We’ve all been there – scrolling through our phones when, all of a sudden, we receive a text message from a number we don’t recognize. Is it a super-secret communication from the government? An interstellar invitation from aliens? No, it’s actually just a random organization trying to sell us something. But how did they get our number in the first place?
As technology advances and communication becomes more digital, the rules and regulations surrounding texting have become increasingly complex. That’s where SMS opt-in permission comes in. If you want to send text messages to a person legally, you first need to get their explicit permission. But how do you do that without alienating potential customers? We’re here to help you navigate the tricky waters of SMS opt-in with our best practices guide.
Best Practices For Getting Customers to Opt-In
Let’s start with the most common ways to get SMS opt-in permission from a contact – verbal confirmation and customer message opt-ins.
Picture this: You’re on a phone call or Zoom meeting with a potential customer. You’re chatting away, building a rapport, and then it hits you – you want to send them text messages in the future. But you can’t just start texting them out of the blue, can you? Enter stage left, verbal confirmation.
Simply ask them verbally, “Do I have your permission to text?” or “Can I text you back at your cell number?”. They’ll either say yes or no, and you’ll have your answer. Just make sure to follow up with a text message to confirm their opt-in status in writing.
Customer Texts In
Another natural way to obtain opt-in permission is when a customer sends a text to your company phone number displayed on your website. This is a great opportunity for you to provide a double opt-in, which is a confirmation from the customer and the automated reply asking them again. It’s a great way to build trust and ensure that the customer is truly interested in your product or service.
The next way to obtain opt-in permission is through message-based opt-ins. These methods are great for promoting natural customer engagement.
Text Call to Action
Have you ever seen a print or online advertisement that asks users to text in and start an opt-in process? If not, you’re missing out! This method typically uses an automated bot flow set up with a keyword to receive the inbound request and respond with a double opt-in confirmation (or reply STOP to opt-out).
This is essentially the same thing as customer texts in, but with a marketing message element attached to it. You can use it to reach users through different channels such as print, website, social media posts, or even broadcast mediums such as radio and TV.
Ah, the modern-day version of barcodes – QR codes. A special type of QR Code can be generated which starts a text message instead of visiting a website address. When creating this QR code, your SMS number and a message is embedded which opens your mobile phone’s SMS app when scanned.
A new SMS conversation is then pre-populated with an opt-in message which includes a keyword that triggers the opt-in process. The opt-in process is the same as example “3. Text Call to Action” above except with a QR code that initiates everything. It’s a great way to intrigue potential customers and add a little mystery to the mix.
If you have an online registration process, you can easily include a checkbox to allow the contact to agree to receiving texts from your organization during the process. This way, you can gain consent while they’re already engaging with your brand. Make sure you’re linking to your opt-in agreement and privacy page.
Using Email Campaigns
If you’re already running an email newsletter or mailing list, you have a captive audience for your SMS opt-ins. Incorporate content in your next campaign to opt-in users, using several types of call to actions such as text call to action, QR code, a combination of text and QR code, and link to website form.
Written Consent Clause
Last but not least, adding a written consent clause on paper or digital documents to ask permission to text a user is a great opt-in method. Make sure to have a section for users to fill in their mobile number, and outline your terms of service for full compliance.
Best Practices for SMS Opt-Ins
Now that you have a better understanding of the different ways to obtain opt-in permission, let’s focus on some best practices that will help you stay compliant and build a positive relationship with your customers.
- Be Concise: Nobody wants to read a convoluted message. Keep your message clear and to the point. It will increase your chances of gaining opt-in permission.
- Don’t Text First: Never send text messages without first obtaining a customer’s opt-in permission. It’s the quickest way to land in legal hot water.
- Offer a Clear Opt-Out: Make sure to provide customers with a clear opt-out option. Nobody likes to receive messages they don’t want, and you don’t want to irritate potential customers.
- Inform Customers About Data Rates: It’s important to let customers know about data rates that may apply based on their location and service plan.
- Tell Customers What They’re Saying Yes To: Be transparent about what your customers are consenting to when they choose to receive text messages from your organization. Outline details regarding message frequency, marketing messages, updates, etc.
- Link to Full Terms of Service: Connecting customers to your full terms of service is a great way to ensure full transparency and understanding.
All in all, SMS opt-in permission is complex, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking to improve your current strategy, the tips and tricks we’ve discussed will help you stay compliant and build positive customer relationships for your business.
This guide’s got you covered with tips on how to improve your opt-ins and get your users to give consent for sending SMS/MMS text messages. But heads up, this isn’t legal advice—make sure to talk to your legal counsel for specific guidance depending on your industry, use case, and location.