SMS Marketing and Compliance; get ready or get left behind!

SMS Marketing and Compliance; get ready or get left behind!

2020's holiday season is shaping up to be quite different from past years. Luckily, we have been able to adapt on many fronts due to the wonders of technology.

Power up your business communications with bulk SMS software and stand out from the crowd. With the help of robust communication platforms, businesses can kick their marketing promotions into gear this holiday season. Personalise messages and segment contact lists to perfectly complement your marketing efforts.

  • Send SMS marketing campaigns to welcome back customers and let them know you're open.
  • Drive sales with notifications on product launches and upcoming promotions.
  • Update patrons on new policies adhering to local health regulations.
  • Personalise messages and keep in touch with loyal customers and business relationships.
  • Gain constructive feedback with client surveys and online reviews.

91% of smartphone owners have their mobile device in arm's reach at all times. So, it's no wonder the intimate and timely nature of SMS is so practical!

Related: Trends & Predictions: The Impact of COVID-19 on Mobile Commerce

In this blog post, we will go through:

  1. SMS compliance
  2. The difference between A2P and P2P messaging
  3. Rules and Regulations
  4. Virtual Numbers
  5. Crafting the perfect SMS marketing message (that is also compliant!)

What is SMS compliance, and why do I need it?

What is SMS compliance, and why do I need it?

To ensure you get the most out of your SMS marketing campaigns, crafting compliant messages is paramount. Depending on where you are sending to will determine the rules and regulations regarding what your messages should and shouldn't include.

Suppose you don't adhere to the rules and regulations of the local area you are sending to. In that case, it could result in your messages being blocked. Carriers can even block the virtual number you are sending from.

Related: Are your mobile marketing campaigns compliant?

What is the difference between P2P and A2P messaging?

SMS compliance usually is split into A2P and P2P messaging. The nature of both of these messages differs significantly. So, let's define them before moving on to how to craft the perfect SMS marketing message by industry.

A2P messaging

Application-To-Person messaging is high volume SMS sent initially by a business, organisation, or entity. Usually, through an application, platform or gateway to communicate with end-users (predominantly, one-way communication).

Examples of A2P messaging:

  • SMS marketing messages
  • Bulk notifications, updates, and alerts
  • Subscribed and automated messages

P2P messaging

Person-To-Person Messaging refers to an individual who subscribes to two-way communication with another individual via specific wireless messaging services or messaging applications.

Examples of P2P messaging:

  • One-on-one customer service
  • Two-way SMS support
  • Messaging a colleague or friend

Check the local regulations before you send!

SMS Rules and Regulations: USA

In this digital era, the rollout of new technology has increased significantly over the last decade. To keep up, rules and regulations in the USA have had to continually change and keep up with new developments.


Since 1991, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act has governed the way businesses interact with consumers over the phone. TCPA was first implemented to ensure the use of phone calls and SMS for commercial purposes such as marketing, did not conflict with consumer rights.

TCPA outlines the restrictions and consequences that organisations face when it comes to communicating with their target audience. Since its inception, TCPA has evolved to address robocalls, electoral campaigning, and excessive or unsolicited communication.

A2P and P2P messaging best practice

To avoid impinging on consumer rights, the CTIA Messaging Principles is a voluntary guide on best practices for A2P and P2P messaging, with high regard to the TCPA's rules and regulations.

Key points from the CTIA Messaging Principles:

  • Ensure all recipients in your database have consented to receive SMS messages.
  • Include sender information in your messages to ensure the recipient knows who is messaging them.
  • Include information on how subscribers can opt-out of receiving further SMS messages.
  • Automate your database to ensure contact lists are updated, with any opt-outs moved to inactive immediately.

Carriers enforce message and virtual number blocks

Recently, AT&T communicated to wireless carriers that it would be enforcing its messaging requirements more strictly. This was in response to the massive influx of SMS campaigns coming up to the USA presidential election.

This meant that AT&T might increase its blocking of messages to AT&T subscribers, and associated phone numbers sending the messages that do not follow guidelines. Messages would be subject to blocks if:

  • Subscribed messages do not include opt-out notices.
  • Public URL shorteners are included in any message.
  • Spam filter evasion techniques are used, including rapidly changing URLs or using unnecessarily large pools of sending numbers.

Related: SMS; shaking up political campaigning and government communications

Virtual Numbers

Depending on where you are in the world—and more importantly, where you are sending to—the types of messages you are sending may need a dedicated virtual number.

Types of Dedicated Virtual Numbers:

  • Long Code
  • 10 Digit Long Code (10DLC)
  • Short Code
  • Toll-Free Number

In the USA, A2P messaging is highly monitored to minimise unsolicited SMS, including spam messages. Either a shortcode or 10DLC is required to send SMS en masse within America. Non-profits can also use toll-free numbers for A2P messaging in some circumstances. Still, it's best to check with your provider whether this is appropriate.

Long code is reserved for P2P messaging throughout North America. However, shortcode, 10DLC and toll-free numbers can also send P2P if necessary.

Organisations sending without the appropriate dedicated virtual number could consequently be fined up to US$1,500 per message. Large sum fines such as this can damage businesses, particularly when sending bulk SMS campaigns. Ensure your messages are compliant before hitting send by following some of the templates below.

Related: SMS Codes [Explained]

Craft the perfect SMS: Templates for sending compliant messages

eCommerce and Retail

"Welcome to the [Company Name] family! You're receiving this message because you joined our Customer Perks program. Stay tuned for discounts and more. If you'd like to opt-out, reply STOP."

"[Customer Name], did you forget something in your [Company Name] cart? We wouldn't want you to miss out! Enjoy an extra 5% off your order with this link: [dedicated domain link]. Reply 'STOP' to opt-out."

"Happy Birthday [Customer Name]! We have a little present for you to celebrate. Use code BDAYTREAT by [date] to get 20% off your next [Company Name] purchase. Reply 'END' to opt-out."

"[Customer Name], how was your latest order with [Company Name]? We'd love to know how we did! Fill out a 20-second survey here: [dedicated domain link] and receive 15% off your next order."

eCommerce and Retail

Hospitality and reservations

"Hi [Customer Name], we can't wait for you to dine with us tonight. Show this text to one of [Company Name]’s staff to receive a free glass of house wine. Shhh, don't tell anyone else! Reply 'STOP' to opt-out."

"Hey [Customer Name], we've noticed you haven't stayed with us in a while. Book a room with [Company Name] today to receive 10% off your next stay - [dedicated domain link]. Reply 'STOP' to opt-out."

"Thanks for visiting [Company Name], [Customer Name]. We already miss you! If you have a minute, can you please leave a review of your experience? Click here to fill out a short survey: [dedicated domain link]. Reply 'STOP' to opt-out."

Hospitality and reservations

Health, Wellness and Beauty

"Hi [Customer Name], thanks for booking in with us! Your next [Company Name] appointment is at [Time and date] for [Beauty Treatment]. Please arrive 15 mins early. To reschedule or cancel, call us on [Phone Number]! To opt-out, reply STOP."

"Hey [Customer Name], we've missed you! Get your fitness back on track with a free Bootcamp session on us. Just show this text at the [Company Name] reception to claim your free session. Reply 'STOP' to opt-out."

"Hi [Customer Name], this is a friendly reminder that your free trial with [Company Name] will end on [date]. Head to the membership page on our website to choose from our monthly or bi-monthly options - [dedicated domain link]. Reply 'STOP' to opt-out."

"Get ready for Summer with [Company Name]! Book a cut and colour today to get 15% off our vast range of hair products. Call us on [phone number] today to claim this incredible offer. Reply 'END' to opt-out."

Health, Wellness and Beauty


"As a loyal [Company Name] customer, we value your feedback more than anything. Help us improve our services and reply with your 1-5 rating (1=not likely, 5=highly likely): How likely are you to recommend us to your clients or colleagues?

Reply 'STOP' to opt-out."

"Thanks for signing up with [Company Name], amazing results await! We'd love to have a quick chat to help you get the best possible start. Book an appointment with a specialist here [dedicated domain link]. Reply 'STOP' to opt-out."

"Hey [Customer Name], thanks for attending the [Company Name] Webinar! Give us a call on [phone number] to discuss how you can implement [product/strategy] in your business. Reply 'STOP' to opt-out."

Related: Black Friday: 8 vital SMS marketing tips

Related: 5 common SMS marketing pitfalls

SMSGlobal wants you to enjoy 75% EXTRA SMS credits for all new accounts, and 50% EXTRA SMS credits for existing accounts, until November 30. Just ask our Customer Success Team if you are eligible for the promo code!

Download our free eBooks, Infographics and User Guidelines for more information and access to valuable content on SMS marketing.

Infographic: Mobile and SMS marketing strategies dominate, here's why