If you're thinking of using a bulk SMS service to market your business, you're probably also thinking how tricky it will be to follow the rules and regulations surrounding it. The good news is, it's not actually that bad if you know what you're doing.
SMS marketing laws can vary depending on what country you're in. This article focuses on UK regulations and walks you through all you need to know to create a compliant SMS campaign for your business.
Your customers must opt-in
As opt-in means your customers have consented to receive text marketing. There are two ways customers can opt-in:
1. The soft opt-in
This is where someone buys your product or service and in doing so gives you
their information. If, at the time of obtaining this information you gave the
customer a clear way of opting out of receiving your marketing communications
and they didn't take it, they are classed as opting in.
One of the best ways to do this is to include an opt-in box for your customer
to tick when you first take their details. Once you have consent, you can only
contact them with messages related to your business offering.
It's also worth noting that charities and political parties can't use soft opt-ins
at all. You also can't purchase a list of potential client details and assume
they've consented as a soft opt-in-they haven't.
2. The hard opt-in
This is the best of the two options because it's where you directly request permission
to send SMS marketing messages.
You can do this a few ways. The most popular are opt-ins on your website, but
you can also use printed or online adverts that give people instructions on how
to opt-in (TEXT YES to 8223).
Allow customers to opt-out
If you're sending text messages that people no longer want to receive, they must be able to opt-out. Even if you're sending texts that tick all the right boxes
( see this article if you need help ) there will always be people that just aren't that bothered. That's fine, but you can't hold them hostage
because you might get reported for spam.
A good way to tell people they can opt-out is by adding the opt-out keywords to the end of your text. For example "Reply STOP to stop SMS". You should do this at the end of every
message. If someone opts-out you must place them onto a "Do Not Contact" list. Any decent bulk SMS service will automatically do this for you.
Send as many messages as you want
While there are no rules against this, you should be mindful that bombarding your customers with texts is only going to annoy them. Just like any
effective marketing campaign, pick your moments.
We find it's a good idea to do your text marketing at a time when customers are likely to be thinking about your product. Our bulk SMS service
allows you to schedule messages to make this really easy for you.
No list forwarding
For every rule there's someone that tries to find a way around it. List forwarding is one of them. The law has caught up with this one, so you
can't ask people to forward a marketing message to their friends. Don't worry, you won't be responsible if people have forwarded a text
without your knowledge, this rule only applies if you have encouraged people on your list to do this.
What happens if you don't comply with SMS marketing rules?
There is no firm answer to this because it depends on what the ICO decides. They'll take into account if you're breached the rules before, whether texts were sent due to a technical
error and other circumstances. If it's your first violation, they'll probably issue a warning and tell you not to let it happen again. Sometimes they'll check on you to make sure you've
followed their suggestions.
Serial offenders (which is unlikely to be you as you're reading this article) can face criminal prosecution or be given quite hefty fines (up to £500,000). This normally happens where
businesses deliberately ignore the rules.