Looking for guidelines that can help prevent your messages from being filtered by accident?
Here are a few best practices for sending compliant text messages to keep in mind:
Ensure your contacts opt in prior to messaging
To help you be respectful of others’ inboxes and avoid your text messages from being filtered by your contact’s carrier, you need to get proper consent.
What is proper consent?
Consent means prior to sending the first message, you obtain agreement from the message recipient to communicate with them. You must make it clear to your contacts they are agreeing to receive messages from you. You also need to keep a record of the consent, such as a copy of the document or form that the message recipient signed or a timestamp of when the customer completed a sign-up flow.
There are multiple ways to gather consent, including:
- Web forms that include opt-in checkboxes
- Opting into receiving text messages based on a contract when they sign up for your services
- Opting into receiving text messages after filling out a paper form at your office
Consent can't be bought, sold, or exchanged. For example, you can't obtain the consent of message recipients by purchasing a phone list from another party.
Aside from two exceptions noted later in this section, you need to meet each of these consent requirements:
- If you do not send an initial message to that individual within a reasonable period after receiving consent, then you will need to reconfirm consent in the first message you send to that recipient.
- The consent applies only to you and to the specific use or campaign that the recipient has consented to. You can't treat it as blanket consent allowing you to send messages from other brands or companies you may have or additional messages about other uses or campaigns. For example, if a customer consents to receive messages about cleaning services, you can’t separately message them about books you’re selling.
- Keeping a clear record of all opt-ins in case a dispute arises after a contact opts out of receiving messages. Proof of opt-in consent should be retained after the contact opts out of receiving messages.
Alternate forms of consent
While consent is always required and the consent requirements noted above are generally the safest path, there are two scenarios where consent can be received in through a different method.
- Contact initiated by an individual
If someone sends a message to you, you are free to respond. For example, if someone texts your phone number asking for your hours of operation, you can respond relaying your team's working hours.
In such a case, the inbound message constitutes both consent and proof of consent. Remember that the consent is limited only to that particular conversation. Unless you obtain additional consent, don't send messages that are outside of that conversation.
- Informational content to an individual based on a prior relationship
If you have a prior relationship with someone and they have given you their phone number, you can send them a message. Just make sure that they have taken some action to initiate the communication and that they haven't told you that they don't want to receive messages from you.
Actions can include a button press, alert setup, appointments, or order placements. Examples of acceptable messages in these scenarios include appointment reminders, receipts, one-time passwords, order/shipping/reservation confirmations, drivers coordinating pick-up locations with riders, and repair persons confirming service call times.
Periodic messages and ongoing consent
If you intend to send messages on an ongoing basis, you should confirm the recipient’s consent by offering them a clear reminder of how to unsubscribe from those messages using standard opt-out language (defined below). You must also respect the recipient’s preferences in terms of frequency of contact and proactively reconfirm their consent.
Identify yourself in the first text and include opt-out messaging
Every message you send must clearly identify yourself (the party that obtained the opt-in from the recipient) as the sender, except in follow-up messages of an ongoing conversation.
What is opt-out and when do I need to provide it?
Opt-out is the process of allowing users to stop receiving messages from you.
The initial message that you send to an individual needs to include the following language: “Reply STOP to unsubscribe,” or the equivalent using another standard opt-out keyword, such as STOPALL, UNSUBSCRIBE, CANCEL, END, and QUIT.
Individuals must have the ability to revoke consent at any time by replying with a standard opt-out keyword. When an individual opts out, you may deliver one final message to confirm that the opt-out has been processed, but any subsequent messages are not allowed. An individual must once again provide consent before you can send any additional messages.
Avoid generic link shorteners
If you include a shortened URL in any message, be sure to use a dedicated, branded short domain that belongs to your business. Avoid free public link shorteners like bit.ly or tiny.url.
US carrier policies strongly discourage the use of shared public URL shorteners due to the frequency of use by spammers, scammers, and other bad actors. The use of these public shared shorteners will result in a higher risk of filtering.
Here’s an example of a properly branded short URL that meets US carrier expectations:
Hi, it’s John from Americans for Clean Air (ACA). Please contact your representatives today to let them know you care about reducing air pollution. For more info: aca.com/1234xyz - Reply STOP to unsubscribe.
To learn more about specific types of messages that are prohibited on our platform check out this article.