How to Run Compliant SMS Campaigns for Ecommerce

someone holds a phone with an SMS marketing campaign

SMS marketing has blown up lately for ecomm businesses, and for good reason – it’s an effective way to connect with customers and drive sales. But be aware – you’ve got to make sure you’re following the rules. Non-compliant campaigns can land you with nasty fines or penalties.

In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know to keep your SMS game strong AND compliant. Let’s do this!

Why SMS Marketing Works for E-Commerce

Let’s start with a quick overview of why SMS marketing works so well for ecommerce businesses. Here are some of the main benefits:

  • High open rates – According to current studies, 98% of all text messages are opened.
  • Fast delivery – SMS messages reach recipients instantly, allowing for timely promotions and engagement.
  • Personalized – Texting has an intimate, personal feel that email lacks. Your customers will feel more connected to your brand.
  • Many uses – You can use SMS to send coupons, shipping updates, cart abandonment reminders, and more via SMS. The opportunities are nearly endless.
  • Easy tracking – Most SMS providers offer robust analytics so you can easily track opens, clicks, and conversions to optimize your efforts. 
  • Low cost – Sending SMS can cost just pennies per message, making it very budget friendly. Plus, the ROI potential is extremely high.

Is SMS Marketing Legal?

Many businesses have questions around the legality of sending promotional or transactional SMS messages. Is it legal to text customers without explicit consent? What about existing customers who have provided their number?

Here are the regulations you need to be aware of:

  • TCPA – The Telephone Consumer Protection Act regulates marketing via auto-dialers and prerecorded messages. It requires prior express written consent. But SMS sent manually does not require opt-in consent.
  • CAN-SPAM Act – This act is for your customers who reside in Canada. It covers email marketing but does NOT apply to SMS. However, it’s still smart to provide an opt-in option.
  • CTIA Guidelines – These best practices recommend sending only transactional messages to existing customers or those who have opted in to receive alerts. For promotional messages, explicit opt-in consent is recommended.

The bottom line is you can legally text both promotional and transactional messages to customers who’ve given you their number and reasonably expect to hear from you. Just make sure to follow any time restrictions on when you can contact them – and only send offers when it makes sense.

For new subscribers who have not purchased from you, it’s safest to get explicit opt-in consent confirming they agree to receive SMS messages. Let’s look at some best practices for compliant opt-in procedures.

SMS marketing campaign stats

Compliant Opt-In Procedures

If you want to build an SMS list starting from scratch, you need compliant opt-in procedures to ensure subscribers have granted permission. Here are some tips:

  • Disclose – Be up front that you will send promotional messages to the number provided. Disclose your intended frequency of messages.
  • Document consent – Save subscriber data including phone number and consent date to prove they opted in intentionally.
  • Honor opt-outs – Immediately stop messaging anyone who texts STOP or unsubscribes. Maintain do-not-contact lists.
  • Use compliant language – Say “message and data rates may apply.” Don’t use “free offer” or other misleading phrases.
  • Send a confirmation – After opting in, send a welcome message confirming subscription.
  • Limit frequency – Only send a reasonable number of texts to avoid irritating subscribers.

Following these simple procedures ensures subscribers know what they signed up for and provides you documentation of consent should any issues arise. 

SMS Campaign Ideas

Now that we’ve covered the key regulations and list management best practices, let’s look at some effective SMS campaign ideas you can implement today:

  • Abandoned cart reminders
  • Back-in-stock alerts 
  • Order delivery updates 
  • Customer satisfaction surveys
  • Exclusive promos
  • Product launch updates
  • Loyalty rewards 
  • Event reminders 
  • Contact requests 

Each of these campaign types provides value to subscribers while giving your business an opportunity to generate sales.

Wrapping Up

SMS marketing offers too many benefits for ecommerce businesses to ignore. Following these compliance guidelines and campaign ideas will set you up for SMS success while avoiding any penalties. Remember to always provide value to subscribers, honor opt-out requests, and maintain stringent list hygiene practices.

With a thoughtful SMS strategy and the right tools, you can engage customers in a personal, exciting way. Start connecting with customers over text message today!

Want to try out or optimize SMS campaigns for your ecommerce store? Schedule a consultation and let’s discuss how we can support your business growth!

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