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SMS Marketing Laws - How to keep on the right side of them

Last updated by Adrin Siripala on August 28, 2015 22:13

SMS Marketing, or Text message marketing is becoming more and more common, but with it you also see the negative side of this innovative communication method. Just think back to all the times when you've looked at your phone in the past few months and seen spam message upon spam message, ranging from the ususal "Have you claimed back your PPI cover?" to "You're entitled to compensation for your accident" all of which have left you thinking...."What PPI.....What Accident?!".

Here we will look at SMS marketing and walk you through the things to avoid in order to stay safe and enjoy the benefits from this great customer engaging medium!

The Law

No matter what country you're in, telecommunications are heavily regulated from the everyday cold calls to the SMS we receive, with many of the laws looking to cover both areas. 

UK - Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations

The PECR (Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations) came in to effect on the 11th of December 2003 and outlined the way that data can and can't be communicated with, here is a summany of the key points: -

1. If you have had no previous business/commercial relationship with a person who you wish to communication with via email and/or SMS, you will need to seek their permission - this permission can't be sought as a result of a campaign IE you can send them a text message asking if you are allowed to send them a text message!

2. Permission has to be Actively and Knowingly given, this basically means that the contact/potential customer needs to actively tick a box/opt in rather than them having to untick a box to opt out or even have a box pre-ticked for them. Their permission has to be given rather than assumed.

3. If you have had a previous trading relationship with the contact, you may be able to continue to communicate with them about the same/similar products in line which those which they previously purchased/enquired about. This means if the customer showed interest in buying Baked Beans, you can't start communicating with them about car tyres - the two products are completely unrelated.

4. You MUST identify the sender of each message clearly IE Put your company name into it so they know who is sending it and it puts the message into some form of context

5. You MUST provide a valid reply address, this is either to go into the sender's system or to their mobile phone

6. You Must give the contact/recipient an easy way to unsubscribe/opt out of the SMS campaign IE "Text back STOP to unsubscribe" - obviously if they do this, you must make sure that happens!

If you send SMS messages to contacts/companies outside of the UK, you may be held accountable to other anti-spam regulations and laws