SMS Marketing Laws: What You Need To Know About Them

A decade back, SMS marketing was one of the major marketing channels. You could have promoted your product, delivered updates, and providing customer support, among other functions. However, with the increase of commercial SMS, the authorities started specific SMS marketing laws to reduce misuse of SMS.

You can no more send bulk SMS to your audience, without facing certain negative consequences, unless you know about the SMS marketing laws.

Aren’t the facts scary? Wouldn’t it be better if there were no SMS marketing rules to bind you?

Well, SMS marketing laws are not that tough to follow as you might think.

SMS Marketing Laws

The SMS marketing rules and regulations imposed by the authorities are created to protect the most critical asset you have. They protect your customers as they filter out the spammy messages and senders.

The SMS marketing laws allow only the relevant text messages to reach the consumers. Therefore, it optimizes the open rates and improves the CTR to some extent.

The latest among the SMS marketing laws are the GDPR rules by EU. The Indian regulatory body or TRAI has also updated a few of its provisions, that needs to be taken care of too. SMS marketing works very much even now. Therefore, if you are following the SMS marketing laws, you have nothing to worry about.

GDPR and TRAI SMS Marketing laws: Why they are important and what to do about them?

Everyone is talking about GDPR compliance, but do you know how it affects SMS marketing? GDPR or General Data Protection Regulation is a framework that lays out specific regulations for consumer data protection. It speaks about specific protocols that you have to maintain to avoid getting penalised by the law. These points mainly deal with the consumer data and your efforts in handling it.

TRAI is the Indian regulatory body that governs the laws related to telecommunication and pays particular attention to the consumer data. It is the principal governing body that set rules regarding the telecom sector. Thus, you must deal with personal details of customers within the standards set by TRAI. Violating the data protection regulations can be troublesome for you while running an SMS campaign.

TRAI has issued several SMS marketing laws over the years to deal with the issues related to text messaging. Knowing the basic rules and tackling them is essential to run a smooth SMS campaign.

Non-adherence to the SMS marketing laws can result in warnings, paying of fine, or other harsher actions.

Speaking about the laws, GDPR is a 12 point checklist, and doesn’t relate much to SMS marketing directly. However, some rules are critical to the SMS marketing campaigns that you would run after May 2018.

Moreover, you can find a couple of TRAI regulations too, which are critical to understanding the SMS marketing laws affecting you.

Check out these relevant SMS marketing laws to know about them and ways to tackle them.

GDPR Rule 1: Consent to opt-in

While starting your SMS campaign, you need to take care of a few factors. You might already have a great strategy and the right tools with you. You just have to make your SMS actionable, and send it to your target audience.

However, the thing you need before you launch your campaign is your target audience’s phone number.

GDPR has given specific importance to this factor with strict opt-in strategies.

You have two types of opt-in options – the “hard opt-in” and the “soft opt-in.” Both of them helps to build your brand as well as increase the reach.

Hard opt-in: The people have knowingly given their consent on receiving SMS from you through your website, or a form. However, you need to specify that you would be sending marketing messages, and your customers need to provide their consent.

Another critical thing to remember while going for hard opt-ins is to keep a record of the opt-in process. It is helpful in cases of customer complaints. If the customer complains about privacy invasion, you can furnish the details of his opt-in to the authorities.

Soft opt-in: It speaks about obtaining the phone number of your indirect customers. The list includes people who might be your previous or current customers, and you already have their name and number. Some people may also have made contact to inquire about a particular product or service from you. They might not have availed the service, but provided their contact number.

The difference between the lists is the type of SMS you can send to them. The people in the hard opt-in option can be sent any marketing SMS that you want. However, for the soft opt-in, you can send SMS related to only the service or product that they had shown interest earlier.

GDPR Rule 2: Opt-out options

Along with the opt-in option, you also have to include an opt-out option in your marketing SMS. You must do it irrespective of the method of opt-in by your customers. The rules are stricter if you are sending messages to your soft opt-in options.

The opt-out option is a bonus for you too. Including this would help you to get rid of the customers who don’t want to remain associated with you. The customers can be from both the list – soft and hard opt-ins.

The opt-out option can also be beneficial to you in decreasing the spam reports. If your customers feel that the SMS you are sending isn’t relevant to them, they might report it as spam.

Giving them the option of opt-out of your SMS list could reduce spam reporting drastically.

GDPR Rule 3: EU General Data Protection

The data protection about the SMS marketing law deals with the issues related to customers’ information after opting-in. The law states that you should explicitly say the purpose of collecting the personal data of consumers. The reason must be legitimate, and you must not use it for purposes other than what you have mentioned.

The part gets a bit tricky as the SMS marketing law says that the silence of a customer cannot be considered as consent. It means that both the sender and the recipient needs to be clear about sharing the data.

The SMS marketing law also requires you to allow the customers to contact you in case they want to remove their personal information. Also, you would be liable to answer your customers if they want to ask you the details of the use of the data.

The law also requires you to give utmost importance to the protection of data and prevent any unlawful use of the same.

To take care of all the points, you need to preserve all the documents related to the opt-in and the personal data of the customers. They are enough to make you GDPR compliant without disrupting your SMS marketing campaign strategies.

TRAI Rule 1: Spam words

The major in the SMS marketing laws that you must comply with is to remove any spam words from your SMS. It might be possible that the SMS you drafted has a few words, which are marked as spam by the regulatory authority as well as the service provider.

The inclusion of spam words in your SMS could hamper the success metrics of the SMS campaign you are running. It would result in unwanted blocking of your SMS before they can even reach your customers.

Thus, the delivery rate reduces, and the open rates decrease. It also affects your ROI and in turn the brand reach.

To avoid the auto spam filtration by the network provider or TRAI, you must eliminate the use of spam words by identifying them. One way to do so would be by installing spam word filter software in your system and check the deliverability of the SMS by sending it through the software. It will help you optimize every word before sending them out and abide by the SMS marketing laws at the same time.

TRAI Rule 2: Do Not Disturb Mode

The TRAI has made provision for consumers to opt-out of any promotional text messages by enabling the DND mode. DND or do not disturb mode gives the consumers a right to raise a complaint against the sender on receiving any promotional SMS from the latter. The TRAI investigates upon receiving the complaint and can lead to severe action against the sender.

To avoid this kind of messy affair, you must register yourself as a telemarketer with the regulatory authority. You must also take care to abide by the SMS marketing laws before sending out the SMS. Be clear to avoid the requirement of the customers, and if they do not want to receive SMS from you, you must respect the fact.

Are you feeling safe now?

The rules might seems quite hard to deal with for some, but they are not. The primary requirement for laying out the SMS marketing laws is to make the process of SMS marketing smoother and transparent.

Moreover, complying with them would be helpful in leveraging the benefits of SMS marketing even better. It will also help you to zero-in on SMS marketing as one of the primary channels of marketing. When you send your SMS to the audience who have opted-in, the chances that the open rates will go up increases. As a result, you can engage more customers with SMS and expect great results with the numerous advantages of SMS.

Do you feel that these SMS marketing laws would harm you? Share your thoughts on how you are planning to tackle the challenges associated with it.

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Sandip Acharyya

A former metallurgical engineer, Sandip switched to be a digital marketer and writer. In Way2Online, he authors in-depth guides and articles that tell about the various digital marketing techniques, to help entrepreneurs and marketers to grow and improve their business. He likes to spend his leisure by reading books, watching movies, and making music.

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