Guidance for Messaging Practices and Developing Proper Opt In Procedures
To participate in A2P business messaging, it is important for you to understand the basic expectations of the industry. We know you are experts in your specific field of work and we don’t expect you to become messaging experts! We are here to help you navigate this new territory and communicate effectively with your customers.
The industry is working very hard to identify and block the bad actors that send unwanted messages, phishing, smishing, and scams to everyone’s phones. They understand the importance of reestablishing trust in the industry, so that people will begin accepting calls and allowing texts.
Losses hit $86 million last year Across the U.S., $86 million was reported lost in 2020 from frauds originating in scam texts, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a consumer protection agency. Last year the 334,524 such complaints equaled an average of 916 reports a day. In 5 percent of overall cases, complainants said they lost money; their median loss was $800. ~AARP, June 25, 2021, “How to Spot Scam Texts on Your Smartphone”, By Katherine Skiba
As a legitimate business with legitimage messaging goals, you can build trust in your business by using good messaging practices. These best practices help you to communicate very effectively with your customers and future prospects in their preferred medium–the text message.
Messaging Consent and Opt In Guidance
The Opt-In process involves getting permission or consent from the receiver before sending a business text. A disclaimer in your terms and conditions does not qualify. Third party opt-in is discouraged or not allowed. The industry is setting standards for a direct opt-in for business communication. Make sure you can demonstrate that you receive the appropriate consent level for your use case. Use the Double Opt-In method when in doubt.
What level of consent do I need?
The messaging industry groups messages into three categories: Conversational, Informational and Marketing. Each messaging type has an appropriate consent level because of the type of messaging involved and with whom.
Conversational messaging is a one-on-one two-way conversation between you and your existing customers, employees, or known contacts with an existing business relationship. It is implied that a customer wants a response when they initiate a text to a business with a request for information. This is considered implied consent; however it is a passive opt-in (a weaker consent level) rather than a direct opt-in. Because you are communicating with individuals you have an existing business relationship with, implied consent is adequate. Often with appointment reminders, consent is requested within new patient paperwork–an excellent form of a direct opt-in.
When a consumer (who is not an existing customer) initiates the communication, no further consent is required if the business only replies to that one specific request. To contact the consumer again, there must be express consent.
Information messaging is when a consumer supplies your business with their phone number and asks to be contacted in the future. This could be a single response/alert or a two-way conversation about the information requested. The consumer must agree to receive the texts when they give a business their mobile number. The business needs Express Consent (oral or written) to provide the information to the consumer. The Double Opt-In is an easy way to confirm their express consent.
Promotional messaging contains marketing or sales information and may include a call to action. Any promotional messaging requires Express Written Consent which involves them signing a form, checking a box online, etc. expressly stating that they consent to receiving promotional text messages.
What is a Double Opt-In?
Double Opt-In is not required yet in business SMS; however, the industry is stressing their desire for all businesses to get double opt-in confirmation during the initial SMS conversation. Since we began submitting Toll Free Verification requests, we have been seeing less kick-backs and delays when a Double Opt-In flow is in place, especially if a screenshot of that messaging flow is provided. Here’s how it works:
Upon receiving the initial text from the customer, the business replies asking the individual to consent to the opt-in with Yes. Rather than a sterile legal consent, consider it more like a friendly Welcome Message that thanks them for reaching out and asks them to please reply YES for consent. Here are a few examples:
- “Thanks for signing up for our text alerts. We’d like to confirm that you want to receive texts from [business name]. Reply YES to confirm.”
- “Hi, this is [business name] following up with you on your request for information. Do you agree to receive texts from us?”
- “Welcome to the [business name] team! We send employee reminders and alerts as explained in our hiring paperwork. Please consent to employee notifications by replying YES.”
After receiving consent, you’ll naturally program a Thank You response. This is the perfect moment to add ‘Text STOP to unsubscribe’.
If the response to your Opt-In confirmation is NO, that is an Opt-Out.
Be aware that high volumes of Opt-Outs can impact your deliverability. When message senders notice high volumes of opt-outs, this sends a red flag indicating poor messaging standards or lack of opt-in. Developing proper Opt-In and Opt-Out procedures will help ensure your message deliverability.
Your STOP notification could be a keyword like REMOVE, UNSUBSCRIBE, QUIT, OPT-OUT, CANCEL, etc. Unusual STOP keywords are interpreted as an attempt to make the Opt-Out difficult (a serious red flag), so we recommend that you keep it simple and use STOP. You do not have to include your Opt-Out language with every text you send, but consumers like to be reassured they always have the option. At the very least, we recommend that after you receive the initial Opt-In consent and reply with your welcome message, that you include your Opt-Out language.
Honor every Opt-Out request. Upon receiving the message to STOP, we recommend that you reply with an Opt-Out confirmation message explaining that all texts from this number are now blocked, and provide an UNSTOP option to receive messages again. No further communication is allowed until new consent is received.
Industry Accepted Use Cases
Auto Repair Services
Conversational / Alerts
Courier Services and Deliveries
Events and Planning
General School Updates
Housing Community Updates
HR / Staffing
Real Estate Services
Repair and Diagnostics Alerts
Ineligible Use Cases
|High-Risk Financial Services||Get Rich Quick Schemes||Debt Forgiveness||Illegal Substances/ Activities||General|
Short-term, high-interest loans
Credit repair programs
Deceptive work from home programs
|Work from home programs
Risk investment opportunities
Debt collection or consolidation
Tobacco or vape
Fraud or scams
Profanity or hate speech
Messaging Industry Resources
CTIA Messaging Principles and Best Practices
MMA Best Practices
M3AAWG Best Practices
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) Omnibus Declaratory Ruling (FCC 15-72)
FTC Truth in Advertising
Toll Free Messaging Verification
Mobile carriers are now requiring businesses that send SMS messages to register their Toll-Free Numbers to avoid usage thresholds and aggressive spam filtering. To learn more about submitting your toll free number for messaging verification, please see our article Toll-Free Messaging Verification.
10DLC SMS Campaign Registration
The Campaign Registry has mandated that all businesses desiring to send SMS messaging from their 10DLC numbers must register a brand for their company and a campaign to register their use cases. To learn more about the Campaign Registry and this process, please see our article 10DLC SMS Campaign Registration.
Questions or Concerns?
If you have questions or concerns about best practices, registering phone numbers, and the possible impacts on your messaging service, please contact us at email@example.com.