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Express Written Consent: Understanding How Important This Is

There’s a right and wrong way when executing your text message marketing campaigns. The right way involves allowing your audience to opt-in by providing their express written consent. The wrong way means violating federal laws and regulations.

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Here’s what you need to know about text message marketing the right way.

What does express written consent mean?

Express written consent is a written agreement between a consumer and a marketer wherein the consumer authorizes the marketer to deliver “advertisements or telemarketing messages” both via phone call and via short message service (SMS), according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

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This agreement must include the specific phone number the marketer is calling or texting in addition to the number owner’s written or electronic signature. The audience can provide its electronic signature for consent by pressing a button to “agree” as long as it’s not a condition of purchase.

What is an example of express written consent?

Say a customer visits a company’s website to browse their products and potentially purchase.

When the visitor first navigates to the website, a pop-up window displays a special offer to sign up for the company’s text marketing list in exchange for a 15% off coupon.

They have to enter their phone number and provide express written consent by checking a box.

Underneath the box in the fine print, the consent reads:

“By pressing ‘Submit,’ I agree to receive recurring messages from ‘The Company’ to the provided phone number and also agree to ‘The Company’s terms and privacy policy. Message and data rates may apply.”

The above is a simple example of obtaining written consent from a website visitor.

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Why is express written consent so important?

Express written consent is incredibly important for text marketers and is something the federal government takes seriously.

The Telephone Consumer Protection ACT OF 1991

Congress passed The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in 1991. The legislation protects consumers from unwanted and aggressive telemarketing calls to home and cell phones.

Specifically, the TCPA states that without express written consent, telemarketers cannot:

  1. Call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  2. Call you if you’ve opted out of calls from a specific caller or are a part of the National Do Not Call Registry.
  3. Send unsolicited fax messages to your home or office.
  4. Refuse to provide their name, the organization they’re calling for, and the contact information for that organization

Companies that violate the guidelines of the TCPA can be sued for actual damages and statutory damages of up to $1,500.  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enforces the TCPA and issues fines to companies in violation.

Understanding opt-in consent

You can avoid violating the terms of the TCPA and incurring financial penalties or litigation by understanding the opt-in consent.

When customers provide a company with opt-in consent, they sign up to receive promotional materials. The company should also make it easy for customers to opt out of receiving promotional materials.

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What is the National Do Not Call Registry?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) created The National Do Not Call Registry to help stop unwanted sales calls.

It’s free and easy to add a phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry by visiting DoNotCall.gov or calling 1-888-382-1222. It takes up to 31 days for sales calls to stop, but the registration never expires as long as the phone number registered remains in service.

It’s important to note that adding a phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry will stop legitimate sales calls. The Registry cannot block calls from illegitimate companies or scammers.

So if you’re still receiving calls even after registering, these are likely not legitimate calls and are instead scammers.

It’s also important to note that companies can still call after a business transaction or if they’ve been provided express written consent. Political calls, charitable calls, debt collection calls, informational calls, and surveys are still allowed.

How do I get opt-in consent to a text message?

The key to legal and successful text marketing is receiving opt-in consent. Here are three different methods to consider:

Create a text message keyword campaign

You can receive opt-in consent for text messages from customers by creating a text message keyword campaign.

In a text message keyword campaign, you select a specific keyword that customers text to a phone number to receive automated text messages from the company effectively.

For example, say that you own a pizza company and want to grow your customer base and establish customer loyalty using TextSanity’s text message marketing tools.

You can create a text message keyword campaign using a keyword like “PIZZAFAN1.” Ask your customers to text the keyword to your designated phone number to opt-in to receive promotional material and updates from your company.

From there, keep the communication and engagement flowing by:

  1. Providing them with a 10% off coupon as a “thank you” for opting-in
  2. Sending them a customer satisfaction survey to make sure that they enjoyed their pizza and their service
  3. Sending them updates on a new restaurant location opening nearby.

Text message keyword campaigns with TextSanity are easy and are extremely effective with the right keywords, phone numbers, and messaging format.

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Use online webform opt-in

You can also use an online webform for customer opt-ins. Instead of texting, a customer can opt-in to receive your messages by completing an online webform.

To receive express written consent using an online opt-in webform, you need to be very specific about what the person is signing up for.

You also need to obtain their consent through a “button” that records the consent. You can boost success by making this webform as simple as possible — only ask for a name and phone number instead of tedious details like email addresses, mailing addresses, etc. that can quickly turn people off.

You can easily create your opt-in webform with TextSanity and then post on the form on your social media profiles, email newsletters, or store website.

You can customize every aspect of your webform by adding photos, creating a unique URL, selecting contact tags, drafting a header, and inserting data fields.

You can even test out your customized webform before posting it to ensure that you’re completely satisfied with it.

Send a manual opt-in on the contacts page of your TextSanity account

While the previous two methods require your audience to come to you, you can go to them with a manual opt-in request. TextSanity helps you build a fully functional contact database by simply uploading a CSV file into the system. From the “Contacts” page, you can send an opt-in message to all the contacts you uploaded.

Once customers opt-in, send a mass text to hundreds of your contacts. This page also offers scheduling capabilities.

TextSanity makes it easy to organize your contact list, no matter how large. For example,

  1. You can “tag” people into different categories to create custom audiences based on preferences or demographics.
  2. You can search for specific names, phone numbers, or emails using the search feature.
  3. You can filter contact results based on your assigned tags.

You can also see who on your contact list has not yet opted in or has opted out thanks to handy green, yellow, and red icons — making it easier than ever to comply with the TCPA and other regulations.

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Conclusion

You cannot send text messages or call customers who do not give express written consent via opt-in. Express written permission is as simple as asking your site visitors to click a button, asking your audience to text you back, or asking them to fill out a quick webform.

It’s incredibly easy to receive express written consent with TextSanity. The more customers who opt-in to your texts, the more customers and engagement you gain, leading to increased potential sales.