7 SMS best practices for TCPA compliance
Author: Michael Mendelson, Senior Manager of Product, ICE Mortgage Technology
Text messaging is a widely used and preferred channel to communicate and engage with leads and consumers. Last year, more than 40% of businesses used SMS to engage with their customers and the number of customers opting in to receive text messages from businesses increased, according to a 2021 survey. Text messages have a significantly higher open rate than emails or push notifications.
Unfortunately, because texting is so easy and available, bad actors use text messaging to spam and defraud unsuspecting consumers. To combat the potential for abuse, the federal government and many state governments have instituted various regulations and safeguards to ensure that only trusted companies are sending marketing messages to mobile phone users.
What is the TCPA?
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) protects consumers from unwanted, unsolicited, and nuisance telemarketing calls, faxes, pre-recorded messages, auto-dialed calls, and text messages.
What is regulated under the TCPA?
TCPA establishes expectations for businesses to develop a robust method for obtaining and retaining consent from consumers to accept marketing communications, especially on their cell phone. Businesses’ consent practices have recently been under increased scrutiny from the FCC, wireless industry carriers, and downstream entities such as Twilio, caused by the implementation of STIR/SHAKEN and A2P 10DLC.
Seven best practices for meeting the requirements of the TCPA
- Obtain consent before sending SMS communications: Under the TCPA, prior express written consent (PEWC) is required for texts to a cell phone. This consent must be documented by a written agreement and include information on how to opt-out, who the sending party is, message frequency, and how to get help. Even in the case of lead generation by third parties, the best and safest course is to obtain PEWC directly for your company before initiating SMS communication with a consumer.
- Store a record of each customer’s consent: You should ensure you have access to logs of which customers have consented to SMS communication and when they consented.
- Include information on how the lead can opt-out or get help in the initial text message: When you begin a text message conversation with a lead, you should always include information on how the lead can opt-out or get help.
- Track your opt-out rate and error rates: Your opt-out rate is the percentage of leads that opt-out from text messages. Your error rate is the percentage of text messages that fail, usually due to an attempt to send to an invalid phone number. Your goal should be to keep both of these rates below 1%, and you can achieve this by having good consent practices.
- Configure your workflow to send text messages only after customers are contacted: Text messaging should not be the first form of contact with a consumer. You should configure your contact strategy workflows to ensure contact has been made via a different channel before you send your leads an SMS message.
- Be considerate to the unique nature of text messaging: SMS marketing feels more personal than other types of marketing because it happens within the same application where they talk to friends and family. Take extra care to be considerate of when you send text messages and how frequently you communicate.
- When a lead opts out or fails to respond, stop sending them text messages: If a lead directly asks to be opted out of SMS communication, you should follow that request immediately. It is also a good practice to set a threshold for automatically opting a non-responsive customer out of future text messages.
How Velocify® by ICE Mortgage Technology can help
The ICE Mortgage Technology™ Platform provides SMS functionality to customers through our Velocify solutions. Velocify comes with a number of built-in features that can assist your compliance program:
- Opt-out: When a lead replies STOP to opt-out, Velocify will automatically prevent you from sending them any more text messages.
- SMS reports: Access historical and real-time reports that give visibility into your opt-out rate and error rate, among other metrics. When these rates are above 1%, you should drill down into the data on individual messages and consider changes to your SMS program.
- Text-only-after-contacted setting: By enabling this setting in Velocify, you can ensure contact has been made via some channel before your users send leads an SMS message.
Want to learn more about how to reduce the biggest TCPA risks?
Join our upcoming "SMS Marketing & TCPA Compliance" webinar. During this webinar, experts from ICE Mortgage Technology will provide an overview of the TCPA, review best practices, and highlight existing features within Velocify that can be leveraged to assist in your consent compliance efforts. Click the link below to register now.
In all matters involving obtaining consent sufficient to overcome a legal challenge, your company should seek the assistance of legal counsel. This statement, while intended to be helpful guidance, is not legal advice; you may not rely upon this statement in substitute for the advice of you own legal counsel.