Laws you should know

Who can you send SMS messages to? When can you send marketing messages? And what happens if you don’t comply?

These are the questions you need answers to in order to prevent costly mistakes. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Getting consent from prospects and buyers before you engage with them through text is essential. Make sure to receive explicit consent using an opt-in (or even a double opt-in).

  • Once you have consent, only text recipients between 8 am and 9 pm (besides, no one wants to be awakened or interrupted while they’re bingeing on Netflix).

  • When you ignore these simple rules, it could cost you $1,500 per infraction. In other words, if you sent an SMS message to 1,000 people, that’s a $1.5 million fine.

Now, on to the details in the fine print.

What is the TCPA?

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act was passed in 1991 to protect consumers from unwanted calls and texts. The law requires all companies that make telemarketing calls or send text messages to first get permission from the recipient.

Who needs to comply?

If you sell goods or services and are sending a commercial message to anyone who uses a mobile device, you must comply with the TCPA. That includes retailers, manufacturers, marketers, advertisers, and any business that sells goods or services to cell users.

How to build your SMS list

Growing your SMS list organically from hundreds of people to thousands is exciting. However, it’s only possible if you take a mobile-first approach to your customer communication. Make sure you’re proactively advertising your SMS list to customers.

Do this by adding an opt-in checkbox during the checkout process. Another option—ask for opt-in using a pop-up window or a signup link. Make it an appealing design that vibes with your brand.

Then offer something in return—a freebie, discount, or exclusive access.

Once you have their permission…don’t disappoint them. Avoid sending spam by delivering value every time. Focus on creating:

  • Excellent customer experiences (that are non-invasive)

  • Exclusive VIP content and product releases (not rehashed 30% off discount codes)

Remember, texting isn’t about marketing—it’s about authentic engagements.

Compliance do’s and don’ts

Stay on top of your compliance game and avoid legal disputes. Here’s a list of what to (and not do) according to TCPA:

  • No sending SMS messages before 8 am or after 9 pm (based on the recipient’s time zone)

  • No sending SMS messages to recipients without getting consent

  • Make it clear to recipients that you’ll send ongoing text messages with deals, discounts, and other content

  • Use a platform that tracks consent for you (for at least four years)
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What happens if you violate

Ignore the do’s and don’ts of TCPA compliance, and you may end up in legal hot water. A violation can cost you $500 (per violation), while willful violations can be up to $1,500 per violation.

Since there’s no limit to how many “damages” you can cause, there’s no limit to how many penalties you’ll pay. As we mentioned earlier, thousands of violations can quickly rack up to millions of dollars.

We handle compliance, so you don’t have to.

Parrot makes it easy to text your customers and accept SMS payments via text. We also make it simple to avoid TCPA violations. You can only send texts to folks who’ve opted in.

It’s a win-win: Your customers get the welcomed interruptions they want, and you get to connect with them without fear of a penalty.

Start your free Parrot trial today and start texting (compliantly) in minutes.