Why it’s Important To Keep Your SMS Opt-In List Updated

SMS text messaging can be an effective way of engaging with your target customers.
SMS text messaging can be an effective way of engaging with your target customers.

SMS messaging has become a powerful way to connect with customers, regardless of their age or background. Businesses use opt-in lists to manage the people they text to foster growth and comply with legal regulations. Therefore, it’s important to ensure your opt-in lists are updated to meet business goals and stay on the right side of legislation. Read on to learn about the different kinds of opt-in lists, why it’s essential to keep them up-to-date, and how to ensure your SMS opt-in lists are current.

What Is an SMS Opt-In List?

An SMS opt-in list refers to a collection of customer contact numbers that can be reached via SMS text messaging—all of which are for customers who have chosen to be contacted. There are several ways customers can opt-in, and each one benefits your business—as well as specific reasons why it’s important to keep them updated.

Which Law Pertains to Business SMS Text Messaging?

In 1991, Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), making it illegal for a business to reach out to someone via text message without their consent. In addition to SMS messages, the law prevents businesses from placing specific phone calls and faxes without the expressed permission of the recipient.

Suppose a business is found guilty of sending messages to people who haven’t opted to receive them. In that case, they could face penalties as high as $500 for each accidental violation and $1,500 for each willful violation.

For example, suppose you have a customer relationship management (CRM) system that automatically sends text messages to numbers fed into it. The list the system is working from has 1,000 numbers, 85% of which have opted in. So when your CRM sends a message to all 1,000 contacts, 150 of them would go to people who haven’t opted in.

Even though this was an accident, you could face up to $75,000 in fines, plus legal fees.

Keeping your SMS opt-in list updated can help you avoid these kinds of unfortunate—and expensive—incidents.

There are several different kinds of SMS messages a business can use. Here’s why it’s important to keep your opt-in lists current for each of them, as well as suggestions on how to do it.

Why Updating Your SMS Opt-In List Is Important for Promotional Text Messages

A promotional text message encourages a customer to purchase something, go to a certain place, or take another kind of action. Some examples include messages regarding sales, promotions, and discounts. But before you send any promotional text message, you need to have the written consent from the person you’re sending it to.

If your promotional text message list is not up-to-date, you risk:

  • Irritating potential customers with promotions they’re not interested in
  • Wasting data, bandwidth, and time on sending messages to people who may not be interested
  • Legal action from those you send the messages to

How to Keep Your Promotional Text Message List Updated

One way to ensure your promotional SMS opt-in list is up-to-date is to advertise using a number customers can text along with a keyword. You can even use vanity numbers that promote your business or the sale itself. Some of the best vanity numbers include sales-specific information.

You can find vanity numbers for sale, for instance, that refer directly to a promotion, such as 800-get-9-off for a sale advertising a 9% sale. Customers can be encouraged to text “YES” to that number, and the system can automatically add that customer’s info to the list of textable contacts.

Why It’s Important to Update Your Transactional SMS Opt-In List

Transactional text messages are those a business uses to provide important information to its customers. The messages are generated automatically in most situations and may have essential details such as order confirmation details or tracking numbers. Some transactional SMS messages include password reset information and two-factor authentication codes.

Keeping your transactional SMS opt-in list up-to-date may be one of the most important tasks of your sales outreach team, especially considering some of the consequences of not doing so:

  • You could send a confirmation to the wrong number, the recipient could confirm it, and a shipment can go to a customer who would’ve wanted to alter the transaction
  • Shipping details, which may include information the customer doesn’t want to be shared, can be inside a message sent to the wrong person
  • Two-factor authentication codes can be used by a dishonest recipient in an attempt to hack someone’s account, specifically if the hacker has stolen a pocketbook or bag with both an old SIM card and the victim’s new phone.
  • As with other unsolicited SMS messages, you could be targeted by legal action

How to Keep Your Transactional SMS Opt-In List Updated

One of the easiest ways to keep your transactional opt-in lists updated is to require customers to periodically review their contact information. This can be done by asking them to confirm the phone number when they log into your system. Updating your opt-in list a few times a year can significantly decrease the possibility of unsolicited messages, conflicts with customers, and potential legal action.

You can also maintain an up-to-date transactional SMS list using customer surveys they fill out after purchasing products or services. Often, customers don’t mind answering a one- or two-question survey because it should take less than 30 seconds.

Another option is to incorporate phone number updates in your online checkout system. For example, before a customer can finalize an online transaction, they have to fill out a required field that has their phone number. In this situation, it’s best to clearly inform the customer why you’re having them confirm their information. That way, they won’t feel like you’re selling—or otherwise abusing—their data.

Why It’s Important to Keep Your Conversational SMS Opt-In List Updated

Your business uses conversational SMS messages to increase engagement, answer questions, and provide specific help or information to customers. As the name suggests, the interaction can even be casual or friendly, as if you’re reaching out to provide a helpful tip to an acquaintance. Conversational SMS messages can also be important business tools because they can:

  • Answer questions about products
  • Provide info about pricing
  • Let customers know which products are available, being shipped, or just arrived
  • Provide updates on the status of repairs or the delivery of services

Despite the friendly nature of conversational SMS messages, keeping your opt-in list updated is very important. What may begin as an amicable conversation can quickly turn into irritation. This is particularly true if a customer is having a bad day or wasn’t in the mood for a message from a business—they may be more likely to file a complaint.

It’s also to keep your conversational SMS opt-in list up-to-date because successful interactions with customers boost the rapport you have with the public. As you interact on a friendly basis with people, you earn a reputation for being an approachable, helpful business.

On the other hand, sending messages to people that used to be on your list or to the wrong phone numbers can make you come across as aggravating or even intrusive.

How to Keep Your Conversational SMS Opt-In List Updated

You have several options for keeping your conversational SMS opt-in list up-to-date:

  • Generate your list by having customers text your business first. You can make your number available on your website or in an advertisement and only add the information of people who reach out using those numbers.
  • Use an online form on your website, and ensure each submission is date-stamped. This can be done using your Contact Us page, and you can also direct customers to enter their info using:
  • Online advertising
  • QR codes on printed ads
  • Gated content that requires people to enter their info before downloading an eBook, infographic, video, or other content
  • In-person interactions between sales or checkout staff

Depending on the method used to obtain the contact info, you can set up periodic reminders to circle back to check if it’s still OK to send them texts. One of the most straightforward ways of doing this is to send an opt-out message. It can say something as simple as, “If you’d rather not receive messages like this anymore, reply with STOP.”

You can also use opt-out messages to pave the way for other types of interactions with customers, such as email or sales calls instead of text messages. For example, you could give the customer options, such as, “Reply with EMAIL to receive emails instead of texts or CALL to get a call from a representative.”

SMS text messaging can be an effective way of engaging with your target customers. Whether you use promotional, transactional, or conversational messaging, be sure to leave the best impression, so you don’t end up in legal trouble. You can use these tips to periodically update your opt-in lists. Once you’ve contacted customers, you want it to be as easy as possible for them to get in touch with you again.

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