SMS Compliance Masterclass
Last Updated 24 July 2023
Telecommunication laws and regulations have evolved with technological advances. In addition to federal and provincial/state regulations, there may also be specific mobile carrier or SMS service provider rules.
Violating these compliance regulations when sending out your SMS marketing, may result in a fine, prevent your messages from being sent out, or you can be banned from sending SMS altogether.
SMS compliance regulations aren’t around to penalise you - they exist to protect the end user from having to deal with fraudulent and unwanted messages, making the experience for the whole industry better for everyone.
Think of the SMS regulations as a guide to help you craft SMS campaigns that your audience will love. You’ll get the best return on investment with increased response rates, decreased opt-out rates, and better brand perception.
Global SMS SPAM Compliance Summary
SMS compliance laws and regulations vary across countries, but there are some overlapping domains where legislation is commonly applied.
For specific information on individual countries, review the following links for our most popular send destinations:
- SPAM Act 2003
- SPAM Regulations 2021
- Communications Alliance LTD
Industry Code C661:2022 Reducing Scam Call and Scam SMS
- Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003
- Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) SMS Sender ID Protection Registry
For a more general understanding of where legislation is commonly applied, have a look at some of the following guidelines on SMS SPAM compliance:
Opting-in and Opting-out
Regardless of message content, consent is required from your audience before you can contact them. Your recipients must opt-in and be aware that they may receive business SMS messages in the future.
Providing an opt-in is mandatory, and it can take the following forms:
- Reply “STOP” to the message
- Text “STOP” to a dedicated virtual number
- Call a number in the message
- Texting your virtual number
Implied consent, such as a customer purchasing from you within the last two years or forgetting to uncheck a tick-box, is no longer acceptable in most circumstances.
Providing an opt-out is also mandatory, and it can take the following forms:
- Replying “STOP” to the message
- Texting “STOP” to a dedicated virtual number
- Calling a number in the message.
The simplest method is to reply “STOP”. Customers often ask why we make it easy, and the answer is simple. Why would you pay to keep sending somebody messages they don’t want?
Identify Yourself in the Message
For any SMS campaign, you must identify yourself by your company name within the text message. Sometimes, a custom Sender ID can form a brand name for recipients to recognise. However, this is only available in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Singapore.
In most cases, your campaign won’t come from a virtual number that your recipients will recognise.
While it’s not legally required, it’s a good idea to remind recipients why they’re receiving your message, as they probably won’t remember subscribing to your SMS campaigns.
‘Do Not Contact’ Lists and Registries
Many countries offer consumers the opportunity to opt out of receiving telemarketing calls and marketing communications by joining “Do Not Contact” lists. Do Not Contact lists can be held nationally by countries or privately by mobile carriers. Contacting numbers on these lists may cause you to incur suspensions, fines, or bans.
If a contact has given their express and explicit consent by opting in, they may be contacted. However, contact must be ceased if they choose to opt out at any time.
For more information on National Do Not Call registries for our most popular send destinations, review the following links:
- Do Not Call Register (Australia)
- National Do Not Call List (Canada)
- Do Not Call Registry (Hong Kong)
- Do Not Call and/or Do Not Mail Register (New Zealand)
- Do Not Call (DNC) Registry (Singapore)
- Telephone Preference Service (United Kingdom)
- National Do Not Call Registry (United States)
Time of Send
Many countries permit business communications to be sent out only during certain hours and days. For example, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in the United States prohibits the solicitation of business anytime before the hours of 8am and after 9pm in the message recipient’s time zone.
As a general rule, SMS should only be sent out between the hours of 9am to 8pm. If you have customers in multiple time zones, you’ll need to consider their differences before sending. Doing so not only keeps you compliant but also helps ensure that your recipient won’t perceive your communications as a nuisance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. These are my clients. Why do I need to let them opt-out?
A. People change. They may no longer find your SMS campaigns relevant for many different reasons. Letting them opt-out helps keep your lists clean. You also save costs and get better returns if you send campaigns to people who want to hear from you.
If you’re concerned about opt-outs, take a look at the Global SMS Opt-out Rates.
Q. How can I have my business name as the Sender ID?
A. Keep in mind that people will always read a message from a virtual number, even if they don’t recognise it.
Having your business name as a Sender ID makes the opt-out process a little more complicated. They can’t reply with “STOP” directly to your campaign. Instead, they need to send a new text message to a virtual number.
Using a virtual number and then identifying yourself in the copy of the text message is the most ideal.
Q. Do you sell lists?
A. No, it’s bad practice to purchase and use a third party list. While it’s possible that certain providers purchase lists, we do not do it. We believe strongly in building your own list from scratch. Pre-purchased lists are expensive, and they anger recipients and lead to many opt-outs.