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Mobile Marketing: What the new SMS rules mean for marketers

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="219"] New TCPA guidelines require marketers to obtain written consent from database members before sending them SMS messages.[/caption]

Marketers that send text messages to consumers without formal consent are in for a wakeup call. Today, new federal rules go into effect that require marketers to collect written consent from every consumer before delivering promotional SMS messages.

Until now, brands have been allowed to text anyone with whom they had previously done business. While many brands have already collected written opt-ins (and having nothing to worry about as a result), others have not. As of Wednesday, those who have not face fines of up to $1,500 per unsolicited message, according to the revised Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

“SMS/MMS remain one of the most important components in a strong mobile strategy, and compliance builds a strong foundation for a successful long-term engagement with consumers,” Tim Miller, president of mobile relationship management platform Sumotext, told Mobile Marketer.

3 Strategies for acquiring written consent

While the rules were announced more than a year ago, some marketers are scrambling to comply with the new mobile messaging policies. Here’s a crash course on the new TCPA guidelines:

  • They require written, auditable consent for every customer in a mobile database. Previous guidelines only required express consent, meaning that customers had done prior business with the company.
  • The guidelines apply to every new opt-in, as well as existing names in company databases. While many marketers already require written opt-ins, those that don’t will need to get their existing database members to re-opt-in by granting written consent.
  • The guidelines are retroactive. If marketers don't have written consent from individuals already in their database, they can no longer message those consumers legally.
  • Sending messages to consumers who haven’t provided written consent could expose marketers to legal action. Fines will range from $500 to $1,500 per unsolicited message.

Did requesting consent fall to the bottom of your priority list during the past year? It’s not too late to ask consumers for the “ok.” Here’s how to do it:

  • Marketers can obtain written consent via email, website form, text message, telephone key press or voice recording.
  • The language must be clearly displayed in all calls to action, including a request for consumers to reply "Yes" to confirm.
  • Marketers may have to send two separate SMS messages to fit all of the necessary text.

Read more about the impending TCPA guidelines on Mobile Marketer.

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