SMS Marketing: What Are The Best Practices For Small Businesses?

SMS marketing is an effective way to reach out to customers and promote your business. Follow these best practices to avoid legal issues.
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SMS marketing is one of the hottest trends in marketing right now. What other platform puts you in your customer’s hands without depending on an algorithm to show your information to them? 

Text messaging can be an effective way to reach out to customers and promote your business. But it’s important to follow the rules and best practices to avoid legal issues. 

Most businesses we see utilizing this technique are not compliant with federal anti-spam legislation. Don’t risk a lawsuit or be penalized with incredibly high court fines!

What The Feds Say

The rules for SMS marketing are regulated under federal law. In the United States, it’s called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) or Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) in Canada.

Too many robocalls interrupting family dinners in the 1980s prompted a bipartisan bill to help prevent unwanted telemarketing and text calls to consumers. In April 2019, a big wellness and nutrition company called Visalus was fined $925,220,000 for sending texts to their customers without permission and against TCPA regulations. 

Yes, you read that right – 9 figures of fines!

As a business owner, you may not be as big as Visalus, but you should know that it’s estimated more damages have been awarded to consumers under this statute than any other law in the United States. There are entire law firms dedicated to bringing these suits against businesses of all sizes, so staying compliant is absolutely essential. “An ounce of TCPA compliance counseling now might just save 925 million pounds of pain later” (source).

Do These To Stay Compliant 

First, you must ensure that your opt-in form includes specific language that complies with the law. A simple check box is often not enough to count as express written consent to receive text message marketing.

Second, you need to keep an internal “do not call” list of anyone who has opted out of receiving texts. Keeping it on file for at least four years is the best practice. It’s recommended to compare this against the national “do not call” registry often as well.

Third, it’s important to create and document your internal processes to comply with the law before launching an SMS strategy. You must show proof of training for every employee or team member who has access to opted-in phone numbers.

Finally, you can only send text messages between certain approved hours. You also must transmit accurate caller ID information from an actual phone number when sending text messages.

If you don’t follow these rules, you could be sued. Fines range from $500 to $1500 per text message sent. That’s a lot of money! 

And what’s worse is that most business insurance policies don’t cover these damages. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you’re compliant with the law.

How Will SMS Marketing Work In Your Business?

Before you start a text message marketing campaign, consult an attorney who specializes in small business and trademark law.

Also, make sure you’re using a platform that actively complies with TCPA regulations to send out your text message marketing. Good ones will keep records to prove you have followed the law so you can quickly get rid of any lawsuits someone might try to bring. 

To help you get started, here are a few compliant SMS marketing platforms in North America. In the USA check out EZ Texting, Trumpia, or SlickText. In Canada, try TextMagic, SimpleTexting, or Burst SMS.

Disclaimer: This is not a specific endorsement of any of these companies. It’s important for businesses or their lawyers, to do their own due diligence and research when selecting an SMS marketing provider. Ensure that the provider is in fact compliant with TCPA and other relevant regulations.

Grab this free clause to drop into your website terms and conditions and ensure you limit how much trouble your website could get you into financially. 

sms marketing: what are business best practices? - photo of a table with a coffee cup and two gender-neutral hands typing on a cell phone

Now that you know about SMS marketing, understanding How To Start Marketing Your Business is an essential next step to having a successful business. In this article, you’ll see how to design a plan that encourages people to learn more about your company.

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Samantha Bradshaw

Samantha Bradshaw is a Virginia-licensed small business and intellectual property lawyer and founder of InLine Legal. Helping first-generation small business owners avoid a courtroom from anywhere there’s internet is the name of the game.

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