CDYNE’S Top 10 : Correct Text Messaging Techniques

CDYNE has put together a list of correct techniques when using short codes. They stress the importance of using the proper information, verbiage, and keywords to adhere to and stay in compliance with the CTIA, which is the organization that represents the wireless communications industry and ensures all rules and regulations are followed ( http://www.ctia.org/ ).The following Top Ten list is  a guide to help make you aware of possible issues when sending short code text messages. For more details read the CTIA Citation Handbook Overview at http://www.wmcglobal.com/assets/ctia-mobile-commerce-compliance-handbook-v-1-3.pdf .

1.   RESEARCH

Keep in mind that you are sending to someone’s personal mobile device, which means there are rules to follow set by the CTIA and TCPA as well. Understanding the carrier’s rules will help you in avoiding violation restrictions or a possible short code shut down.

For instance, you do not have the right to automatically enroll a customer to receive SMS alerts from your company.

Or when launching a new SMS campaign, that is different from what your customer originally agreed to, everyone will need to opt-in again.

If the carriers find out you are using a single opt-in for multiple campaigns, you could get cited for the following violation, “Automatic enrollment in multiple programs” which has a severity of 1. (see CTIA violation chart below)

Including and/or not including the smallest information could cause an issue with your campaign. Like including data or any personal information that could identify the recipient.

You would be given up to 5 days remove the information, but imagine the other small “mistakes” we could make that would cause such an issue.

This confirms why researching is such an important task to do!

2.   USE WORDS THAT DO NOT MINIMIZE PRICING

Keeping an honest relationship with customers should always be top priority.

Display valid pricing as clearly as possible with correct signs.

When persuading customers to enroll or purchase a product, businesses often use the terms “just” or “only” 1.99 for example.

It is a violation, “Language minimizes pricing” which has a severity of 2.

The CTIA will require you to remove all terms that minimizes pricing.

3. TAKE ACTION TO A SUBSCRIBER’S “STOP” MESSAGE

The purpose of including the “STOP” keyword is to give the subscriber the option to …… well unsubscribe!

Display the STOP keyword in bold typeface in all messages sent.

By not including a STOP keyword you will run the risk of receiving the following citation “Failure to display STOP keyword” which has a severity of 1.

4.  SEND THE EXACT AMOUNT OF MESSAGES AS STATED IN THE OPT-IN

One of most severe citations within the CTIA handbook “Fails to match approved program in CSC registry” with a Severity of 1.

Sending any messages containing spam, would fall underneath this violation as well.

If you advertised to send only 3 messages per week, it’s extremely important to not go one message over. Franchises as large as football teams have had law suits filed against them for sending additional messages than what their customer agreed to.

In simple terms, let’s just say the customer won!

5.   MENTION THAT MESSAGE AND DATA RATES MAY APPLY 

Even if you think charges will not occur always mention it.

It may sound pretty simple but truth is not everyone has free text messaging. To protect yourself, be sure to add within your SMS messaging that “message and data rates may apply”. Another recommendation is to include this on the opt-in page as well.

There is a citation for “No mention that message and data rates may apply” with a Severity of 2.

6.   MESSAGE CONTENT MATCHES APPROVED CAMPAIGN

Once your campaign request has been approved and you launch your messaging, you must stay in compliant to what your campaign was approved for.

If you are changing message content, company name,  or providers , you are required to resubmit another campaign request.

This could be a major issue and possibly cause carriers to audit your short code if you do not stick to the original expected message content.

Not to mention, random audits are performed by carriers for this specific reason.

Located within the CTIA handbook there is a citation for “Fails to match approved program in CSC registry” with a Severity of 1.

7. INCLUDE CUSTOMER SUPPORT NUMBER

Always provide your recipient with a number to contact for help or a Web URL that would provide helpful information.   If consumers have any questions or concerns you are required to provide a method of contact.

Not doing so could result in a citation for “No customer care contact information” with a Severity of 2.

Deliver HELP MT then provide a toll free contact number or web address within the  message.

The good news is that only within the HELP MT will you need to provide a way of contact.

8.  ALWAYS SEND SMS TO CONFIRM “STOP” TEXT RECEIVED 

Sounds pretty tedious.  What’s the point of sending another message if they no longer want to receive any right?  Well the CTIA requires that you are to confirm and ensure your recipient that they will no longer receive any messages to their mobile device.

This could help with being a beneficial move. Maybe someone responded “STOP” and were not aware that they will no longer receive text messages.

Your final SMS confirmation, will inform the user that they need to opt in to receive alerts again because they mistakenly opted out.

There is a citation for “Failure to confirm message flow termination” with a Severity of 2.

9.  ALWAYS INCLUDE ALL UNIVERSAL KEYWORDS

All short code programs are required to have the universal commands STOP, QUIT, END, CANCEL, UNSUBSCRIBE, STOP ALL, and HELP.

Keywords are needed  in order to give consumers a more consistent experience while using your short code program.

Reply “HELP” for help .

“STOP” to stop messaging.

” RESUME” to resume.

and/or “YES” to confirm the Opt In.

Keywords shall not be case sensitive but displayed in bold typeface.

There is a citation for “Failure to provide user response command” with a Severity of 1.

10. FOLLOW CTIA GUIDELINES AS WELL AS TCPA GUIDELINES

The two organizations are very different when it comes to their primary mission.

We already discussed the goal of the CTIA, let’s discuss the TCPA’s goal and mission.

TCPA (TELEPHONE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT) is a federal law set to basically ensure  proper usage of telephone calls, restrict solicitation, ensure requirements are met when using fax machines, autodialers, etc.   This also covers all calls made to telephone numbers, mobile telephone numbers, radio services, and any other service that charges the “called party”.  http://www.tcpacompliance.us/

The TCPA has a set of laws that are carried out within the court system, whereas the CTIA provides “guidelines” enforced by wireless carriers.

Not abiding by the TCPA, you are breaking a law

VS.

Not abiding by the CTIA you are disregarding the guidelines set by carriers which could cause a specific carrier to no longer carry messages on your short code 

TCPA focuses more on how to correctly receive the permission to text, call, etc.

CTIA primarily focuses on how to actually send the message correctly and what to provide within in each message sent to recipients.

In conclusion, abiding by one does not mean you are abiding by the other. They are two separate groups with very different regulations to follow. Be sure to do your research and learn the difference between each of them!

 

CTIA Violation Chart 

Severity 0 Extreme Consumer Harm Immediate
Severity 1 Serious Consumer Harm 2-5 Business Days
Severity 2 Moderate Consumer Harm 5 Business Days

 We hope the information provided was useful and gave you a better understanding of how to send SMS messaging correctly!

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