Are your text messaging campaigns truly compliant?

Owned channels are the backbone of successful eCommerce brands—and SMS campaigns are a big part of this. With most people operating on mobile devices, building out a text messaging program that is high-quality and hyper-personal will be critical to staying top of mind for consumers over the next several years.

Text messaging is not like other channels, though. It takes several companies to send a single text, and with additional text marketing regulations that email marketing doesn’t require, it can seem complex and honestly, daunting. But it doesn’t have to be.

To keep things simple, it’s important to work with a vendor that deploys powerful campaigns while taking the guesswork out of maintaining SMS compliance, all at reasonable cost. To understand what you’re dealing with, we’ll show you how the text message compliance system works, and who the players are when it comes to the operation of your texting campaigns, as well as those who regulate it.

How Text Messages are Sent How Text Messages are Sent through Short Codes

Like we said, it takes multiple players to get a single text message from your brand to your customer’s mobile device.

It all begins with obtaining a short code for text marketing. Brands use short code, a 5-6 digit number, to send texts to their audience. This number allows for more messages to be sent in bulk in a way a phone number can’t support. In the past, mobile carriers allowed brands to have their own short code or to team up with other retailers on what is called a shared short code. However, carriers announced at the end of 2020 that they’re doing away with shared short codes, so if you currently work with a texting vendor that relies on shared short codes, look for one that gives you a work around for this.

Working with a Text Message Vendor

When working with that text messaging vendor, they will apply for the short code on behalf of your business. Once your vendor applies, it then moves into the hands of the text messaging Aggregator. The Aggregator handles the application with the mobile carrier, who then distributes the short code. If SMS compliance isn’t met, they also have the ability to take it away (we’ll touch on this more).  The whole process looks something like this:

Brand → Text Messaging Vendor → Aggregator → Mobile Carrier

Once you receive the short code, you work with your text messaging vendor to write and schedule texts, and segment the list according to your growth and revenue goals.

The vendor then sends it to the Aggregator, who routes the message to the right carrier. And eventually, the mobile carrier (think Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, etc.), delivers the message to the consumer.

And let’s not forget, each of these players come with their own fees. Because it’s so complicated to send a text, costs grow over time, too, and carrier fees get expensive fast. Because of this it’s important to keep a few things in mind when working with a text marketing vendor. The first is to seek one that passes back aggregator fees at cost. The second is to ensure you’re working with a vendor that will keep your SMS campaigns compliant.

Understanding SMS Compliance

Once you’ve gone through the process of getting a short code and invested significant dollars into building out a text messaging program, the last thing you want is jeopardize this investment by not maintaining text marketing compliance.

 Who Oversees Text Messaging Compliance?

Here’s what you need to know about SMS marketing industry regulation:

  • TCPA SMS Compliance
    • The law. Back in 1991, Congress enacted the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to prevent telemarketers from calling consumers without their permission. Fast forward to 2021, and this law applies to text messaging as well, meaning marketers can’t send messages without first obtaining clear, expressed consent from the consumer.
  • CTIA SMS Compliance
    • The boss. Think of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) as a regulatory body that has established “best practices” for short code-based text messaging programs to follow. When businesses violate these rules, the CTIA can suspend or take away the short code you just worked very hard, and waited very long to get.

So, what happens if the text message marketing regulations are violated?

Well, a couple of things. For one, violating the text marketing regulations enacted by CTIA or TCPA can mean reaching for your pocketbook. A.K.A., being sued, for a lot of money.

Take Jiffy Lube, for example. When a consumer filed suit after Jiffy Lube sent unsolicited texts advertising a “1-time offer” for 45% off an oil change, Jiffy Lube shelled out $47 million in settlement claims saying they violated the TCPA. Not obtaining clear consent from the customer resulted in a very, very bad day for Jiffy Lube.

Another consequence of not complying is, having your short code suspended or taken away entirely. This would be very frustrating, given the amount of resources you’ve spent in getting the text message marketing program off the ground.

How to Maintain Text Marketing Compliance

While a profitable, compliant text messaging campaign can seem like it has a lot of moving parts, it can actually be really simple if you choose the right partner. And the right partner knows not to send messages to people who don’t want them, and can leave an audit trail to prove it.

For example, at Wunderkind, privacy and compliance have always been core to our work. We believe building a robust privacy and security program is an important part of maintaining customer confidence in how we value, treat, and protect their data.

To guarantee we’re meeting text marketing compliance standards, we’ve extensively engaged with leading privacy and legal experts to supplement internal resources around CTIA best practices and TCPA compliance.

Here are some of the steps we take to ensure SMS compliance with our partners:

  • Complete Opt-In Trails
    • We log submission and opt-in events for each text subscriber, maintaining logs of each experience, should a user initiate a complaint.
  • Opt-Out Management
    • Wunderkind manages the status of users on your text marketing list to ensure we’re only sending to users who have opted in.
  • Recommended Terms and Conditions
    • To make it easier to get live, Wunderkind can provide a template of terms and conditions that would be required to run a text campaign.

At Wunderkind, we manage SMS compliance while scaling your text messaging program into a powerful revenue channel in only a few months:

  • 10 – 30% click rates, usually within 3 hours of sending.
  • 5 – 15% text message submit rates—leading to quick list growth.
  • #1 channel. When combined with email marketing, Wunderkind can easily become your top paid channel.

To learn more about how we can be your long-term partner in one-to-one messaging and help you unlock a new revenue channel, get a performance estimate today.


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Wunderkind, formerly BounceX

Wunderkind (formerly BounceX) is a leading performance marketing engine that delivers tailored experiences at scale. Digital businesses use Wunderkind to remember who users are better than ever before, allowing them to deliver high-performing, one-to-one messages on websites, through emails and texts, and in ads at a scale that’s not otherwise possible.