TCPA Compliance (How to Stay In Your Customers' Good Graces)
What the heck is TCPA?
Passed in 1991, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) covers unsolicited calls and texts to cell phones, protecting consumers from unregulated use of their personal information.
Today, brands of all shapes and sizes are looking to SMS marketing as a way to get in front of their customers. Text messaging has unbelievably high open rates, but that comes with a cost.
You must follow all rules and regulations in place to protect you and your customers from abuse.
Section 4 and 5 of the TCPA’s definition are what apply most to brands looking to use SMS marketing:
- (4) The term “telephone solicitation” means the initiation of a telephone call or message for the purpose of encouraging the purchase or rental of, or investment in, property, goods, or services, which is transmitted to any person, but such term does not include a call or message (A) to any person with that person's prior express invitation or permission, (B) to any person with whom the caller has an established business relationship, or (C) by a tax exempt nonprofit organization.
- (5) The term “unsolicited advertisement” means any material advertising the commercial availability or quality of any property, goods, or services which is transmitted to any person without that person's prior express invitation or permission, in writing or otherwise.
Again, the TCPA’s goal is to protect consumers and businesses from unsolicited advertisements. For stores, this means that you cannot send unsolicited marketing text messages to consumers without their explicit permission from them where it is made clear what their information will be used for.
What are the Penalties for Violation of TCPA?
This fines are not to be messed with and quite steep. Fines range from $500-$1,500 per violation, and they are the most common punishment for non-compliance. This means $500 to $1,500 per text message you send to a customer who either:
- Did not opt-in to your SMS marketing
- Or unsubscribed, but wasn’t taken off your list
Any and all unsolicited calls or texts qualify as TCPA violations.
Many companies (of all sizes!) have been hit with TCPA violation class action lawsuits. You must make it clear to consumers when they collect their phone number information that they will be sent SMS marketing.
Recapture will recognize a wide range of "opt out" language from the direct (STOP) to the indirect (Please stop texting me!) to assist with this.
TCPA and CTIA Requirements for SMS Marketing
- Get permission from your consumers to message them.
- You must get each customer's explicit consent to receive any notification via SMS text message. (Recapture can do this for you!)
- You must get each customer's explicit consent to receive marketing messages via SMS text message. Explicit consent may include electronic or digital forms of consent submitted by them (such as a website form, text message, or email). (Recapture can do this for you!)
- You must maintain a record of each individual’s consent. (Recapture can do this for you!)
- You must always show useful information and opt-out instructions. (Recapture does this in our default content)
- Offer the ability to revoke consent and opt-out at any time (e.g., a STOP keyword and other fuzzy opt-outs).
- You need to disclose that message and data rates may apply.
- If you are asking people to subscribe to a recurring SMS text message campaign (such as a weekly or monthly updates), then clearly explain the regularity of text messaging (i.e. “sign up for weekly updates”).
- Message thoughtfully, carefully, and be smart. Do not include content that involves illegal behavior or substances, violence, adult content such as nudity, profanity, or hate speech.
- Message people between the hours of 9:00 am and 9:00 pm, local timezone.
- Be specific with your language. Messaging “Text YES to ### subscribe to YOUR_STORE’s weekly update and receive deals” is more likely to improve opt-in rates than a message like “Text YES to subscribe.”