Best Practices for Sending Messages
Consumers should always be given the choice to receive or block text messages from a specific message sender. This principle underpins the requirements for the opt-in and opt-out mechanisms. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enforces rules under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to protect consumers from unwanted calls or text messages. Businesses that send text messages to consumers should be aware of these rules. Violating the TCPA is a serious matter, with statutory damages of $500 to $1,500 per violation (text message sent).
The message sender must obtain proper consumer consent for each message sent. The type of consent that is required depends on the type of message content sent to the consumer. The table below includes the types of messaging content and the associated consent that is required. Consumers can revoke consent at any time and in any way. Consumer opt-out requests must be honored, whether they are made by phone call, email, or text.
Types of Messaging Content & Required Consent
Types of Messaging Content & Required Consent
Conversational messaging is a back-and-forth conversation that takes place via text. If the consumer texts into the business first and the business responds quickly with a single message, then it’s likely conversational. If the consumer initiates the conversation and the business simply responds, then no additional permission is required.
Informational messaging is when a consumer gives their phone number to a business and asks to be contacted in the future. Appointment reminders, welcome texts, and alerts fall into this category because the first text sent by the business fulfills the consumer’s request. A consumer should agree to receive texts when they give the business their mobile number.
Promotional messaging is when a message is sent that contains a sales or marketing promotion. Adding a call-to-action (such as a coupon code to an informational text) may place the message in the promotional category. Before a business sends promotional messages, the consumer must agree in writing to receive promotional texts. Businesses that already ask consumers to sign forms or submit contact information can add a field to capture the consumer’s consent.
● The first message is always sent by the consumer
|● The first message is sent by the consumer or business.
● One-way alert or two-way conversation
● Message contains information
|● The first message is sent by the business
● One-way alert
● Message promotes a brand or product
● Prompts consumer to buy something or go somewhere
EXPRESS WRITTEN CONSENT
Revoking Consent (opt-out)
Carriers require opt-out compliance by supporting the STOP keyword at the network level. This opt-out system is active by default across all accounts.
A STOP request blocks all text message exchanges between an individual mobile number and a text-enabled business number. A consumer can opt back in at any time by replying with the keyword UNSTOP
The best practice of notifying the consumer of their ability to opt-out from future messages from the message sender. This is especially important when sending informational or promotional messages. An example would be to include the sentence, “Reply STOP to unsubscribe” to the end of the initial message sent to the consumer. We recommend sending this communication on at least every 5th informational or promotional message for continued consumer awareness.
Opt-out keywords and message
A consumer can opt out of communication with any message sender on the network by texting the keyword “STOP” to the message sender’s phone number. The keyword is not case sensitive and triggers an opt-out only when sent as a single word with no punctuation or leading spaces (any trailing spaces are trimmed). If the consumer uses the opt-out keyword within a sentence, then an opt-out is not triggered.
Examples of valid opt-out messages:
Examples of invalid opt-out messages:
- “Hey can you stop texting me?”
- “Stop it"
The opt-out confirmation message returned to a consumer is generic and gives instructions on how to opt back into service again with the message sender’s phone number.
Opt-out confirmation message:
NETWORK MSG: You replied with the word "STOP" which blocks all texts sent from this number. Text back "UNSTOP" to receive messages again.
Opt-in keywords and message
A consumer can opt back in at any time to receive messages by texting the keyword “UNSTOP” to a message sender’s phone number. The keyword is not case sensitive and triggers an opt-in only when sent as a single word, with no punctuation or leading spaces (any trailing spaces are trimmed). If the consumer uses the opt-in keyword within a sentence an opt-in is not triggered.
Examples of valid opt-ins:
Examples of invalid opt-ins:
- “Hey can you enable me again?”
- “Unstop me!”
The message returned to a consumer is generic and informs the consumer they can start two-way texting with the message sender’s phone number again.
Opt-in confirmation message:
NETWORK MSG: You have replied "unstop" and will begin receiving messages again from this number.
Expectation upon receipt of opt-out/opt-in
A message sender must act upon every opt-out event sent to them from the carrier. The opted-out consumer phone number must be removed from all distribution lists and be logged as “opted out” from SMS communications. This ensures that future messages are not attempted and consumer consent is honored.
Sending to a consumer that has opted out
If a message sender attempts to send a text message to a consumer that has opted out of communications with the specific phone number of the sender, then an error message is returned. The error message is returned within a final delivery receipt and has a status code of 1110 (decimal)/456 (hex). If final delivery receipts are not enabled, then no notification is presented to the message sender