How to Keep Up with SMS Compliance into 2024 [Webinar]

December 5, 2023
How to Keep Up with SMS Compliance into 2024 [Webinar]

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All right, well, hello and welcome to everyone to today's webinar. My name is Jack and I'll be co-hosting this webinar with Isabella. We also have Alyson joining us in the chat, and so as we go through the presentation, feel free to post any questions you have into the chat and we'll do our best as things progress to answer all of them as we go through our presentation. So our topic today is SMS Compliance in our modern digital world, the impact and the power of SMS messaging as a communication tool cannot be overstated from businesses seeking to engage with customers, to organizations looking to quickly mobilize a large audience. SMS messaging has become an essential channel for reaching people quickly and effectively. However, as SMS messaging becomes more prevalent, so do the regulations and the guidelines governing its use. For this reason, it's important that you all stay up to date on these regulations so that you can use SMS messaging to its fullest potential and use it with confidence.

Now, not only is SMS compliance an important topic, it's also a common concern for those who rely on SMS for their communication needs. Many people, especially those who are just getting started with SMS, are curious about the rules, the standards, and the regulations of SMS. Many are concerned that they may encounter legal issues for not properly using SMS messaging, and most importantly, users want to know how to make sure that their messages are getting delivered without being blocked or filtered out as spam. And these are all of course important questions and these are the things we're gonna be addressing. In today's presentation, we're gonna be providing you an overview of everything you need to know about SMS compliance. We're gonna cover the legal requirements, we're gonna discuss the rules of the industry, and we'll even give you some of our own recommended best practices to help maintain your compliance. Our goal is to give you the necessary information and the tools so that you can send SMS messages with confidence and maximize the impact of your SMS communication.


Hi everyone. As Jack mentioned, I'm Isabella. Now that you've gotten an introduction to SMS compliance, I'm going to take the next couple of minutes to walk us through our first topic. Before you start texting, there are three primary legal requirements that you should make sure you follow. One, don't randomly text numbers. It's important to make sure you are using a legitimate list as you go about your texting efforts. The primary legal issue comes into play when auto dialers are used to automatically text random phone numbers. However, if you're using a legitimate phone list that you collected, you'll be just fine on this front.

Two, send your messages at a reasonable time. You shouldn't be sending text messages early in the morning or late at night. We recommend sending messages between the hours of 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM. You should also keep in mind the different time zones of your contacts. So if you're texting across a broad spectrum of time zones, you want to be especially conscious of this. Three, respect people who have chosen to opt out. And if people ask to be removed, don't keep texting them. With the Mobile Text Alerts platform, we make this easy. If the user replies “stop” to your message, the platform handles this automatically and will opt out the person of receiving your messages. In the case that they ask to be removed but don't reply “stop,” your Mobile Text Alerts account also has a manual unsubscribe button that will remove them from your database immediately.


Well, in addition to the legal requirements, next, we're gonna talk about five steps that you can take in order to stay up to date with mobile carrier regulations. Now, since SMS messages are sent through mobile carriers, they're naturally gonna be subject to the carrier regulations. We wanna be clear that these are not legal requirements, but failing to abide by these carrier regulations may result in carriers such as T-Mobile and Verizon blocking your messages and filtering them out as spam. So step number one is to register your brand. Registering your brand with the wireless carriers is one of the best ways to make sure that your messages are in compliance with carrier regulations. Brand registration is increasingly becoming an industry standard and some platforms don't even allow unregistered message traffic. The purpose of brand registration is to give mobile carriers the ability to pre-vet your message traffic and make sure that you are not sending spam messages. The result is better delivery rates and faster messaging speeds.

The process of registration is quick and painless. All you have to do is answer a few questions about your business. You have to give information like your company name, your address, your tax ID number, and you'll also be asked to give a few examples of text messages that you will be sending out. This is just a way for carriers to verify that you are in fact a legitimate business and not engaging in any fraudulent activity. The brand registration form is easily accessible from your Mobile Text Alerts dashboard. So if you're an existing user, you can log in today and fill this out. If you've not yet signed up for a Mobile Text Alerts account, you can complete the brand registration form as a part of the onboarding process once you do sign up.

Step two is to consider SHAFT. Now, SHAFT is an acronym that stands for Sex, Hate, Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco. These encompass categories of text message content that are specifically and especially regulated due to their associated moral and legal issues. Other topics such as cannabis and CBD also fall under the umbrella of SHAFT. It's important that you consider whether or not your message content would fall into one of these categories. Even if your business does not deal with these specific products directly, consider also that messages mentioning these products or related items most likely will be blocked. And it's also important to note that external links and images attached to a text message are also subject to these same regulations. So for example, a link to an online liquor store or an image of a cannabis product will likely be blocked as spam even if the text of the message itself does not mention these specific products.

Now, does this mean that text messaging is impossible for businesses with these restricted categories? The answer to that is “no.” If you are a legitimate business that does legally handle these products or send messages with this type of content, you can still use SMS for marketing and for communication purposes. You'll just need to be extra careful about the specific wording of your messages. So for example, you could still advertise a storewide promotion without mentioning any of the specific products if they fall into those categories. If you are a legitimate business in these areas and you want to avoid message filtering within these topics, or if you're maybe unsure about whether or not your content would qualify under SHAFT, you can join myself or another representative from our company for a demo and we'd be happy to talk to you about your specific use case and help you to understand in more depth and provide our recommendations for how to get the best delivery.

Step three is to mention your company's name. So this is one very simple thing you can do to start basically ensuring that your messages get delivered. And it's very simple, just by starting out a text with your company's name. Not only is this helpful for your recipients in that it makes your texts consistently recognizable—they recognize who the text is coming from—but it's also an easy way for carriers to identify your text messages and determine their legitimacy. Typically, companies just place their name in the top line of the text message followed by a colon, and then they enter the rest of their text in the lines below. So you can see an example there on the slide.

Step four is to include clear opt-out instructions often. So it's important to make sure that anyone who receives your texts has a clear understanding of how to opt out if they no longer want to receive your messages. Carriers also monitor this and will always prefer a message that has clear opt-out instructions. This can be as simple as including “reply STOP to opt out” or “text to stop” at the end of your text message. If possible, it's best to include clear opt-out instructions like these in every text you send. Then if a person does not want to receive your messages, they can simply reply with the word STOP and be automatically removed from your contact list. Without opt-out instructions, a recipient who doesn't want to receive your messages may resort to blocking or flagging the number as spam.

Finally, step five, don't use links from public URL shorteners. Links, of course, are a common addition to any text message, and it's important to consider when you do use a link, the format of your link, because this of course can play a role in whether or not the message will be filtered out as spam. One thing to avoid using is online public URL shorteners like Bitly and other sites like it. Carriers have recently been cracking down on these types of links, so using one will almost guarantee that your messages are blocked. If you wanna include a link in your texts and get the best delivery results, the best way to do this is to just copy and paste the full URL directly into the body of your text message. Another alternative to public URL shorteners is to use branded shortened URLs, which are available and integrated directly into the Mobile Text Alerts platform. These shortened links can be customized to include your brand name and since they include your brand name, they don't have the same delivery issues as public URL Shorteners. So using a branded shortened URL also enables the ability to track the link. So including them in your text lets you actually see the number of recipients who've clicked the link as well as which recipients did click the link in your text.


For the remainder of this presentation, I'm going to cover some of the other best practices when it comes to SMS messaging. Although the points we've mentioned so far are the main things you want to make sure you follow, there are some other tips you might also want to consider. Get the appropriate consent by making sure people actually want to receive your messages. If you end up messaging someone who didn't want to be messaged, it could potentially damage your brand. If mobile carriers notice that a lot of people are opting out of your messages or are getting upset about receiving messages, they may start to block your messages as spam. You can get people's permission to receive texts by simply asking them and often by providing some kind of incentive to help people get to say “yes.” We provide you with a few tools to help you get people to opt into your text messages.

Text-to-join keywords are specific words you can create so people can text into your account's phone number. When they text in those words, their phone number is automatically added to your text message list. You may see these on billboards often. Another tool we provide you is a customizable web signup form. This is a form you can embed on your site or can share a link. When people fill out that form, their information is automatically added to your text messaging list. Some other tools are importing a spreadsheet of your contacts or utilizing API syncing that allows you to pull in contact information from other databases or from your site if you've already gotten people's permission to text them. Lastly, automatically generated QR codes are something you can create in your Mobile Text Alerts dashboard. You'll be able to share them with your audience so people can scan the code and get added to your text list.

Another suggestion to consider is to keep your messages short and concise. Keeping your messages shorter will also help you save money. Since messages that are over 160 characters can count as two or more credits with our platform, we do provide you with an AI tool that can help shorten your messages for you. When you're typing out your messages on the platform, if you exceed 160 characters, you'll see a “Shorten” button. You can click that and you'll be able to generate a shorter version of the content you're trying to send. This tool is great, especially if you find yourself not being good with words.

One tip I have for you is that if you need to send a really long message, you can sometimes save money by sending it as an MMS or multimedia message. Instead, sending it this way allows you to attach an image and will always count the message as three credits regardless of how long the message is, with a limit being 1,550 total characters. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words, so incorporating images can actually help you keep your messages concise if possible. It's best to avoid coming across too salesy in your messages. In our experience, we've seen that specifically mentioning words like shopping, spending, and dollar signs sometimes seem to trigger spam filters. This leaves messages not getting delivered or being delivered to the spam folder on people's phones.

Similar to our last suggestion, you'll see the best success if your're sending valuable content that your audience actually cares about. By doing this, you'll see fewer opt-outs. You'll get more engagement from your recipients. You'll be less likely to accidentally trigger spam filters or red flags from the mobile carriers. So don't just promote your business all the time. Provide real value to your audience. If you're worried your message content might trigger spam filters, you can monitor your delivery rates within your dashboard analytics or in your own sent message report on specific messages. You'll want to keep an eye on these reports. In the case that they do start to dip, you can address it right away. If you do start to see a dip in your message delivery, there is no need to worry as it's a quick fix. It would be best to consider whether there is one of the tips mentioned here in this presentation that hasn't been followed.

You can always reach out to us for insight too, and we'll work with you to get your delivery as close to 100% as possible. If you do happen to see lower delivery rates, the best way to reach us is to use a live chat box that's available at the bottom right hand corner of your Mobile Text Alerts account. It's a real person responding to help with anything you might need. If you have any additional questions regarding compliance or just wanna learn more about what Mobile Text Alerts have to offer, our team will be happy to walk you through our platform and give you special recommendations for your specific use case. You can also get in touch with us by emailing our sales address or calling the number you see at the bottom of the screen. We'd love to get to chat with you about your vision and how we can make that a reality. And that concludes this presentation. Thanks for joining, everyone!

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