SMS Phone Number Compliance

Unsubscribe compliance doesn’t have to stop with email suppression lists. Our phone suppression software is our latest development in helping you keep compliant with unsubscribes from SMS and mobile marketing campaigns.

Unsubcentral’s phone suppression tools help ensure that your company doesn’t target customers who don’t want to be reached out to. Our platform can now be used to store and distribute SMS opt-out and do-not-call (DNC) lists.

Be more than just compliant – go above and beyond. UnsubCentral helps your customers unsubscribe with ease, and keeps you ahead of the law.

Simplicity: Our tool is designed with simplicity in mind: any document, from simple text to MD5 or SHA hashed lists, can be scrubbed and sent out in real time
Speed: Don’t wait for results. Within seconds, thousands of numbers can be scrubbed and be made available to your team or third parties.
Centralization: In the office, or working from home? No matter where life takes you, UnsubCentral’s data is stored and updated in the cloud, providing easy access to lists whenever or wherever you need it.

What is SMS Phone Number Compliance?

CAN-SPAM compliance remains the gold standard in how companies understand compliance, but this only applies to email marketing campaigns. While it remains less of a discussion point due to less legal jurisdiction, phone number compliance is becoming a focus in marketing campaign legislation, particularly with the rise of robocalls and other fraudulent activity.

Companies must look ahead to remain compliant in their SMS marketing initiatives. Mobile marketing through text messaging has become increasingly popular as a method of customer acquisition and retention. But with recent legal developments such as the TRACED Act in 2019 on top of existing regulation like the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), increased scrutiny is being placed on how and when companies can reach out to their customers through mobile devices.

The Mobile Marketing Association has drafted clear guidelines for consent in SMS marketing, yet these restrictions have not been signed into law. Yet they give a clear picture of what the future of mobile marketing holds. Clear opt-out messaging has become a standard practice (text “STOP” to stop receiving texts) and these types of campaigns tend to be opt-in only.

Acknowledging unsubscribe requests in any form is important for maintaining customer loyalty and keeping by your word. Regulations for this type of messaging is under closer scrutiny than ever by the FTC and the FCC. Whether it be common practice today or the law tomorrow, SMS messaging needs to be in your control now.

Understanding the Basics of SMS Compliance

Marketing compliance came into existence for one purpose: to protect consumers from receiving unwanted communications.

We receive dozens, if not hundreds, of digital communications from companies every day. Whether that be in the form of newsletters, coupons, political campaigning, or even cold emails trying to solicit services from us, companies in every industry are leveraging technology to connect and engage with their customer base. SMS messaging happens to rank among the highest methods of customer engagement – 98% of people will read an SMS message, as opposed to email marketing which tends to be below 20%.

But with such high levels of engagement, providing value through these messages takes a heightened importance – sending unnecessary SMS messages are more likely to damage your brand’s reputation due in part to its directness. Customers should understand exactly why they are receiving SMS notifications as part of an opt-in strategy.

While it doesn’t act as an official government agency, the CTIA has devised a set of standards which are largely followed in all forms of telecommunications. These guidelines function as a methodology to protect consumers and ensure that companies are providing customers with meaningful messages. The rules they have created center around the means by which messaging is sent out.

Types of Messaging: A2P vs. P2P

The CTIA distinguishes between two different types of SMS messages: Person-to-Person (P2P) and Application-to-Person (A2P). Their suggested best practices are largely dependent on which type of communication a customer is receiving.

P2P – Most of the text messages we receive fall under the category of person-to-person, or consumer-to-consumer messaging. This type of messaging consists of messages between two people in a non-business context, such as a message you might send to a friend.
A2P – The majority of messages that are sent by a company fall under the category of application-to-person messaging. This term goes beyond large-scale messaging that might be sent out to thousands of customers at once – the laws include messages with customer support, sales, appointment notifications, and more. With such a broad number of applications covered under this term, compliance is necessary across a wide swath of industries.

As a business, you can expect most of your SMS messaging to fall within the category of A2P traffic. Ensuring that customers are getting the most out of their experience means setting clear expectations from the start. This means setting clear boundaries from the initial opt-in messaging, and giving clear directives on how to opt-out.

Opt-In, or Opt-Out?

Email marketing tends to take much looser strictures when sending out campaigns to their lists. When you subscribe to a service, there will often be a pre-selected checkbox opting you in to a website’s mailing list that, more often than not, people will not deselect. This allows companies to freely send newsletters and updates.

SMS Messaging is a little different. Because A2P messaging can take a variety of forms, it is important that you set the correct expectations from the start without deviating from the original context.

Consider this example: if a hair salon began using SMS messaging for the sole purpose of texting recipients about when their appointment is scheduled, users will only expect messages for this purpose. If the hair salon decides to use their SMS list to send out coupon codes and start directing more sales traffic, the customer might see this as a violation of the agreed-upon terms. This can lead to frustration and a high volume of opt-outs, instead of increasing business.

By setting the correct expectations from the start, such as notifying customers that they may receive messaging about promotions or updates, this problem can be easily mitigated. But this highlights a critical difference between SMS messaging and other forms of digital marketing campaigns – directness, and setting immediate expectations.

Under the CAN-SPAM Act, email marketing requires an unsubscribe button to be present in each email that is sent out by a company. While no such ruling exists for SMS messaging, almost all companies have adopted the standard practice of replying “STOP” to cancel all future messages.

The TCPA typically requires a written form of consent to allow automated SMS marketing messages. The best practice for this is typically done by having SMS recipients enter in a code on their phone, or to reply “YES” to join.

How SMS Suppression Lists Work

When a phone number is opted-in to a messaging campaign, it is added into a list for various types of messaging campaigns. As previously mentioned, A2P messaging encompasses a wide variety of communications – when a person wants to be removed from SMS messaging, their request needs to respond appropriately.

Unsubscribe lists and suppression lists are actually two different types of lists that exist in a database. When a person replies to a message with “STOP”, their information will be added into an unsubscribe list. For the messages to actually cease, however, this list needs to be updated and sent to a suppression list so that messages will not be sent out. Depending on a company’s integrations, this process is not always immediate.

While SMS unsubscribe violations aren’t as heavily regulated as email unsubscribe compliance, the TCPA carries penalties of its own. For willful violations of SMS messaging rules, companies can be sued up to $1500 per text message sent.

For a company to successfully implement unsubscribe compliance, it is critical that all of your lists and software are successfully integrated together to create a seamless user experience. CAN-SPAM requires email lists to acknowledge unsubscribes within 10 days, but as any recipient of spam emails knows, having these requests acknowledged immediately makes for a far better customer experience, which can be easily resolved with SMS phone compliance tools.

What Data is Stored in a Suppression List

Comprehensive phone number compliance relies on several different data sets to be fully effective. These include:

• SMS Opt-Out Lists
• Blocked Numbers
• Bounced or Invalid Numbers
• Do-Not-Call Lists

When dealing with multiple types of lists, it is crucial that these lists are able to communicate with each other. This data can be stored in a variety of formats ranging from simple text to hashed lists.

To plan for every contingency, the best phone number suppression software must be able to scrub against different file types regardless of their format.

How UnsubCentral’s Phone Compliance Tools Make Mobile Messaging Easy

To stay fully compliant, SMS and mobile phone compliance tools must resolve every contingency. UnsubCentral is designed specifically to meet these needs while being easy to navigate. Customers shouldn’t have to wait to be taken off a list, and with each violation will grow increasingly dissatisfied with your service.

Get it right the first time. Contact us today to learn how UnsubCentral goes beyond mobile marketing. Whether you use multiple ESPs or CRMs, UnsubCentral has the tools to help these lists communicate and keep your customers happy.

Questions? (615) 393-6716