SMS Marketing Promotion Requirements

SMS Marketing Compliance Guide

List Promotion Requirements

When promoting your SMS marketing list to potential subscribers, always be 100% transparent. How, you might ask? Clearly state what you're offering and what the subscriber can expect. Don't promise one thing, and then deliver with another. Don't be vague, or even worse, purposely sneaky. This will damage your brand, ruin customer relationships, and overall, defeat the purpose of having an SMS marketing list.

Don't Mislead Your Customers

Make sure your customers know they're joining an SMS marketing list. For example, don't just say Text WINGS to 31996 to receive a free order of wings. Instead, say Text WINGS to 31996 to receive a free order of wings, and join our mobile rewards club. Misleading customers is unfair, and also completely bad practice. Doing so could actually result in incredibly high opt out rates, which damages your credibility and text list effectiveness in the future.

Avoid Using Generic, Unqualified Verbiage

Yes, you should always keep it simple. But, on the other hand, don't be too vague. For example, instead of saying Text WINGS to 31996 to join our text list, say Text WINGS to 31996 to join our text list and receive weekly mobile coupons. Providing this kind of detail will easily increase your opt in rate. Remember, people are providing you with their personal cell number, and want you, the business owner, to recognize this. Always respect their privacy, and treat them like exclusive VIPs.

Abbreviate Your Terms & Conditions

The CTIA actually allows you to abbreviate your terms and conditions. Never bog down your promotional graphics with paragraphs of terms and conditions. Instead, offer a shortened summary and link to the full version. If the subscriber chooses, they can click through to read it all.

When abbreviating your terms and conditions, keep the following CTIA requirements in mind.

  • Make sure the abbreviated version is clearly displayed under your call to action.
  • They must be accessible using the primary browser scroll bar. Don't make potential subscribers dig to find more information.
  • Make sure no pop ups or nested scroll boxes block your terms and conditions.
  • Abbreviated terms & conditions on TV or web advertisements must be static. They definitely can't be jumping around the screen, as this is distracting and unclear to the viewer.
  • Your first three lines have to appear above the fold on a 1024x768 resolution computer screen.
  • Text must maintain a color contrast value of 125 against all points of the background. So essentially, don't hide your terms and conditions by making it the same color as the page.
  • If you're using any kind of checkbox as a confirmation, make sure it isn't pre-checked.

In the abbreviated terms and conditions, you must list out the following.

  • Business Name
  • Program Name
  • STOP Instructions
  • HELP Instructions
  • Frequency
  • T&C/Privacy Policy Link
  • Message and Data Rates May Apply

Here's a great example for you to follow.

Stu's Sandwiches Mobile Rewards Club. 4 msg/month. Msg & Data Rates May Apply. Unsubscribe by texting STOP to 31996. T&C/Privacy Policy www.stussandwiches/com/mobile

Comprehensive Terms & Conditions

The CTIA allows you to display an abbreviated version, in hopes that the comprehensive terms and conditions will include all of these important elements. Here's a bare minimum of what you need to include in your comprehensive terms and conditions.

  • Page Title
  • Business & Program Name
  • Shortcode Usage Disclosure
  • Opt-In Instructions
  • Frequency
  • Message & Data Rates May Apply
  • STOP Instructions
  • HELP Instructions
  • Toll Free Number or Email
  • Supported Wireless Carriers
  • Privacy Policy

A Privacy Policy is Required

The CTIA does allow you to include the entire comprehensive privacy policy on the terms and conditions page, but we do recommend that you link to it instead. Provide a shortened version, as this will give the user a better reading experience.

The CTIA insists that everybody has a right to privacy, and mobile carriers should be committed to protecting their customers' privacy. With that said, all programs must include a privacy policy. In this policy, you can detail your purpose for collecting these phone numbers, what you'll do with them, who you'll share them with, etc.

Other Requirements

Services cannot be promoted using the word "free" unless they are free to the end user (FTEU), with all supported carriers. Product descriptions must also stay consistent, and content must always be as advertised. So, to keep it simple, don't promise to offer a free order of wings upon opt in, and then when the customer goes to redeem, only provide the deal when coupled with a purchase. Keep your deliverables consistent with your initial promise.

Stay Away From Prohibited Language

Your SMS marketing program cannot promote or include any of the following. Even if the message gets delivered, you will eventually get caught and reprimanded. Worst case scenario, your account could be suspended, and we definitely don't want that!

  • Any kind of depictions or endorsements of violence or illegal behavior
  • Adult content
  • Profanity or hate speech
  • Illegal or illicit drugs

Acceptable SMS Marketing Abbreviations

In the world of text communication, abbreviations are necessary. Typing out the full word increases your character count, and prevents you from including other important information. The CTIA details several acceptable abbreviations, and we always recommend choosing the shortened version, as it makes for an easier read and simpler text. Listed below are acceptable SMS marketing abbreviations.

  • Msg instead of Message
  • / instead of Per
  • Txt instead of Text
  • mo, ea. mo. or /mth instead of Per Month
  • Msg&Data Rates May Apply instead of Message and Data Rates May Apply

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