at any time and include instructions for doing so in your CTA. 

5. Provide transparent terms and conditions

Transparency is paramount in SMS compliance to make sure that recipients fully understand the terms and conditions of receiving messages. Clearly articulate the terms of your SMS communications. Consider including the following in your draft:

  • Message Frequency: Clearly state how often recipients can expect to receive messages from your organization. Be upfront about the frequency of your communication, regardless if it's daily, weekly, or monthly.
  • Content Description: Provide an overview of the type of content recipients will receive in your messages. Whether you're sending promotional offers, company updates, or event reminders, give recipients an idea of what to expect.
  • Opt-Out Instructions: Include clear instructions on how recipients can cancel receiving messages if they no longer wish to be subscribed to. Simply reply with a keyword like "UNSUBSCRIBE" or go to an opt-out page to stop receiving messages.
  • Privacy Policy: Reference your organization's privacy policy or provide a brief summary of how you handle recipients' personal information. Assure recipients that their data will be handled securely and in accordance with applicable privacy laws.

Through transparent disclosure of these terms and conditions, you empower recipients to make informed decisions about their subscriptions. 

6. Maintain appropriate language and relevance in messages

Craft SMS messages with language that is appropriate, respectful, and applicable to your audience. Phone scams have already impacted one in four adults, so building trust is a must to retain customers. Avoid using overly promotional or spammy language that may turn off recipients or lead to non-compliance with regulations.

Ensure that your messages provide value to recipients by delivering timely and relevant content that aligns with their interests and preferences.

7. Send texts at the appropriate time

Timing plays a critical role in SMS marketing success and compliance. Consider the time zone of your recipients and schedule your messages to be sent during appropriate hours. Avoid sending messages late at night or early in the morning to respect recipients' privacy and prevent potential disruptions.

You should also be aware of the laws and regulations regarding the timing of text message communications. Under federal law, messages should be sent between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in the recipient's local time zone.

However, individual states may have additional calling restrictions. Being aware of these regulations guarantees that you do not unintentionally disturb subscribers during inappropriate hours.

SMS Compliance and Artificial Intelligence

As businesses increasingly turn to AI for automation, regulation compliance is a top priority. Similar to cybersecurity and data privacy measures, AI regulations will require attention at global, federal, state, and industry-specific levels.

In recent developments, a number of US states have enacted AI-related legislation that focuses on consumer privacy or industry-specific areas, and they typically allow users to opt out of profiling and require impact assessments for AI and automated decision-making.

At the federal level, proposed legislation like the American Data Protection and Privacy Act addresses AI rules, including risk assessment obligations. However, progress on this bill remains halted in Congress.

As organizations develop compliance, risk, and legal policies for AI, they must treat AI compliance like any other regulatory obligation. Integrating compliant automation into SMS marketing strategies allows businesses to leverage the power of AI while maintaining regulatory compliance.

In order to optimize marketing efforts, mitigate risks, and build stronger relationships with customers, businesses should invest in compliant automation services like Meera. With Meera, you're entrusting your SMS marketing campaigns to a platform that understands and follows the necessary regulations, reducing the risk of non-compliance and associated penalties. 

Utilizing compliant automation services is not just a matter of convenience. This is a strategic choice that can save your company from soaring call center costs and potential headaches in adhering to regulatory guidelines.

Which Authorities Oversee SMS Compliance?

Several authorities play key roles in regulating and overseeing adherence to established SMS compliance standards.

  • Federal Communications Commission: The FCC regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable in the US. It oversees compliance with laws related to SMS communications and enforces regulations to protect consumers.
  • Federal Trade Commission: The FTC protects consumers and promotes fair competition by enforcing laws that prevent deceptive or unfair business practices. They monitor SMS marketing campaigns to ensure compliance with consumer protection regulations.
  • Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association: The CTIA represents the wireless communications industry and develops guidelines and best practices for SMS marketing and communications. They set standards to ensure SMS messages are sent responsibly and ethically.
  • Mobile Network Operators: MNOs are the companies that provide wireless communication services to consumers. These operators often have their own rules and regulations regarding SMS messaging and work to ensure compliance with industry standards.
  • Campaign Service Providers: CSPs provide platforms and services for managing SMS marketing campaigns. Like Meera, an automated texting service, it complies with regulations set by authorities like the FCC and CTIA to ensure all services are used in a compliant manner.
  • Direct Connect Aggregators: DCAs act as intermediaries between businesses and MNOs, facilitating the delivery of SMS messages. They are responsible for ensuring messages sent through their platforms comply with relevant regulations and industry standards.

These authorities collectively oversee SMS compliance to protect consumers, promote fair business practices, and maintain the integrity of SMS communication channels. 

SMS Compliance Terms You Should Know

Here are some relevant terms you should familiarize yourself with:

  • Consent: Permission obtained from individuals before sending them marketing or promotional SMS messages. Consent can be explicit or implied, depending on the circumstances.
  • Opt-in/Opt-out: Opt-in refers to the action taken by individuals to agree to receive SMS messages from a business or organization. Opt-out, on the other hand, allows individuals to unsubscribe or stop receiving SMS messages by following a specified process.
  • TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act): A federal law in the US that regulates telemarketing calls, including SMS messages. It establishes rules regarding consent, disclosure, and consumer rights.
  • DNC (Do Not Call) Registry: A list of phone numbers maintained by government agencies or industry organizations indicating individuals who have opted out of receiving telemarketing calls or SMS messages.
  • SMS Content Guidelines: Rules and recommendations for the content of SMS messages, including restrictions on deceptive or misleading information, explicit content, and prohibited products or services.
  • Sender ID: The alphanumeric or numeric identifier displayed as the sender of an SMS message. It helps recipients identify the sender and distinguish legitimate messages from spam or fraudulent communications.

Understanding these SMS compliance terms is crucial for businesses to ensure they operate within legal boundaries and maintain trust with their customers.

Wrapping Up

Mastering SMS compliance isn't just about ticking boxes. Compliance fosters trust, respects privacy, and promotes the success of your SMS marketing efforts. 

This is not a one-time task, either, but an ongoing commitment to ethical communication practices. So, as you get started with SMS marketing, keep this checklist close at hand and continue prioritizing compliance every step of the way.

To ensure that your campaigns are compliant, it's essential to seek guidance from an expert. Meera offers a solution to ensure your text campaigns are not only compliant but also reliable and effective - AI-powered for modern times.

Talk to an AI expert at Meera today to streamline your compliance efforts and optimize your SMS marketing strategy for success.