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Rules for Permission: Opt-In and Opt-Out

Overview

All businesses who use texting are required by law to get permission from those receiving the texts. There are two ways to do this: 

  • Invite people to opt-in

  • Offer a way to opt-out


Use Your Marketing Number

When inviting people to opt-in and opt-out, Shout recommends using the marketing number, and reserving the customer service number for one-on-one customer conversations. 

That way, if a person opts-out of your marketing messages, you still have a way to reach them with your customer service number. 


Rules for Opt-In Messaging

The following is an outline of key points that need to be included in your invitation to subscribe, or opt-in, to your text messages.

Key Words

You can use any trigger word that you want for someone to join your group. However, there are universal key words that all carriers recognize: 

  • START
  • UNSTOP

Purpose

Let your subscribers know what they’re signing up for. Are they getting reminders? Coupons? Tips? 

Frequency

Include the approximate number of messages they should expect within a week or month. 

Message & Data Rates

While unlimited texting is common, some users may have to pay a small fee to receive text messages. You need to inform your subscribers that charges may be incurred if they sign up to your program. 

Opt-Out

Include a way for subscribers to opt-out. (e.g. Reply STOP to unsubscribe)

You should frequently remind subscribers how to opt-out. 


An Invitation to Opt-In

Post an invitation to join, or opt-in, on social media, at events, or wherever you reach your customers.


An Invitation to Opt-Out

If you have an existing list of customers uploaded to Shout, and you're ready to begin sending messages, your first text message is important.

You should follow the same guidelines listed above under Rules for Opt-In Messaging. You need to let them know:

  • This is your new business number 

  • What type of content you’ll be sharing with them

  • How frequent your messages will be sent

  • Message and data rates may apply

  • Opt-out instructions

Universal Opt-Out Key Word

There is a universal opt-out key word that all carriers recognize when a person wants to opt-out, or unsubscribe from receiving messages:

  • STOP

It is important to let contacts know, on a regular basis, how they can opt-out. 


What Happens When Someone Opts-Out with STOP?

If someone chooses to opt-out with a universal key word, they will remain in your contact list but you will not be able to text them from that number again.

  • The person who chooses to opt-out can still text you, but you cannot text them back unless they text START or UNSTOP.
  • If a person chooses to opt-out from your marketing number, you can still reach them from your customer service number. 

What Happens When Someone Wants to Opt-Out, But Doesn’t Use a Universal Key Word?

When someone opts-out, it is your responsibility to stop communication from the number you used to send that message (marketing, customer service, or Shout-to-Shout).

If someone opts-out without using a universal key word you will need to manually manage this. To stop communication from all outlets you can block a contact. 

To learn how to block a contact, go here.  


TCPA Compliance

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is the primary federal law governing telephone solicitations, including text messages. If you want to text consumers, you must comply with the TCPA. To learn more, go here.


  • To learn how to track people who opt-in and opt-out, go here.
  • To learn more best practices for business texting, go here.
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