Opt-In Text Messaging

Disclaimer: Please note that this is not legal advice and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for advice from qualified legal counsel, nor is it to assist you or help you be compliant as you assume 100% responsibility in all legal matters.

Getting permission to text consumers is the most important rule of SMS marketing compliance.

Known as opt-in text messaging, this type of SMS marketing requires companies to receive verifiable consent before texting consumers.

The definitions and requirements of opt-in SMS exist to protect consumers from receiving unsolicited messages and keep this channel free from spam.

And when followed correctly, opt-in SMS can lead to higher engagement and success from your text marketing campaign.

In this article, we’ll cover:

What Is Opt-In Text Messaging?

Opt-in text messaging refers to the process of earning consumers’ permission to send them SMS marketing messages.

TCPA law dictates that businesses must receive “express written consent” before texting a consumer.

It’s not enough to have a customer’s phone number. You must outline the details of your SMS campaign wherever you ask consumers to opt in and deliver on that promise.

Businesses that text consumers who didn’t subscribe or fully understand what they signed up for face steep legal fines. Companies also bear the burden of proving consent.

As a protective measure, it’s suggested to require a double opt-in — meaning subscribers must reply “YES” to your initial text message after subscribing to formally opt in.

Sending a compliant confirmation text eliminates confusion around consent because you have proof the consumer read and understood your program details by replying “YES.”

Double Opt-In Example

What Is an Opt-Out in SMS Marketing?

An opt-out occurs when subscribers indicate they no longer agree to receive SMS messages from your business.

For example, a subscriber could reply “STOP” to your text campaign to opt out. Under the TCPA, you’re required to remove opted-out subscribers from all further text communications.

Benefits of Opt-In Text Messaging

The rules around opt-in text messaging are thorough to prevent consumers from accidentally subscribing to a text campaign or opting into communication under false pretenses.

Clearly communicating the details of your campaign and requiring a double opt-in create transparency and trust with your audience. As a result, your SMS list will be more engaged with your marketing messages.

Here are more benefits of opt-in SMS:

  • Higher open and click-through rates: Your SMS subscribers have taken extra steps to hear from you and will reward you by reading and interacting with your text messages.
  • Lower spam complaints: Less than 3% of text messages are flagged as spam, compared to more than 50% for email.
  • Increased ROI: Like most marketing initiatives, it’s far more cost-effective to keep subscribers than generate new ones. With fewer spam complaints and unsubscribes, you’ll spend less money replenishing your marketing list.
  • Diminished legal risk: Collecting verifiable records of consent reduces your risk of fines.
  • Faster communication: Texting subscribers doesn’t require design or coding. You can craft and blast messages in minutes to get the word out about promotions quicker and reduce marketing costs.

SMS Opt-In Examples to Grow Your List

Use these methods to generate SMS marketing opt-ins:

SMS Keywords

In most cases, you must send a confirmation text as a dual-opt-in measure to subscribers before they’re officially opted into your marketing campaign.

However, you can bypass this step with SMS keywords.

An SMS keyword is a unique word that coincides with your text marketing campaign.

When consumers text the keyword to your shortcode or textable phone number, they expressly consent to opt into your SMS program.

For example, a spa might promote the keyword “RELAX” to encourage consumers to join their SMS list and receive exclusive massage discounts.

Online Forms

Another way to grow your SMS opt-in list at scale is through digital forms.

You can embed a form into your website, prompting visitors to enter their phone number and opt into your SMS marketing campaign.

To encourage social media followers or email subscribers to opt into text messaging, you can also generate a link to a sharable form to promote to these audiences.

Physical Forms

No audience is more engaged than in-store visitors.

If your business receives foot traffic, create a physical form that visitors can fill out to subscribe to your exclusive SMS offers.

Website Popups

Another avenue for building your opt-in list is through online popups.

As website visitors interact with your site, a popup can share details of your SMS program and allow engaged visitors to opt in.

Website Popup Opt-In Example

Online and Physical Banners

Beyond forms, you can also design physical or digital banners to promote your SMS marketing keyword or campaign and build your opt-in list.

Opt-In Text Messaging Guidelines

As you create and promote your opt-in SMS campaign, keep these guidelines in mind:

  1. Clearly communicate the details of your program at opt-in. Wherever you promote your SMS keyword or campaign, you must also disclose: the purpose of the campaign, your business name, how often subscribers will receive messages, message and data rate notices, links to your terms and conditions and privacy policy and opt-out instructions.
  2. Offer exclusive discounts, announcements or something of value. Subscribing to your text program is a commitment. Give consumers an enticing reason to join your SMS list by offering steeper discounts or early access to information.
  3. Confirm opt-ins. The TCPA also requires you to text recipients a disclosure message to confirm their participation in your SMS program. This message should reiterate the details of your SMS program stated at opt in. At this point, you can also ask subscribers to reply “YES” to receive SMS messages as a double opt-in measure. 

 Disclaimer: Please note that this is not legal advice and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for advice from qualified legal counsel, nor is it to assist you or help you be compliant as you assume 100% responsibility in all legal matters. 


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