When collecting phone numbers and using SMS features in Octane AI, an important consideration is keeping consistent marketing compliance across your brand's SMS pipeline. This guide includes some general suggestions on what you'll have to keep in mind when evaluating how compliant your Shopify store's SMS marketing is with certain important regulations.
Table of Contents
The content in this guide is intended to be educational and should not be construed as legal advice. We encourage all of our users & merchants to seek legal advice in order to verify that they are SMS marketing compliant.
1. Defining SMS Marketing Compliance
The exact details of compliance can depend on the regulatory set of rules and laws that you're measuring compliance with. In the United States, some of the most important set of regulations include the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
If your business or customers are located in Europe, compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is important as well. However, at the moment Octane AI only offers SMS opt-ins and features for the United States and Canada.
The TCPA is an act passed by the US Congress that includes rules on how companies can use SMS / MMS marketing and is the most important set of regulations to meet compliance for.
We recommend that all brands using SMS marketing familiarize themselves with the full set of guidelines in the TCPA. However, one of the most important aspects of the TCPA can be summarized as protecting the consumer right to not receive unsolicited SMS marketing, which means companies should not send anyone SMS marketing without explicit written consent.
CTIA & CCPA
CTIA is a non-profit trade association that represents the wireless communications industry of the United States. Under the CTIA, a set of guidelines for marketing in the telecommunications industry exists called the Messaging Principles and Best Practices.
While these guidelines are technically voluntary, we recommend adhering to these guidelines for best deliverability with wireless carriers.
CCPA is a set of regulations in the state of California designed to protect consumer privacy. Under this act, the state of California considers any users located in California as well as businesses that interact with them to be subject to the CCPA.
Similar to the GDPR, this act includes, but is not limited to the right for consumers to request their data as well as opt out of data collection.
1.1. SMS Compliance with Shopify
It wasn’t possible to capture SMS-specific consent at checkout within Shopify for Octane AI until December 14, 2021.
We encourage you to assess the applicability of any SMS marketing consent requirements to your store with your legal counsel. If you determine that such a requirement applies to your store, we encourage you to confirm your store obtains required consents through features enabled by 3rd party apps or follow the steps outlined here (https://help.shopify.com/en/manual/promoting-marketing/create-marketing/customer-contact-information) to enable the separate SMS-consent-at-checkout feature for your store.
Please reach out via the Shopify Help Center with any questions.
Shopify Help Center: https://help.shopify.com/en/questions#/login
2. Key Elements of SMS Compliance
Some of the most important factors in SMS marketing compliance include:
Acquiring clear & explicit consent.
Avoid unclear or ambiguous phrasing in your opt-ins & SMS.
Provide clear methods to opt out.
This does not include voluntary best practices, such as avoiding sending users too many SMS in a short period, sending SMS during off-hours or sending content unrelated to what a user opted in for.
2.1. Collecting Phone Numbers
When setting up your SMS opt-ins, you should make sure that the opt-in language clearly and precisely indicates that:
The opt-in is for receiving recurring marketing messages through the submitted phone number.
Text messages may be sent through an automatic telephone dialing system.
That consent is not a requirement for purchase or use of the store.
These guidelines should be followed through any method you use to collect phone numbers. In Octane AI, this includes a shop quiz, pop-up, through Facebook Messenger or Shopify checkout.
When you add an SMS opt-in form to an Octane AI pop-up, compliance language is automatically included:
By providing my number, I electronically agree, that <STORE NAME> and its agents may use automated means to send recurring SMS messages. MSG & data rates may apply. Reply STOP to unsubscribe.
2.2. Use of Language in SMS
When crafting text messages for your SMS marketing, we recommend keeping these principles in mind:
Include unsubscribe / opt out language
Text messages sent from Octane AI automatically include language informing users how to opt out. To avoid compliance issues, you should make sure to keep this language in your texts.
Avoid sending unrelated content
Phone numbers collected for marketing by your Shopify store should only be sent content related to your brand. Sending content that isn't explicitly approved by a customer's opt-in experience can be considered non-compliant, as it means the language in your opt-in process no longer clearly represents the SMS marketing that customers receive.
Avoid prohibited language & phrases
Certain topics, words and phrases in text messages can result in your SMS campaign getting flagged as spam or in some cases, your number getting blacklisted by wireless carriers.
In order to adhere to wireless carriers' regulations, your brand should not promote the following in your SMS marketing:
The CTIA also provides these detailed guidelines for types of content your texts should avoid:
5.3.1 Prevention of Unlawful Activities or Deceptive, Fraudulent, Unwanted, or Illicit Content Message
Senders should use reasonable efforts to prevent and combat unwanted or unlawful messaging traffic, including spam and unlawful spoofing. Specifically, Message Senders should take affirmative steps and employ tools that can monitor and prevent Unwanted Messages and content, including for example content that: (1) is unlawful, harmful, abusive, malicious, misleading, harassing, excessively violent, obscene/illicit, or defamatory; (2) deceives or intends to deceive (e.g., phishing messages intended to access private or confidential information); (3) invades privacy; (4) causes safety concerns; (5) incites harm, discrimination, or violence; (6) is intended to intimidate; (7) includes malware; (8) threatens Consumers; or (9) does not meet age-gating requirements. Message Senders can also review the Common Short Code Handbook for further examples of Unwanted Message content.
Further, Message Senders should take steps to ensure that marketing content is not misleading and complies with the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Truth-In-Advertising rules.
3. Features in Octane AI that Help with Compliance
In order to help you set up a compliant SMS marketing journey for your store, Octane AI includes several features we strongly recommend using once you've enabled SMS for your Octane AI account.
After you've acquired your account's dedicated phone number, you'll have the option to turn on double opt-ins as well.
Enabling double opt-ins strengthens the compliance of your opt-in process, as well as the quality of each SMS subscriber that you collect. This is because it gives you the chance to make your opt-in language extremely clear letting you be confident that each person that appears on your SMS subscribers list fully understands why you've collected their phone number.
Since this minimizes the chances for any accidental opt-ins, this also decreases the chances of acquiring poor quality subscribers who may unsubscribe as soon as they've received their first text.
SMS Quiet Hours / Scheduling SMS on Timezone
Your Octane AI SMS flows have the option to enable quiet hours. This will make sure recipients of any automated SMS flows will not receive texts during those quiet hours. If this option is turned on, each subscriber will have quiet hours locally determined based on their phone number's area code.
When sending out SMS broadcast campaigns, you can also schedule text messages based on the recipients' local timezones. Similarly to the quiet hours feature, this will be determined using their phone number's area code.
Have any questions? Send an email to [email protected] or use the support icon to chat with our team.