SMS Marketing Compliance Overview

SMS Marketing Compliance Guide

Why Have Rules?
You can never assume that all marketers want to provide you with a qualified and valuable experience. Some want to spam you with irrelevant information, and replace personalized messages with annoying campaigns. To protect consumers from these black hat marketers, wireless carriers founded a group called the CTIA. This group is in charge of enforcing SMS marketing practices. They follow and set proper legal guidelines, which are always in the best interest of the consumer.

The CTIA regularly performs audits on SMS marketing programs. If your service fails an audit, you will be suspended until the issue has been corrected. We never want our customers to go through this. We want your campaigns to always pass the CTIA audit, which is why we created this handy guidebook. Also, keep in mind that the compliance standards found in this guide are maintained throughout the SlickText SMS marketing platform. While you should still read this guide as the information within is good to know, we have geared our platform to set you up for success from a compliance standpoint.

Who Makes the Rules?
First things first, it's easy to get the CTIA, FCC, and MMA confused. These are the three organizations that govern SMS marketing law. When we first founded, we even had a hard time keeping up. But, in order to remain compliant, and avoid any possible suspensions, you must know the difference between these three organizations, and what they monitor. This isn't the fun part of SMS marketing, but it's definitely great information to know.

As we previously mentioned, the CTIA is an organization created by wireless carriers. Your carrier wants to protect all mobile phone users from receiving irrelevant, annoying, and inappropriate SMS marketing messages.

When it comes to text message marketing, the CTIA doesn't allow for much wiggle room. They take all violations seriously. But, to be fair, they also provide you with all necessary information you need to succeed. The guidelines are actually very clear, and as long as you take time to adhere by these standards, you'll be in great shape.

CTIA guidelines tell you exactly what information to include in your SMS marketing messages. This revolves around a few things.

Message & Data Rates
HELP & STOP commands
Message Frequency
Terms and Conditions
Privacy Policy
On top of this, the CTIA also tells you what you should include in your SMS messages, as well as what's forbidden.

Keep in mind, CTIA guidelines aren't official law. If you violate these guidelines, you can't actually be sued, but you risk getting shut down. Without an SMS marketing list, your efforts have gone to waste, so always make sure you're following CTIA compliance.

CTIA guidelines might not be actual law, but the TCPA (developed by the FCC), sets standards that, if broken, can result in a slew of legal trouble. This is because, the TCPA, actually operates under federal law. While no business has ever been taken to court for not following CTIA guidelines, dozens of big name brands have been sued under the TCPA, including large franchises such as Jiffy Lube and Papa Johns.

Unlike the CTIA, there are no text message marketing specifics addressed in TCPA law. In fact, the TCPA doesn't even mention text marketing or best practices, not even once, In the TCPA, there is no rule stating whether or not to include the standard message and data rates statement, or the dangers to betraying a frequency promise.

With all that said, you might be wondering, what exactly does the TCPA monitor and regulate? If not text marketing, then why include them in this compliance guide?

The TCPA focuses on setting standards for permission regarding text message blasts. They define what actions determine permission granted, as well as what is allowed once a subscriber has given consent to be marketed to.

MMA stands for Mobile Marketing Association, and keeping that in mind, their inclusion in this guide is absolutely essential. The MMA has released their very own best practices literature, which actually runs close in comparison to the Mobile Commerce Handbook released by the CTIA.

Similar to the CTIA, the best practices listed in the MMA guide aren't technically law, and therefore cannot be legally enforced. Out of these three organizations, the TCPA is the only one that actually abides by a set of legal standards, and has the power to enforce such guidelines.

Now, you might be wondering, how does this relate to me and my text marketing account? Well, let's open up that discussion. Without further ado, let's dive into some actions items. Let's talk about what you can do to remain CTIA, MMA, and TCPA compliant.