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Best Practices for Staying Compliant with SMS Shortcodes
When CAN-SPAM was enacted in 2003, and CASL in 2014, it was clear that these rules didn't just apply to email marketing: SMS marketing would also be subject to these laws. With SMS marketing, since you're reaching your customers directly on their mobile devices through text messages, it is important that you follow the same rules of consent that you would with any other electronic medium. Using an SMS shortcode provides you with some safety measures to ensure compliance.
The first step in understanding compliance with shortcodes is to first know the difference between shortcodes and longcodes.
Longcodes are the 10-digit numbers that you are likely accustomed to using. These numbers are typically reserved for person-to-person communication and can be suspended for heavy traffic or use (namely, mass sending).Shortcodes are 6-digit numbers that businesses can use to communicate with customers via text message. Shortcodes allow businesses to send messages easily to customers without the fear of being suspended.
The first part of staying compliant with SMS marketing is gaining consent. This can come through a variety of ways: an online signup form, signing a physical document, or texting into a shortcode with your keyword.
Gaining consent is the biggest advantage of using a shortcode because it makes the process very easy. Essentially, if a customer is interested in receiving text messages from you, all they need to do is text a specific keyword to your shortcode. When your customer texts in, you gain their contact information and their consent because by texting you, they have shown interest in receiving your messages.
After you have their consent to send messages, you need to ensure that your sending stays compliant. American compliance laws state that you need to provide a "type" for the messages you are sending. This means that each keyword you have is associated with a purpose and cannot be used for any other purpose. Depending on your intended use, you need to select the option most applicable to you. Your options here are: promotional, entertainment, information, query service, loyalty program, or most programs. With Canadian compliance laws, you do not need to provide this information.
One thing that is consistent between CASL and CAN-SPAM is the requirement to provide help and stop options for each keyword you have. These options are meant to provide your customers with the information they need about your messaging.
At any time, a customer should be able to text STOP to your shortcode if they no longer want to receive your messages. This acts like an "unsubscribe" option in an email. As for the help option, when a customer texts HELP to your shortcode, they should be provided with a message detailing how many texts per month they will receive, a link or email address they can follow to get more detailed information about your SMS messages, and the option to text STOP to unsubscribe from any further text messages.
The options for both HELP and STOP must be presented to your join message. This is a default message you need to send to each customer the first time they text you. By doing this, you are transparent about your messaging while staying compliant with CASL and CAN-SPAM.
SMS marketing is a great way to engage your customers so long as you stay compliant and respect their communication preferences and requests. By following these best practices, you ensure that your customer is kept happy and that you stay compliant with CASL and CAN-SPAM.
The SimplyCast SMS application comes with built-in features and to help you stay compliant. If you'd like to learn more the SimplyCast SMS app, visit this page.