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Short Code Audits – the Necessary Evil

When it comes to short codes there are many steps involved even after the program is live. One checkpoint is the short code audit process which is managed by the CTIA to make sure a short code campaign is continuously staying in compliance within the ever changing carrier rules and regulations. The company that actually performs the audits is WMC Global.

The Monday Morning Pop Quiz

Think of the audits as a pop quiz on a Monday morning. The more you stay on top of educating yourself the better chance you have to pass. Live programs are reviewed and tested after the short codes are in production. The CTIA feels this method is more effective than routine keyword testing and program brief review used in the past because audits reflect the user experience and how they interact with these programs in real time.

The CTIA issues audits weekly for all short codes leased with the CSCA. The CTIA distributes what they call “Program Violation Notices”. A Program Violation Notice is a document notifying content providers (for example C1-02 No link to comprehensive T&C’s) that a violation has been found when testing the program. The CTIA audits short code compliancy based on the best practices included in the CTIA Playbook and the Carrier Playbooks.

The CTIA hand book states “The CTIA compiles and generates Program Violation Notices each Monday for audits performed the previous week, and audits are published as soon as they become available. Although audits might be available for review earlier, the official notice date from which the cure date is calculated is 12:00PM EST on Tuesday.”

Short Code Program Violations

Program violations are classified as Severity 0, Severity 1, or Severity 2, based on the seriousness of the infraction, with Severity 0 the most detrimental. Severity 0 is defined as extreme consumer harm with an immediate cure date. When you receive this audit you must have it fixed within hours or risk suspension or termination.  Severity 1 is considered serious consumer harm and you have 2 business days to correct the issue(s). Finally Severity 2 is moderate consumer harm and you have 5 business days to correct the issue(s). The information explained in this blog, a check list that has the violations and actions required and much more can be found in the CTIA Playbook.

Now that you know what the audit process is how do you avoid failing an audit? The CITA audits all short codes that are leased. WCG global has agents that are assigned to certain numbers and they test and audit those numbers, and it is not complaint based. Everyone is subject to being audited.

A Few Guidelines

First you need to stay educated on the different carrier rule and regulations. Your SMS provider should be giving you all the tools you need to succeed. CDYNE offers not only a dedicated short code manager to help you though the process but also educate you. We have many documents and resources to help you stay up to date with your information.  Below we have outlined some of the major parts of a short code program that can affect your audit negatively if not followed:

  1. Make sure you have a clear opt-in that fits with the program you plan to run. Be sure to describe exactly what program the end-user is interacting with. Example: “Text INFO to 00000 to sign up for CDYNE Info Alerts!”
  2. Include the amount of messages users should expect to receive. Example: “5 messages per month” or “5msg/month”
  3. The phrase “Message & Data Rates May Apply” must be included one line below the call-to-action.
  4. Instructions on how to opt-out and contact end-user support must be included and made distinguishable from the rest of the marketing copy. The words STOP and HELP must be in bold typeface. Example: Text STOP to 00000 to unsubscribe. Texts HELP to 00000 for customer support.
  5. A link to the privacy policy and terms must be included on all marketing materials (I.E. Websites, Flyers Banners and TV ads). Example: http://www.cdyne.com/shortcode/ca/toc.aspx?shortcode=00000

CDYNE offers short codes in the U.S. and Canada. Click here to get started today!

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What Does Opt-In Communication Look Like?

The previous blog entry about short code compliance and SMS rules introduced the entities that monitor and regulate short code messaging. Their goal is to ensure compliance and protect consumer privacy in the mobile space. Building a permission-based list of customers or clients to communicate with through short code SMS is a key component of this compliance. It begins with a call-to-action which is an opportunity for a business to successfully capture a mobile number, and an invitation for a consumer to provide their cell phone number in order to subscribe to content. Some examples include on-site signage or print advertisements encouraging a user to send a text message to your short code; or a web page that allows customers to enter their cell phone number to subscribe to the advertised mobile communication. When creating your call to action, keep in mind that the wireless industry (CTIA) requires that it contains five pieces of information:

Product description and quantity
What will the recipient receive by providing their cell number? And how often? (e.g. Receive account alerts 2-3/month)

Program identification
What is the name of the business, or the text messaging initiative? (e.g. Dr. O’s Medical Alerts)

Opt-out instructions
Include the keyword in bold that recipients must text to stop receiving messages. (e.g. Text STOP to unsubscribe)

Message and data rates may apply
Customers should know that carriers may charge them for these text messages. (e.g. Message & Data rates may apply)

Links to privacy policy and terms and conditions
Dedicated short code users must create a privacy policy. Shared short code users can use the policy drafted by CDYNE for each shared short code. Terms and conditions must be posted online. (e.g. Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions)

When a subscriber sees your call-to-action and wishes to sign up, the next step is obtaining permission through the opt-in mechanism. There are two types: opt-in and double opt-in. The difference between the two is determined by whether there is a text message interaction. With a single opt-in, a person sends a text message to a short code. This is equivalent to a user registering their handset to receive text messages until they decide to opt out. An example of a double opt-in is a user typing their cell phone number on a website form to opt-in to a program. Once submitted, they receive a text message confirming they wish to opt-in. This serves as a secondary opt-in confirming the registration of the handset.

It’s important to note that permission to send text messages is related only to a specific program. For example, you text the keyword SMILE to 55512 to get appointment reminders. This means that the sender can only send appointment reminders.  The content must be disclosed in the call-to-action described above. In this case, the doctor’s office should not send marketing messages in addition to the appointment reminders.

CDYNE provides U.S. and Canadian short codes for use with the SMS Notify! API – SMS Notify! is a secure two-way SMS Gateway that facilitates your business communications with a developer-friendly API.

Get more short code information, or test today for free.

Previous blog: Why Are There So Many Short Code SMS Rules?
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Why Are There So Many Short Code SMS Rules?

The biggest benefit of short codes for end users is that they get to control which text messages they receive. Short code messaging is a permission-based medium that requires the sender to obtain the recipient’s consent before sending a text message to their handset. This is done through an opt-in or consent process. For example, you see a short code advertisement that says, “Text SMILE to 55512 to get dental appointment reminders” and you send the text message as instructed. This action is considered an opt-in giving the sender permission to send appointment reminders to your handset. Users can also opt-out anytime by texting the keyword STOP to the short code.

The opt-in rules are an equal advantage to businesses using short codes to communicate with their audience because their message is targeted to only those who wish to receive the message.  A company effectively has a direct line of communication with their customer. To protect this benefit, the standard of protecting consumer privacy in the mobile environment is strongly supported by the marketing industry, controlled by the wireless carriers, and supported by federal anti-spam laws.

Mobile Marketing Association (MMA)

The MMA is a global trade association that focuses on the mobile aspect of marketing. They’ve developed mobile marketing best practices and promote the mobile industry privacy principles through a series of documents and resources. Some of these resources including “Code of Conduct for Mobile Marketing,” “Mobile Advertising Guidelines,” Mobile Financial Services Best Practices,” and “Consumer Best Practices Guidelines for Cross-Carrier Mobile Content Programs” are cited in the CTIA’s Acceptable Use Policy, which governs the use of short codes.

Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA)

The wireless carriers regulate the industry and create rules for interacting with recipients through SMS. CTIA is the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry that monitors text messaging for the carriers and issues violation notices. Their website features a business resource short code section which includes best practices, FAQs, case studies, and the usage policy.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

The FCC is a U.S. government agency, overseen by Congress, which regulates radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable communications in the U.S. It created two laws to address spam – the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act.

The CAN-SPAM Act prohibits sending unwanted commercial text messages to a mobile device if the number is on the Do-Not-Call (DNC) list. Advertisements or promotional messages are considered commercial messages. This act supplements the TCPA consumer protections and it’s important to note that if you have already given consent to receive text messages, TCPA will not protect a user from commercial messages. More details about text message regulations may be found on their website.

CDYNE provides U.S. and Canadian short codes for use with the SMS Notify! API – SMS Notify! is a secure two-way SMS Gateway that facilitates your business communications with a developer-friendly API.

Get more short code information, or test today for free.

Previous blog: Dedicated Short Code: Steps to Launch
Next blog: What Does Opt-In Communication Look Like?
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Dedicated Short Code: Steps to Launch

Once you have chosen to get a dedicated SMS short code, there are several steps to complete the process between leasing the short code and launching it for live communications. Launching a short code encompasses several phases which can typically take 8-10 weeks to complete (and sometimes longer) from the time you submit a program brief because there are a number of carrier requirements to fulfill. CDYNE simplifies and manages this part of the process for you. Here is an overview of the CDYNE short code set up process.

1. Lease Your Short Code

This step takes about 1-2 business days between payment and CSCA processing. Applying for a short code can be done in one of two ways:

  1. Apply directly with the CSCA, which maintains the U.S. database for available, reserved, and registered short codes, or
  2. CDYNE will submit the short code lease on your behalf.

The cost for leasing is the same either way: $1,500 quarterly leasing fee for a random short code, or $3,000 quarterly for a vanity short code. The CSCA requires payment in full for the entire lease prior to releasing a short code. Once this is complete, the CSCA will register your short code.

2. Sign a CDYNE Contract

The contract covers terms and conditions, many of which flow down from the CSCA, the wireless carriers, and the connection aggregator. CDYNE will countersign and send back a copy of the contract in 1-2 business days from the date you submit the signed contract.

3. Complete the Carrier Program Brief

Once the short code has been registered and the CDYNE contract signed, the next step is getting approval from each supported carrier. CDYNE will work closely with you during this application process, which can be complex and dynamic. The carriers set, interpret, and can change the rules, and each carrier does this by their own method and within their own timeframe. While CDYNE cannot guarantee carrier approval, we work closely and diligently with you and the carriers to prepare the application to meet current approval standards. This step varies according to the number of updates the carrier requires and how quickly you are able to implement updates.

The CTIA is the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry that monitors text messaging for the carriers and issues violation notices. Their Acceptable Use Policy covers the requirements the carriers review during the approval process.

While the carriers review your program brief, you can still test your short code application on our system! CDYNE can assign an SMS-enabled phone number (DID) to your license key which also works with the SMS Notify! API. The only significant difference is the number you are testing with. A DID is a 10-digit U.S. number that allows you to send and receive low volumes of text messages. Once the short code is approved, CDYNE will replace your DID with the short code for SMS communications.

4. Short Code Provisioning & Testing

When all carriers have approved your program brief, each carrier will provision the short code on their network for testing. During this phase, the carriers will test and certify the approved program, which typically takes 8 to 10 weeks.

5. Short Code Launch

As soon as each carrier certifies your short code program, you may officially launch your short code campaign on the SMS Notify! API!

CDYNE provides U.S. and Canadian short codes for use with the SMS Notify! API – SMS Notify! is a secure two-way SMS Gateway that facilitates your business communications with a developer-friendly API.

Get more short code information, or test today for free.

Previous blog: Shared or Dedicated Short Code: Choosing the Right One
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Shared or Dedicated Short Code: Choosing the Right One

For many people worldwide, SMS-enabled devices have become irreplaceable tools to stay connected with the outside world. Immediately communicating with customers, clients, employees, and members therefore makes SMS an extremely powerful messaging tool for businesses. When considering a short code, the following preliminary questions will be a helpful in evaluating your mobile communication goals:

  • What is the mobile communications budget?
  • What is the timeline to launch a mobile communications campaign?
  • What are the text message volume needs?

There are two short code options for companies to engage their audiences with text messaging: shared short codes and dedicated short codes. Which one is the best choice for your business?

Shared Short Code: Lower Cost, Quick Launch, & Shared Volume

Shared short codes allow a business to run a campaign on a short code that is used by other companies. The primary benefit is a savings in both money and time. Shared short codes cost less than dedicated short codes because a single shared short code is used across various text messaging campaigns run by multiple companies. Dedicated short codes typically cost $500 per month to lease with a $3,000 carrier application processing fee, plus the cost to send each message. Tapping into a short code that is already active saves you the time of obtaining and provisioning a short code yourself (typically an 8-10 week process or more) – plus you can launch your text messaging campaign almost immediately.

Separate campaigns are able to run simultaneously on a single short code with the use of keywords. A keyword is a unique phrase assigned to a short code that identifies a business campaign. For example, Dr. O’s dentist and Sal’s Pizza both use short code 55616 to communicate with their customers. Dr. O uses the keywords SMILE and CLEAN for two separate campaigns: texting SMILE to 55616 subscribes the user to appointment reminders; and the CLEAN keyword designates a special offer Dr. O’s office is running this month. Sal’s Pizza uses CHEESE so subscribers can subscribe to delivery specials. The unique keywords allow businesses to share the use of a short code.

Dedicated Short Code: Brand-Friendly, Better User Experience & 35 Dedicated Messages/Second

Dedicated short codes are an excellent mobile tool for businesses requiring sole use of the short code. While it costs more money and time to launch a dedicated short code, there are certain advantages to consider: they are brand-friendly, offer a better user experience, and handle a higher throughput of text messages.

A short code can become part of a company’s brand strategy particularly with a vanity short code, which allows you to specifically request the numbers of the short code. This might be used to mimic a zip code, or an associated word (e.g., 76453 spells SMILE). Vanity short codes cost $1,000 per month to lease, whereas a random short code costs $500 per month and is randomly assigned.

The second advantage of a dedicated short code is better user experience. With a shared short code, the user will typically have to text a keyword, and then an action word to subscribe. For example, Dr. O wants to run two campaigns with the keyword SMILE. This first is for appointment reminders, as mentioned above, and the second is appointment confirmations. Since both use the keyword SMILE, each campaign should be designated with an action word. The user would text SMILE RMD to set up SMS appointment reminders. When they receive the reminder (e.g. “Your appointment is 3/30/10. Txt SMILE Y to confirm”), the user needs to text the keyword SMILE plus the action word Y for yes in order to route the response to the correct company. With a dedicated short code, this is not necessary.

A dedicated short code can send up to 35 text messages per second. On a shared short code, this volume is shared among the number of companies using a single short code.

CDYNE provides U.S. and Canadian short codes for use with the SMS Notify! API – SMS Notify! is a secure two-way SMS Gateway that facilitates your business communications with a developer-friendly API.

Get more short code information, or test today for free.

Previous blog: Text Messaging: Almost a Guaranteed Read
Next blog: Dedicated Short Code: Steps to Launch
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Text Messaging: Almost a Guaranteed Read

Your cell phone beeps, buzzes, or blinks – signaling an incoming text message. How many seconds will pass before you respond and pick up the phone to check the message? How quickly will you respond? SMS is a highly effective and engaging medium of communication and multiple studies show that 95 – 98% of text messages are read within minutes of receipt. Due to the prevalent use of cell phones for text messaging (the Pew Research Center reports that 80% of U.S. cell phone owners use their phone to send and receive text messages), mobile communications provides a huge opportunity for businesses to connect with their audience and engage in immediate and relevant conversations. In the U.S. and Canada, the best way to do this is by using a short code.

A short code is a special 5-6 digit number (e.g., 75195) that allows consumers to subscribe to mobile messaging campaigns. You are probably familiar with ads prompting you to text a keyword to a short code, for example, “Text PIZZA31 to enter to win a free pizza.” Whether SMS communication with your audience is for informational, promotional, voting, feedback, or other contact, there are significant benefits in adding SMS communications to reach your audience:

Immediacy

Short code messages are typically delivered within seconds. This is an immediate advantage for businesses engaging their audiences in real time, and has a broader appeal than an app download or mobile website. 91% of all U.S. citizens have their mobile device within reach 24/7 (Morgan Stanley).

Near Perfect Open Rates

The average open rate for SMS messages is over 95% (Frost & Sullivan). This makes SMS a powerful marketing tool and gives businesses a direct line of communication to support other marketing efforts.

Targeted Communication

There are many opportunities to reach your audience with short codes that range from information and customer service (e.g., opt-in alerts and logging customer issues) to marketing, advertising, and entertainment (e.g., incentives, promotions, polling, games, and  quizzes). A big appeal for companies using short codes is reaching each subscriber in a personal, relevant and timely manner.

Customer Communication Choice

Customers have increased expectations of the companies with which they do business. For many consumers, text messaging is a preferred method of contact, and a golden opportunity for a company to increase the frequency of one-to-one communications.

CDYNE provides U.S. and Canadian short codes for use with the SMS Notify! API – SMS Notify! is a secure two-way SMS Gateway that facilitates your business communications with a developer-friendly API.

Get more short code information, or test today for free.

Next blog: Shared or Dedicated Short Code: Choosing the Right One
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